A Family Affair

In almost every room of the Callaway home there are images of family members. They run the gamut, including black and white photographs, Polaroids, color photos, pencil drawings and most notably, full-scale oil portraits.

Some of the portraits reflect the family’s heritage and depict close relatives that never lived at the estate. Others illustrate extended family members that made Hills & Dales their home on a regular or intermittent basis. Like many couples today, Fuller Sr. and Ida, as well as Fuller Jr. and Alice, experienced the phenomenon of being empty nesters and also having boomerang kids or family members. For the Callaways, however, housing extended family was more the norm than the exception. In some instances, close bonds pulled them together, while in others it was a practical and necessary decision. This love of family expresses itself in imagery throughout the home and shows the warmth and love they had for each other.

Here, we highlight a few of the portraits that regularly pique the curiosity of visitors. These depictions are accompanied by stories that add depth to the individuals they represent. We hope you find these colorful stories compelling.

Back from Memphis
While you might not expect a portrait of Fuller Sr.’s brother to grace the home, Pope Francis Callaway (1865-1923) is prominently displayed in the Library. Since Pope lived with Fuller and Ida the last 25 years of his life, they were particularly close.

Born in 1865, Pope was the seventh child to Abner and Sarah Callaway, but only the fourth to reach adulthood. As the older brother of Fuller Sr., one would think he might have shared Fuller’s mannerisms and outlook on business and life. Instead, he liked to “go his own way,” according to Ida Callaway.

As she recalled, “Pope, as silent as ever, his ways something of a mystery and his whereabouts seldom known, occasionally dropped in to see his brother. Pope would sit around for a while, looking on, distant from all the people around him and carefully distant from any form of work that happened to be going on. Now and then he would offer some odd and random bit of news, something that no one else had heard about and frequently originating in some place, far off and obscure, to which no one knew that Pope had gone.”

He also lacked Fuller’s aversion to credit and debt. In his personal and business life, Fuller was reluctant to extend or use credit. Pope, however, was not as disciplined with his finances. From the time they were young boys, upon learning of his little brother’s successes in selling spools of thread to the farmers’ wives, he would ask Fuller to borrow money, usually a nickel or dime. Fuller, being the businessman that he was, sent his brother a bill in 1890 which itemized all the money he had borrowed from him over the years. Pope paid the bill, and Fuller used the money to buy his wedding outfit.

In the late 1890s, Pope moved to Memphis, where it was believed that he played fiddle in an orchestra and taught dance. In 1899, several reports made their way back to Fuller that silent, secluded Pope was focused more on having a good time, making music and partaking in other vices, than he was with working. Fuller took a northbound train to see his brother and they sat down to make a deal. Pope could come live with Fuller and Ida at their home in LaGrange and work in Fuller’s department store, with the condition that he could never play a fiddle or drink hard liquor within Troup County. He agreed and moved back to LaGrange with his brother and sister-in-law.

Pope then took charge of the office, records and bookkeeping for Fuller’s department store, serving as manager of the Fuller E. Callaway Company’s wholesale dry goods. He also spent several years working on the development of Hills & Dales farm and managing the estate’s gardens along with his crew of laborers. When Fuller Jr. was 10 years old, he asked “Uncle Pope” if he could open a small store to sell goods to the farm hands who had to travel some distance to get needed items, such as sugar and tobacco. Pope agreed and built a storefront for Fuller, asking to be his partner and receive half the profits in return. The store opened on a Saturday (payday), and the workers greatly enjoyed having a store close to them.

Pope also had an impact on the layout of the garden. As the story goes, a maze of boxwood once grew near the GOD topiary. One day, he became lost in the maze and had to call a gardener to help plow his way out, putting an end to the boxwood maze. Pope lived with Fuller and Ida, helping Fuller with his businesses and holding up his end of the bargain for 24 years. Upon his death in 1923, his funeral was held at Hills & Dales.

A Golden Ring
A portrait of Fuller Sr.’s mother, Sarah Jane Howard Callaway (1835-1878), also hangs in the Library. While Sarah died when Fuller was young and never lived at Hills & Dales, her portrait was cherished.

Sarah Jane Howard was born in Lexington, Georgia, in 1835 to Robert and Mary Howard. In 1852, she married Rev. Abner Reeves Callaway at the customary age of 16 and they moved to Greenville before finally settling in LaGrange. They had five children who reached adulthood, Enoch, Mary Glenn, Howard, Pope and Fuller.

