Peek at Cary's past on display at historical society

Historical society to display items from village namesake

Tintypes of William Dennison Cary and Lodemia Eells Cary. William Cary was the founder and namesake of the village, originally known as Cary Station.
Tintypes of William Dennison Cary and Lodemia Eells Cary. William Cary was the founder and namesake of the village, originally known as Cary Station.

CARY – When William Dennison Cary settled in the area in the 1840s to farm, one of the things he brought with him was a large Bible, which indicated his family’s significance.

“Families who had big Bibles were important people,” said Pam Losey, president of the Cary-Grove Historical Society.

The extremely fragile Bible is one of more than 50 items that belonged to descendants of William Cary that will be on display Friday and Saturday at the Cary Park District Community Center.

William Cary was the first settler of the town, which was ultimately incorporated in 1893 and named after him.

The village was incorporated as Cary Station when it was the end of the train line.

Among the items that will be on display are a christening outfit worn by one of William Cary’s children and a tintype photo of William Cary, which is the only known photo that exists of the town’s namesake.

There also is a town abstract which shows who owned which parcels of land in the new village.

The collection also includes an old wooden frame that hung in the Cary house, which still exists today on Ross Avenue.

Materials from this collection were kept by the Mentch family, which the Cary family married into, Losey said.

Also part of the collection are materials from Luna Mentch, the former school master of the one-room schoolhouse that is now the Windridge Funeral Home on High Street. Those items include his school bell used to call children to class, the daily register for student attendance, and his vest and ribbons for a local lodge.

Losey called the collection priceless.

“Somebody in that Mentch family was smart enough to save all this stuff. That’s amazing,” Losey said. “You know how many families throw things out when a relative passes away. It’s so important that they saved William Cary’s stuff, because it’s the namesake of our town. There’s hardly any towns that have this kind of collection from the namesake of their town. ... That’s why this is so exceptionally amazing.”

Lesley Baran, who is the great-great-great-granddaughter of William Cary, came into possession of the collection after her mother, Shirley Mentch, died in July.

“They were proud of Cary,” Baran said in a phone interview, of her father and grandfather.

Baran, who now lives in Phoenix, decided to donate the collection to the Cary-Grove Historical Society.

“If I kept them, I would have them packed away,” Baran said. “Living in Phoenix, I don’t think anyone could relate to [the items].”

If you go

What: The Cary-Grove Historical Society will have a mini museum open house.

When: 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cary Park District Community Center, 255 Briargate Road

The Dec. 6 event is invitation only.

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