A. Claude Congleton, Brakeman on the Eureka & Oregon Railroad

A DIFFICULT BEGINNING

Agnes Call and George Washington Congleton had been married just three years when on December 4, 1881 their third child, A. Claude Congleton, was born. He would join older siblings two-and-a-half-year-old Lulu Mae and 18-month-old John Esley to complete the burgeoning family. The young couple had been living with George’s twice widowed mother, Almira Almy Congleton Burgess, in her home on Sherman Street in Healdsburg, California. But that household also included George’s nephew Harry Brown as well as his spinster aunt Cynthia Almy, and the house was getting awfully crowded.

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Agnes Vanderwalker Call Congleton Wilson Part 3 – Agnes Rejoins Healdsburg Society

Agnes circa 1899By the time Agnes Vanderwalker Call Congleton was 26 years old, she had already experienced a lifetime of tribulation. She had lost her mother at birth, been given away to the neighbors by her father, been relocated 2,000 miles from home by her adoptive parents, endured a “shotgun marriage” to a handsome ne’er-do-well, given birth to three children, lost a son to illness, and managed to obtain a divorce under the repressive laws of the 1880s.

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John and Mary Call

John McCall was born in Scotland on June 20, 1822. Four years later, on August 10, 1826, the woman who would become his wife, Mary Fulton was born, also in Scotland. While still a young girl, Mary immigrated to Canada with her parents. In 1844, the Fultons then immigrated to Rhode Island, where Mary and John met. They were married October 25, 1846 in Providence and later moved to Savoy, Massachusetts. Two years later, on February 24, 1846, a boy was born nearby. Later in his life, he would be described as a “lame” boy, but whether his disability was due to an accident or a birth defect is unknown. When that boy was orphaned, the McCalls adopted him and named him Finley.

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