This is a carte de visite, also known as a CDV, of a woman in mourning. During the Victorian era, mourning clothes were a display of one’s sorrow. Note the black veil she is wearing. On the back of the CDV is the photographer’s information which reveals that the photo was taken by Baird on 13 Fifth Street in Zanesville, Ohio. Based on the photo’s border of two different width lines and the square corners, as well as the fashion, I date this image as being produced in the mid to late 1860s.
Catherine was born in 1836 in Adams County, Ohio, and grew up on a farm with her parents and her twelve siblings. She married Daniel Wymer in 1855 and they settled in Union, which was about twenty miles from Zanesville.
As with the vast majority of American citizens who lived during the Civil War, Catherine’s life was greatly impacted by the sectional conflict. She was left to care for their four small children while her husband fought for the Union in 1864. She lost her brother, Samuel, to the war; he died in 1862, of Typhus, an intestinal infectious disease caused by poor hygienic conditions that were commonplace in military camps. Samuel’s regiment, the 97th, lost a total of 254 men, and 161 of those deaths were from disease.
I have a fondness for photographs of graveside visitors. Why? My mother died in an auto accident when I was seven months old and I was raised by my maternal grandmother. Cemetery visits were a regular event during my childhood, and I sat for many graveside photographs, such as this one.
This particular photograph, of a young woman sitting at the foot of her loved one’s headstone, is identified on the back as “May 30 1922 Melrose cemetary [sic]”. Look at her hat! It’s amazing! Using a magnifying glass, I was able to make out the name Lysander Carr. I could also see another Carr listed below Lysander, with the death year of 1904. I searched the Find A Grave website and found the memorials for Lysander and Julia Carr in Melrose cemetery, Brockton, Massachusetts. Find A Grave is a wonderful, free resource for anyone working on their family genealogy. It has been an invaluable tool in many of my searches, providing a death record for family members who otherwise would have none. I highly recommend checking it out.
Jemima was born June 17, 1856 in Clear Creek, Fairfield county, Ohio. She was one of twelve children born to Joseph Henry and Hannah (nee Steward) Christy. Looking at this photo, a carte de visite, I noted the sitter’s black dress, black ribbon at her neck and two large, black bracelets. These things suggested to me that she may be in mourning.