MRS. MARY L. CALLAWAY is one of the oldest pioneers of this part of the county. She is a native of Ohio, and was born in Hamilton County, Jan. 20, 1821. Should a history of this country ever be written that treats entirely of the heroes and heroines of America, there are none who will reach higher than the pioneer mother. Her sufferings were far deeper than those of the husband, and the hardships that she underwent were of that peculiar kind that deserve special mention of the historian. She reared her children, made their clothing from the raw wool, and administered to their wants in sickness with the means that she had at her command. In the early days medical supplies were difficult to procure, and often times the physician lived miles away. It was then that the skill, fortitude, and love of the mother came into requisition. While the husband has always received the most of the praise for settling up a vast empire of wild undeveloped country, it can be truly said that his wife is entitled to as much, and in some cases more praise than himself.
Mrs. Callaway was the daughter of Ira and Margaret (Wells) Thompson. Her paternal ancestry is said to be Welsh. When she was about one year of age, she came with her parents to Illinois, and for a time resided near Vincennes, and subsequently removed with her father and mother to Greene County, Ill., and there she was reared to womanhood. Her mother died in Bethel while her father's life ended on a steamboat between St. Louisa and New Orleans. In those days it was the custom of the farmers to club together and take their produce down the streams to market, using for that purpose flatboats and steamboats. The early settlers of Morgan County utilized the Illinois and Mississippi rivers for water-ways. It will be remembered that Abraham Lincoln, one of the most distinguished pioneers of Illinois, was at one time engaged in the business of a flat-boatman, and that he was a good one, no one doubts. The boats were built in a rough manner and when the market was reached, the lumber of which they were constructed was sold and the farmers made their way back home on steamboats with the supplies they had bought. The market in the early days was generally New Orleans or St. Louis, and it was on one of these trips that Mr. Thompson died. When about twenty-one years old, Mrs. Callaway came to Morgan County with her mother and two brothers, and on Feb. 1, 1841 she was married to Samuel Callaway. He was born in Bourbon County, Ky., on Aug. 24, 1814. He was the son of John and Nellie (Robins) Callaway, both natives of Delaware. He spent his boyhood days in Kentucky, and came to morgan County, early in the thirties, and here he resided until his death, which occurred May 17, 1883. He was the father of four children, one of whom is living, Lewis H. who is at present on the home farm. The three deceased are as follows: Samuel H. died at Camp Butler, during the war; John R. and Levi died while young. Mr. Callaway served as School Director, and although fitted for office, he was never a seeker after one. When he died he left his widow in comfortable circumstances, and well rounded out a busy life. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, where his wife also worships. Politically he was a Republican.
Mrs. Callaway is spending her latter days in a retired manner and is surrounded by all the comforts of life which her early privations entitle her to, and she enjoys the profound respect of all her neighbors and acquaintances.