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Rufus G. Callison
Circuit Riding Oregon Preacher
By Charles Dailey - Revised April, 2002

Rufus Gilmore Callison at a Glance:
Born: 1839 in Hancock Co., IL
Parents: Gilmore and Elizabeth Callison
Married: Martha Willis in 1868
Oregon: 1852 wagon train
Family: See list
Civic Service: Lane Co. Supt. of Schools
Industry: Stock raising
Preached: Western Oregon
Planted churches: Fall Creek
Died: 1915 while preaching at Turner
Buried: Pleasant Hill Pioneer Cemetery

Rufus Callison
Rufus G. Callison
With both a preaching father and preaching grandfather, it's easy to picture Rufus G. Callison as a circuit riding gospel preacher. He was thirteen when he arrived in Oregon with parents. Their wagon train completed the journey from Illinois in 1852.

The family settled at Pleasant Hill, Oregon and his father Gilmore became the regular preacher at the Pleasant Hill Church of Christ.

There is a profile of Gilmore Callison.

Early in life, R. G. Callison gained experience in working as a circuit-riding preacher. In fact, when the world-famous Alexander Phimister Proctor was commissioned to create a statue of a circuit-riding preacher for the Oregon State Capitol grounds, Mr. Callison's saddle bags were used as the model.

There is a photo of the circuit-riding preacher sculpture on this link.

Rufus Callison married Martha Willis in 1868. They lived in a number of communities in Lane County including Cottage Grove, Springfield, Fall Creek and Eugene.

For advanced education, Mr. Callison attended the prestigious Columbia College located on College Hill in Eugene.

Rufus Callison
Rufus G. Callison
in his mature years.

Mr. Callison was selected as the Lane County Superintendent of Schools in 1875. He worked hard to improve school system. He wrote about the local schools:

One of the wealthiest districts crowds its children into a seven by nine foot house constructed of logs; the two windows are mere slits in the side . . . . Moreover, the door of this wonderful temple of learning is placed in the gable because the elevation of the building will not permit it at the side.

The family moved to Fall Creek in 1883. It was probably at this time the Falls Creek Christian Church came into being.

R. G. Callison was the Reading Clerk in the 1889 Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Callison organized a Christian Church in the community of Jasper in 1889. Some years later, the church moved from the school house to their own building.

Membership transfer
Mr. Callison's handwriting has been
preserved in this letter of
membership transfer found at the
Eden Valley Church of Christ in
Whitman County, Washington.

Martha died at Pleasant Hill in the summer of 1912 and was buried there. In the Fall of 1914, Mr. Callison married Sarah J. Hastings, who was three years his senior, and settled in Vancouver, Washington. The ceremony was performed by A. D. Skaggs, the subject of another of these profiles.

He died while addressing an audience of several hundred people at the Oregon Christian Convention at Turner in July of 1915. His sermon theme had been that a good, devoted, useful Christian life is necessary as a preparation for the future life. His final words were, "Prepare to live and you will be prepared to die." He collapsed on the platform and died in his 74th year.

One of Mr. Callison's favorite songs was "The Unclouded Day."


BORN DEC. 24, 1839
DIED JULY 7, 1915
6 MO'S 13 DAYS


MAY 3, 1849
JUNE 13, 1912


Rufus Gilmore Callison (1839-1915) & Martha Willis (1849-1912)
|    Irene Callison (1869-1933)
|    Lena Callison (1871-1938)
|    Mabel Callison (1873-1954)
|    Margaret Callison (1875-1943)
|    Ralph Willis Callison (1877-1950)
|    Rufus G. Callison Jr. (1879-1952)
|    James Garfield Callison (1881-1934)
|    Emery Edgar Callison (1885-)
|    Martha Callison (1887-1927)
|    Henry Errett Callison (1894-1945)
|    Joyce Callison (1897-1900)

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