Community: Caldwell family, Shabbona


Above image: Shabbona Grove School, 1921. Photo courtesy Shabbona-Lee-Rollo Historical Society.

The Caldwell family story is a little different when compared to the experience of Blacks in the northern part of the county. According to the 1910 census records, the Caldwells arrived in Shabbona before the Great Migration and then disappeared from the Shabbona census by 1940. Currently, we do not know what brought them to DeKalb County, why they left, or where they moved. The below research provides a bit of insight into the Caldwell’s time in Shabbona.

The 1910 census shows that the Caldwells arrived in Shabbona before the Great Migration:

Richard Caldwell Livery M/B/49 Shabbona KY
Anna Caldwell F/B/39 Shabbona Ky
Bryant Caldwell Laborer M/B/21 Shabbona KY
Leonard Caldwell M/B/17 Shabbona KY
? Caldwell M/B/14 Shabbona KY
Ralph Caldwell M/B/ Shabbona Ky
Eva Caldwell F/B/5 Shabbona KY
Grace ? Caldwell F/B/39 Shabbona KY
James Watson Barber M/B/54 Shabbona GA
George Princeton? Laborer M/B/35 Shabbona Ky
Laura Princeton? F/B/33 Shabbona KY
John Princeton? M/B/10 Shabbona Ky
Harry Princeton? M/B/66 Shabbona KY
William Caldwell Laborer M/B/26 Shabbona KY
Ethel Caldwell F/B/23 Shabbona KY
Dorothy Caldwell F/B/3 Shabbona KY
Esra Caldwell F/B/6 mos Shabbona KY
Todd ? Boarder M/B/20 Shabbona KY
James Caldwell Farm Lab M/B/42 Shabbona KY
Molly Caldwell F/B/35 Shabbona KY
? Caldwell M/B/21 Shabbona KY
George Caldwell M/B/16 Shabbona KY
Zara? Caldwell F/B/13 Shabbona KY
Madeline Caldwell F/B/12 Shabbona KY
Sara Caldwell F/B/11 Shabbona KY
Margie Caldwell F/B/11 Shabbona KY
Louisa? Caldwell F/B/2 Shabbona KY

The Shabbona-Lee-Rollo Historical Society’s collection includes several class photos that include the Caldwell children. However, a newspaper articles suggests that some of the Caldwell children attended school in Chicago.

Shabbona Grove School, 1931-32. Photo courtesy Shabbona-Lee-Rollo Historical Society.

Another interesting part of the Caldwell story is that the family is regularly included in local newspaper social columns, and their color is not mentioned in any of the articles.

Shabbona Express, July 1, 1920

DeKalb County Express, March 31, 1932.

Shabbona Express, September 23, 1943.

There is also long and sad obituary for Lucy Caldwell who died soon after giving birth to twins. The DeKalb County Express article explains how Caldwell moved from Kentucky to Shabbona Grove in 1911, and later to Shabbona. It also mentions her connection to the Sycamore Baptist Church, and later the Shabbona Baptist Church. Several friends from Sycamore attended her funeral including Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Crosswell (see post about Samuel’s life in and service in World War I).

DeKalb County Express, August 26, 1943.

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