This cabinet card, identified as William McCurdy, was taken by Walter Chickering probably in the mid to late 1880’s. Walter and his brother Elmer were well known photographers in Boston, specializing in portraits of sports figures and members of the GAR.
Born in July of 1840 in Lowell, Massachusetts, William Burbank McCurdy was the son of John T. G. McCurdy and his wife Lydia. Shown here in his Civil War uniform, William enlisted four months after the start of the war in Company C of the Massachusetts 6th Infantry Regiment on 2 August 1861 at Boston. After his marriage to Celia Isabella Austin (who was 16 at the time) in Lowell on 26 May 1862, he was promoted to Full Sergeant on 31 August 1862. He mustered out on 3 June 1863 and re-enlisted the same day in Lowell, Massachusetts. Promoted to Full 1st Lieutenant on 13 June 1864, and commissioned an officer in Company C of the Massachusetts 6th Infantry on 16 July 1864, he mustered out 27 Oct 1864 in Readville, Mass.
It appears that William and Celia only had one child, Lydia Isabella, born in July 1865. William, working as a carpenter, settled his young family in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Sadly, by 1880, 35 year old William was a widower. His wife, Celia, died on 2 August 1871 at the age of 26. She suffered from puerperal mania, a condition somewhat akin to modern day severe post partum depression or even bipolar disorder. Her daughter, Lydia was 6 years old. 15 year old Lydia did not appear in the 1880 census with her father, after the death of her mother, but lived with her Aunt Caroline McCurdy in Lowell. William died on 1 February 1891 at the age of 50 from cancer of the liver.
In 1900, and still unmarried at the age of 34, Lydia, lived in the household of her Aunt Josephine and Uncle Charles Austin, in Lowell, Massachusetts. She worked as a corset dealer. Lydia is identified in most records by the name L. Isabella or just Isabella. She eventually married the widower John Crawford late in 1930, when she was 65 years old (he was 74). It was her first marriage, (she was still single when she traveled to Bermuda six years earlier in 1924 and in the 1930 census taken in April of that year). She lived to be 75 years old, dying on 23 January 1941. She is buried beside her mother and father in Hildreth Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts.
(Special thanks to Stephanie Smith for permission to use the gravestone photographs she took as a volunteer for Find-a-Grave.)
This CDV (carte de visite) is identified as May W. Russell. Born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts on 24 May 1877, she appears to be the only child of Emma and Warren Russell. (See last week’s blog for more on Warren and Emma.) The second picture, a cabinet card, is of 6 year old May, taken just one year before her father’s death in 1884. Orphaned shortly before her 9th birthday, when her mother died on 8 May 1886, May probably went to live with family members. By 1900, the then 23 year old had become a teacher and was boarding in Richford Village, Vermont. Still working as a teacher in 1910, 33 year old May was living with her Aunt Cora and Uncle Joseph Humphrey in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Later that same year, May married William Stevenson on December 29 in Newbury, Vermont. William was born in Taunton, Massachusetts. He was a civil engineer, living in New York at the time. The family lived in New Rochelle, New York where it appears 37 year old May gave birth to her only child, Virginia in about 1914. The 1915 New York State census and the 1920, 1930 and 1940 federal censuses show William and Virginia living in New York without May, although in each census William lists his status as married. It is possible that May died in childbirth, as she does not appear in any records after the birth of Virginia. Cora Humphrey, the aunt that May lived with when she got married, was widowed by 1915 and lived with William and Virginia from before 1915 until at least 1930. By 1940, Cora Humphrey had disappeared from the records. William Stevenson lived well into his eighties – it appears that he never remarried.
Warren S. Russell was the second born son of James and Mary Russell (see previous blog post). He was born in Amherst, New Hampshire on 26 March 1840. A musician by trade he enlisted in the Civil War on 26 September 1864, serving with the New Hampshire 2nd Brigade 10th Corp. Infantry Band. He mustered out on the 4th of July 1865.
He married Emma V. Chamberlin, born about 1847, the daughter of Otis and Martha Chamberlin in Winchendon, Massachusetts on 4 January 1870. It appears that Emma only gave birth to one child, May Winnifred, on 24 May 1877.
Warren died of valvular heart disease in Fitchburg, Massachusetts on 14 March 1884 at the age of 43. His wife Emma died just a few years later at the age of 39, of heart and brain disease on 8 May 1886, leaving little May an orphan at the age of 8. Stay tuned for May’s story.
These pictures are carte de visite from an album that I rescued from a local antique shop.
James Russell (the father of Adelaide – see last week’s post) was born in Lyndeborough, New Hampshire about 1806. He was a harness maker and saddler. He died suddenly on 30 December 1872 while walking to work from his home, a distance of less than a quarter of a mile of a heart attack.
His wife, Mary Ann Sutherland was born in London, England 29 July 1805. Her father was Robert Sutherland, born in Scotland and her mother was Hannah Nilson, who was born in England. She died in Amherst , New Hampshire of old age on 6 December 1888 at the age of 83.
They had three children – Adelaide, previously blogged about and two sons, Warren and George, both of whom served in the Civil War. Look for more on these men in future blogs.
Both are buried in Meadow View Cemetery in Amherst, New Hampshire.
The photos were taken by J.F. Keniston of Andover, New Hampshire who was a photographer working in the 1860s.