The Life of Hannah Parker
(Wife of Richard Harrison Carter)
By Robert Givens (September, 2017)
|Willis Keith Carter and the author|
Keith has an interesting place in the family as he is the last male “Carter” surnamed descendant of Franklin Fitzfield Carter (the last known child of Hannah Parker.) The striking thing about the results of Keith’s autosomal DNA test was that instead of linking him to the Carter family he was linked by DNA to the York family. At the insistence of others, he took a Y-DNA test (which explores a man’s direct male ancestry) in 2016. The results of this test confirmed and strengthened the prior test’s results as he had a perfect 100% match with Brad York, a descendant of Franklin’s sister Mary Trueworthy Carter who had married Aaron M. York.
Franklin Fitzfield Carter’s story is interesting in its own right, and as it a part of Hannah Parker’s story, it needs to be told. Ironically Franklin appears, as a young man at least, to have not known who his father was or his actual birth date. As an orphan in 1852 he was taken across the plains from Kanesville to Utah by a Martindale family. Mrs. Martindale was abusive and treated Franklin more like a hired hand than a child, causing Franklin to run away seeking his Carter family. He did this as a result of a chance meeting with Brigham Young where he asked the Prophet what he should call himself (Martindale or Carter). Brigham asked him what he had always gone by and Franklin said Carter so Brigham said to keep Carter as his name.
So with this back story and a further tradition from early family members that his father was a Mr. Enslow, now questioned thanks to Keith Carter’s DNA tests, it has come a time to attempt to tell the story of Hannah Parker’s life. With what is known today there is no way to give absolute definitive answers to all the questions of Hannah’s life but, this writer, will attempt to provide all the known evidence and try to provide alternative scenarios regarding Hannah’s life and relationships. Hopefully, if further sources can be found the story will become clearer but for now we look through the glass somewhat darkly.
One last thought is that this is a very sensitive story. As Keith knows the thoughts that will be expressed here will upset some people. This writer will attempt to be careful in what is said but it has been over 150 years since the events occurred and, if the real truth is ever going to be known, we do need to address the issues and not turn our backs.
With this as a background, we will turn to her life and especially her connections with Richard Harrison Carter, Mr. York, Elzie Enslow and Cornelius Brown.
Hannah Parker’s Early Life and First Marriage
Hannah Parker was born in York County, Maine on 24 June 1822 to Samuel Parker and his second wife, Molly (Mary) Bracey Trueworthy. Samuel Parker was an early convert to the LDS Church in Maine. Hannah’s mother died in Quincy, Illinois in 1839. Her father would live to die in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1846. Unfortunately, nothing else is known about her life prior to 1840.
On 29 Nov 1840 in Lima, Adams, Illinois, Hannah Parker married Richard Harrison Carter, the youngest surviving son of John Carter and Hannah Knight Libby. The Carters had left Maine in two groups. The main group was the older children who had joined the Church in 1834 and left Maine for Kirtland and later to Far West, Missiouri. John Carter, who never joined the Church, Hannah and their two children who remained at home, Richard and Mary Jane, moved to central Missouri in 1839 and in 1840 to Morleyville, Illinois.
At this point, little is known about this young couple. Since there are no property transactions in Hancock County or Adams County for a Richard Carter, it must be assumed that they probably lived with family. They might have lived with Hannah’s father or possibly John Carter. John and Hannah Carter were at about the age of 60 at this time and Richard was the last of their children to live at home. It would be logical that Richard would live with them to help run the farm.
If the place of birth for their children is accurate they were possibly in Hancock County when their first child, Mary Trueworthy Carter was born 23 Sep 1841. There is some discrepancy with the births of Mary Trueworthy Carter and the next sibling, Samuel Parker Carter, as family tradition and his death certificate give his birth as 10 Feb 1842 which is too soon after Mary’s birth to be accurate. Family tradition gives Samuel’s birth place as Lima, Adams, Illinois which is the home of Alvira Carter Tripp, Richard’s sister. It is possible that they had moved down there to live with her family. Richard’s last know child was supposed to be born in Lima – Angelia Carter who was born about 1845. The only evidence for this child is in the writing of Franklin Fitzfield Carter’s family record book. She supposedly died between 1846 and 1848 in Mount Pisgah, Union, Iowa. More will be mentioned about her later.
