SHORTAGE OF PERPS
: a perpetrator especially of a crime
(hereinafter “Phil”) Callender’s family can trace its Connecticut
heritage back as far as one John Franklin who was a cousin of Benjamin
for the history of a conflict called the “Yankee Pennamite War.”
Even before the final resolution of that conflict, one Phillip Callender
III, his wife Abigail (Franklin) Callender and their
son, Darius Franklin Callender, migrated to what would become Luzerne
County, PA. Both Philip III
and Abigail had been born in Canaan, Litchfield County, Connecticut but
had apparently moved to Massachusetts at some point.
A Luzerne County deed found at Book 4, Page 528 and dated January
31, 1797 (there are only 3 OLDER deed books in all of Luzerne County)
says that Phillip was “late of Sheffield Berkshire County, State Of
Massachusetts.” By said
deed, he bought a parcel in Huntington Township from one Joseph Potter
for the sum of seventy
five pounds. Philip III, Abigail, and Darius are buried in Huntington
1839, Philip III‘s grandson, William Callender, had moved to Union
Township, Luzerne County. William began buying, on an installment plan,
a 117-acre farm in the middle of Sweet Valley.
William died in1840 but his family continued making the payments
and, on June 3, 1850, the land (now lying in recently-created Ross
Township) was conveyed to Phil and five of his siblings.
It took him a while but, by 1866, Phil had bought out his
siblings’ interests and owned the entire farm outright.
forward to 1878. Our nation
was still in its formative years, with only 38 states having entered the
union. Colorado had been
the 38th, joining on August 1, 1876, and “The Dakota” was
still a territory awaiting establishment of its two entities in 1889.
Rutherford B. Hayes was our President. We had just celebrated our
centennial with an exposition in Philadelphia.
The city of Chicago was struggling to rebuild from the
devastating fire of 1871, Alex Bell had just patented his
"electrical speech machine” (1876), and Tom Edison was working on
his light bulb. In the
West, Wyatt Earp was still an Assistant City Marshall in Dodge City, KS
(he didn’t die until 1929) and Geronimo still eluded capture (he lived
until 1909 when your author’s father was 4 years old.)
Nationwide, we were in the middle of “one of the worst
depressions in the nation's history”
#Six years of depression
farmers such as Phil Callender weren’t greatly affected.
In fact, judging by the amount of cash he had on hand that
fateful night in January, 1878, it’s quite likely that his ancestor,
Phillip III, had been fairly wealthy when he brought the family
down from Connecticut over 75 years earlier.
hamlet of Sweet Valley was a small farming community just west of the
city of Wilkes-Barre. As the county seat, Wilkes-Barre featured the
county courthouse. Sweet Valley had no financial institutions, so major
commercial transactions, as well as lawsuits, required a trip “to
town.” Plymouth Mountain
was a steep climb for horses pulling wagons. Going by way of Dallas,
Luzerne, and Kingston was too far. Sweet Valley farmers, therefore,
chose to go by way of Hunlock Creek and then take the Lackawanna and
Bloomsburg railroad to either Plymouth or Wilkes-Barre.
and Sarah Callender. Date unknown.
Courtesy of Mike Miller.”
a 47-year-old farmer who had married Sarah Snyder, traveled “to
town” on Wednesday, January 16, 1878, to settle a lawsuit he’d filed
on behalf of his minor son. William W. “Wilson” Callender, a
19-year-old, who had been wronged by an anthracite miner from Plymouth
named John Connell. Connell
had failed to pay Wilson for some wooden “pickets” he’d made.
A “picket” was “a stake or mark placed by a responsible
individual some distance in front of a drill; used by a driller to point
and line up a drill to drill a borehole in a specific direction.”
won the suit, but that fact, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily
explain the reason he was carrying $300 back to Sweet
doubtful that Connell would have brought that much money, if any, to
court, for he likely didn’t expect to lose.
The Callenders were, as will be explained later, a fairly
substantial family. It’s quite probable that Phil had withdrawn funds
from a Plymouth or Wilkes-Barre bank, combining that transaction with
the trip to settle the lawsuit. The
sum of $300 in 1878 was equivalent to $6,258.34 in year 2006 dollars.
settled their affairs for the day, Phil and Wilson began their return
trip at 7 PM, considerably after dark on a winter’s day.
They alighted from the train at the Hunlock Creek station and
crossed the road to the livery stable where their horses had rested all
day. Hitching the team,
they returned to the station, paid the stationmaster for their incoming
freight, loaded their wagon, and headed up the hill toward Sweet Valley.
some point along the road, two shots rang out in rapid succession,
striking Phil in the back of the head. Mortally wounded, he fell from
the wagon. Wilson had been walking behind the wagon to ease the load on
the horses. At least one of
the shots grazed Wilson’s head and destroyed the crown of his hat.
He saw the dark outlines of two men he couldn’t identify run
into the underbrush and he lit out to seek help.
Returning with George Wildoner who lived nearby, they found Phil
lying in a pool of blood that streamed from his head. (A coroner’s
inquest would later reveal the presence of both a “ball” and “fine
number 2 shot.”) The $300 was gone. Dr. James W. Davenport was
summoned but could do nothing for the victim. Phil Callender was
pronounced dead at 3:30 AM on Thursday, January 17, 1878.
analysis of the crime
The motive for such a dastardly act could have been either a “revenge
killing” or a simple robbery, or both. If he’d inadvertently flashed
his wad in front of strangers “in town” or on the train, any number
of people could have decided he’d make a good robbery target.
