Some Careys trace their heritage to a Plymouth Pilgrim, or to people who came to the U.S.A. from Ireland during the great potato famine.
The earliest Carey ancestor about whom I know anything, though, is one George Carey who migrated from New Jersey to Ohio along with his wife -- Phebe (Clark) Carey -- and several children in the early 1800s. I've started posting here what little I know about George and Phebe. I invite any of my cousins who are interested to send me E-MAIL. I'll be glad to post your information, theories or questions in this section. Perhaps if we all pool our knowledge, we'll be able to unravel some of the mystery surrounding these people.
(Our name means "sea turtle" in Spanish, and some of us speak Spanish, but we don't seem to have come from Spain, either.)
There are several gedcoms or family trees on the World Wide Web which include George Carey. Some of them suggest that his middle name was Almarian. We believe that's erroneous. Children born in the latter half of the 18th century weren't usually given middle names. The practice didn't become common until well into the 19th century. (Read an article by Rhonda R. McClure on this naming custom.) We believe the appearance of this particular middle name for our ancestor is due to a confusion with an unrelated Almarian Carey, who married Phebe's niece, Sal Clark. We've also seen a middle name of Almasia in various places, but believe this is only a misspelling of the already erroneous Almarian.
Carey or Cary? You may see our surname spelled in either of these ways in various places. As I frequently remind fellow researchers, I see no significance in spelling variations, such as Cary versus Carey, or Cory versus Corey. There was no such thing as standardized spelling until well after 1850. People spelled the same word, or name, one way one day and another way the next. I think there is a difference between Cary and Cory, though. These are two separate and distinct surnames. If they are confused with each other, it's only because the letters a and o often look alike in old, handwritten records. I'm often not sure, myself, of which surname I'm looking at. I'm sure that even the most conscientious transcribers and indexers of old census and land records have the same problem.
There's a good possibility George Carey was illiterate and hence didn't know or care how to spell his name. His oldest known son, David, signed an 1831 deed with an "X", although one researcher pointed out that she has seen instances of people signing sometimes with an "X" and sometimes with their name! The 1850 census had a column which could be checked to indicate adults "who cannot read & write." I have no idea how careful the census takers were about ascertaining this information, but only one of George's four children who was still alive in 1850 -- Thomas -- was flagged as illiterate. Since Thomas was the next son after David, and since he and David were both of school age in New Jersey, while the other three weren't, this is a clue that education opportunities may have been more limited in New Jersey than they were on the Ohio frontier.