Clarence Crittenden Calhoun, principal of the Lexington Business College, was born in Daviess County, Kentucky, September 13, 1863, being a descendant of a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian family, who on their arrival in America first settled in Pennsylvania but subsequently moved to Virginia. From this family John C. Calhoun, the immortal statesman of South Carolina, was descended. One branch of the family, in company with a body of settlers who were coming to Kentucky, were attacked by a band of Indians, and almost the entire party either killed or taken prisoners. Among the slain were the father and mother of George Calhoun, the great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, and George, their son, was taken prisoner by the Indians at the tender age of three years, and held by them until he was seven years of age, when he was rescued by a party of settlers under Judge Cotton, by whom he was tenderly cared for until he was grown, when he repaid the kindness of Judge Cotton by marrying one of his daughters. After which time he spent a part of his life in Henry County, Kentucky, but finally moved to Daviess County, Kentucky, where he lived until his death in 1835. He was First Lieutenant of a company of Pennsylvania Rangers during the Revolutionary War, serving from June 8, 1776, to January 1, 1781. He was often called on to act as courier, carrying messages through the trackless wilderness from one army to another. Serving at one time in this capacity under General Washington, he was complimented on the field of battle by that illustrious leader and patriot, who entrusted him with a most important and perilous mission, telling him that he had never failed him and he felt that now he was the only man in his command who would be able to deliver his message, which was done at the risk of his life, thus saving the day.
Rev. Samuel Calhoun, grandfather of C. C. Calhoun, removed with his father, George Calhoun, to Daviess County, Kentucky, where he became profoundly and deeply impressed with a call to the ministry, and although his education had been neglected, on account of delicate health and poor facilities, yet with remarkable perseverance he prepared himself for his high calling, which he soon entered with his heart and soul full of love for his fellow-man and fired with enthusiasm to proclaim to them the glad tidings of the gospel of peace. He soon became one of the leaders of his church (the Cumberland Presbyterian), preaching all over Southwestern Kentucky for a term of fifty years. At all times and under all circumstances he absolutely refused to receive any salary for his work, yet his financial prosperity abounded largely above that of his fellows. He held his congregations solidly together during the exciting scenes of the Civil War; and at the ripe age of eighty-six years, he was called away from his earthly labors to receive an eternal reward at the hands of his Master.
His youngest son, John R. Calhoun, father of C. C. Calhoun, was born in Daviess County, Kentucky, March 17, 1839. Owing to delicate health, and much against his will, he was forced to give up his college course, in which he gave great promise and through the advice of his physicians he has devoted himself to farming, spending what spare time he could in the study of the Bible and sacred literature, and to the service of his church.
December 11, 1862, he was married to Miss Margaret N. Bosley, who was educated at Science Hill, Shelbyville, Kentucky. Mrs. Calhoun being possessed of high intellectual endowments, kind and gentle manner, unselfish and considerate of others, is loved and admired by all who know her. Her father, Nicholas G. Bosley, was born in Maryland, April 9, 1803, and came to Daviess County, Kentucky, in 1826. He possessed great enterprise and industry with the highest morality and integrity. By hard work and good management, he acquired a comfortable fortune, but had a large portion of it taken from him by the Federal forces during the Civil War. Clarence C. Calhoun was the eldest of a large family, and the duty of looking after his father’s business devolved upon him at an early age, so that he had neither time nor opportunity to acquire an education, although he endeavored to improve every opportunity which presented itself. He usually had a book with him studying while his team and the other workmen rested. In this way, while plowing, he mastered the subject of fractions so thoroughly and so well as to enable him to take a college course without again going over the subject. When twenty-one years old, he left the parental roof fully determined to obtain an education, although his capital, which he had saved up, amounted to the modest sum of $15.00. With a resolution to do or die, he went to work building patent fences, digging ditches, working in the harvest field or at anything else that was honorable until he had accumulated about $100. January 24, 1886, he entered the State A. &. M. College at Lexington, Kentucky, and was there three and one half years, taking a scientific and classical course. While taking his course the trustees of the college placed him in charge of the commercial department of that institution now known as the Lexington Business College. While attending college, or rather during vacations, he made the money to defray his expenses at manual labor or by selling books, making as much as $200 in one month.
He had been a student in this institution less than a year when he was called upon by the faculty to deliver an address on Commencement Day. This effort was made in the presence of Senator James B. Beck, Governor Proctor Knott and many of the most distinguished men of the state. At the conclusion Senator Beck arose to his feet and complimented the address in a most enthusiastic manner, which was heartily entered into by the other distinguished gentlemen present.
The Lexington Business College has had a wonderful growth under his able management. When it started, less than seven years ago, the school was located in an old dwelling, almost entirely without equipment and with less than one dozen students. Since then thousands of young men and women have been given a business training, and placed in positions in which they are able to make comfortable livings. Through his influence and work a new building has been erected, especially adapted to the business college. This is situated on East Main street, near the Phoenix Hotel, and its magnificent and imposing front constructed of stone is the chief attraction in that part of the city. It is unequaled in the arrangement and equipment of its several departments, the planning and furnishing of which was done under the direction of Mr. Calhoun, whose management of the school has made it possible for this fine building to be erected. Thus by his energy and business tact he has built up an institution which is destined to stand among the most renowned business colleges on this continent. He is a hard worker himself, and expects all work done under him to be faithful and conscientious and based upon the highest principles of honesty and integrity.
When Mr. Calhoun was at home, occasionally attending the country common schools, they were so poor and the results of their work so unsatisfactory, he determined if ever in his power to do something for the improvement of the system and the advancement of the cause of education in Kentucky. Accordingly in January, 1892, in connection with Hon. A. L. Peterman, he began the publication of an educational journal known as “The Southern School,” which has developed into the largest and most popular periodical of the kind west of the Allegheny Mountains. In a little more than two years it has gained a subscription list of over six thousand, and its weekly visits are hailed with delight by teachers in every state in the South. When it was projected its publishers did not expect it to be a success from a financial point of view, but in this they have been happily disappointed, while they have seen it grow and flourish until it has done more for the public school system in Kentucky than any other instrumentality. In conclusion it may be said of Mr. Calhoun that he has accomplished, within ten years, a work which few men have equaled in a lifetime.
“C. C. Calhoun, when a boy at home with his father, was noted for his stability of character, fixedness of purpose and close application to business. What he did was thoroughly done; he lost no time; when not engaged in physical labor his time was occupied in reading. He was ever trusty, faithful and punctual in attendance upon his father’s business and immovable in his moral character.” Written by his father as a just tribute.
Source : Biographical Cyclopedia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. John M. Gresham Company, Chicago, Philadelphia, 1896.