See the attached 1873 map of Union Township which, in 1877, had
become part of the newly-formed Hunlock Township
that Alex Bell had
invented his "electrical speech machine” a little over a year
earlier, there’s no way
a plotter could have called ahead to a conspirator to say “He’s on
Telephones simply weren’t available in the rural areas of PA that soon
after they were
invented. Sam Morse’s
telegraph HAD been operational for nearly forty years but its
use would have required a telegraph operator to have been in on a plot.
that the shooters most likely rode the same train as Phil and Wilson,
departed the Hunlock Creek Station on foot ahead of them, and were lying
when they approached.
to support that theory:
Phil and Wilson had driven a team of horses
a wagon, rather than a horse and buggy, to the station.
This tells me that they planned to bring home a load of something
that probably had come in by train.
They wouldn’t have loaded the wagon and left it there, filled,
all day long while they transacted their other business.
They would have only loaded it after returning from
“town.” Loading the
wagon afforded the perps plenty of time, even on foot, to get up the
road ahead of them. The
train depot lie on the bank of the Susquehanna River which, like any
river, is at the lowest point, topographically.
Of necessity, leaving a riverside implies traveling uphill.
A heavy load is also suggested because Wilson walked behind the
wagon to ease the strain on the horses on the hill.
did it happen?: Refer to
the above map and this picture.
Wildoner’s general store. Photo supplied by Hunlock Township.”
September 6, 2007, I photographed the initial hill leading away from the
train station. It is quite
steep and runs 0.4 mile up to the first road to the right, which is
known as Hartman Road today. The
terrain then flattens out for an additional 0.4 mile to the next right,
which is today’s Sorbertown Hill Road.
George Wildoner’s General Store, in 1878, was located on the
corner of Sorbertown Hill Road and the Hunlock Creek United Methodist
Church stands there today. This
topography fits my ideas that:
The bad guys had no idea how long it would take Phil and Wilson
to load their wagon and, therefore, how little time they had to get up
the road and hide. The very
first hill near the station was their likely stopping point.
Wilson, at age 19, was familiar with the terrain.
He knew that the nearest help lie just up the hill and,
therefore, headed for the nearby Wildoner’s store on the flats.
did the perps escape?: Witness
Frank Monroe (not seen on the
because he may not have been a landowner) testified that he had heard
two men run past his home between 7 and 8 PM, headed in a southerly
direction towards Shickshinny. Bad
guys would hardly head back to the station to await the next train.
That would have been the FIRST place the gendarmes would have
looked for them. It’s
most likely that they hid out in the woods for a day or two until the
heat died down. They may even have just hidden their loot and walked
back to “town.”
John Connell, who lost the lawsuit, would have had the motive to shoot
both Phil and Wilson. He
and a crony also could have followed them from the courtroom and boarded
the train in a separate car. Men
with guns would not have been an unusual site in 1878.
At the Hunlock Creek train station, they’d have had only to
sneak off the train unseen and hurry away in the dark while Phil and
Wilson loaded their wagon.. All that I write about this murder comes
from just the articles that ARE available through http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/keyword.html
stated above, the murder took place on Wednesday, January 16,1878.
A summary of a week’s activity appeared in the Thursday,
January 24 edition of the Wilkes-Barre Times.
A coroner’s inquest had been held.
John Connell and “another man not known to the inquest” had
been accused. Connell was a
safe bet since, having lost the lawsuit, he had a motive.
The constabulary of long ago apparently had no jurisdictional
issues such as we see today. The Wilkes-Barre police chief, one Mr.
Kelly, traveled outside what would have been his jurisdiction – to
Connell’s home in Plymouth. Connell
merely laughed at the chief and told him that he had an airtight
alibi—he’d been working below ground in a mine at the time of the
incident. The two proceeded
to the home of his mine boss and the boss confirmed it.
Connell had worked an overnight shift commencing at 5 PM on the
16th, two hours before Phil left on his trip home.
Several co-workers also vouched for Connell and no arrest was
no further leads, The Luzerne County Commissioners posted a $500 reward
Number TWO: Wilson Callender
month then passed before it was decided that, if Connell didn’t do it,
then poor Wilson Callender must have killed his father.
Your author is a child of his times and, frankly, is having quite
a time understanding the US legal system of some 129 years ago.
Unlike today, they apparently believed back then that the proper
way to do things was “arrest first, put ‘em the pokey, and only THEN
investigate.” It’s not
known precisely who accused Wilson but the names “Avery Long” and
“Thomas Lyons” have been bandied about by Phil’s descendants ever
since. Said individuals,
unless they, themselves were the perps, were simply NOT present at the
event on a dark winter’s eve. The
only possible motive in accusing Wilson would have been the lure of the
$500 reward. They had no factual basis, for they certainly hadn’t
overheard him confessing. Far
be it from this author to formally charge Long and Lyons with doing the
accusing but their names DID turn up in previous research I did for
another Sweet Valley story. It
HAS been documented in both court records and newspapers accounts that,
in 1901, some 23 years after the Callender murder, the two WERE engaged
in another nefarious deed. As
Family Trial they
did assault poor Asa Smith as he tried to dig a grave for Juber White.
(Truth be told, they and several other defendants were
subsequently acquitted in a criminal trial but the judge DID make them
pay costs, hinting that they did bear some culpability.)
any real evidence, and based on mere accusation, Wilson was arrested and
jailed on Friday, February 22. So
much for the probable cause standard to which we are entitled today.
He vigorously protested his innocence to no avail and demanded an
immediate hearing. “Immediate”
turned out to be four days later, on Tuesday, February 26.
