Week 41: #52 Ancestors – Newest
By Eilene Lyon
“Cousin Orin Rhodes was shot through the head the first battle he ever was in. George Rhodes is in hospital. No more news this time.” – George L. Carey, June 26, 1864
My newest cousin contact, thanks to this blog, sent me on a research quest (aka “rabbit hole”) regarding this Civil War photograph. We knew that the young man on the right was her ancestor, John Arlington Carey. Because she inherited the Carey family photo album, which contains other images of the man on the left, we figured he must be related to John somehow.
John Carey’s second wife was Katherine “Katie” Cutting, whom he married in Codington County, South Dakota, in 1885. Katie is my 3rd great-aunt, thus our family connection. I shared a few items I had on the Careys, including a biography published in the Codington centennial history book. I don’t know who wrote it, but the first part led to some confusion.
“John A. Carey, son of Alfred and June Carey, was born in 1846 in Westfield, New York. His mother died when he was eight and, after that, he lived with cousins.”
Census records from John’s early life, and Ancestry trees, tell a different story. He was born in 1844 to Thomas L. Carey and Stephania Wade. John was at least 10 years old when his mother died. (I still don’t know where Alfred and June come in.)
At age 17, John enlisted in Company E, 112th New York Volunteers from Westfield. He served from 1862 to war’s end in 1865, mustering out in Raleigh, North Carolina, in June of that year. He was wounded in the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, in 1864.
I noticed that the unknown soldier had sergeant stripes, so I went online to find the Company E roster and muster rolls. None of the sergeants’ names meant anything, but I jotted them down. There were no Careys among the privates aside from John. I found a brief blurb about John in the 112th Regiment roster, but neglected to scroll up a page.
Looking through Ancestry trees, I found that Thomas L. Carey’s brother, Nathaniel, and family also lived in Westfield, New York, during the war. One of Nathaniel’s sons, George L. Carey, served as a sergeant in Company E, same unit as John. Hmm.
Going back to the Co. E muster roll, I found him: Corporal “G. L. Cary” denoting his rank upon enlistment. Back to the 112th roster. Yes, George L. Carey and John served together, enlisting a few days apart, and mustering out together. I figure the feature photo was probably taken in 1864, when they were on furlough, and before John had been promoted to corporal.
Almost better than the photo, someone on Ancestry posted the transcript of a letter from George to his cousin, Emma Wade, in Iowa shortly after the Cold Harbor conflict. He mentions John in the letter:
“Dear Cousin Emma, I received your last letter at White House Landing, Va. and the next day I was wounded in a charge at Coal Harbor. It was a flesh wound in my left hip and cousin Johnnie rec’d a flesh wound in his left arm and I expect that he is at home on furlough now.”
Sadly, John and George’s cousin, Orin Rhodes, was not so fortunate, as the opening quote attests. John and George Carey, on the other hand, lived out their lives, marrying and having children and grandchildren. George lived to 65 and John to the ripe age of 85.
Feature image: Sgt. George L. Carey and Pvt. John A. Carey in their Civil War uniforms c. 1864. (Courtesy of S. Mackey)
P.S. I might be meeting my new cousin face-to-face (with masks) in the next week or so. Oh boy!
Letter to Miss Emma J. Wade, Maquoketa, Jackson Co., Iowa, from George L. Carey – De Camp General Hospital David’s Island NY Harbor, June 26, 1864, posted by robtdenman1 on Ancestry.com.
Codington County History Book Committee. 1979. “The First 100 Years” 1879-1979 in Codington County South Dakota. Watertown Public Opinion Print, p. 134.
Thomas Cary. Year: 1850; Census Place: Westfield, Chautauqua, New York; Roll: 485; Page: 147b – via Ancestry.com.
Thomas Carey. Ancestry.com. New York, State Census, 1855 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.
Thomas Carey. Year: 1860; Census Place: Westfield, Chautauqua, New York; Page: 79; Family History Library Film: 803732 – via Ancestry.com.
Links to Muster Roll and Unit Roster at https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/112thInf/112thInfMain.htm