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JOHN GUTHRIE McCALLUM

                            August 10, 1826 TO February 5, 1897

 

                             

The following information was taken from "The Argent Castle", the Newsletter of the Clan MacCallum/Malcolm Society.  It is undated, but written by Robin Neill Lochnell Malcolm, D. L.  Chief.  While great reading, the accuracy of the information is unknown.

Duncan had married Ellen Guthrie ("of a Pennsylvania Revolutionary family") and they had five children.  The first two sons (born before 1820) left for the gold rush in California, arriving in San Francisco on the Ohio in 1851.  They are named "D" and "M" on the passenger list; in 1852 word was received in Indiana that they were ill and Ellen sent younger son John Guthrie, who had graduated from the University of Indiana Law School and begun his practice, to bring his brothers home.  By the time his ship arrived in 1854, he found both had died, but seeing the opportunities for legal work around Placerville, John G. decided to stay on.

Jane Stuart McCallum's brother, John Guthrie, of course, had begun taking a leadership role in the development of the new state (California); in 1855 and 1860 was elected to the state Senate; helped frame the first constitution; as one of two electors at the time of Lincoln's  second inaugural, took the vote to Washington, D.C.; was Registrar of U.S. Land Office in Sacramento, moved to Oakland, where he brought cases against the railroads for price-gouging and land-grabbing.  In search of a healthful climate for his consumptive son John G., he was led by Indians in Southern California to an oasis in the desert (land of "eternal sunshine and warm, healing waters") where he purchases the land that later was developed by his daughter, Pearl, into the famous Palm Springs.  He and his wife, Emily Freeman, an accomplished vocalist, had three sons, all of whom died young and unmarried, and two daughters, May and Pearl.  May married a Dr. Forline and had two daughters; Pearl, who married Austin McManus, had no children.

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Katherine Ainsworth has written the book, "The McCallum Saga -- The Story of the Founding of Palm Springs", copyright 1973, The Palm Springs Deser Museum, Palm Springs, California.  Printed in the United States by Grant Dahlstrom/The Castle Press. Pasadena, California.  The following is copied from the beginning of this fine work:

   WEARILY the two dust-covered men reined the tired/ heaving
horses to a halt as their wagon rounded a bend and came to a rise in the
rutted tracks midst the sand and boulders across which they had jolted
for so many miles.
   From this crest the two men looked out upon a wide stretch of the
mysterious Colorado Desert  dreaded cauldron it had been proclaimed
by those who feared its scorching heat. The swarthier of the two men
stretched an arm and pointed out to his friend the long, rolling reaches
of sand dunes flowing from the base of a lofty mountain. Then, turning
slightly, his finger centered upon clusters of tall palms, sentinels of
the canyons and the oasis which was their goal for the day.
   Will Pablo, Indian guide and interpreter, was eager for his friend
to reach the healing waters of the oasis. He urged the exhausted horses
to press ahead. The surrey approached the waters, and the other man 
tall, full-bearded John Guthrie McCallum  gazed about in wonder. He
saw great beauty in the changing, glowing sunlight as it was reflected
upon the rounded breasts of the sand dunes and each desert plant. He
was astonished to see the myriad varieties of these plants and the pro-
fusion of desert growth, when his first cursory glance saw what appeared
to be but vast empty wastes of harsh sun-bleached land.
   As the wagon drew up to the delightful mineral water and a few
brown-faced gentle Indians shyly came to extend a welcome, the sun
suddenly, without any warning that the day was drawing to a close
despite the early hour, plummeted behind the tall mountain peak. The
entire area was cloaked in shadow and the long afternoon began. It was,
thought the visitor, as though the mountain standing in such exalted
arrogance relented of its pride and bent forward to envelop them in its
embrace and cloak them in its cooling shade.
   The sonorous words of Tennyson's narrative poem. The Lotos-Eaters,
came rushing back as he sat looking upward at the peaks now brushed by
the rosy tints of the setting sun. He recalled the poem-story of those
weary wanderers. The Lotos-Eaters, and repeated the lines in a hushed
voice: "In the afternoon they came unto a land / In which it seemed
always afternoon."
   He thought the words most appropriate and ever afterwards thought
of this spot as being the "Land of the Afternoon." In the poem Tennyson
had described a land where the air was languid, palm trees waved in the
breeze, and the people were dusky-hued and gentle. Again the man spoke
aloud as he recalled the closing line of the poem which seemed to be
especially applicable: "We will no longer roam."
   John Guthrie McCallum felt an immediate affinity for the welcoming
oasis. He knew instantly that this Palm Valley, as he called it in his mind,
with the warmth and fragrant air and the healing waters was the place to
which he must bring his family. Into this Palm Valley they would come.
   And so it was that Palm Springs, as it would eventually become
known, the gayest and sunniest spa on earth, was born of a double
sorrow.
   This settlement on the Colorado Desert, huddling at the foot of
towering Mt. San Jacinto, began in the first place out of the anxiety
of a widowed Indiana mother for her two sons in faraway San Francisco
on the Pacific Shores at the time of the Gold Rush. It was to be culminated
years later, by the desperate illness of that same woman's grandson and
the events growing out of it.
THE STORY OF PALM SPRINGS, California, began with the delivery of a
letter to a widowed mother living in a small hamlet in Indiana.
   The year was 1852.
   The name of that village was Vevay in Switzerland County.
   Switzerland County, Indiana, on the banks of the brooding Ohio
River which wound its way through towns with stately old homes, was
founded in 1801 by a group of Swiss immigrants. They called the county
seat Vevay (pronounced Vee-Vee) and planted vineyards in the rich
yellow clay soil. These industrious Swiss became famous for their
special wine.
   It was not too long before wine-making in this region gave way to
agriculture. A group of hardy, frugal Scotch families began a settlement
on "Long Run" about 1817-18. They soon discovered that a bushel of
potatoes would buy a gallon of wine and was far faster and easier to
produce!
   "Among those Scottish families were Neil McCallum/ Duncan
McCallum, John McCallum, Donald Cowan, the Malcomsons, John
Anderson and perhaps one or two other families not now recollected.
They were what are known as 'Seven(th) Day Baptists/ It was rather
novel to the citizens, to travel up 'Long Run' on Saturday and see none
of those people stirring about, and then passing on Sunday, to see every
one able to do any work out in the clearing chopping, piling and burning
brush and rolling logs." So wrote Ferret Dufour in his account Swiss
Settlement of Switzerland County.
   Dufour continued, "The first steamboats of any considerable size that
were navigating the Ohio River were built about the year 1819 to 1821.
The Velocipede, General Green, Ploughboy, Highland Laddie and Eliza
are the steamers of the early days now recollected by the writer. In 1823
the writer was two days and two nights on the trip from Vevay to Cin-
cinnati on the Highland Laddie, a small boat owned by Duncan Mc-
Callum, one of the early Scotch settlers on 'Long Run/ //
   Was this Duncan McCallum the father of John Guthrie McCallum
who was to found Palm Springs many years later?
   Fragmentary as the evidence is, there are sufficient clues available
upon which we can rely and which tempts one to make such a conclusion.
Firstly, there was the repeated statement of J. G. McCallum himself. He
was fond of telling that his father built and operated one of the first
steamboats upon the Ohio River. In the year 1878 a biographical sketch
of him was to appear in print which stated, "He (McCallum) is of Amer-
ican descent from revolutionary stock on his mother's side, and of Scotch
descent on that of his father, who owned and operated one of the first
steamboats on the Ohio."
  The 1820 Census records, listed in Switzerland County, Indiana:
  "McCollum, Duncan  foreign born/ farmer  Dependents: i w. male/
  age 16-25 (probably himself), i w. female/ (wife) age 16-25, 2 w. males
  under 10."
