John Eneas McCallister

by Edmund Starling, 1886


JOHN ENEAS McALLISTER was born in Henderson County Octobert 14th, 1805. His ancestors were of Scottish origin, and remarkable for their personal courage. His father, Eneas McCallister, was a native of Pennsylvania; his mother, whose maiden name was Kinkead, was also from the same State. His great-grandfather, Samuel Kinkead, prior to Braddock's defeat, was tomahawked by the Indians on the Potomac River, in Virginia, and his wife, two sons and a daughter, captured and carried away to the territory of Ohio. Samuel Kinkead, the oldest son, then about fourteen years of age, effected his escape and afterwards joined Washington's army. Mrs. Kinkead was separated from her children, some time after their capture, and taken by the Indians to the territory of Illinois, near the Mississippi River. During this time a treaty had been effected between the government and the Indians, and a large number of them came into Pittsburg. With the Indians were the two Kinkead boys and their sister, who had, during her captivity, become the wife of one of the chiefs. A short time after their arrival the three were discovered by their brother Sam, who was then a Captain in the American army. He persuaded the two boys to desert the Indians, but failed in all his efforts to reclaim his sister, she refusing to give up her wild Indian life and return among the whites. The mother, who was a captive, as before stated, in the Illinois territory, had often been importuned to marry one of the chiefs, and had as often positively declined. She offended one of the chiefs, and had as often positively declined. She offended one of the chiefs in some way not known, and, for this reason, was ordered to be burned at the stake. The French, who then occupied the Missouri territory, and had built the town of Kaskaskia on the opposite side of the Mississippi, were on friendly terms and carried on a large trade with the Indians. A French merchant of Kaskaskia, named Larsh, was over among the Indians, and, discovering a white woman packing fagots and sticks, involuntarily made inquiries concerning her. He soon learned her history, and also that she was packing wood, whose leaping flames were that very night to burn her mortal frame and waft her spirit into eternity. Horrified beyond measure, this Frenchman determined to thwart the decree of the heartles monster and at the risk of his own life effect her escape. he met Mrs. Kinkead, and by signs and secret whispers, warned her of her approaching fate, and begged that she fly with hi. This she consented readily to do, and as good fortune would have it, the two succeeded in reaching Kaskaskia. Larsch was a man of considerable means and unmarried. Owing, perhaps, to the exciting and dangerous incidents through which the two had passed, a mutual attachment sprung up between them which ultimately resulted in their marriage according to the rites and forms of the Catholic church. Mrs. Kinkead had been raised a Protestant, and, even after her marriage to Larsh, held to that faith. By some means, she managed throughout her entire captivity to save to herself a Protestant Bible, which she read day by day.

Kaskaskia was a Catholic settlement, and Larsh, her husband, was a devoted member of the church; yet she held firm to her Bible and would read it whenever an opportunity offered. One day, while she was thus engaged, a priest happened in, and, discovering her with the book, seized hold of it, and, wrenching it from her hands, turned and threw it in the fire. her husband was absent at the time, but upon his return, she told him what had happened. The story so enraged him that upon the return of the priest, he rushed upon him and, denouncing him, said: "I do you as you do my wife's book;" with this he seized the priest and threw him in the fire. Larsh, knowing the penalty that would be visited upon him and his wife when this fact became known, seized a mattress from off of one of the beds and with her retreated hurriedly to the river, where he improvised a raft, upon which he placed the mattress, and the two made the perilous journey across the Mississippi River, where they claimed the protection of General Clarke's army of Kentuckians, which had arrived in pursuit of the Indians. Larsh, as before stated, was a man of considerable means, but, after his flight, and the discovery of what he had done, became known, every vestige of property to which he set claim was confiscated by the French. Captain Samuel Kinkead, of the American army, then stationed at Pittsburgh, hearing of his sister's escape from the Indians and subsequent escape from Kaskaskia, to General Clarke's army, obtained a leave of absence and, in a canoe, paddled down the Ohio to Cairo and thence up the Mississippi to Clarke's army, where he found his sister. After relieving his fatigued limbs, he, with his sister and Larsh, her husband, took passage in the canoe and paddled down the Mississippi and up the Ohio to Pittsburgh, and, although both banks of the Ohio at frequent places were occupied by Indians, they mad the journey successfully without encountering a single Indian or meeting with any serious obstacle. Larsh and his wife afterwards removed to Ohio, where they raised a family of children who proved worthy of their brave and noble parentage. The Larsh boys became, in after years, immensely wealthy, and one grandson died a leading man of Cincinnati commercial and local circles.

