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Posted By: Jean Kramer (email)
Date: 5/19/2004 at 14:35:58

Biography reproduced from page 696 of Volume II of the History of Kossuth County written by Benjamin F. Reed and published in 1913:

Beside the rippling waters of Chartres’ creek in Washington county, Pennsylvania, where his father was a contractor in the building of the great National road running west through Pennsylvania and Ohio, William Baronet Carey was born in December, 1818, some years after his parents and sisters came over from County Kerry, Ireland. He had one brother, John, twelve years his senior, who settled and died at Newton, Iowa.

On his father’s side this family is a branch of the Cahill family of Connaught pedigree, known in Irish as O’Ciarda and anglicised as Keary, O’Cearry, Carey, etc., whose coat of arms may be found by students of heraldry and whose crest was an arm in armour embowed, holding a spear, point downward. The O’Ciardas were chiefs of Cairbre, now Carberry, County Kildare. On his mother’s side he is descended from Conaire the Second, the one hundred and eleventh monarch of Ireland.

In March, 1819, when he was three months old, his parents moved to Londonderry, Guernsey county, Ohio, where he grew to young manhood, having soft, dark, wavy hair and eyes of Irish blue.

On August 18, 1836, he married Miss Rhoda Jennings of Perry county, Ohio, and resided there till 1853, when they moved to Fayette county, Iowa, and in 1856 to Kossuth county, Iowa, where they acquired a farm of four hundred and sixty acres on the Des Moines river three miles northeast of Algona, and made it their permanent home until they entered that “green tent whose curtain never outward swings,” leaving indelibly stamped upon their offspring the lessons of industry, honesty and temperance.

Mrs. Rhoda (Jennings) Carey was of English parentage and one of the heirs to a large estate in chancery which has not yet been divided. She often spoke of this in the strenuous pioneer days in Iowa, and during her awful struggle for the existence of herself and small children in the stress of Civil war times, while she sacrificed the support of her husband and two oldest sons for “the good of the cause.” She lived to see better times, her children grown, her toil rewarded, and to enjoy a “green old age” surrounded by many of the comforts of this world. She died May 25, 1895, at the age of seventy-seven and is buried in Riverview cemetery at Algona.

Mr. Carey was a member of Company F, Second Regiment, Iowa Cavalry Veteran Volunteers, and was mustered out with “Honorable Discharge from service of the United States,” June 25, 1865, at Eastport, Mississippi. He had always been a strong, healthy man capable of untold labor and endurance. He returned from the war, however, broken in health and aged many years in appearance. He never recovered his health, though he lived to be nearly eighty-five years old.

Mr. Carey sometimes spoke of the peculiar fact that in St. Patrick’s writings (that great missionary to Ireland) he found no mention of the Pope, of Purgatory, or auricular confession or worship of the Virgin; for, though in all his life he had been three months schooling, he was always a student, was a well read man and could figure mathematical problems mentally much more rapidly that his public-school trained children could solve them with the aid of pencils, and the leisure imposed upon him by reason of poor health after the war gave him opportunity for a long and varied course of reading.

He was a Patron of Husbandry, belonging to the Kossuth County Grange, and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The Algona Courier, in speaking of his death which occurred July 29, 1903, on his farm in Plum Creek township, which had been his home for forty-seven years, said of him: “Mr. Carey was a man of strong character, took a hand in settling the Indian troubles in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, and was a soldier in the Civil war, and as a pioneer did his full share toward developing and making our civilization what it is today.” He is buried beside his wife and son, Jasper, in Riverview cemetery at Algona, Iowa.

Of their children, eight were born in Ohio and the three youngest in Iowa. The eldest, Sarah Jane, married Samuel Harper and died in Kansas. Marion served through the entire Civil war, married in Iowa and died in Oklahoma. Margaret died in Ohio at the age of five years. Naomi, who took the blue ribbon for horseback riding at the first county fair ever held in Kossuth county, married John W. Henry, deceased, and lives in Algona. Levi entered the army at the age of nineteen; died of measles in hospital, February 7, 1862, and is buried in the National Cemetery, Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, Section 51, Grave 70. Jasper, who was accidentally shot, is buried at Algona. John resides in El Reno, Oklahoma. Enos J. was married in Iowa and died in Seattle, Washington. Alcinda married Scott Coe and resides in Seattle. David married and died in Montana. He is buried at Butte, where his widow and three daughters reside. Bertha, the youngest daughter, whose name will be found among those of the county officials of Kossuth county in this history, married E. L. Gilbert, son of H. J. and Lucy J. (Ensign) Gilbert, of Plum Creek township, and as George Eliot says: I think they had the chief of all love’s joys only in knowing that they loved each other.

(Photos of Mrs. Rhoda Jennings Carey, W. B. Carey, E. L. Gilbert, Mrs. Bertha Carey Gilbert and the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Carey accompany this biography.)


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