“hearing” turned out to be more of what could be called a “one-day
mini trial.” Witnesses
for each side were sworn and subject to cross-examination.
Testimony was heard from two doctors who had conducted post
mortem exams on Phil’s body. A
description of the two bullets they removed was provided as well as of
the trajectory the bullets traveled.
It was determined that the bullets had come from the rear left of
Phil’s position on the seat of the wagon. George Wildoner, who
accompanied Wilson back to the scene, and other neighbors described the
roadside bushes that afforded cover for the assailants. Mention was made
of the fact that a few pellets had actually grazed Wilson’s head. That
fact, in and of itself, should have sufficed to prove that Wilson HAD
NOT killed his father. Who
in their right mind would try to wound their own head to cover up their
crime? One might wound
one’s leg or arm, maybe, but one’s HEAD? The slightest variation in
the angle of an intentional wounding might prove fatal!
Where could Wilson have hidden not one, but TWO guns? Further
“forensic” testimony concerning the damage to Wilson’s hat was
given but the expertise of the examiners was not clearly cited.
One witness said he took a double-barreled shotgun and fired from
a distance of 15 feet at a similar hat.
The hat was riddled but its crown was not completely torn away as
was Wilson’s. (It
wasn’t disclosed how many people may have stepped on Wilson’s hat at
the scene before it was retrieved.) Several witnesses recounted
statements Wilson had made over the month since the murder. Much
testimony was heard regarding whether Wilson possessed a revolver at the
time. A determination was made that, yes, he HAD borrowed a revolver
earlier but that he had returned it well in advance of January 16.
(Testimony about a revolver was kind of silly for there was NO
talk of Wilson having a shotgun which produced the “fine number 2
shot.”) Wilson’s mother (Sarah Snyder Callender) and sister (either
Emily L, age 26, or Mary E., age 22) were also called to the stand but
exactly what they said was not reported.
The hearing ended with Wilson being freed.
The Wilkes-Barre Leader of February 28, 1878 reported “The
innocence of the young man is fully established in the mind of the
public, and all are left to conjecture what prompted the arrest.”
bait: witnesses at the hearing included: George Wildoner, Dr. James F.
Davenport, Dr. W. H. Sharpe, Hiram Croop, M. E. Walker, William J,
Honeywell, William Kelly (or Keller – not quite legible), George
Dailey, C.D. Honeywell, William Wandell, Stephen Sims, John Montgomery,
Charles Loomis, S. S. Shultz, Joseph Harris, J. W. Chamberlain, Chief
(no first name) Wilson, Frank Monroe, and Leander Dodson.]
Number THREE and FOUR: William
(a\k\a John) Garvey and Michael McAlarney (a\k\a John Conoughan) -Six
months went by. Then, on Saturday, August 24, 1878, two additional
suspects were arrested some 275 miles from Wilkes-Barre.
Garvey and McAlarney were both employed by the B & O
Railroad, which explains their being arrested in Connellsville, Fayette
County, PA, southeast of Pittsburgh.
Railroad employees did tend to sometimes work far from home.
found no original Wilkes-Barre newspaper article about these gentleman
but there exists a Wilkes-Barre Leader reprint of an article from the
Harrisburg Patriot of August 26. The Patriot reported that the two had
been in the Wilkes-Barre area at the time of the shooting but had left
shortly thereafter. Police
chief Edward Bender had approached Garvey at a Connellsville saloon with
an arrest warrant in hand on Friday, August 23.
Garvey shot Bender in the leg and escaped.
Had Bender waited for backup in the form of Wilkes-Barre officer
Charles Beisel, he may have avoided injury.
Beisel, with the assistance of a B&O Railroad official who
ID’ed the men, made the arrests on Saturday, August 24. Despite his
demonstrated propensity for violence, Garvey gave up without a fight.
McAlarney ran five blocks to no avail.
Beisel boarded an eastbound Pennsylvania Railroad train with his
prisoners on Sunday morning but missed a connection to Wilkes-Barre and
they were held overnight in the Dauphin County Prison.
They arrived in Wilkes-Barre on Monday.
along their journey, Garvey pulled a stunt worthy of inclusion on a
“Dumb Criminals” video. He
tried to escape out a train window.
He succeeded only in injuring himself AND McAlarney, for Beisel
had shackled them together, hand and foot!
in the case of Wilson Callender, there is no recitation of exactly who
accused Garvey and McAlarney or on what “probable cause” they were
arrested and jailed. This
was another fine example of the prevalent “arrest first, put ‘em the
pokey, and only THEN investigate” attitude in 1878.
can find no articles relating to trials being held for either Garvey or
McAlarney. The cost of
records search in the Luzerne County Clerk Of Courts office has risen to
$30 per name, with no positive results guaranteed.
Given that each had one alias, looking for a trial or trials
would run $120 and I’m not willing to spend that much.
We shall see (below) that, some six years later, in 1884, the
$500 reward was still outstanding.
That fact, alone, tells us that, even if either or both were
tried, NEITHER was found guilty.
Number FIVE and SIX: Delaney and Evans
-The reward was obviously tantalizing.
In October, 1878, seven months after the murder, a Plymouth man
named Barney Tims said that men named Delaney and Evans did the killing.
Tims swore that; Delaney had been paid $250 by a “Connells”
(most likely the previously-cleared John Connell); Evans had been with
Delaney; and that Tims himself had been present.
The newspaper account stated that Tims’ story was somewhat at
odds with what Tims had told a reporter just days earlier.