Captain Samuel Kinkead, who had braved all dangers for the relief of his sister, whom he loved better than he did his own life, remained in the American army until its disbandment, when he returned to Virginia and married. In the year 1794 or '95, he immigrated with his family to Lexington, Kentucky, where he remained about five years, then removing to Livingston County, settling in that part of it which fell to Caldwell in the formation of that county. In the year 1804, Miss Jane, daughter of Captain Samuel Kinkead, and Eneas McCallister, Jr., the father of the subject of this sketch, met at one of those great religious camp meetings, so frequently held in early times, and, at first sight, became victims to that incomprehensible of all incomprehensiblities, "love." Shortly thereafter they were married and settled for life in Henderson County.

As to the paternal ancestors of John E. McCallister, his grandfather, Eneas McCallister, who was a wealthy man in the city of Pittsburgh, and not only wealthy himself, but of close affinity with others of great wealth, hearing glowing stories of the riches of the Cumberland River country, determined to go hence and establish a mechanical village, he himself being an expert blacksmith. With that end in view, he loaded a keel-boat and, with his family, embarked on the placid Ohio for the mouth of the Cumberland River. Reaching the mouth, he poled up to the point where Clarksville is now situated, and there disembarked. In 1809, he served as Treasurer of the County of Montgomery, Tenn. The Indian wars coming in, and other reverses pressing hard upon him, he was forced to surrender to the inevitable, after losing all that he had in the world. Friends and relations whom he left behind at Pittsburgh, urged him to return, and, after having lived ten years in that wild country, he concluded to do so. He therefore procured him a large sized boat called a Perote, a boat made of the largest sized tree, by digging out the center and rounding off its ends, and in this he embarked with his wife and sons, John, Eneas, Jesse, Archibald, Clark, and Joseph, and daughters, Catharine, Polly, Betsy, and Sally. His boat he propelled with oars and poles. The trip was not only a dangerous one, but from the nature of circumstances, an exceedingly fatiguing and worrysome one. After weeks of hard work from the mouth of the Cumberland, in stemming the current of the Ohio, the party succeeded in reaching the "Red Banks," now Henderson, where they were met by heavy floating ice and compelled to take the bank. here he secured a vacant log house on the river front and set to work to make himself and family comfortable for the winter. At the time of Mr. McCallister's arrival at the Red Banks, there were but few settlers, among the number being John Husbands, John Kuykendall, John Haussman and Jake Sprinkle. Mr. McCallister was a man of great piety and very strict in his family concerning the proper observance of the Sabbath. He would not associated himself nor permit his family to associate with any of the settlers on this day. As a consequence, Kuykendall and some of his friends, who had no faith except that in accord with the devil and his works, determined to run the old man off, and, on a certain night secretly approached his cabin and fired a volley into it. They had mistaken their game, for their fire was returned and they were forced to retreat. During the winter, Eneas, Jr., the father of John E. McCallister, Esq., and his brother, Jesse, kept the family well supplied with wild meat, frequently, when in search for buffalo and bear, extending their hunt twenty miles out. It was on one of these excursions that they discovered a lick upon the bank of Highland Creek, and this being reported to the father, determined him to give up his return to Pittsburgh, and to remove in the spring with his family to that spot for the purpose of opening a well for the manufacture of salt. Mr. McCallister did settle there, and for years manufactured salt at a great profit. During the time he located, entered and had patented large tracts of land for himself and sons.

Eneas McCallister, Jr., upon his marriage, settled the William C. Green farm one mile this side of Rock Spring, and two and a half miles from Cairo, where the subject of this sketch, John E. McCallister, was born October 14th, 1805. Mr. McCallister raised seven children: John E., Samuel, Eliza (who married Furna Cannon), Lorraine (who married Evans Barnett), Orinda (who married Benjamin Talbott), William M. and Joseph. John E. and William M., who now live in Owensboro, are the only surviving children.

