In our last newsletter we published the first half of the life story of Hannah Parker, wife of Richard Harrison Carter, John and Hannah’s son who died on the march of the Mormon Battalion. Much of the family lore that has been passed down over the generations relating to Hannah is just not true or only partly true. This account of her life is written in the hope of correcting the inaccuracies in her history that been accepted as truth. The first part of this story can be found at: https://johnandhannahcarter.blogspot.com/2018/07/life-of-hannah-parker-wife-of-richard.html
The Life of Hannah Parker
(Wife of Richard Harrison Carter)
By Robert Givens (September, 2017)
The Mr. York Period of Hannah’s Life
The one part of the much-reported story of Hannah that can be disproved at this point is that the Mr. Enslow of family tradition was not the birth father of Franklin. There is no known record of Hannah being married at this point of her life. Elza (Elzy) Enslow, if he is the Mr. Enslow, could not have been the father as he was still in the Nauvoo area at the time Franklin would have been conceived, about May of 1847. The widow Hannah Carter had been widowed for about six months in May, 1847. Her situation was difficult at best, she was probably distraught at having lost her husband and for whatever reason ended up pregnant.
There might be other options but at this point the only logical person to be Franklin Fitzfield Carter’s father is Aaron Mereon Carter. He was Hannah’s brother-in-law and knew Hannah well. We don’t know if Hannah lived on her own or with family but it is probable that she was housed with family members at this point. There is some collateral evidence that she did not live in the Council Bluffs area. If we assume Aaron M. York was Franklin’s father it makes sense as Franklin was supposed to be born in Stringtown, Iowa. Stringtown is about 85 or 90 miles south and east of Council Bluffs. Why would Hannah Parker Carter move her family back that far towards Nauvoo? The logical answer is so she could live with or near her sister-in-law Hannah Carter York. Aaron and his wife lived at this time in Mt. Pisgah which today is located some 10 or so miles to the east of Stringtown, but in the pioneer days these communities could have been one in the same. In any case this would have put Hannah Parker Carter close to the Yorks and lends credence to the supposition that Aaron M. York was in fact Franklin Fitzfield Carter’s father.
In any case Hannah was pregnant and she surely knew who the father was. It is interesting that within all the records of the Carter family the only explanation of the paternity of Franklin was the reference by Franklin’s sister Mary Trueworthy Carter that Hannah married a Mr. Enslow and had her brother. Mary would have been seven years old when her brother was conceived so she may or may not have known exactly what transpired around the time of his conception and birth. It is also possible that she knew the whole story but had no intention to say anything that would compromise the position of the man she later married as his polygamous wife. As far as Aaron is concerned it is hard to believe that he was unaware that the child Hannah bore was his.
It has been suggested that possibly Aaron, if he is in fact Franklin’s father, might have taken Hannah as a polygamous wife. Aaron’s brothers-in-law, Dominicus and William Furlsbury Carter, were both in polygamous marriages by this time so there would have been no stigma for Aaron to publicly announce that he had entered polygamy with is widowed sister-in-law. Because the family is totally silent on this point we have to assume there was no marriage involved in this relationship.
Thus by early February, 1848 Hannah is living in Stringtown, Iowa with either three or four children. The mysterious Angelia Carter, that we know so little about was supposed to have died sometime between 1845 and 1848.
Elsa (Elzy) Enslow and Hannah Parker Carter
There is some truth in most family traditions though traditions often have false sides as well. Family tradition says that Hannah Parker Carter married a Mr. Enslow after the death of Richard and Elsa (or Elzy) Enslow appears to be the most likely candidate. To place him in this narrative, it would be helpful to tell his story as it is told by various sources in FamilySearch.
Elza Enslow (as he will be called) was born on 17 Aug 1821 in Wheelersburg, Scioto, Ohio to David and Rachel “Delila” (Virgin) Enslow. Elza appears to have joined the LDS Church in 1840 though no known date exists. In 1846 in Ohio Elza married Charlotte Eldredge who was born 20 Dec 1818. According to family tradition they had two children. Elza eventually felt the need to gather with the rest of the Church in Nauvoo, and because his wife wasn’t a member and didn’t want to move, he left her and traveled to be with the Church. While in Nauvoo, Elza married a widow, Mary Harding Fielding. Family tradition says this marriage was about March 1848 but that is doubtful as most Mormons had long left Nauvoo by that time. March 1846 would be more likely for the date. According to this same tradition in the spring of 1847 Elza and Mary joined some Saints and started west. They stopped in Burlington, Iowa, just across the Mississippi River, to pick up a daughter of Mary, who had been living with a Mrs. Holdridge for about 3 years. It was lastly said that in Burlington Elza contracted cholera and died in September, 1849.
The Carter family had its tradition too that a Mr. Enslow had married Hannah Parker Carter and fathered Franklin Fitzfield Carter (the paternity disproved by DNA.) So which tradition do we believe or is the truth somewhere in between the stories. There are two pieces of evidence that can be brought forth to show what happened to Elza and his family. The first is the 1850 United States Census Mortality Schedule. In the Pottawatomie County, Iowa register is found Elski Endslow age 30, born in Illinois and died Nov 1849. He was listed as a farmer. Due to the handwriting and transcription issues his name has been garbled a little but this is surely Elza. So with this knowledge we know Elza wasn’t in Burlington when he died and it is possible that he and Hannah Parker Carter had some kind of relationship.