A hearing held in front of Judge Stanton likely didn’t last
long, for it was revealed that Tims was a “serial accuser.”
He and his wife were well known for accusing neighbors with whom
they had quarreled. Proof
of their perfidy was the continuing confinement of two Edwards brothers
(murdered a man in Pittston and tossed his body into the Susquehanna
River) as well as men named Searles and Jones (arson in Plymouth.)
Here we have even more evidence of
“arrest first, put ‘em the pokey, and only THEN investigate.
“ The Leader concluded its article with “Tims is either a full
fledged (sic) lunatic or one of the worst men in the county.”
Aside from a November 11, 1878 cite of Tims himself having been
arraigned in connection with the Callender murder, there is no further
mention of him. Neither is
there any evidence that either Delaney or Evans were ever tried. There
is convincing evidence that there most likely were no trials for Delaney
or Evans. As in the cases
of Garvey and McAlarney, if there were trials, neither was convicted.
Proof is found in that, in 1884, some SIX YEARS AFTER the murder,
the reward was still outstanding and we are led to our final perp:
number SEVEN: William
1884, our nation was comprised of 38 states. A special dispatch from
“The Dakota” (Territory) was published in The Philadelphia Inquirer
on December 12 of that year. One
Dave Howard, a “noted criminal from this county” (Luzerne is
implied), had worked his way west.
Apparently, he had committed additional crimes in “The
Dakota”, crimes that warranted his being “lynched.”
(The article is quite short and doesn’t spell out what crimes
he had committed in either place.) From the gallows (or a tree), Howard
sought to “get right with his Lord” (author’s inference) and he
confessed to being involved in no less than seven murders in Luzerne
County during the reign of the Molly Maguires. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molly_Maguires
admitted to being in on the Callender murder and that one William Judson
Garrison had fired the fatal shot.
Word of this confession was passed back to Luzerne County and
Garrison was arrested. As
in the cases of all six perps previously mentioned herein, a mere
accusation sufficed to warrant arrest.
this point, the trail grows cold—nay, DIES.
Search as I may, I simply cannot __positively__ ID what happened
to William Judson Garrison. I
do find what I judge to have about a 90% chance of being the right man.
Articles from the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader and Philadelphia
Inquirer published on January 26 and 27, 1911, respectively, speak of
one “Dr. William J. Garrison” of Wyoming. (Wyoming lies north of and
across the Susquehanna River from Wilkes-Barre and is not very far from
Sweet Valley.) Dr. Garrison
was absolutely “nutso”, for he threw his 4-year-old daughter,
Regina, under a passing trolley car!
Fortunately, she glanced off an air tank below the car and did
not fall under the wheels. Garrison
was eventually formally declared to be insane and, in June of 1913, a
guardian was appointed to handle his affairs.
Given the tabloid-nature of reporting at the time, I am utterly
convinced of one thing. I
don’t believe that Garrison was ever TRIED for the Callender murder.
Had he been tried, I’m positive that this subsequent reporting, some
27 years after about-to-be-hung Dave Howard accused him, would have
mentioned his prior trial. Similarly,
a mere accusation, while sufficient to warrant jailing, may well have
collective memory of the Callender family does not include anyone ever
being convicted of Phil’s murder.
At one point, years after the event, Frank Monroe, who had
testified at the hearing that cleared Wilson Callender, spoke to Warren
Callender, Phil’s grandson. He
claimed that John Connell, the very first perp ever accused, had
actually killed Phil. Connell,
said Monroe, had been a member of the Molly Maguires (see link above) a
group which, rightly or wrongly, had been accused of all sorts of
violent acts in NE Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s.
Monroe, under death threats from Connell and his cohorts, had
been afraid to mention at Wilson’s hearing what he knew.
Threats could well have been made against the mine boss and
co-workers who validated Connell’s alibi or, perhaps, they were
“Mollys” as well. Thus
ends the “Cold, COLD Case Of Phillip Callender.”
Callender farm and family after the murder:
previously stated, Phil had, by 1866, bought out all his siblings’
interests and owned, outright, a 117-acre farm in Sweet Valley.
I have no doubt that, in subsequent years, he deeded away a small
portion of it via deeds that I haven’t studied.
Suffice it to say that he retained 108 acres and that is the farm
about which I shall further elaborate
W. "Wilson" Callender, as has been said, was 19 in 1878, when
he was charged with and cleared of killing his father.
By 1885 when he was 26, he had married a girl named Mary and had
two daughters. He moved
“over town” to Pittston and owned a dye works.
He must have died between 1900 and 1910, for the 1910 census
shows Mary as a widow.
S. Callender, 25 at the time of the murder, was the eldest of Phil’s
boys and he inherited the farm in Sweet Valley.
He is cited several times in my previous story at
are his 3 sons; Harry LeRoy “Roy” Callender, and twins Wayne B. and
Warren G. A fourth son, Edgar, died in 1890 at the age of 2.
George operated the farm (see below) up until his death in 1944.
He, his wife Sarah C. Bronson, and son Edgar are buried in the
Christian Church (a\k\a “The Brick Church”) Cemetery in Sweet
family tombstone in the Christian (Brick) Church Cemetery, Sweet Valley,
PA. Photo by Ron Hontz,
his name being inscribed on that family tombstone, I have it on good
authority (caretaker Bill George) that son Warren G. is REALLY interred
in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Pikes Creek, Lake Township.
Callender’s tombstone in Maple Grove Cemetery.