    If this is our family the two boys under ten might be the brothers who
  eventually went off to California, and at this time, John Guthrie Mc-
  Callum and his two sisters had not been born. The difference in spelling
  of the name was commonplace in those days.
    John Guthrie McCallum was born in Vevay, Indiana, on August 10,
  1826. According to the Indiana Gazetteer published that same year the
  town was "situated on the north bank of the Ohio River, 100 miles by
 water below Cincinnati, 18 above Madison, and 95 south-east from
 Indianapolis. It contains," continued the gazetteer, "about 100 hand-
 some brick and frame dwelling houses, 400 inhabitants, 7 stores, 3
 taverns, 3 lawyers, 3 physicians, and a printing office; there are also
 several extensive vineyards in its immediate vicinity. . . /' One of these
 taverns was the Swiss Inn, built in 1823. It was the main meeting place
 and attraction for visitors to the small community and is still standing
 to this day.
    The Indiana Land Entries v. i, Cincinnati District, compiled by Mar-
 garet R. Waters shows the following land purchases from the Federal
 government by Duncan McCallum:
   Page 69 Southeast, Section 18, township 2N, range 3W of the first Principal
   Meridian, 12-11-1816 Northeast 31, same, 11-30-1819. Page 132 Southwest30,
   2N, 2W of first Principal Meridian, 6-28-1815.
   The first two pieces of land are in Craig township, Switzerland County,
 and the third in Jefferson township, Switzerland County.
   From the Records of the U. S. Census for Indiana for the year 1850
considerable information about the McCallum Family once again may
be deduced. We find:
                                                                   Place
  House    Family      Name             Age   Sex     Oc.    Birth
   No.       No.    Ellen McCallum           52      F               pen.
   85        85     Jane McCallum            25      F                0.
                   John G. McCallum        24     M    Lawyer   Ind.
                   Elizabeth McCallum        20       F                  0.
From the above, one may assume that the father, Duncan/ was dead, the
two older sons had gone to the California Gold Fields, John G. was
already practicing law, and the two sisters' birthplaces being listed as
Ohio, revealed that the family had traveled from one state to another,
probably on the steamerHighland Laddie.
   Vevay, in those days, must have been a place of enchantment for a
young imaginative lad. On the wooded hills were vestiges of the ancient
lookout stations used by the Indians before the white men came. Little
boys could roam over these hills and hide in these mysterious places.
Always there was the river for fishing, swimming and dreaming of far
off places to where the steamers plied their way. The frequent trips on
the father's Highland Laddie to Cincinnati must have been exciting.
   John McCallum attended school winters and during the hot summer
days read every book he could lay his hands upon. Mostly he read the
books around the house, and especially those about McCallum More, the
head of the clan of McCallum. John's relatives, like many other loyal
Scotsmen, claimed kinship with this brave leader. Sir Walter Scott in
his romantic, historical novel The Heart of Midlothian wrote: "When
McCallum More's heart does not warm to the Tartan, it will be as cold
as death can make it."
   The carefree days of childhood were to be of short duration for John
McCallum. His father died when the lad was six years old, leaving what
he thought was a sufficient amount for his family's comfort; but, after
years of litigation, this competency was all lost, and the family was left
to struggle on the modest farm. To help eke out an existence a steam saw
mill was erected upon this piece of property. The children had to help
operate this, so John went to work on the engine when he was about eight
years old. He learned the trade of engineer, but having no aptitude for
this line of work, he was never very successful at it.
   Young John McCallum continued at his studies at the country school
house in Vevay, and when he had completed the elementary grades he at-
tended the County Seminary. When he was older, he obtained employ-
ment as an engineer and frugally managed to save enough money to go
to Cincinnati to begin studying law. Finally he attended the Law De-
partment of Indiana University and obtained his Bachelor of Law Degree
from this institution in 1848. Soon after, he was licensed and began the
practice of law in Indiana.
   The following year Indiana, along with the entire nation, was aston-
ished to learn of the marvelous discovery of gold in California. The gold
fever struck the two older McCallum boys and they, with hundreds of
others who dreamed of quick riches to be had for the taking, hurried off
to that far place to strike it rich.
   On February 25,1851, the steamer Ohio with Captain Haley in com-
mand sailed into San Francisco harbor. On its passenger list were two
young men, D. McCallum and M. McCallum, who immediately upon
debarking seemed to vanish. Days and months passed without a word
being received from the two adventurers.
  John McCallum, unswayed by the excitement of get-rich-quick
schemes, steadfastly continued with his law practice in Indiana until the
worried mother received a letter.
   The letter, which had been in transit for several weeks before it reached
Vevay, was written by a family friend. It told of the epidemic which
raged through the Gold Country and had struck down one of her sons.
  The distraught mother, unable to leave home responsibilities, turned
to John. She implored him to make the long journey to California to find
his brothers and to urge them to return home. The young attorney closed
out his law practice and yielding to his mother's pleadings, started the
long journey around the Horn to locate his brothers in California.
This concludes Chapter 1.  I dare not continue  without further violating 
the copyright laws. Katherine's book does an excellent job of tying the events 
that were taking place in John Guthrie McCallum's life with the events
occurring in California and the nation at large. He had a significant
impact on the future of California.