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Obituary of W. J. Wilkinson of Menard County, Texas

2016 January 24
by Jan Wilkinson

When I begin to write a historical blog post I always hope that I have everything but this one had many conflicts. This history of William Jackson Montgomery Wilkinson, son of Daniel King Wilkinson and Elizabeth Osborn Braden in Union Church, Jefferson, Mississippi is as close as I can get with supported facts.

I was able to get a scan on Saturday from the museum in Menard of the framed copy of the Menard Messenger newspaper’s front page dated Thursday, May 29, 1919. It contained the obituary of William Jackson Montgomery Wilkinson’s written by Hon. James Callan. It states that W. J. died on Thursday, May 15th, 1919 at his home at his ranch at Clear Creek, Menard County, Texas.  Below is a photo from the museum of “Uncle Jack” sitting outside of his home at Clear Creek Ranch undated and not part of the obituary.


W. J. Wilkinson at Clear Creek, Menard County, Texas.

W. J. Wilkinson at Clear Creek, Menard County, Texas.



W. J. is my husband’s great grandfather who came to Menard County and was buried on the day he died at the Pioneer Rest Cemetery. There are different dates for his birth; one shows 1833; the CSA gravestone marker shows 1835-1919 and the family headstone shows 1828. Nancy was the informant on the death certificate and said his birthday is November 29, 1828.  Below is W. J.’s CSA service record with enlistment date of November 9, 1863 at Camp Colorado and age 28, (this was considered in Callahan County.) That is where they got the 1835 on the marker.

The full Indian story can be read at my blog post about the Col. W J Wilkinsons Indian Experience.

This obituary was written by long-time family friend J. J. Callan’s son James Callan and not by J. J. as I originally was told.  But, W.J. and J. J. first met in Coleman County (was Brown County at the time) back in 1860’s.

James Joseph Callan, born May 6, 1833 in Dundalk, Ireland and died in Menard October 4, 1917.  He reached Camp Colorado on Christmas Day, 1857, and married Margaret Jane Sheen on March 13, 1859.  Prior to the Civil War he served in the Texas Rangers, then in March 1862, he joined the Confederacy and was a Captain in Co. I of McCord’s Frontier Reg., Texas Cavalry.  In 1864, J. J. was elected to the office of Chief Justice of Coleman County, so he tendered his resignation as Captain in the Confederate Army, November 1, 1864.  J. J. and Margaret Jane had 14 children (2 girls stillborn were not named).

A few more of my blog posts on this family:

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8 Responses Post a comment
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 7, 2018

    Hi Callan,

    Your great grandfather Joe had a brother Louis who was my great grandfather. Louis’ son Faris Sr was my grandfather and Faris Jr my Dad. Louis died in his 40s when he was mayor of Menard. My grandfather grew up in and around Menard and Coleman, managed the Menard Hotel when my Dad was a young kid. They migrated to Ft Worth where I grew up. Nice to hear from a cousin.

    John Callan

  2. Anonymous permalink
    October 7, 2018

    This is all very interesting and thank you for posting about this. My name is Callan Harrison, Callan is my mothers maiden name. Her name is Julianna Callan and she grew up on the family ranch in Menard and her now married last name is Harrison. My grandfather was Marion Martin Callan, His fathers name was Joesph Callan and his Grandfather was J.J Callan. I love the history and thank you for posting!

  3. August 17, 2017

    I appreciate you taking time to comment. I put up these posts and hope they are a way to share our past legacy and history. Both good men!! Thanks, Jan

  4. John Callan permalink
    August 17, 2017


    Thank you for posting the story of Col. Wilkinson’s Indian experience. It is a great historical and human interest account. I suspect W.J and my great great grandfather J.J. (my regards to Jim who also responded here) were good friends having known one another and lived through common struggles of the times.

    Thanks again,

    John M Callan

  5. June 5, 2017

    James, thank you for reading my blog. My information came from family lore that the friendship between W. J. and J. J. was so strong that the obituary was written long before W. J.’s death. Strong ties and time spent between these men! Jan

  6. June 5, 2017

    James, my family purchased part of the Houston Callan ranch in the late 1950’s. The Clear Creek Ranch was purchased by Lee Pfluger many years ago. We are very fortunate to live and ranch in a beautiful country! Jan

  7. james M. Callan permalink
    May 20, 2017

    Just noticed that the current Wilkinson ranch that is for sale lies just north of Junction and is likely not the same ranch on Clear Creek mentioned in the obituary. Still, I have driven the road between Junction and Ft. McKavett on a few occasions, and your ranch lies in beautiful country. My distant cousins Callan and Russell Graham had ranch property north of Menard, Texas.

    Jim Callan

  8. james M. Callan permalink
    May 20, 2017

    Dear Ms. Wilkinson:

    I just read the obituary of W.J. Wilkinson written by Hon. James Callan on your web page. You attributed the authorship of the obituary to Capt. James Joseph (J.J.) Callan, who was born in Dundalk, Ireland, May 6, 1833 and died October 4, 1917. Capt. J.J. Callan (my great, great, grandfather) was a contemporary of Mr. W.J. Wilkinson and predeceased him by two years. It is unlikely that my great, great, grandfather authored the obituary in advance of his own death and that of Mr. W.J. “Uncle Jack” Wilkinson. I may be wrong, but I would venture to say that his son and my great, grandfather, James Callan (born 1863 – died 1934) penned the obituary that summoned up so well the character and fine gentleman that was W.J. “Uncle Jack” Wilkinson. James “Jim” Callan was also a prominent citizen of the Free State of Menard, i.e. Menard County, having held several elected offices in Menardville and the County of Menard, Texas, and also having served as President of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association for several terms.

    I came across your blog only because I enjoy reading about my ancestors, their friends, and times gone by. I could not help but notice that the Wilkinson Ranch was up for sale. I always feel a tinge of pain when I see or hear of a long held family ranches being sold. I believe the decision to sell such a ranch is never easy, for whatever the reason. I would also bet my bottom dollar that the ranch is a beautiful piece of property, in part because it is on Clear Creek, which I have driven over a few times on Highway 29. I would buy it if I could, and, though it’s not my business, if I were you I’d keep it.

    I enjoyed perusing your blog. I hope all is well with you and your family, and wish you all the best.


    Jim Callan

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