Estella Folts Callan

Historian, Historic Preservationist

Article Contributed by Joanne Murray

Source: Biographical Cyclopedia of American Women. Volume I, by Mable Ward Cameron. New York, NY: Halvord Publishing Co., 1924-25. Pp. 114-117.

CALLAN, ESTELLA FOLTS (Mrs. Frank Callan), the daughter of Warner Folts (1830-1918) and Margaret Tanner (1832-1909), was born in Herkimer County, New York. She has been most active and efficient in the organization and development of patriotic societies in Herkimer County and one of the most potent factors in the restoration of the Fort Herkimer church, built in 1757, and the General Nicholas Herkimer homestead, erected in 1764.

Mrs. Callan's ancestors were pioneer settlers of the Mohawk Valley, having come from Philadelphia prior to 1723 and settling upon a grant of land, received from King George I, called "Burnet's Field Patent." Since that time the homestead which Mrs. Callan occupies has been continuously in the family, her children being of the eighth generation on the estate. The present house was built in 1796 by Mrs. Callan's great-grandfather, Major Warner Folts (1776-1837), who journeyed from his home to Sackett's Harbor to render service in the War of 1812. He was also active in church and civil affairs, and in 1823-1824 was a member of the New York State Assembly, making the journeys to and from Albany on horseback. He was the son of Daniel Folts (1747-1793), grandson of Lieutenant Jacob Folts (1711-1808), and great-grandson of Melchert Folts (1676-1759). Conrad Folts married Anna, daughter of Warner and Lana (Herkimer) Dygert, and a granddaughter of Han Jost Herkimer, Sr. (1695-1775), the founder of the Herkimer family in America.

Han J. Herkimer came to this country from Germany, in 1710, and his family was most important, next to that of Sir William Johnson, in the Mohawk Valley. There, in 1752, with his son Henry, he purchased 2,324 acres of land on the south bank of the Mohawk River. His home, fortified and enclosed within the earthworks of Fort Herkimer, was used as a refuge by the inhabitants of the surrounding country during the French and Indian and the Revolutionary Wars. He was a man of sagacity and ability, and accumulated wealth in lands, chattles and slaves. In 1751 he petitioned Governor Clinton for permission to solicit funds for building a stone church on the site of a log church, built in 1724. The church was completed in 1757, and in 1912 the interior of this venerable edifice was renovated and redecorated by Mrs. Callan, sixth in descent from Han Jost Herkimer.

This venerable patriarch was an early advocate of the cause of American independence, one of the first to contract with the Colonial Government for the forwarding of supplies, and his loyalty and enthusiasm exerted a wide influence throughout the Mohawk Valley. He was the father of thirteen children. Four of his sons were officers in the Revolutionary War, and his son, General Nicholas Herkimer, was the hero of the battle of Oriskany. The home of the General, where he died after the battle, was purchased by the State of New York, in 1915, and given into the custody of the Daughters of the American Revolution, as a public museum. Han Jost Herkimer died August 27, 1775, and is buried, with his wife Catherine, on the north side of the old Fort Herkimer Church, at Fort Herkimer, three miles east of Mohawk, New York.

Mrs. Callan's maternal grandmother, Nancy Clapsaddle, the wife of Ichabod Tanner, was a daughter of Colonel William Clapsaddle, who was a soldier in both the Revolution and the War of 1812, being only sixteen years of age when first he entered service. His father, Major Enos Clapsaddle. The first building of the Remington Arms Company was erected on the land purchased from the ancestors of Mrs. Callan, the Clapsaddles, and it was a coincidence that Mrs. Callan, the granddaughter of Nancy Clapsaddle, should have, as President of the Oliver Hazard Perry Chapter, United States Daughters of 1812, arranged the program and presided at the unveiling of the bronze tablet placed on a boulder to the memory of Eliphalet Remington who invented the first Remington gun at a forge erected with his own hands. He was also in the Revolution and fell at the battle of Oriskany. His name is inscribed on the bronze tablet marking the battlefield. Four other lineal ancestors of Mrs. Callan, Jacob Folts, Conrad Folts, Han Jost Petrie, and John Schultz, all wounded at Oriskany, also have their names inscribed upon the monument. In all, twenty-two ancestors of Mrs. Callan rendered service, civil and military, during the Revolution.