Photo by Ron Hontz, 2007.”
daughter Mae became a schoolteacher, married Lloyd Wilson in 1913, and
bore him 5 children. His
other daughter, Estelle "Stella" I. Callender, married later
in life. In 1910, she was17
and living “over town” with her Aunt Mary (Wilson’s widow.)
Even by 1920 (at age 27) when she was a schoolteacher and living
back home at George’s farm in Sweet Valley, she remained unmarried.
In 1931, at the ripe old age of 39, she married James
"Harry" Wright and bore him a son in 1935.
Callender’s three sons; Roy, Wayne, and Warren.”
Courtesy of Joe Callender.”
Callender died on June 23, 1944 and his estate was settled six months
later, with the farm going to Wayne and Warren.
view of the Callender farm, adjudged to have been taken between 1949 and
1960. House annotated as
“Phil’s house” is said, by its present owner, to be well over 100
years old and is much older than the other house.
The other house is, therefore, labeled as “George’s house”
and is definitely the home in which George’s sons, Wayne and Warren,
resided. Courtesy of Joe Callender.”
LeRoy “Roy” Callender was the eldest of George and Sarah’s sons,
having been born in 1890. He
went away to college and graduated from Penn State University (main
campus) in the Class of 1914 with a degree in Agronomy.
of Joe Callender. “
that degree, he returned to Luzerne County, but not to George’s farm.
He married Amy Newitt in 1916.
On the 1920 census, they lived with her folks in Kingston where
he was employed as a “drayman” (truck driver) with a moving company.
By 1930, they had moved back to Sweet Valley and lived next door
to where the fire hall was built in 1947 on land donated by his
brothers. (Wayne Callender also loaned the new fire company $4,000
[$39,913 in 2006 dollars] to purchase a truck chassis from Warren
fire hall. House to the
right was the residence of Roy and Amy (Newitt) Callender in 1930. Photo
by Ron Hontz, 2007 and the 1947
fire truck from
had gotten into the lumber business back on North Mountain but was a bit
late to that game for most of the timber had been depleted by then.
His company was highly leveraged and, with the stock market crash
in 1929, he went out of business. Roy
and his family left the area and began moving southwestward, first to
Millville, then to Bloomsburg and, later, Northumberland. A classmate
from PSU named Rockefeller (no relation to the rich ones) owned some
timber near Northumberland and asked Roy to take a look at clearing
enough of it to pay the taxes on that land.
It turned out be worth way more than just the taxes and Roy spent
years clearing it. Eventually,
he retired from lumbering and ran a grocery store.
He died in 1978 and is buried in Northumberland Memorial Park,
Roy and Amy had 7 children in all. Only 78-year-old Joseph
remains and, from down in Selingsgrove, he has been one of my major
Wayne and Warren, about 8 years younger than Roy, were born on November
18, 1898. They graduated
from the Pleasant Hill Academy just 100 yards from their house and
then briefly attended the Bloomsburg Normal School (Bloomsburg
University today). With
George growing older, they returned to the farm to help him and,
thereby, put into practice that which Roy had only studied.
By 1919, when they were only 21, they pretty much ran the place.
I’m not sure when their home in which I knew them to live was
built, probably by George, but here is how it looked in 1913.
Callender, age 14, training 7-month-old oxen Duke and Dime.
Courtesy of Maude Luskey.”
also known that Phil’s original homestead had been, by 1930, converted
to a rental property (hereinafter a\k\a “the rental house.”)
My father, Albert Hontz, lived there then with his first wife, my
oldest half-brother, and his two cousins.
Ross Township census from ancestry.com.”
Callender Farm was quite an operation but it’s NOT possible to
attribute any particular activity to either George alone, or George and
his sons jointly, or to just the sons.
There are simply no sources I know of who can recall George
running the farm before, say, 1921 or so when the sons got involved.
(A person BORN in 1905 and, thus of an age to recall events in
1919 would be 102 today.) Given
the age of people I DO interview, I’d guess that about 90% of the
activity was by just the sons.
to a heads-up from my classmate,
Rich Bronson, I have learned about an item called a “stationary
baler” or “hay press.”
for a hay press. From the
children of the 1950’s and beyond, neither Rich nor I ever saw such a
contraption. Rich’s father and grandfather, however, had told him of
“the Callender Boys” having had one.
(Wayne and Warren, throughout their lifetimes, were known
familiarly around Sweet Valley as “the Callender Boys” even by
people 50 years younger than them.) The only balers Rich and I knew of
were pulled behind tractors. This
one was hauled to a hayfield by a horse-drawn flatbed wagon and then
unloaded onto the ground. Farmhands would bring hay to the baler and
torque created by horses walking a circular path around it compressed
the hay into bales. Given that a stationary baler was invented back in
the 1850’s, it’s quite likely that Phil had used one before he was
killed in 1878.
late as the mid-1960’s, one old building still standing on the farm
showed evidence of its prior use as a cider press.
George Callender was known to have been in the cider business as
long ago as the 1890’s and the press was most likely initially
steam-powered. (By the time
Ken Williams bought the 108-acre farm from George’s sons, Wayne and
Warren, on January 19, 1970,
the remaining power source left behind was an International truck
engine.) Built into a side hill, the building featured four floors.
Farmers would drive up behind the building and dump their apples into a
concrete holding bin. From there a conveyor belt took them to the fourth
floor and emptied them into a two-story hopper.
At the bottom of the hopper a “sluice gate” (author’s term)
would be slid open and as many apples as needed could then be fed down
into a grinder and thence to the press on the second floor.
Cider flowed down to the first floor, where it was fed into a
large vat (approximately 8’ to10’ in diameter and 4’ high.)
