On July 4, 1908, some seventy Carey and Perry family members gathered on Abe and Hattie (Carey) Walker's farm near Urbana, Ohio. The following article describing the reunion was in an old newspaper of unknown date which had to have been published before 1910, since an article on the back of the clipping related to England's King Edward who died in that year. The June 24, 1908 issue of the Fullerton (CA) Tribune reported: "Mr. and Mrs. [John and Lucinda] Perry have taken a trip east to visit friends and relatives in Ohio," which should clinch 1908 as the year of the reunion described:
PICNIC OF PERRY AND CAREY FAMILIES HELD AT WALKER HOME
Nowhere was the Fourth more pleasantly spent than at the home of Mr. Abe Walker, three and one-half miles north east on what was known as the Martin Higbee farm. The occasion was a reunion of the Perry and Carey families, it being the first time in twenty seven years that all the Perry brothers and sisters were together. Seventy people ate a splendid dinner on a long table built on the front lawn. The lemonade served was made from lemons brought that morning by John Perry from Los Angeles, Cal. After dinner several group photos were taken by W. H. McGown, Master Kenneth Carey recited the following verses which were written for the occasion by his father, Charles Carey.We welcome you, dear relatives,
From the East, West, South and North
We welcome you back to Ohio,
This glorious day, the Fourth.
So let us forget all the hardships
We have suffered in days gone by,
And press toward the mark of high calling,
To the home beyond the sky.
To the home where sorrow ne'er cometh,
Where pain is known no more,
To the home across the Jordan,
Where Jesus has gone to prepare.
We are all going some where,
Possibly some before another year.
So let us prepare for heaven;
The home to us so dear.
So again I repeat it, You're welcome
To Urbana, Ohio, as of yore,
And I trust some day in the future,
We will meet to part no more.
The selection of Mr. Walker's home for this reunion was appropriate for the occasion as it was in this neighborhood where D. S. Perry, who stands at the head of the broom industry in Urbana, made the first broom ever made in Champaign county, and where he with his brothers commenced the growing of broom corn in 1862, and commenced the home manufacturing in 1876. This industry employs more labor than any other one line in Champaign county. Among those present were Mr. and Mrs. James Perry, Mr. and Mrs. William Perry, Ed Perry and family, and Sherman Perry of Indianapolis; Mr. and Mrs. Ward McConnell, Miss Lillian Boyd, Miss Jennie Ammon, Ward Hunter and wife, Miss Dillbone of Piqua; Rev. Schautzman and wife, Frank Powell of Kingscreek, David S. Perry and wife, David Carey and wife, William, George and Sam Carey with their families, Clarence Shyrigh and family, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Blair, Mrs. A. B. Offenbacher, John and Ed Snyder and families, Abe Walker and wife, Mrs. Thomas of Urbana, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Higbee of Salem Township.
Here are a couple of pictures taken at that reunion...
We can only guess at what some of the topics of conversation might have been among the people in attendance at this reunion. For many of those present, the biggest event of their lives was the American Civil War, or as it was still called in Ohio, the War of the Rebellion, which had convulsed the country more than four decades earlier. Several of the old men present heeded the call to arms during that conflict and the memories of their service were no doubt still fresh in their minds...
In 1861, John L. Perry had returned to his birthplace, where he enlisted in the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry and served for four years. After seeing action at Antietam and Bull Run, he was captured and imprisoned at the Libby Prison in Richmond, "... a horrible place because of lack of toilet facilities, lack of heat, beds, and medicine, and there were brutal guards, among them Lt. Todd, a half brother of Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd. He was an arrogant tyrant who held to the order that any prisoner who approached a window for a breath of fresh air would have his head blown off."2
In the summer of 1864, James Perry had enlisted for 100 days service in the 134th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and took part in campaigns in the Shenandoah valley and in the siege of Petersburg. That same summer, Sally's husband, David Carey, put in his 100 days with the 147th O.V.I. and, along with James and the 134th, helped stop General Jubal Early's desperate raid on Washington, DC.
These graying G.A.R. veterans no doubt swapped "war stories" well into the evening and perhaps recalled some of their fallen comrades. David Carey's brother-in-law, William Clark Enyart, had enlisted in the 1st O.V.I. along with many of his neighbors from Piqua, OH, and in November 1863 was in the midst of the bloody battle of Missionary Ridge, where he was mortally wounded.
Perhaps the discussion turned to politics and the coming presidential election, or to the hot baseball pennant races then underway in both major leagues. Certainly John Perry would have reassured the guests that his grandson, Walter Johnson, was fully recovered from his recent mastoidectomy and would be "there with the goods" every fourth day for the struggling Washington Nationals.
The reunion brought together family members from near and far. Some of the attendees had not seen each other in a long time and some would never meet again. A long time after this reunion, I met the boy who read the poem, Kenneth Carey. By that time he was a retired minister. I was named for his dad, the author of the poem, Rev. Charles Carey. When I traveled to Washington, D.C., almost exactly eighty-five years after the reunion to meet, for the first time, John's great-granddaughter, my third cousin Carolyn (Johnson) Thomas, I remembered John L. Perry's gift of lemons from his yard in Olinda and brought Carolyn a bag of lemons which I had picked in my yard in Anaheim, not far from John and Cindy's home.