The problem with this theory is the fact that Elza’s wife Mary Enslow and her family are also listed in the 1850 US Census in Pottawatomie County. On the census in dwelling 333 were found Mary Endslow 4 (surely 44) Enland, James Field 19 Eng, Kaziah Field 16 Eng, Wm Field 14 Eng, Mary Field 12 Eng, Sarah Field 10 Eng, Joseph Field 4 Illinois, and Lucy Endslow 9/12 Iowa. So Elza and his family came out to the Council Bluffs area together. They were obviously on their way west to Utah when tragedy struck Elza. With this census record the theory that Elza married Hannah Parker Carter can largely discounted. Maybe as some have suggested Elza Enslow was just a convenient name used to give Franklin Fitzfield Carter a father. Unless Elza had come out at some earlier date, there is little likelihood that Elza and Hannah ever married.
Hannah and Cornelius Brown
The final act in the life of Hannah Parker Carter begins with her marriage on 13 Dec 1849 in Kanesville, Pottawattamie, IA to Cornelius Brown. There is little question that Hannah needed a husband and in Cornelius Brown she would finally find someone to provide and protect her.
Cornelius Brown was born 21 May 1801 in Milford, Otsego, New York the second of six children of Frederick Brown and Catherine Huyck. Somewhere along the way Cornelius joined the Church and found his way to Council Bluffs in 1849. At 48 he may have been married previously but there is no information about him between his birth and his appearance in Iowa in 1849.
His marriage to Hannah was short as after two years and four months Hannah died of smallpox on 12 Apr 1852. We have only one glimpse of this family and it comes from an interesting source. Four months following Hannah’s death Cornelius again married a widow, Sarah Hamer Worsley and in a life story of her at FamilySearch is found a letter to her deceased husband’s family England where she mentions she married “…Cornelious Brown in whom I have a good husband and a kind indulgent father to my children. He buried his wife and two children in this place.” Now if this report is accurate who are the two deceased children. Earlier it was mentioned that there was a child Angelia Carter who was born to Richard Harrison Carter and Hannah according to the family record kept by Franklin Fitzfield Carter. Angelia was buried at Mt. Pisgah as her name is found on a common monument the pioneer cemetery there. No dates of birth or death are found. Could she be one of the children of Hannah that were buried. The other possibility was that there were two children born to Cornelius and Hannah in their two-year marriage and both died. This is yet another mystery in the story of Hannah Parker Carter.
Following the death of Hannah and his marriage to Sarah Hamer Worsley, Sarah and Cornelius had a child. They were still in Council Bluffs and Church had been instructing the members that were left in Iowa that it was time for them to leave and come to Utah. Sarah wanted to follow the direction of the Brethren and move to Utah. Cornelius wanted to move too but he wanted them to go to New York and be with his family where they could have a less primitive life. It appears, according to the life story of Sarah, that Cornelius had apostatized and wanted nothing to do with Utah. To his credit he did help provision his family and allowed them to leave for Utah on 8 Jun 1853. After they left Cornelius did indeed return to New York where he died in 1866 and was buried in the family plot in Riverside Cemetery, Oneonta, Otsego, New York.
It is not known where Hannah was buried following her death in 1852. Her supposed child Angelina was buried in Mt. Pisgah but there is no record of Hannah being buried there. If she was living in the Council Bluffs (Kanesville) area at death it is possible that the Carter family had her buried in the Carterville Cemetery. There are no known records of this cemetery so will probably never know where she was buried. It isn’t known if Hannah’s children stayed with Cornelius after Hannah’s death or if he gave them to the Carter family. The latter option is the logical solution. Cornelius’ future wife, Sarah, made no mention of them when she wrote to England and described being married to Cornelius. We do know that not long after Hannah died on 12 April 1852 the children left Iowa for Utah in the James C Snow Company in July of that year. Mary Trueworthy Carter, in her life story dictated to her granddaughter Madge York Thorpe, stated she crossed the plains with her uncle, Aaron Mereon York, Sr. That can’t be completely correct as she was listed in the James C. Snow company. What is probably more correct is to say she traveled with the Snows to Utah and was then given to the Yorks in Provo to raise. Samuel Parker Carter was apparently taken by the Yorks and raised in Provo. As was shown at the beginning of this narrative, Franklin Fitzfield Carter, was given over to the Martindale family. Knowing his background now makes this action more understandable. In closing, Brad York pinned the following in reference Franklin’s birth but it applies to all those involved in the story of Hannah Parker Carter: IF, Aaron M. York did father Franklin with Hannah, then there is no doubt why the family "adopted out" Franklin to another family, the Martindales. This is one of those areas of Family History, where we cannot judge the morality of history, we simply must let the facts be facts, and "Facts are stubborn things". May none of us judge Hannah either – the hardships and heartaches she suffered through can’t possibly be imagined through our eyes.