A spigot on the vat allowed the product to be placed into barrels
and moved in either of two directions, both of which involved rolling
the barrels. Anyone who has
ever tried to roll a barrel will quickly tell you that they are brutes
to steer because they are far from perfect cylinders; the middle has a
larger diameter than does either end. To guide the steering, the
Callenders cut one channel into the flooring which would accommodate the
wide middle of a barrel. That
channel led from the vat to an exterior door for easy customer pick-up.
Most barrels of cider to be picked up days after the pressing
would be stored on the first floor because three-fourths of that ground
floor was below grade, i.e., insulated by earth outside its walls.
At times when the first floor storage area was completely filled,
more barrels followed a second channel in the floor and were hauled to
the third or fourth floor by a hand-cranked elevator.
One could drive one’s wagon onto the second floor and load
barrels brought down from above. Given
the scope of that operation, it’s fair to surmise that the Callender
family may well have been selling cider commercially, i.e., to an
“over town” market. They
also found a use for apple pulp left from the operation.
It was fed to their livestock.
livestock consisted of, at one time, some pigs, a herd of Guernsey cows
and, as Joe Callender recalls, “One NASTY bull.”
“The Boys”, as most dairy farmers do, raised their own grain
for silage. Beyond threshing their own grain, they hired out to other
Ross Township farmers to thresh theirs. It’s not known at what point
in time the grist mill operated but Ken Williams found evidence of its
prior existence when he bought the place in 1970.
On the second floor he found what appeared to have been a grain
bin which would have held as much as a ton of feed.
The milling MAY have coincided with the cider press operation
but, most likely, followed it.
also ran a sawmill in the 1890’s but not much is known about that.
On the other hand, how much CAN one say about a sawmill?
Given what we have surmised about the cider press, the sawmill,
too, was likely steam-powered. Logs
came in and boards went out.
Callenders were known to have sold farm equipment at one time, but
precisely when cannot be determined.
three sons (Harry LeRoy “Roy”, Wayne, and Warren were all registered
for the WW1 draft but none were actually drafted.
WW2, Roy’s three oldest boys
served their country. Warren Newitt Callender, born in 1917, was married
by 1941. Although he sought to be assigned to a combat unit, he ended up
as a Navy ammunition instructor stateside. Harry LeRoy "Steve"
Callender, Jr. was born in 1920 and became an Army Air Corp mechanic,
servicing B-25 bombers in England. George Russell Callender, born in
1924, was in an Army artillery unit and was wounded in France.
Roy’s youngest son, Joseph Edgar Callender (my source), was
born in May of 1928 and, thus, was just turning 17 when the war in
Europe ended and he wasn’t called.
S. Callender died on June 24, 1944 shortly after D-Day.
“The Boys” carried on without him.
Wayne married Irma Harrison, some 15 years younger than him, but
they had no children. Warren
never married and he remained in the homestead, with Irma keeping house
for all three of them. “The Boys” were quite frugal and their three
pairs of “long john” underwear, which they wore year-round, could be
seen hanging on the clothesline. One
brother, it isn’t clear which, considered the other to be a
spendthrift. He observed “You don’t need two pair of long johns! One
pair is enough; just wash it out and put it back on!”
when “The Boys” ceased farming is hard to pin down but I can give a
couple of approximate dates when they were still at it.
Donation of the land for the fire hall in 1947 was a charitable
act but it caused them one consternation.
Their chicken coop sat not far from the fire hall.
Each time the siren blew, they’d have to run to the coop to
un-pile their chickens. Fowl
are notoriously “chicken” and will, upon being frightened, fly about
in a panic, ending up in a pile under which the bottom ones would
smother. (As a teen, I used
to clean Garfield “Goody” Goodman’s chicken coop.
[Watch out for wet corners where rain had leaked in.
The smell of ammonia is enough to knock you over.] I giggled
mightily at hearing him sing out softly “Good morning, girls” as he
approached the coop but he had a rational explanation.
It gave them advance warning and they wouldn’t fly up as he
opened the door.)
Callender neighbor who chooses to remain nameless admits to having
caroused, with his\her friends in the Callender barn around 1955.
The chief activity involved jumping from the hay mow into the hay
wagon, following which there would be little, if any, hay left in the
wagon; it’d mostly be on the barn floor.
Haying, in and of itself, doesn’t, in my mind, constitute much
real “farming” activity. It
simply grows and one harvests it. “The
Boys” would come to chase them and the teenagers would run and hide in
the cornfield. Aha! Now, growing corn DOES take more effort than haying
because one must plant it. Based on there being a cornfield in which to
hide, I feel safe in saying that they were still “farming” as late
as 1955 when they were 56 years old.
Boys” lived a fairly comfortable retirement, for they had engaged in a
lifelong tradition started, I have no doubt whatsoever, by poor murdered
Phil or maybe even Phillip III. The
were the informal “bankers Of Sweet Valley.”
I personally know of five families who borrowed money from George
and, later, Wayne and Warren. There were, undoubtedly, dozens of other
families who benefited from their sideline, too.
Income from Notes Receivable would easily have supported their
frugal lifestyle. Wayne’s
wife, Irma, was also a good-hearted soul who believed in helping out her
neighbors. When Alberta
Foss broke her collarbone and couldn’t sweep up in her restaurant,
Irma crossed the road and did it for her.
Irma was also a noted cook and baker.
Joe Callender (Roy’s boy) tells me that each time they’d go
“home” to visit, he could look forward to Irma’s Graham Cracker
don’t recall ever meeting Wayne Callender.