The Richard Harrison Carter and his wife Hannah Parker Carter were the last of the Carter clan to take out their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple. The attended the temple to receive their endowments on 7 Feb 1846. The evacuation of Nauvoo was in process having actually begun 3 days before Richard and Hannah attended the temple. Since there is no record of their being sealed together in the Nauvoo Temple after 7 Feb 1846 it must be assumed that they left Nauvoo shortly after that date.
There are no definitive records of Richard and Hannah’s crossing of Iowa in 1846. Regardless of when they left – early February or later – the journey was arduous at best. Early companies had to deal with the winter snow and later groups fought the mud as the snow melted. This journey for poorly provisioned people made the trip much harder than it had to be but the option of staying in Nauvoo to face the mobs wasn’t really an option.
|Mormons Crossing the Frozen Mississippi|
We know for a fact that Richard and Hannah had reached Council Bluffs by July 1 and were living in the Grand Encampment, where all the newly arrived Saints were first settled as they arrived at the Missouri River. As the Saints had been crossing Iowa other events were beginning to envelop the United States in a war. Following the 1845 annexation of Texas by the United States, tensions with Mexico grew until on April 26, 1846 fighting broke out between the U.S. and Mexico. On May 13th war was officially declared. At this time the Mormon refugees were in the midst of crossing Iowa. While crossing Iowa Brigham Young and the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve had petitioned President Polk seeking assistance from the Federal Government. On June 2nd President Polk authorized Col. Stephen W. Kearney to recruit a few hundred Mormons to help in the war but to also “to conciliate them, attach them to our country, and prevent them from taking part against us.” (Polk, James K. (1929), Nevins, Allan, ed., Polk: The Diary of a President, 1845–1849, London and New York: Longmans, Green & Co., p. 109) This was a symbiotic relationship as Church benefitted greatly from the financial benefits they received from this arrangement. Young and the other leaders saw nothing but good coming from this arrangement. Their enlistment would be a public relations victory for the church, demonstrating additional evidence of its loyalty to the United States. (McLynn, Frank. Wagons West: The Epic Story of America's Overland Trails. Grove Press. pp. 386–7.) As the men were given a uniform allowance at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., of US $42 each, paid in advance, for their one-year enlistment and as they were allowed to wear their civilian clothing for the march, the bulk of those funds were immediately donated to a general Church fund. These funds were used to purchase wagons, teams, and other necessities for the American exodus (Actual wages paid over the next year to the Mormon Battalion totaled nearly $30,000). ("The Pioneer Story: Pioneer Trail Map", LDS.org, archived from the original on March 5, 2012.)
|The Mormon Battalion Ball (by C. C. Christensen)|
Twenty members of the Mormon Battalion died during the march. All died from diseases or accidents - as the Battalion never had to engage in any military actions. The 2000-mile trek from Council Bluffs to San Diego was arduous and three different sick detachments were sent back to Pueblo, Colorado and then back to Council Bluffs. Richard was a member of Lieutenant Willis's Pueblo detachment. He died 25 Nov 1846 as the detachment was traveling north along the Rio Grande. No grave marker memorializes his last resting space though it is reported he was buried at Puerbelo, four miles south of Socorro, New Mexico along the Rio Grande River. (A fuller account of this time period can be found at:)
Hannah was now in a precarious position. She was living on the very edge of civilization with no husband to care for her and her children. In fact, life for the Mormons on the banks of the Missouri River in 1846 was difficult at best. The whole community was in survival mode. Most had come with next to nothing in the way of supplies. They had to build a society that had to function self-sufficiently from scratch. Few today can really appreciate the difficulties they had to live with on a daily basis. Under these circumstances it would be one thing to be cared for by the community while your husband was gone with the Mormon Battalion, but being a widow with no one ever coming home to care for you made Hannah’s situation more daunting. When her father, Samuel Parker, died only a month later on 29 Dec 1846 in Council Bluffs, relief for her would not be coming from her family. This left the Carter family to tend to her needs.
The time period from Richard’s death until Hannah’s in 1852 is largely a blank to those of us in the 21st century. The total of our knowledge about her life from this point on using the traditions that have been passed on could be written in one paragraph. The tradition was that after Richard died Hannah married a Mr. Enslow and had a child, Franklin Fitzfield Carter. She then died in either 1848 or 1852 in Council Bluffs. That was all that has been passed down to the present day. With more information available to us today it is now time to try to fill in the blanks of Hannah’s life.
(To be continued)