Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tolliver Cleveland Callison Sr. (1884-1966)

North Carolina Attorney General Tolliver Cleveland Callison.

  The following write-up takes us to Edgefield County, South Carolina and one Tolliver Cleveland Callison, whose name I located several years ago via the Who Was Who In America Volume IV, 1961-1968. A practicing attorney for over five decades, Callison served a decade as city solicitor for South Carolina's 11th judicial circuit and in 1951 began a eight-year stint as Attorney General of South Carolina. 
   The son of former state legislator Preston Brooks Callison and the former Mattie Ella White, Tolliver Cleveland Callison was born in Callison, Edgefield County, South Carolina on July 17, 1884. Bestowed the names "Tolliver Cleveland" upon his birth, Callison would refrain from using his first and middle names during his career in public service, opting instead to use the initials "T.C. Callison." A graduate of the University of South Carolina's Law School in the class of 1909, Callison joined the law firm of Thurmond and Timmerman in 1912, the senior partner of that firm being John William Thurmond (1862-1934), father of long-time U.S. Senator and South Carolina Governor J. Strom Thurmond (1902-2003). 
   "T.C." Callison married on December 17, 1913 to Margaret Reel (1888-1960), with whom he would have five children: Ruby (1914-2013), Tolliver Jr. (1916-1994), Helen Rawl (1919-2006), Jack Reel (1920-2005) and Preston Harvey Callison (born 1923). Of these children Preston Harvey would follow his father into public life, serving two terms as Lexington County's representative to the South Carolina General Assembly from 1965-66 and 1969-70.
   From 1912-1920 Callison was affiliated with the Thurmond and Timmerman law firm and in 1921 entered into service as Solicitor for South Carolina's 11th judicial circuit. He would serve in this capacity for sixteen years, being defeated for reelection in 1937 by Jeff D. Smith. Three years following his defeat Callison was tapped to serve as assistant attorney general of South Carolina, holding that post under Attorney General John McDaniel.
   In 1951 John McDaniel retired after serving twenty-six years as Attorney General and shortly thereafter T.C. Callison was elected to succeed him. He would be reelected as attorney general in 1954 and left office in 1959. He held the chairmanship of the Southern Conference of Attorney Generals in 1954 and was also active in other aspects of South Carolina public life, being a former President of the Bank of Lexington, South Carolina (1948-1965) and past president of the South Carolina State Board of Public Welfare, serving in that capacity until his death.
  Widowed in 1960, Tolliver Cleveland Callison died on March 17, 1966 at age 81. He was survived by all of his children and was buried at the East View Cemetery in Edgefield, South Carolina, the same resting place as that of his wife.

A T.C. Callison campaign notice from the Aiken Standard and Review.


  1. Thank you for this post about my paternal grandfather. I've always assumed he was named after Grover Cleveland. My father was T.C. Jr. (deceased), and my oldest son is technically T.C. IV -- he goes by Todd. I'm the IIIrd, aka Cleve. Papa's law partner Thurmond was a distant cousin, so Strom was my 3rd cousin once removed or something like that.

    1. Cleve,

      Much obliged for the kind comments! Wish I could have written more about T.C. and his time as Attorney General but I'm sorry to say that information on him was hard to come by. I first located his name in an edition of "Who Was Who" (mentioned above) and other than that (and one or two newspaper write-ups on his candidacy for South Carolina Attorney General) I could find little else. In all honesty I was amazed to have found a picture of him! I was also pleasantly surprised to find out about his relation to the late Senator Strom Thurmond, who is certainly one of the most notable American political figures in the history of the U.S. Senate. If you have any further information you'd like to see listed about "T.C." I would be more than happy to include it!

      Best wishes,


  2. I got this on some searches for "Tolliver" originally from Italian "tagliaferro" for "Ironcutter" if this is correct. Probably closer to "Iron Artisan" or "worker" in the sense of one who does "wrought" iron, not just the cutting. I don't know if there is a term in English for that. Hard to know for sure, but it makes sense to me. The other difficult one is to figure out again for sure where "Callison" comes from.

  3. I share Gaffney,SC as hometown (62-78) with the Tolliver Jr (Cleve) branch of the family. And later it was my good fortune to know Richard Kremer, a Rhodes Scholar nominee who married Preston's daughter Melissa. And Cleve's sister Margaret still sets the standard for editor of the Gaffney High yearbook, the Cherokeean. All in all some of the smartest folks in one family I've ever come across. Was an honor to become acquainted with them early on.

  4. Tolliver Cleveland Callison represented South Carolina in an action brought against the state by Sarah Mae Flemming who had been forced off a city bus because of her race. When he lost the case, and the Supreme Court affirmed that segregation on buses was unconstitutional, he complained the decision was "an invasion of state and municipal rights". --Robert E. Dwyer

    1. Not surprising. I've read transcripts of his testimony before Congress opposing the Civil Rights of 1957.