Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Index To Orval Calhoun's Our Calhoun Family Vols. 1-4

I think I've finally figured out how to do this. For several years I've had the index some of our members made in the early 1990's of a 4 volume set of genealogy gathered by Canadian Orval Calhoun.
This index was originally sold for cost on 31/2 inch discs and was in an early MS/DOS form that couldn't even be read on my new computer without a special program.

A page from the contents

Thanks to Sue Gilbert (Alice Calhoun book in earlier post) I was able to convert the index to a PDF file and post it on Google Documents.

The Index to Volumes 1 & 2 is here.

The Index to Volumes 3 & 4 is here.


Glen Ethier originally volunteered to index the books; Glen had done this professionally before he retired. We acquired 8 other volunteers (I have their names somewhere and will post them here when I find them again) including Bob Ed and Sue O'Connell. They each took a section of a volume and followed Glen and Bob's instructions to list each name mentioned.
It was decided to list the name first then the birthday. The reason for this was to distinguish people who have same name over the years. For instance, there are thousands of people named after John C. Calhoun, especially the first 100 years after the Civil War. The Roman Numeral after each entry is the volume (I through IV), then the page.

Copies of the books are mostly held by individuals. There are many copies in libraries and The Church Of The Latter Day Saints have all four volumes.

If I remember Orval's story correctly, he retired in the mid 1970's and took up researching his own family tree.

The search ended in Ireland; like many others he couldn't cross the Irish Sea to find out who originally came from Scotland. Like many of us he was seriously bit by the Genealogy Bug. He started attending Calhoun family reunions and Scottish games in the US and Canada and started collecting everyone else's genealogy. To prepare the first volume he typed out these genealogies on a manual typewriter (something readers under 50 years old have probably never experienced). The pages look like this:

The first volume was an immense success and people started voluntarily sending him their genealogies. One thing everyone should remember is everything in these books are only as accurate as what was submitted to him.

I know there are a few mistakes in the books. Corrections were published in later books when possible. Orval organized a "family reunion" at Clemson University in South Carolina (site of John C. Calhoun's home), but he died just before that happened. It was well attended and we were able to meet his widow, Glad. I feel the Clemson reunion and indexing of these books were a tribute to Orval and the Herculean effort it took to make these four volumes of Our Calhoun History.

I donated a pair of the index discs to my old library I spent a lot of time in growing up.


Anonymous said...

Hello Tom, I stumbled upon this by typing my great grandfathers name in google. Orval Calhoun. I just borrowed my fathers original copies of "Our Calhoun Family" and just received an invite to the Calhoun reunion in Soth Carolina next summer. Please email me as I would like to chat with you further about our family.
Tyler Calhoun

sierragrannie said...

Does Orval's works contain footnotes or a section of 'sources cited?'?

American Highlander said...

Hi, SierraGrannie! No, Orval's books were only as accurate as what was handed to him by people sharing their genealogy. Orval tried to make corrections noted in later Volumes, but I know there are some mistakes in the information given to him.

::JOSHIE:: said...

Hi, my name is Joshua Westfield Calhoun. I want to know so much more about my family, is there anyway to purchase copies of these books. i came across this while reading about John Caldwell Calhoun my many times over Great Uncle. Please feel free to contact me anytime. -JWC

Keith Calhoun said...

Where can I find these books ? I would like to buy a copy , even on a cd. I am at a dead end with my Great , Great , Grandfather Ben Calhoun . I cannot find his parents names .He was born in Clark County Ohio [Springfield] in 1836. I also belong to the Calhoun project at Family Tree DNA

American Highlander said...

Keith: Orval's son has what is left and has reproduced sections of the books in pamphlet form: Owen Calhoun, 198 Scott Street, #107 St. Catharines, ON L2N 5T3, Canada; e-mail:

Please see our new organization at


Wendy Calhoun said...

I would love to obtain these for my family. My great uncle, Ammon C. Calhoun, published “A BRIEF CALHOUN HISTORY AND FAMILY TREE” back in ‘95 using reference to volume 4. Any contact info you have would be great. The email listed above would not work for me.