Katherine Theodosia Cantwell: One Name, Four Different Women

John Cantwell

Colonel John Lucas Paul Cantwell, the first commander of the 51st Regiment North Carolina Troops, was born in Charleston in 1828. He served with South Carolina’s Palmetto Regiment during the Mexican War. After the war, he lived for a while in New Orleans then relocated to Wilmington in 1851. In Wilmington, he worked as a produce broker, served as Clerk of the U. S. District Court, and commanded the 30th Regiment North Carolina Militia.

The Cousins Katherine

On January 8, 1840, Katherine Theodosia Blount was born in Louisiana.  Six weeks later, her first cousin, Katherine Theodosia Calder, was born in North Carolina.  The girls were named after two of their aunts, Katherine and Theodosia Calder. In 1850, Katherine Blount lived in West Feliciana Parish (near Baton Rouge) with her widowed mother and three siblings. Katherine Calder lived in Wilmington with her widowed mother and two siblings. Both families were wealthy.

Two Katherine Theodosia Cantwell’s

Katherine Calder married John Cantwell in 1858, and their first child, Robert Calder Cantwell, was born the following year.  In June of 1863, the Cantwell’s second child, a daughter, was born.  The birth did not go well.  Katherine died a week after giving birth, and the infant died three days after Katherine.

In 1869, Cantwell married Katherine Theodosia Blount, his first wife’s cousin.  They had six children together. The couple remained together until John Cantwell’s death in 1909. Kate passed away in 1922. They are buried in the same plot, together with the first Mrs. Cantwell, in Wilmington’s Oakdale Cemetery.

And Two More Katherine Theodosia Cantwell’s

The second Mrs. Kate Cantwell had a daughter in 1872. The couple named their daughter Katherine Theodosia Cantwell.  Cantwell’s oldest son, Robert, was married in 1882. He named his third child Katherine Theodosia Cantwell in honor of his dead mother, or maybe his stepmother (who was also his first cousin, once removed).

John Cantwell’s first wife, second wife, daughter, and granddaughter were all named Katherine Theodosia Cantwell. Family reunions must have been slightly confusing to outsiders.

Sources: Family Search records for John Cantwell and Lavina Calder; Wilmington Journal 30 Apr. 1858

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