Sunday Stories: The Callander Family, Part Two

Excerpted from: McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

The Callander Family – By Lawrence Callander

When Agnes and Fred Callander moved to McPherson County in1905 from Holbrook, Nebraska, with their three children, they settled on a one-section (640 acres) homestead one and one-half miles east of Tryon. There was little civilization in McPherson County at that time. On many occasions Indians were seen migrating through the area on Indian ponies. Wild animals were plentiful, especially coyotes and timber wolves. The Callanders raised turkeys, and were constantly faced with protecting their flocks from these wild animals.
Fred farmed the homestead, and if machinery became inoperable, repairs were almost non-existent, so repairs were made with whatever was available. Once a bearing in a mowing machine “burned out” on the pitman shaft. Fred placed the shaft in the center of the cavity, placed a thickness of paper around the shaft for clearance, and poured a new bearing from melted lead, through the oil hole. It worked just fine. Another time the barrel of the family shotgun became bent. He drilled a hole in a 4” x 6” piece of wood, the same size of the barrel, cut the wood in two pieces, through the center of the hole. He then placed the un barrel between the pieces of wood and hit it with a sledge hammer – it was a complete success. This is only a sample of what the pioneers of that time had to contend with. Fred was a real pioneer.

Agnes and Fred had four more children, all born in a sod house on the homestead.

There was some tragedy in the Callander family on August 4, 1929, when Archie drowned in Whitewater Lake in western McPherson County, leaving a wife and two small boys, and, of course, all of his family. In May, 1931, a tornado struck the Callander residence. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, even though most of the buildings were destroyed.

In 1934 Lawrence joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.). He was stationed at Nelson, Nebraska. On July 3, 1936, he met Ruby p[arks, and it was love at first sight for them. They were married on October 20, 1937, in North Platte and have three children: Gordon, born in 1939; Ruby Kaye, born in 1941; and Marilyn, born in 1943; they have six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Lawrence worked on the Union Pacific Railroad in Cheyenne, Wyoming, as a car inspector, from 1941 to 1953. Ruby and Lawrence and family moved to Downey, California, in 1953, where he worked for Los Angeles County, first for the District Attorney, then for the Welfare Department as a welfare fraud investigator, and fraud investigation unit supervisor. He retired in February, 1976. Ruby also worked for Los Angeles County, in the Hospital Department as a housekeeping supervisor. She retired in 1972.

Ruby and Lawrence were very involved in the Model A Ford hobby. They restored nine Model A’s to show condition, several cars won national trophies.

In 1980 they moved to Elk Grove, California, a small town of about 11,000 population. They are involved in many community activities. Lawrence is President of the Elk Grove Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons; Ruby is Vice President for 1984. They have a large back yard and grow a big garden.

Their three children live in California, Gordon in Pleasanton; Ruby Kaye in Whittier; and Marilyn in Downey.


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