First Lieutenant William Burbank McCurdy and family
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.)