Hon. John Calhoun

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James Calhoun, the father of the old and honored resident of Armstrong County whose name stands at the head of this sketch and of whom a portrait appears, came from Ireland to this country prior to the issuance of the declaration of independence, and settled in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where he married a Miss Ellen Templeton, by whom he had two children, Samuel and William. James Calhoun served through the revolutionary war and was wounded in one of its battles. After the close of the struggle he settled in what is now Indiana county, and his first wife having died he there married a Mrs. Mary Walker, whose maiden name was Abrams. She had a large family of children by her first husband, of whom Col. Robert Walker, well known as a spy in the Allegheny valley during the long period of Indian hostility, was one. He subsequently became a settler in what is now Boggs township.

Our subject, John Calhoun, was born in Armstrong township, Indiana county, January 16, 1784. In his youth his parents moved to the region now known as Boggs township, Armstrong county, and he of course accompanied them. He purchased a tract of land in that township and improved it. In 1806 he was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Anthony, with whom he continued to reside upon his original purchase until the spring of 1814, when he sold it. He immediately bought another tract in Wayne township, south of the site of Dayton, to which he moved in the spring of 1815. He lived upon this farm until the spring of 1839, in the meantime, September 1, 1827, losing his wife. His final removal was to a fine body of land in the northwestern part of Wayne township, about seven miles from Dayton, which he purchased from Gen. Robert Orr. To this place his children by his first marriage and his second wife, Catherine Marshall, whom he had married January 1, 1828, went with him. Her death occurred upon April 26, 1865. Mr. Calhoun departed this life ten years later, in his ninety-first year.

In his early years Mr. Calhoun was a great hunter, and in his old age he delighted in relating reminiscences of adventure in that sport, which was the pioneer's chief means of relaxation from arduous toil. He had learned the carpenter's trade, but his occupation throughout life was farming. He was a man of sturdy character, of great usefulness to the people around him, widely known and universally respected. He held office during a large portion of his active life. Upon August 30, 1811, he was commissioned lieutenant-colonel, and upon March 30, 1813, captain of militia, by Gov. Snyder. He was commissioned by Gov. Heister in 1822 as justice of the peace for district No. 7, composed of Plum Creek and Wayne townships, a position which he filled for many years. In 1840 he was appointed and commissioned associate judge of Armstrong county, serving out the unexpired term of an incumbent of the office removed by death. In 1842 he was commissioned to the same office for a full term by Gov. D. R. Porter, and again appointed by Gov. Shunk in 1848. He gave the utmost satisfaction in this and other offices which he held. Politically he was a democrat and a life-long adherent of the party, taking a deep interest in its success and the measures which tended toward it. He was one of the founders of the Glade Run and Concord Presbyterian churches, and served as an elder in each. He was a man of strong and practical religious tendencies and exerted a valuable influence in the community.

The children of John and Elizabeth (Anthony) Calhoun, with the dates of their respective births, were as follows: Noah A., born December 26, 1806; William J., July 22, 1809; Mary (Ritchey), January 15, 1812; Nancy (Porter), September 18, 1814; James R., March 25, 1817; Sarah (wife of James Calhoun), October 4, 1819; Samuel S. N., March 22, 1823, and John K., February 26, 1825. Of these, all are deceased except Noah A., James R. and Samuel S. N. The first and last named of these three live upon the old farm, Samuel S. N. having the homestead place, and James R., having retired from active farming, lives in Dayton. All of the daughters married farmers, and all of the sons followed farming, except John K., who was an attorney.

When quite young, this son went to Kittanning to obtain an academical education. He studied law in the office of Judge Buffington, and was admitted to practice December 18, 1850, upon motion of Hon. Thomas White. He soon exhibited unusual talent, and rose rapidly in his profession. In 1856 he was elected, upon the Democratic ticket, to represent Armstrong county in the legislature, and served during the session of 1856-7. By re-election he became a member of the legislature of 1857-8. When the war broke out he took a deep interest in the success of the Unionists, and was elected captain of a Kittanning company of militia or emergency men. While attending court in Pittsburgh in the fall of 1865, he fell ill with what proved to be typhoid fever, from which his death resulted upon December 5, of that year. He was deeply lamented by his professional colleagues and a wide circle of friends, who appreciated his ability and sterling, manly qualities.

By his second marriage John Calhoun had one child, a daughter, Elizabeth Anthony -- born October 30, 1830.

The grandchildren of John Calhoun number fifty-seven. Of this number three have studied divinity, three law, four medicine, and six were in the war for the Union. The names of the latter were: Ephraim, son of James R. Calhoun, killed in the battle of the Wilderness; James Robert, son of William J. Calhoun, who died in the hospital at Wheeling, West Virginia; William D. Porter, John A. Ritchey, John A. and John C. Calhoun.

Source: Page(s) 599-600, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed July 2000 by James R. Hindman for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by James R. Hindman for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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