When Fuller was a young boy he was interested in having a small store. Sarah was supportive of her young son’s dreams, and they would regularly sit by the fire and talk about his plans. Once Fuller started his first store she was a regular customer. The store consisted of an orange crate in the corner of the tool house, with a stock of broken bits of colored glass, bent nails, colorful rocks, part of an ax head and a mule’s tooth. Once, he offered her a glass fragment in exchange for a biscuit. Fuller also held up a piece of wire that he had twisted and bent into loops. He told his mother that the “chain,” with all its unbreakable links, was just the thing she needed for her hen house, explaining that her hens never would be safe from possums and foxes without the chain on its latch. Finally, she decided she would buy it and paid him a slice of ham, adding it to the biscuit.

When Fuller was 8 years-old, his mother called him to her bedside to give him her favorite gold ring just before she passed away at the age of 42. The ring was made from a gold nugget that her brother had sent Abner from out west, and she wore it for many years. He wore the ring until just a few weeks before he died, often saying that many times when tempted to do wrong he would look at this ring, think of his mother, and resist the temptation.

After Sarah’s death, Fuller didn’t go back to his tool house store until one day when he took a piece of cloth and covered his stock. A few days later, he found a piece of petrified wood in the field. Thinking it would be perfect for the store, he grabbed it and hurried toward the tool house. As he walked nearer, he slowed, then turned away and put the piece of wood in his pocket.

The Baptist Minister
Above the mantle in the Ivy Bedroom, used by Fuller Sr. and Fuller Jr., is a portrait of Abner Reeves Callaway (1832-1893), Fuller Sr.’s father. In his writings on Fuller Sr., Jason Saxon Childers described Abner as, “A big man, heavy, with bulging shoulders. His head was large, his brow prominent and his blue eyes were set wide apart. His beard, light brown and graying around his mouth, flowed onto his bosom. His voice was surprisingly soft for so large a man, and his gestures were deliberate.”

Abner was the son of Rev. Enoch Callaway and Martha ‘Patsy’ Reeves Callaway. At the age of 19, he felt called to ministry and was invited to preach. He wrote his first sermon, committed it to memory and ascended the pulpit, accompanied by Rev. Enoch. Upon starting to speak, he spotted a lovely girl enter the church and sit on a bench right up front. Abner said later that he was “determined right then to marry that girl.” After laying eyes on Sarah Jane Howard, all memory of his sermon failed him, leaving his father to fill in for him. The young couple were married soon after, and when he attempted to give his sermon the second time, it reportedly led to the conversion of six people.

In 1879, following Sarah’s death, Abner married Mary Welbourne Ely and they had three children together, Ely, Abbie and Harry. Fuller and Pope, the only two of his children remaining at home during this time, took quickly to Mary, especially enjoying her cooking.

Ida’s Father
A portrait of Ida Callaway’s father, Alexander Toombs Cason (1845-1918), resides above the mantle in Alice’s office. In 1870, Alexander married Olivia Pratt Jewell and they moved into Rock Mill Plantation, near Jewell, Georgia. The fourteen-room antebellum house sat on about 1,200 acres, where he oversaw a farm operation. In 1872, their second child was born, a daughter named Ida Jane, who would go on to become Mrs. Fuller E. Callaway Sr. The Casons were very loyal members of a church built by Ida’s grandfather in Jewell, where Alexander served as a deacon for over forty years. Despite this, Ida convinced them to move to LaGrange, where they lived happily with Ida, Fuller Sr. and their two grandsons until their deaths in 1918 and 1921 respectively.

A Marvelous Place to Be
In the nursery, there is a portrait of Fuller Jr. and Alice’s daughter, Ida Cason Callaway (1935-2009). Ida was born on April 18, 1935, and lived at Hills & Dales until she was twenty years old.

In a rare interview in 1994, she said, “I moved to [Hills & Dales] when I was about a year old and so I’ve grown up knowing nothing but these gardens. They have always been special to me and I have always enjoyed being in them and seeing all the beautiful flowers and trees, and birds and insects. I really enjoy the insects. They are interesting. It’s just a marvelous place to be.”

Ida was very close to her father. She loved to ride horses with him and keep up with news about their many animals while she was away at boarding school. In a letter to one of Alice’s best friends, Alice described her daughter as having a “mighty near perfect” disposition. “Except for ceaseless talking she is a joy at all times. We really have to laugh at her chatter because we will sit at the breakfast table some mornings and no one will open their mouths except Ida and she will never stop!”

In 1955, Ida married Charles Hudson, the son of a local businessman, and they had four children. In 1976, she received the Georgia Association for Children with Learning Disabilities Distinguished Service Award, becoming the first person outside of Atlanta to be given such an honor. Ida also served as a trustee of the Callaway foundations beginning in 1974 and provided leadership after Fuller Jr.’s passing in 1992.

The next time you walk through the Callaway family home, take note of these special portraits and the lives they represent. They certainly prove that a picture is worth a thousand words and maybe more. ~HM & CW

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