Ichabod Tanner (1791-1892), who was born in Rhode Island, came with his father, Francis Tanner (1762-1847), his mother, Elizabeth Peterson, and his grandfather, Isaac Tanner (1736-1822), to Herkimer County, New York, in 1796. There, Isaac Tanner preempted a thousand acres of land upon which he laid out nine farms for his nine married sons. One of the highest points in Herkimer County has borne the name of Tanner's Hill since that day. Here Ichabod Tanner passed his early years, gathering such education as could be obtained in the country school of the day; then, as a school-teacher, he passed from one district to another. Later he began the study of medicine, and for at least fifteen years was a practicing physician. The arduous nature of this profession, which involved long and fatiguing trips over the country roads, at all hours of the day and night, so discouraged him that he turned his attention to law. He was admitted to the bar, and built up a flourishing practice. Soon after 1862, when over seventy years of age, he purchased land in Wisconsin, where he settled and resided until his death. He owned thousands of acres near Portage City, and there laid out stock farms, and amassed a fortune when past the age of seventy-five. He also passed the bar examination so as to be able to practice law in Wisconsin. He continued in perfect health to the age of one hundred and one, never having used tobacco in any form or having tasted an intoxicating drink.

Isaac Tanner, son of Francis Tanner (1708-1777) and grandson of William Tanner (b. 1660), an early settler of Rhode Island, married, in 1757, Lydia Sherman (d. before 1765), daughter of Benjamin Sherman (c. 1712-1788) and his wife, Mary (b. about 1744). Benjamin Sherman was a son of Thomas Sherman (1658-1719), a grandson of Peleg Sherman, who in 1657 married Elizabeth Lawton, and a great-grandson of Philip Sherman, who was baptized in Dedham, England, February 15, 1610-1611, and who died in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1687. He was descended from Henry Sherman, the elder, of Colchester, Essex, and later of Dedham, England, who was born about 1527 and whose will was dated January 20, 1589. In 1634 Philip Sherman located at Roxbury, Massachusetts, and in 1638 was one of the founders of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. He was also an original proprietor of Aquidneck, Rhode Island, General Recorder of the Colony, and a commissioner and deputy from Portsmouth. He married Sarah Odding, daughter of Mrs. John Porter. Thomas Sherman married, in 1702, Lydia Wilcox, who died in 1727. She was a daughter of Daniel Wilcox, who died in 1702, and who, in 1661, married Elizabeth Cook, daughter of John Cook and Sarah Warren. Her mother was a daughter of Richard Warren, who came to Plymouth on the Mayflower, in 1620. John Cook and his father Francis Cook, who married Hester Mahieu, were also passengers on the Mayflower, Francis being the seventeenth signer of the Mayflower Compact, and John, the last male survivor of the passengers.

Mrs. Callan's marriage to Frank Demosthenes Callan took place in the old homestead, June 19, 1889. Mr. Callan, who was born in Binghampton, New York, was educated at Cornell University, where he won the Oratorical State Prize in 1882. He combined the practice of law with the real estate business in Chicago, Illinois, where the family lived until his death in 1906. Mrs. Callan has three children: Grace Margaret (Mrs. William Lumsdon Bond), Earl Folts, and Warner Herkimer Callan, all residents of New York City, and two grandchildren; Lydia Sherman and Elizabeth Otis Bond.

In 1908 Mrs. Callan organized the Oliver Hazard Perry Chapter, United States Daughters of 1812, of which she was President until 1920. During this period the official markers of the society were placed over the graves, in thirty-seven different cemeteries of Herkimer County, of 135 soldiers who served during the War of 1812. Mrs. Callan was regent of Mohawk Valley Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Illion, New York, for seven years (1911-1918), and, after five years' retirement, was again appointed Regent in 1922. She directed the marking of seventy-five graves of Revolutionary soldiers. In 1914 she organized the Ilion Colony of New England Women of which she is still President (1923). She is also State Regent of the National Society of the Colonial Daughters of America, and a member of the order of Americans of Armorial Ancestry, the Society of Mayflower Descendants of New York State, the Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America, the Colonial Daughters of the Seventeenth Century, the Patriotic Women of America, the New York Historical Society, the Washington Headquarters Association, the Huguenot Society of America, and the New York State Sunday School Association; and she is an honorary member of the Herkimer County Historical Society, an associate member of the B Sharp Musical Club of Utica, New York, and a life member of the Happy Day Club of Richfield Springs, New York. She is also the First Vice-President of the General Nicholas Herkimer Homestead Association. She has served on the Board of Commissioners, with appointments from Governors Smith and Whitman, and has been twice appointed by Governor Miller. She is Lieutenant-Governor of the New York State Society of Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims.

Mrs. Callan's enthusiasm, and her deep interest in historical sites, led her to visit and take photographs of many of these historic places in New York State. She has embodied her unique collection of views in a lecture entitled, Historic Homes and Churches of New York State, which she has delivered before many patriotic and historical societies; and her paper, Fort Herkimer Church, was published in Volume XIV (1915) of The Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association.

Back to Women of the Mohawk Valley Section

Back to Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NYGenWeb

Back to New York State GenWeb

Created: 10/24/05
Copyright © 2005 Joanne Murray
All Rights Reserved.
This site is a county site of the USGenWeb Project!