May 25, 2015

The Tragic Story of Little Willie McCallister

Poor Willie McCallister. Little did he know that November day in 1885 that his young life would end. 

The Tragic Story of Little Willie McCallister
New York Times 6 November 1885
Willie, sometimes called Fred, was 5 years old and living in the Catholic Orphan Home for Boys in Troy New York.  He and an older boy, 12 year old Eddie Townsend wanted to watch the fireworks, so they devised a plan to sneak out and enjoy the show. But young Willie stepped in the muck, made much worse than usual by the rainy weather, and could not get out. 

He struggled, but sank further into the wet sludge. Young Townsend ran off and was found wandering the streets the next day. Sadly he did not tell authorities that Willie was trapped until two nights had passed. When he did finally reveal Willie's plight, it was too late. Little Willie was found dead with mud up to his chin. 

Willie deserves to be remembered and perhaps my readers can help find Willie's family. According to a lengthy article in The Times on November 12th, Willie's mother was Kate McCallister living on North 1st Street and employed at Leggett's Box Factory. Willie was said to be very good-looking and well-liked in the Asylum. He is the perfect example of what is known as a "half-orphan", that is, a child with one parent living but in destitute circumstances.

Eddie Townsend was arrested as it was revealed that he disliked little Willie and often struck him with sticks. He was later charged with manslaughter in Willie's death

The Times 12 November 1885 (4 clippings above)

Pittsburgh Post Gazette 7 November 1885
Thanks to visitor Beckie who sent me the Pittsburgh Newspaper clipping and asked for my help. 

UPDATE! I think I may have found "Willie" and his family in 1880 in Troy New York. The family consists of Frederick McCallister, age 35, a  moulder born in Pennsylvania with wife Katie, age 25 born New York and with children Grace,6 and Freddie, 7months (Freddie would be little "Willie") I am off to hunt for the family in 1900.


Anonymous said...

These types of stories - where the abandoned and forgotten are remembered - are so wonderful to read. Thank you

R.L.S. said...

I thank you - for the wonderful story in the blog - I am giving you the link for the findagrave memorial. It just so happened that I came across this story, and since it was so sad, I wanted to make sure that his life was remembered.

I still do not know exactly where he is buried, perhaps someone in the Troy New York area might be able to find out what cemetery he might be buried at.

with all respect and gratitude

odielion (beckie)