I don’t THINK I did, for they were close enough to being
identical twins as to fool the casual observer.
Warren was easy to spot for he was usually dressed in a black
suit, the “uniform of the day” for driving a limousine for funeral
director Alfred Bronson. As
a teenager, I’d encounter Warren at Ord Trumbower’s grocery store.
He knew I was Albert Hontz’s boy and I knew him to be the limo driver.
He’d acknowledge my “Hi, Mr. Callender” with a nod but that
was the extent of our interaction.
I’ve heard that Warren, upon a doctor’s advice, bought a
bicycle to exercise his arthritic knees
but I never caught sight of him on it.
A teenage brain would never forget seeing an old man on a bike.
overflow from Harris Pond crosses the rear of the Callender Farm and
flows down to Prichards Corners on its way to the Susquehanna River. In
the mid-1960’s, a developer named Sherman Hoover had a plan to dam up
the creek about three-fourths of a mile downstream from the Callender
Farm to create a recreational lake.
The farm would have constituted the “rear end” of a long,
narrow lake. Had the plan
succeeded, Callender Road and other roads would have had to be raised
for the flooding would have covered their present grade.
The plan failed, however, when one neighbor owning a parcel along
Niemchick Road to the rear of the Callender Farm refused to sell.
Hoover took his idea down to Union Township, and built
Shickshinny Lake on “the Wolfe Farm” there.
Farm hayfield which WOULD have formed the back of a lake in the
1960’s. It also later
served as a buffalo pasture. Note fencing installed in 1994.
Two views of the lake as it WAS eventually built (as Shickshinny
Lake.) Photos by Ron Hontz, 2007.”
so doing, he outbid a tomato farmer named Ken Williams who had been
renting “the Wolfe Farm” since 1959 and who had made an offer to
purchase it. Undeterred,
Williams essentially swapped places with Hoover, moving his operation to
the middle of Sweet Valley and renting the Callender Farm.
“The Boys” gave Williams the first right of refusal to buy
told that Wayne was rather sickly in his later years.
Despite that fact, his much-younger wife, Irma, died first, on
January 1, 1969 at only age 55. Her
death from cancer no doubt sharpened the twins’ foreboding of their
own mortality. Wayne
drafted his will just seven months later, in August, 1969. In January,
sold the farmland and the “rental house” to Williams, retaining the
homestead house on a one-acre lot.
(Williams only owned the “rental house” for a short time and
then sold it to the present  owner, Ronnie Cross.)
Wayne lived just a little over one year longer than did Irma,
dying on March 19, 1970. He
was 71. Warren was the last
to die, passing at age 75 on Christmas Day, 1973.
Both twins left considerable sums of money to the Sweet Valley
Church Of Christ.
its heyday, Ken Williams’ tomato operation had some 125 acres under
cultivation, comprised of the Callender Farm and rented fields
stretching to Lehman. Initially,
he farmed both sides of Callender Road but shipped his produce to a
packing house in the Broadway\Bloomingdale area of lower Ross Township..
In 1979, he decided to move the packing operation to a more
centrally-located site—the old cider press building.
house addition built onto front of old cider press building. Courtesy of
raise funds, he sold the right-side 20 acres to Russ Major, who wanted
to expand his private air strip. Russ,
it turned out, needed only half of that. He re-sold to Don Wesley the 10
acres fronting on Main Road and extending westward from Callender Road
toward the fire house. Wesley,
a major Sweet Valley developer, sub-divided the rear of the 10 acres,
built three homes, and sold them.
Major’s airstrip and homes built by Don Wesley.
Photos by Ron Hontz, 2007.”
1999, Jamie Wallace opened a boat-repair business called Lakeside
Restorations Lake Side
in a small building on the Callender Farm.
He works on all manner of boats, from “cigarette” racing
boats to luxury craft. As
the business grew, in 2002, he expanded into the old tomato-packing
views of the former
tomato-packing shed built by Ken Williams.
Four-story older building to the rear held George Callender’s
cider press and grist mill. Wide view courtesy of Jamie Wallace and
close-up by Ron Hontz, 2007.”
boat business operated by Jamie Wallace in the old tomato-packing shed.
Courtesy of Jamie Wallace.”
part of the money raised from the sale to Russ Major, Williams also
constructed a one-story cinder block building to house migrant pickers.
That structure was divided into six units, each housing up to
five migrants for, as Williams says, he was “licensed for thirty
“licensing” was overseen by the PA Department of Environmental
Resources, which annually inspected the migrant housing to be sure it
met established standards. In
October, 1994, Williams gave up the tomato business, sold the entire 108
acres of the Callender Farm to a man named Law, and turned to selling
real estate. See
Law was a substantial individual. A Kansas native, he had been a
decorated Lt. Colonel, serving with the 101st Airborne in
Vietnam. He’d followed
his military career by rising to a Senior VP position with
Manufacturer’s Hanover Bank. He worked for the bank in places as
varied as Miami and Mexico City. World traveler Law was drawn to the
Sweet Valley area because his wife came from nearby Nanticoke.
With an eye toward retirement he had, in 1972, purchased 70 acres
of the “Renold Morris Farm” where your author had spent his high
school years. In 1979, Don
Stroud constructed a house for him there and Law commuted from his job
in New York City. In 1988, following his retirement from “Manny Hanny”,
Law founded Sweet Valley Buffalo, Inc. with just four head of American
in Sweet Valley proved to be, as one might expect, quite the attraction.
Law allowed the public to take photos of them and even drive
inside the fence to mingle with the herd.
