Markham of Chesterfield
      Ancestors and Descendants of John Markham

Bio: Catherine Markham


Family records claim that Catherine Markham was born on the 17th of February 1791. There is some question about the accuracy of this date. It is reasonable to say that she was born sometime between 1791-1795. February 17th is also given in public records as the date of her marriage, so there may be some confusion here. Regardless of the exact date of birth, Catherine Markham lived a remarkably long life.

She was born in Pittsylvania county Virginia, a middle child of John Markham and Mary his wife. Her mother may have been Mary Tunstall, but that has not been confirmed. Catherine Markham was likely named for her paternal grandmother, Catherine Mathews Markham, and she lived out her early years on the Markham family plantation. Her father died in 1801, when she was around eight or ten years of age and her mother died eight years later in 1809. For several years she was under the guardianship of her oldest brother Peter Markham.

The marriage records of Pittsylvania county Virginia inform us that Catherine M Markham was married to James Calloway on the 17th of February 1812. She wrote her own consent and her brother-in-law James Whitehead provided surety. The marriage was performed by the Rev David Nowlin. James Callaway was born on the 12th of September 1777, the son of Charles Callaway and Judith Early. He removed with his parents from Bedford county Virginia to Pittsylvania county Virginia. James Callaway was first married to Ellen Lewis. I have seen note that his first marriage occurred in 1793 in Campbell county Virginia, but that date early. He was about fifteen years older than his second wife Catherine Markham.

It has been challenging to identify the mothers of his twelve children, but it is generally accepted that he had four children by Ellen Lewis: Catherine Callaway, Charles Callaway, Emily Callaway and Spotswood Callaway. He then had eight more children with his second wife, Catherine Markham: Jane Callaway, Judith Virginia Callaway, James Callaway Jr, Abner Early Callaway, Thomas Haggard Callaway, Peter C Callaway, William T Callaway and John Callaway.

During the early years of their marriage, James Callaway and Catherine Markham resided in Pittsylvania county Virginia. In September of 1820 there are two deeds in which the couple sells significant pieces of property. This was probably around the time that they moved their family on to Missouri.

James Callaway and Catherine Markham first appear in Boone county Missouri in the 1830 census, but they had probably already been there a number of years. County records associate them with the counties of Boone, Callaway and St Charles in Missouri around this time. It has been suggested that Callaway county Missouri was named for members of James Callaway's extended family. In the 1830 Census of Boone county Missouri, James Callaway and Catherine Markham are shown with seven sons, three daughters, and one slave. In the Spring of 1830 James Callaway was named treasurer of the First Temperence Society of Columbia in Boone county Missouri, and he was also noted as Justice of the Peace for St Charles county Missouri.

James Callaway died in the early part of the year 1832. A biographical sketch of his son Abner Early Callaway indicates that James Callaway was killed by a falling tree. He was about sixty-five years of age. I have seen mention of a Will being probated for James Callaway on the 31st of March 1832 in Callaway county Missouri, Box 85, File 12. Other records state that he died intestate, but there are records related to the settlement of his estate. On the 20th of February 1832, Madison Dysart was presented as administrator in the Probate Court of Callaway county Missouri. Twelve heirs were named:

Catherine M Callaway, widow of the deceased
[?children of James Callaway and Catherine Markham:]
Jane Callaway of Callaway county Missouri
Judy Callaway of Callaway county Missouri
James Callaway of Callaway county Missouri
Abner Callaway of Callaway county Missouri
Thomas Callaway of Callaway county Missouri
Peter Callaway of Callaway county Missouri
William Callaway of Callaway county Missouri
[?children of James Callaway and Ellen Lewis:]
Charles Callaway of Boone county Missouri
Polly Callaway, widow of Spotswood Callaway of Boone county Missouri
Catharine Nivins, wife of Isaac Nivins of Boone county Missouri
Emily Callaway of St Louis county Missouri

It seems likely that the first seven children listed are the children of James Callaway and Catherine Markham. They were all under the age of twenty. Their youngest son, John Callaway, was born after his father's death. Catherine Markham Callaway must have found herself with an awesome task upon the death of her husband. Her oldest son, James Callaway, was only twelve. Perhaps she received help from her stepson and stepson-in-law, Charles Callaway and Isaac Nivins. In March of 1832, her oldest daughter, Jane Callaway was married.

By 1840 Catherine Markham Callaway is found in the census of Clinton county Missouri on the Kansas border. Her six sons are in the household. Ten years later, in 1850, the family appears in adjoining Clay county Missouri and four sons are still residing in the household. They range in age from nineteen to thirty-two. Catherine Markham Callaway's youngest brother, Thomas Bernard Markham, brought his young family to the area around Clay county Missouri about 1830. That may have been the draw for Catherine Markham Callaway. He was a Methodist-Episcopal pastor and later a missionary to the Delaware and Wyandotte Indians across the border in Kansas. In 1849, two of Catherine Markham Callaway's sons, Abner Callaway and Thomas Callaway, followed the cry of gold in California. They remained there a number of years and eventually settled in Idaho.

The Callaway sons were movers, probably always seeking a better piece of land for their farming operations. The 1860 census finds Catherine Markham Callaway living near Maysville in DeKalb county Missouri. She is shown as sixty-nine years of age. A young man, John Hodge age 27, is in her household. His occupation is given as farmer and he comes from Tennessee. It is not known if he is a relative. There are several other people in her household, including Daniel Shambaugh age 70, and the family of Samuel and Eliza Baker and their three children, Lucy, Mary and William. Catherine Markham Callaway's sons, James Callaway and Peter Callaway, and their families are living nearby.

As Catherine Markham Callaway passed the age of seventy, she must have determined to settle in with one of her sons. In the 1870 and 1880 census she is living with her son William Callaway and his wife Ellen. They are first in Columbus, Platte county Nebraska and then Alexis, Butler county Nebraska. Her age is given as seventy-nine in 1870 and eight-nine in 1880. It is of interest to note Dorcus Callaway and her son Henry Callaway who are living nearby in 1870, and in the household in 1880. Dorcus Callaway is a black female, born about 1818 in Virginia. Was she the young black slave who was living with the Callaway family in the 1830 census? Had she been the faithful caretaker of the Callaway children? The 1880 census indicates that Dorcus Callaway was divorced.

I came across a note on the internet, written by Johni Stevens which states " . . . Catherine lived to be 102 and died in Buena Park, California having lived with son William for over 25 years." I have not been successful in contacting the author of the note. Buena Park appears to be a 'suburb' of Los Angeles California. I have been most fortunate to recently (2013) come across notice of Catherine M Markham's burial at Pierce Brothers Cemetery in Santa Paula, Ventura County, California. This was submitted to the FindAGrave website by Janet Ward. It give the birth year as 1791 in Virginia, which seems to be well supported by census records. The burial information gives her year of death as 1893 - One hundred and two years of age! Her story suggests a rather remarkable woman, who experienced many places and many things!


Do you want to know more?
Link to Catherine Markham
Sketch: Dorcus Callaway

Biography of Catherine Markham; written by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for John Markham of Chesterfield website; 2014.