The Carey Album

Week 40: #52 Ancestors – Preservation

By Eilene Lyon

A blessing of this blog is that cousins find stories here about their ancestors and reach out to me. Suzanne is one, and we have enjoyed a couple visits here in Durango. Recently she brought her Carey family photo album for me to scan and hopefully identify some unlabeled images.

One of the labeled photos in the album is an albumin print of John Carey’s son, John Lemuel Carey (b. 1874).

The album belonged to her ancestor, John Arlington Carey, originally of New York. Several images of John in his Civil War uniform are pasted in the pages, as well as four of his cousin, George L. Carey, with whom he served in the 112th New York Volunteer Infantry.

Some photos and engravings were apparently collected like baseball cards, showing prominent military men, such as Gen. Joseph Hooker. Most are probably John’s close relatives, but only a few were identified on the page margins. Most of the images are from the 1860s and 1870s.

This engraving of Gen. Joseph Hooker is likely based on this carte de visite. The engraver took some license with Hooker’s facial expression, making him appear a bit more sympathetic. (Page 25)
This is a photo of Col. (Rev.) Jeremiah C. Drake of the 112th New York Volunteers. He was fatally wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor. (Page 19)

I have been grouping those that might be of the same person or closely related. Research on Ancestry is also helpful, especially if others have posted images. One helped me figure out the person in the tintype on page 5 is likely John’s older sister, Jenny (Jane M. Carey Damon). This is, of course, a tentative ID.

Tintype from page 5 of the Carey album on the left. Photo of Jenny (Carey) Damon on right, shared by karsmitty2 on
The tintype of a young girl (page 3) may be the same young woman in the print on right (page 13).
These two images might be the same young man (page 47 on left, page 30 on right).

Because Suzanne does not have descendants to preserve John’s collection, it will likely go to an archive. I’ve reached out to the Chautauqua County Historical Society in Westfield, New York, to see if they might be interested.

My query had the delightful consequence of a reply from a Carey family descendant who is affiliated with the society and their museum. She might be able to help with photo identification, and also ensure that the album finds an appropriate permanent home.

In the meantime, I will be compiling information on the people pictured as they reveal themselves through the research process. This information will then travel with the album, adding to its historic value. Because the album’s binding has become separated from the pages within, I will also seek out repair options to preserve it for future Carey generations.

Feature image: Inside cover and title page of the John A. Carey photo album. The closed album measures roughly 4.5″ x 5.5″.

41 thoughts on “The Carey Album

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  1. Such a commendable effort you make… Nothing is sadder than to see a photo album for sale in an antique shop, where some family no longer knew who they were… I found one, and purchased it, for a small amount, which had photos of immigrants, going from shipboard photos to Governor’s island and then migrating west into Pennsylvania. Finding a few last names in it I researched and found descendants still living and sent the valuable album to them. I had one cousin who threw away all old family photos of my family when his father died. He was my father’s oldest brother, the second oldest of my grandfather’s family, due to this I do not have and may never have a photo of my own grandmother. Fortunately, I do have most of our family photos otherwise… and have spent a lot of time identifying and sending to other family members the ones that should be kept going.. But at the same time, there are many that I just have not been able to identify. Thanks for the efforts you make doing this~!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Sam. It is really too sad to see something like that. I’ve heard of dumpster rescues as well as antique shop rescues. We don’t have many such shops around here, or I would probably spend ALL my time rescuing and reuniting photos with families!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It is wonderful Eilene that you are able to identify some of the people in the photos, and I love that you can find a home for this photo album. It is so sad when old photos become people’s trash. I often wonder what will happen to all the digital photos that people have in their google drives after they have passed.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. In some ways that is very true. They do seem a dime a dozen. But when the people are gone from your life, suddenly those photos become so much more. I’m terrible at remembering things I find the photos really do help with sharing the family stories.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s difficult and time-consuming, but without the effort, the images do not have as much meaning. I hope you and/or some of your relatives can do that. That reminds me that I need to record Suzanne’s story about how the album was passed down to her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mother did her best with the album, but I’m afraid that the baby pictures will never be identified. I should be able to ferret out the rest because the family all lived in one place for about sixty years, and that town is just down the road from me.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The quality of these pictures, wow … the first one (the print) going back to 1874, is just amazing Eilene. How nice people have been able to identify and read about the stories and folks that you research and write about. You really deserve kudos for all this work.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome Eilene – well, when you enjoy something, like you do with your ancestry research, you put your heart and soul into the project and it becomes a labor of love and it shows.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I look forward to hearing your findings! Interesting hairstyle on the young woman. Everytime I see someone with spit curls, I wonder how they got them to stay in that position, because actual spit definitely doesn’t cut it. I did kiss curls as part of my Halloween costume this year and they kept falling, despite using lots and lots of hairspray and even Vaseline! I need their secrets!

    Liked by 1 person

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