(An American Tragedy)

Donald K. Muschany


[Letter 10]

June 15, 1977

Dear Norman:

     Did you ever wonder who gave Callaway County its name? I can tell you. He was Captain James Callaway [1], Nancy Howell’s first husband, and a fine figure of a man he was.
     He was intelligent, fearless, and had the courage of ten lions, which made him a man for all seasons in those perilous days. He was considered one of the most efficient scouts and was in command of a company of Missouri Rangers. On the morning of March 7, 1815, Capt. Callaway, with Lt. Riggs and 14 troopers, went in pursuit of some Sac and Fox Indians who had stolen some horses from settlers near Fort Clemson, on Loutre Island. They tracked the Indians, and recaptured the horses which were guarded by only a few squaws. This made the unit suspicious, but the fearless captain insisted that they take the same route home. He was obviously spoiling for a tete-a-tete with the lnjuns. He was not disappointed as they were ambushed at Prairie Fork and the good captain and three of his men were killed. The others made it back safely.
     The Castlio family had come to Missouri from Tennessee in 1806 and were destined to populate the area with many fine families. Their son, John, a young widower, had moved to Dardenne from Cottleville and married Nancy, the captain’s widow. John was as fond of the land as was Francis Howell, and we see a mingling of genes at this point which certainly permeated the lifelong culture of Hamburg and Howell residents, including you and me.
     One of the five sons of this union, Othaniel (called Maw) met a little lovely, Cordelia Keithly, from O’Fallon, and decided that this young lady was going to be the woman of his house. There was only one problem; he had no house. His brother, Newt, was also interested in young widow Mahala, Cordelia’s sister, and he, too, needed to put together a homestead. Well, the boys, thusly motivated, took off for the California gold fields. After a series of adventures, including a stopover in a Mexican jail, each of the boys returned with about $10,000. A tremendous stake in those days . . . not bad now, if you ask me.
     Well, Newt took your way out, Doc, and he and Mahala became Dr. and Mrs. Newt Castlio while Maw (Othaniel) married his lovely little Cordelia on May 12, 1852. For details of the “quilting custom,” I refer you to CROW’S NEST by Lilian Hayes Oliver.
     Doc, I’ve run into a piece of history I’ve never seen before and an unpleasant one it is. During the Civil War, a band of terrorists known as the Citizens’ Militia or Home Guard organized, and lived in a German village a few miles west of our familiar area. They searched houses, questioned servants, and forced every man who stayed home to take the Test Oath, by whose right I do not know. They operated like Storm Troopers of a later date, actually killing citizens who refuted their authority, and burned barns and houses like Quantrill, also of a later date. Quite a pall hung over that pleasant countryside for a long, long time.
     I came across another interesting story concerning one of my all-time heroes, Daniel Boone. It seems that his daughter Jemima and two of her playmates were spirited away by Indians for no reason other than that they would rather capture Dan Boone than G. Washington himself. They had a good start on Boone and used all the wiles of their heritage. But they didn’t fool old Dan’l, the greatest tracker of his time. It took days, but, while Jemima kept her friends calm and collected, Dan got to the lair, killed a few lnjuns, and rescued the girls. Doc, as I was reading this I had a mental picture of Fess Parker, with his faithful Ed Ames and Buddy Ebsen at his beck and call, stalking silently through the woods, all 6 foot 5 inches of him. I’m a victim of the Television Age of electronic history lessons. I did love that show, however.
     As you have properly concluded, good reader, there is a very large cast in this saga. The main point I’m trying to make about Howell is that with all the intermarrying and second marriages, everybody seems to be related in one  way or another. You didn’t think you were my only cousin, did you?
     Time out while I get my typing fingers recycled . . .

More later,
[signed: Don]

[1] Dan'l Boone's Grandson.