Kirchhoff, Calvin Everett

Biography

Calvin Kirchhoff 1925 LDS Census

When Calvin Everett Kirchhoff registered for the World War II draft in 1942, he was five feet eleven inches tall and weighed 187 pounds. The draft registrar listed his eyes as brown, his hair as black, and his complexion as “ruddy.” For “race” the registrar could only choose between “white,” “negro,” “oriental,” “Indian,” and “Filipino,” and he chose “white.” [1] The 1900 U.S. census listed Calvin as white, but the 1905 Wisconsin census described him as black, along with his mother Esther Jane “Nettie” Scott and his brother Milton. The 1910 federal census was perhaps more precise when it described “Nettie,” Calvin, Milton, and Leo, Calvin’s youngest brother, as “mulatto.” In 1920, Calvin was a new father when the census taker next found him, this time living with his young bride, Carolyn Robertson Kirchhoff in Quaker Hills, Connecticut. Carolyn was fifteen at the time, Calvin was twenty one, and their new baby girl, Alma, was less than one month old. They lived with Carolyn’s widowed mother who managed a milk farm while Calvin worked as a reamer for Groton Iron Works, a company which built large cargo ships for the U. S. Shipping Board during World War I. The census taker described Calvin and baby Alma as “mulatto” in 1920, but that was the last year Calvin’s race was listed as anything other than white. [2]

Calvin’s mixed racial heritage came from his German born immigrant father, Richard Kirchhoff, and his mixed racial mother, Esther Jane “Nettie” Scott Kirchhoff. [3] The Kirchhoff’s were founding members of the Oshkosh, Wisconsin LDS branch when it was organized on 24 July 1904. Calvin would have just turned six and likely accompanied his parents to the branch founding. His parents were baptized in October 1898, three months after Calvin’s birth. Calvin grew up accustomed to being around LDS missionaries who were frequent visitors at the Kirchhoff home. If Elder James Grant’s missionary journal is an accurate representation, the Kirchhoffs were favorites among the missionaries. Grant visited the Kirchhoffs at least thirty-six times over the course of his stay in Oshkosh, between November 1903 and March 1904, when Calvin was five years old. [4]

Calvin’s mother Nettie was the secretary in the Oshkosh branch Sunday School presidency and remained so for two years before she became assistant theological teacher. Calvin and his two brothers, Milton and Leo, were on the Sunday School rolls which their mother likely created. Their father Richard served as president of the Mutual Improvement Association when it was organized in the branch in 1906. [5]

Calvin and Milton were baptized on the same day, 21 June 1914, when Calvin was just shy of his sixteenth birthday. There is no record of their younger brother, Leo, joining them in the faith. [6] Elder John Henry Franke, a German born immigrant, baptized and confirmed both Calvin and Milton in 1914, likely after he established a friendship with the boys’ father Richard, who was also from Germany and also spoke German as his native language. Franke was 58 years old and living in Eureka, Utah when he was called as a missionary to the Northern States mission in 1912, his third mission for the LDS Church. [7]

Calvin received two years of a high school education before he left Oshkosh around 1917, likely for military related work available on the east coast. [8] That is where he secured a job at Groton Iron Works and met and married his young bride Carolyn. That is also where he would spend the rest of his life, living on Bloomingdale Road in Quaker Hills, a section of Waterford Township in New London County, Connecticut. By 1930 Carolyn owned the home on Bloomingdale road, valued at $5,000 (perhaps an inheritance from her mother) and had given birth to a son, Richard. Calvin was a dairyman who worked on a dairy farm, maybe the same dairy which his mother-in-law had managed in 1920. In 1940 Calvin listed his occupation as farmer, but at some point before he passed away he became postmaster at Quaker Hills. [9]

