Patrick ‘Pat’ Callan was born in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland on the 9th October 1868, the son of Peter and Elizabeth Callan (née Shevlin). Nothing is known of his childhood, but he immigrated to the United States of America when quite young. In census returns and an application for a U.S. Passport in 1915, he gave dates of 1880, 1888, and 1890 for when he entered the United States of America.
He settled in Chicago, Illinois, and married Mary Anne Finn there on the 30th October 1892. The couple set up home at 3028, West Taylor Street, where they had three children – Peter Michael, Thomas Francis, and Catherine Elizabeth (known as “Babe”). Patrick became a naturalised U.S. citizen in 1894.
He described himself as being a labourer, but some reports stated that he had made his fortune supplying beef cattle for the canning plants in Chicago.
In 1915, after an absence of 30 years, his father, Peter, who resided at Dumlusty, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, in Ireland, who was himself a wealthy man, had become very ill and persuaded his son to return to Ireland to take over the running of the family business there. As a consequence, he booked second cabin passage on the
Lusitania and joined her before she left her berth at Pier 54 in New York on 1st May 1915. Once on board, he met fellow second cabin passengers Flor and Julia O’Sullivan who were also ex-patriate Irish and he spent most of the voyage in their company.
Six days out of New York, on the afternoon of 7th May, when the liner was within sight of Pat Callan’s native Ireland, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20. At that time, she was only about twelve to fourteen hours steaming time away from her Liverpool home port and destination.
Before the vessel foundered, Pat Callan managed to get into one of the lifeboats and secure a place for the O’Sullivan’s. Having watched her husband jump in, Julia O’Sullivan refused to make the jump from the deck to the boat and her husband was forced to re-join her on deck. Pat Callan stayed in, and as the boat, which was probably No 17, was being lowered, the bow fall slipped and the boat fell, to hang in a perpendicular fashion, spilling all its occupants into the sea.
As no trace of his body was ever discovered afterwards, he has no known grave. He was aged 46 years.
However, one fellow second cabin passenger, David Dalrymple, who was travelling home to Scotland from Canada, had met him on the voyage across the Atlantic and later told the Edinburgh newspaper
The Evening Telegram and Post, all about him and his fate. The account, in the edition of the newspaper for Tuesday 11th May 1915, stated: -
They could just see the coast of Ireland like a speck, and Mr. Dalrymple remembered how joyous the sight of the “Ould Counthry” was to an Irishman on board, Patrick Callon
(sic) a bricklayer from Chicago, who had left Ireland when a boy of 16, and after an absence of 30 years was returning to his old father.
Mr. Dalrymple pointed out to him the coast line, and Pat was just like a little boy full of joy at the thought of seeing his father and once more on visiting his native country. He was one of the victims of the disaster.
Mr. Dalrymple heard from another passenger that he had seen his body floating in the sea with a deep gash in the head.
This other passenger was probably Robert Dyer, who told the Dublin newspaper
The Irish Independent, a similar tale, although he named the man as Patrick Carroll. The account, in the edition of the newspaper for Monday 10th May 1915, stated: -
Robert Dyer, an American from Pittsburg (sic), when interviewed by our special correspondence at Queenstown, said that he was taking a glass of beer in the lunch room and talking to Patrick Carroll
(sic) of Dundalk when the ship was struck.
Pat Carroll was like a man who saw Heaven, Dyer said, from the first moment he saw the Irish coast.
Patrick was a bricklayer in Chicago, and was going home to see his father in Dundalk after an absence of 30 years. ‘When the crash came, we were knocked off our feet, and one of our friends said, “That’s these damnable German submarines, and I’ll bet they have done for us at last”’.
‘I saw that man from Dundalk afterwards, floating around dead’.
Thus, it is probably that as a result of being pitched out of the lifeboat, Pat Callan injured his head and probably drowned as a result!
On 26th May 1915, Cunard’s Chicago office cabled either the Queenstown or Liverpool offices with the following message: -
PRESS REPORT REMAINS PATRICK CALLAN, CHICAGO, LUSITANIA, SECONDS, RECOVERED. CABLE CONFIRMATION WHEN SHIPPED.
A reply to this cable was despatched the same day with the simple message: -
NOT YET FOUND.
Eventually, on 31st May 1915, Cunard’s New York office was cabled: -
QUEENSTOWN ADVISE REPORT THAT PATRICK CALLAN’S REMAINS FOUND ERRONEOUS. CONSUL ADVISING WASHINGTON.
The CONSUL referred to was Mr. Wesley Frost, the United States Consul in Queenstown, who performed sterling work on behalf of the American citizens involved in the sinking.
David Dalrymple, Robert Dyer, and the O’Sullivan’s, survived the sinking.
Patrick Callan’s family submitted a claim to the Mixed Claims Commission after the War, which awarded his widow, Mary Callan, the sum of $7,500.00, and his daughter, Catherine, $2,500.00 for his loss, and his son, Peter, who was the administrator of his estate, $790.50 for loss of money and personal property in the sinking.
Mary Callan never remarried, and died in Chicago on the 2nd August 1934, aged 58 years. Her second son – Thomas Francis Callan died while imprisoned at the Chicago House of Corrections on the 22nd November 1933, aged 38 years. His cause of death, or the nature of the crime he had been convicted of, are unknown.
Ireland Civil Registration Birth Index 1864 – 1958, Ireland Select Births and Baptisms 1620 – 1911, Illinois Marriage Index 1860 – 1920, Illinois Deaths and Stillbirth Index 1916 – 1947, Pennsylvania Passenger and Crew Lists 1800 – 1962, 1900 U.S. Federal Census, 1910 U.S. Federal Census, U.S. Passport Applications 1795 -1925, Cunard Records, Mixed Claims Commission Docket No. 465, Evening Telegram and Post, New York Times, Irish Independent, PRO BT 100/345, Seven Days to Disaster, UniLiv D92/2/13, UniLiv PR13/6, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.