Eneas McCallister, Sr., as before stated, was a devoted churchman and for years was an Elder in the Rev. James McGready's church. In 1810 he was appointed one of the Territorial Judges for the Indiana Territory, and, removing there, held the first court for the counties of Vanderburg and Warrick, in the town of Boonville.

John Eneas McCallister was ambitious during his youth to obtain a thorough education, but met with many obstacles in endeavoring to gratify his early aspirations for knowledge. He attended the common schools of his home until he had mastered all the branches taught in the country schools of those early days. His father could not furnish him the means to enjoy the advantages of a course in the more advanced colleges of the country, but contrived to raise funds sufficient to enable him to obtain tuition in the High School at Bowling Green, Ky. Here our subject made rapid progress in his learning, giving particular attention to the study of Latin. Having for a long time entertained a desire to become a lawyer, he was at last enabled to begin the study of his chosen profession, in 1826, in the office of George Morris, at Henderson, Kentucky. After passing two years in the preliminary study, he was duly admitted to the bar, and, in 1828, went South to establish himself in his profession, but, after a short absence, he was taken sick and obliged to return to his home. Upon his recovery, he was reluctantly compelled to abandon his profession of the law, and thereafter engaged in occupations more conducive to the enjoyment of physical vigor. About this time his father died, and a large family was left in destitute circumstances. He at once went to the assistance of his widowed mother, who was left struggling with adversity; and, by his indefatigable efforts, and the help of his brothers, the family soon rapidly advanced in prosperity. He embarked in the business of a flatboat trader in produce, along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and remained in this business for about seven years with great success. Upon giving up flatboating on the rivers, he purchased a large tract of land, and entered upon its cultivation, and soon became the leading farmer of his vicinity. His great ability and numerous excellent qualities gained for him the highest respect of all his neighbors; and such was the confidence reposed in his judgment and sagacity, he was constantly called upon to discharge the duties of some responsible trust, in which his management always met with the unqualified approval of all parties concerned. He possessed considerable knowledge of medicine, having devoted considerable time to study of this science, and thus was enable to act as the physician for his locality. He was the largest landholder of his region of the county, and all of his farms were models of excellence, and conducted upon the most approved methods of agriculture. He was freely consulted by the neighboring farmers in regard to the planting and then the disposal of their crops in the best markets, and his counsel was invariably followed. With his acquaintance of the law, many accomplishments, unquestioned integrity and rare judgment, he became the confidential advisor of the citizens for a large area of country surrounding his home, and the utmost reliance was placed in his decisions. His high standing in the community and his eminent ability well fitted him for a seat in the councils of the State, and he, therefore, was accordingly selected by his fellow-citizens to represent them in the State Legislature, being chosen to that body in 1846. He was for a number of years a Director in the Farmers' Bank, and, upon the resignation of Joseph Adams, was elected President, serving with great credit to himself and benefit to the bank up to the fall of 1882. He served as Magistrate under the old Constitution from 1835 to 1851 inclusive. He was married in 1832 to Miss Elizabeth Scott, a native of Wilmington, Delaware, but suffered the misfortune of losing his wife, by death, after having been married but ten months. He was again married in 1838 to Miss Elizabeth Talbott, daughter of Benjamin Talbott, a worthy farmer of Henderson County, and had three children by this marriage, none of whom survive. He was again married in December, 1867, to Mrs. Fanny Stanley, a highly accomplished lady, daughter of Josiah Jenkins, of Buffalo, New York. He is a prominent member of the Episcopal church, and evinces the deepest regard for the welfare of his church. Mr. McCallister is a highly cultured and refined gentleman, possesses a kindly disposition and great suavity of manners. Throughout his long and eventful career, he has always shown the greatest philanthropic and benevolent spirit, ready with his assistance, and willing to make sacrifices to promote the well-being of others. His course has won for him the highest esteem and veneration of his fellowmen. Mr. McCallister at this day is known and recognized as one of Henderson County's wealthiest citizens. In addition to a handsome residence, and four large storehouses in the city, he is the owner of thirty-two hundred acres of most valuable farming lands in the county, four hundred acres on the south side and twenty-seven hundred and fifty acres on the north side of Green River.

Since writing the above, Mr. McCallister died August 7th, 1886, at 2 o'clock p.m., and was buried in Fernwood from St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Return to the Henderson County KyGenWeb Home Page