Dr. William B. Callender and Jonathan W. Callender

Submitted by Bernice Brown

     Brothers who played important roles in the early life of Rooks County were Jonathan W. and William Bradley Callender. Sons of Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Callender who left their native state of Pennsylvania to help develop a newer area, Iowa, the brothers inherited the same spirit of adventure which led them in adulthood to Kansas and settlement in Stockton where both lived out the remainder of their lives. J. W., as he came to be known, was the first to arrive in 1878. W. B. "Doc" Callender, who appears at this distance to have been the less aggressive of the two, came in 1889. Both were well educated: J. W. was a graduate of a Methodist Episcopal institution in Fayette, Iowa, and W. B. graduated from Iowa University, after which he gained medical education at Drake University. Both were members of the Congregational Church in Stockton, an early force for education in the area.
     As one reviews accounts of the lives of the two, written at times of death, J. W. at age Seventy-seven and W. B. at sixty-nine, vastly different images emerge. J. W. appears to have been gregarious to an extreme. He brought a wife with him to Kansas. the former Sarah E. Gardner, and when no children came to the union, they opened their home to others, first to a niece, Lydia Callender, and later to an adopted daughter, Marguerite. J. W. was a prominent businessman, dabbling in many ventures. Prior to coming to Stockton he had been a school teacher, a superintendent of schools and an assistant county superintendent at Elgin, Iowa. In the new locality of Rooks he held many real estate interests, he helped organize the Exchange Bank of which he was president for a time, went on to hold various county offices, one of which was clerk of the district court. He was a loyal member and attendant of his church and of the social organizations to which he belonged, chief of which in his interest were Newahcuba Lodge No. 189, Stockton, of which he was a charter member, Solomon Valley Chapter No. 81 R.A.M. and the Order of the Eastern Star, membership in the Odd Fellows Lodge and the Rebekahs. He was widowed in 1913, did not remarry but continued to live a full and useful life until his health began to fail, at which time his adopted daughter, Marguerite, returned to care for him. Upon his death, the various organizations he had served were well represented and the Masonic Lodge had charge of the services at the grave side.
     In contrast, W. B. "Doc" Callender never married, seemingly content to devote his life ministering to others. He might have been a successful surgeon, according to report, but preferred the more lowly office of general practitioner. His office was his home, he served as coroner of Rooks County and was county health officer. He practiced medicine for more than thirty years in Rooks County, gaining a reputation of unfailing devotion to his patients. Upon his death, those who had benefited from his ministrations bore witness to his efforts to heal the sick and to relieve the sufferings of the dying. However cold or stormy the day of the night, however muddy the roads, he was always available when the call came for his assistance, they said. An editorial written at the time of his death deplored the fact that he was lax in making collections for his services, and that many who could have did not pay. As a result, contrary to the good life enjoyed by his brother, "Doc" Callender had been forced to forego many of the comforts that money provides. The editorial ended thus: "He never considered the matter of pay and we are sorry to say scores if not hundreds of his patients did not consider it, either."  Those who did and those who did not pay came in respect to his memory in numbers that filled the church as did the floral offerings. Fittingly, the scripture chosen was taken from Matthew 25 - 34 and from the 14th chapter of Job, and, as they were to do for his brother, J. W., thirteen years later, the masons buried another of their own and along with them a vital part of Rooks County history.