Buffalo meat is very good for one’s health and if often
prescribed for heart patients. Not “marbled” like that of
conventional beef cattle, its fat is easily trimmed, lying chiefly
around the perimeter of steaks. Come
harvesting time, Law would ship his animals to a slaughterhouse some 60
miles away, in Hegins, Schuylkill County, PA.
The meat would be immediately frozen and then brought back to
Sweet Valley. One could buy
buffalo burgers from Law in a small retail outlet next to his house or
order them at the Red Rooster Restaurant in Pikes Creek.
price list. Courtesy of
1994, Law expanded his operation by buying from Ken Williams the
remaining 88 acres on the left side of Callender Road. Almost
immediately, he was challenged in court by neighbors fearing the buffalo
would escape. Supported by
Ken Williams’ testimony and a paper on bison farming published by Penn
State University, he proved that his fencing exceeded the standards it
spelled out. He’d kept
most of the fence that Williams had originally built to keep deer from
his tomatoes and had added to it considerably.
An outer ring kept humans away from the inner ring, of which
three out of the eight strands of barbed wire were electrified.
(See picture of the hayfield\proposed lake above.)
Law had even drilled into solid rock to install some of his
pressure-treated pine fence posts.
He won the lawsuit easily as the judge pointed out to the
neighbors that, after all, they HAD moved into an agriculturally-zoned
area and that raising bison was a recognized form of bovine husbandry.
of Larry Lanning and Pete Kirsch.”
former migrant housing built by Ken Williams was converted (by “The
Stroud Boys”, Dick and Don) to three apartments.
Law hired a full-time caretaker named Pete Kirsch to manage the
herd and Pete lived in one of the apartments.
migrant housing where the buffalo-caretaker, Pete Kirsch, still lives.
Photo by Ron Hontz, 2007.”
buffalo remained on the Callender Farm for less than two years.
Larry Law died of a heart attack in May, 1996.
His widow, Patricia, was never too fond of them anyway and,
within two months the entire 150 head, including the ones from the
Morris Farm, had been sold.
A man named Chad Peterson came east from Basset, Nebraska
spent nearly the entire month of July, 1996 around Sweet Valley making
arrangements to ship them. Chad
tells me he drove a rental car around the pasture to round them up.
In the end, he sold off a few to other ranchers in PA, NY, and
VA. Only the greater portion of the herd went West.
status of the Callender Farm in 2007 is as follows:
The 88-acre left side of Callender Road (except for the “rental
house”) that previously served as a tomato farm and buffalo ranch is
owned by two partners from the Philly area.
They own the barn immediately next to the “rental house” and
they rent the old cider press\packing shed building to Jamie Wallace’s
owned by Philly-area partners next to the rental house. Photo by Ron
may yet subdivide the remainder for a housing development.
The “rental house” that was likely built by poor, murdered
Phil, and in which his grandson, Joe Callender, was born, is owned by
house. Photo by Ron Hontz, 2007.”
The house on the right side of Callender Road where Wayne and
Irma and Warren lived has changed hands twice.
Following Warren’s death in 1973, it was initially owned by
Dave and Carol Valentine. They sold it to Don Wesley, who consolidated
it with the rest of the 10-acre piece he bought from Russ Major in 1979.
Don sold it to the present owner, Jim Davis, who owns Davis
Trophies (Davis Trophies
) across the Main Road from it. It,
too, has been converted into a rental property and features three
right side of Callender Road where Wayne and Irma and Warren lived.
(Note red barn across Callender Road to the left.) Photo by Ron Hontz,
The stretch of frontage along Main Road from Callender Road westward to
the fire hall was part of the 10-acre plot bought by Don Wesley in 1979.
In the 1950’s, it featured an equipment shed which, I believe, was
only rented and not sold, to Ross Township. The township moved down near
the grade school and that stretch did, for a time, have a used-car lot
which, too, is now gone. In 2007, there is just a hair salon and a
couple of small outbuildings owned by the fire company and used for
their annual carnival in May.
remains no trace of the Callender family in Sweet Valley today other
than Callender Road which was so named for “911” purposes.
My 90-year-old source chuckled “Callender? I haven’t heard
THAT name in 20 years!” I
was most fortunate to find Joe Callender (“Roy’s boy”) still
living in Pennsylvania. Descendants
of George’s two girls, Mae and Stella, may still live in the area but,
given that US censuses after 1930 are not yet available, I can’t track
them. Perhaps one or more
of them may find this story by Googling and, thereby, learn something of
Sharon (Strzelczyk) Robinson, for having found at http://awt.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=mkmiller&id=I0033
internet posting that caused me to begin this story and for serving as
my editor\proofreader-in-charge. Newspaper
articles from http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/keyword.html
US Census information from http://ancestry.com/Default.aspx
Callender, great grandson of Phil Callender, for family information and
pictures. Lt. Col. James T.
Callender (USAF – retired, and Phil’s 1st cousin, four
times removed) for additional family information and gravesite data at http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/c/a/l/Jamie--Callender/
(in alphabetical order) Richard
Bronson, Gladys (Foss) Chapple, Bill George, Pete Kirsch, Patricia
Krivak , Larry Lanning, Ronnie Lanning, Rich Long, Maude Luskey, Patty
Matthews, Mike Miller, Freece Morris, Chad Peterson, Joyce (Pearson)
Partington, Vicki Seward, Don Stroud, Dick Thomas, Jamie Wallace, Don
Wesley, Ken Williams.
in 2007 by:
phone (717) 309-1402