It is difficult to determine the nature and extent of Calvin’s affiliation with Mormonism following his move to Connecticut, but it is clear that he remained a Latter-day Saint for the rest of his life. The 1940 and 1955 LDS census records list him as a member of the Hartford Branch and then the New London Branch. He did not hold the priesthood which may indicate that LDS leaders in Connecticut were aware of his mixed racial heritage. His wife Carolyn was identified on the 1955 LDS census as a non-member. [10] Calvin died of a heart attack in May 1957, at age 58. His memorial service was held at a funeral home in New London. Calvin’s brothers Milton and Leo traveled from Oshkosh to Quaker Hills to remember their brother and pay their respects to his widow Carolyn. The New London LDS branch clerk recorded Calvin's death in the branch record and indicated that Calvin "died in full fellowship." [11]

Primary Sources

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection. CR 375 8, box 1442, folder 1, image 532; box 7701, folder 1, images 300-301; box 4166, folder 1, image 106. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Franke, John Henry. Early Mormon Missionary database. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Grant, James. Missionary Journal, 1903-1904. MS 19933. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kirchhoff, Calvin Everett. Selective Service Registration Cards. World War II, Draft Registration Cards for Connecticut, 1940-1947. National Archives and Records Administration. As archived at fold3.com.

“Kirchhoff.” Presiding Bishopric stake and mission census, 1914-1935. CR 4 311. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Kirchhoff.” Presiding Bishopric mission census, 1940. CR 4 312. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Kirchhoff.” Presiding Bishopric stake and mission census, 1950-1960, 1962. CR 4 316. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Kirchhoff.” The New London Evening Day (New London, Connecticut), 27 May 1957, 2.

Oshkosh Branch, Wisconsin. Northern States Mission. Record of Members, Historical, 1904-1907. CR 375 8, WR 4685. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Return from Funeral.” The Oshkosh Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin), 3 June 1957, 4.

United States, Census. 1900, Wisconsin, Winnebago County, Oshkosh.

United States, Census. 1910, Wisconsin, Winnebago County, Oshkosh.

United States, Census. 1920, Connecticut, New London County, Waterford.

United States, Census. 1930, Connecticut, New London County, Waterford.

United States, Census. 1940, Connecticut, New London County, Waterford.

Wisconsin, State Censuses, 1905. Database on-line at Ancestry.com. Originals at Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.


[1] Kirchhoff, Calvin Everett, Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II, Draft Registration Cards for Connecticut, 1940-1947, National Archives and Records Administration, as archived at fold3.com.

[2] United States, Census, 1900, 1910, Wisconsin, Winnebago County, Oshkosh; United States, Census, 1920, 1930, 1940, Connecticut, New London County, Waterford; Wisconsin, State Census, 1905, database on-line at Ancestry.com, originals at Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin.

[3] United States, Census, 1900, 1910, 1920, Wisconsin, Winnebago County, Oshkosh.

[4] Oshkosh Branch, Wisconsin, Northern States Mission, Record of Members, Historical, 1904-1907, CR 375 8, WR 4685, p. 4, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; James Grant Missionary Journal, 1903-1904, MS 19933, pp. 21, 22, 30, 33-37, 51, 54, 58, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[5] Oshkosh Branch, Wisconsin, Northern States Mission, Record of Members, Historical, 1904-1907, 8-13, 15, 46.

[6] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, CR 375 8, box 4166, folder 1, image 106, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[7] John Henry Franke, Early Mormon Missionary database, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[8] United States, Census, 1840, Connecticut, New London County, Waterford; “Return from Funeral,” The Oshkosh Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) 3 June 1957, 4.

[9] United States, Census, 1820, 1830, 1840, Connecticut, New London County, Waterford; “Return from Funeral,” The Oshkosh Northwestern, 3 June 1957, 4.

[10] “Kirchhoff,” Presiding Bishopric mission census, 1940, CR 4 312, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah; “Kirchhoff,” Presiding Bishopric stake and mission census, 1950-1960, 1962, CR 4 316, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[11] Return from Funeral,” The Oshkosh Northwestern, 3 June 1957, 4; “Kirchhoff,” The New London Evening Day (New London, Connecticut), 27 May 1957, 2; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Connecticut State, Part 3, CR 375 8, box 1442, folder 1, image 532, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Documents

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