Thursday, May 19, 2016


        Most of us really don't know the story of how our Carter genealogy was initially compiled.  People had begun searching out our ancestry back as far as 1850's when William Furlsbury Carter deliberately traveled to Boston from his mission in India so he could gather the birth dates of his aunts and uncles who had remained in Maine.  A skeleton version of the Carter ancestry had been constructed by 1940 which contained many errors.  The real movers and shakers in the development of our ancestry first appear prominently in the 1940's through the first half of the 1960's.

Leslie A Carter taken about 1950-1955


       Unknown to most of the Utah branch of the family - this is the genius behind the development of the Carter genealogy.  There is no one who we should credit more than Leslie as it was Leslie that provided the original records and original analysis of early records even before the LDS Church began sending film crews into New England to collect the records found there.   Others that will be mentioned below (and are often attributed to the development of our ancestry) couldn't have done their work except for the wealth of information that Leslie provided.

       Leslie was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1901.  He was the 2nd great grandson of Richard Carter and Sally Holmes.  This Richard was the brother of our John Carter who married Hannah Knight Libby.  Leslie, starting in the early 1940's, got the genealogy bug and began a life's adventure to discover his Carter roots.  Until his death in 1966 he spent every free minute taking trips to New England digging through courthouses and archives taking pictures of original records.  His research grew to enormous proportions - filling filing boxes before he was done.  He was a prolific writer of letters and corresponded with anyone and everyone with whom he could connect.  Fortunately for us he kept copies of his correspondence (and many of those that he corresponded with did likewise.)

      Most everything we know about our earliest ancestors that aren't found in the writing of Savage, Thompson and Noyes (early genealogists who chronicled early families in New England) came from the work of Leslie.  It was Leslie who determined we didn't descend from the Richard Carter of early Boston, but instead from Richard Cater of Dover, New Hampshire.  He also was the genealogist who unraveled a century of Richard Cater/Carter ancestors into the four Richards we know of today.

     Why don't we know more about Leslie?  The main reason is that in spite of the prolific material he left to us - he never wrote a formal book laying out his findings.  The biggest reason was that he and Archibald F Bennett became embroiled in a furious debate over these early Richards and this heated debate caused Leslie to shy away from publishing his findings.  In Leslie's last years he began to stop corresponding with people except my grandmother, Christa Lillis Wilkins Givens Damron. She was about the only person regularly in correspondence with him.  Leslie had specifically asked my grandmother, as a genealogist and believer in his assertions, to write his book after he passed.  Unfortunately my grandmother, a high school graduate (which was excellent in her day) didn't feel up to the task - both in the writing, and because she too was not far from death's doorstep. So she passed the baton on to me and in 1972 I self-published a little tome Richard Cater/Carter of Dover, New Hampshire and Some of His Descendants.  It can be found in the Family History Library Catalog and is in digital form so it can be downloaded. This short book lays out the pedigree as Leslie determined it to be through his research.

Archibald Fowler Bennett 1896 - 1965

         Archibald F Bennett was married to Ann Eliza Milner, who was the 2nd great granddaughter of John and Hannah Libby Carter through their daughter Eliza Ann Carter and James Chauncey Snow. Archibald, according to Wikipedia, was a longtime employee of the Genealogical Society of Utah who was such a figure in the promotion of family history research in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he became known as "Mr. Genealogy."  As early as 1928 Archibald was involved in genealogy, and he supervised the earliest filmers who were sent out to gather the records of the world for the then Genealogy Society of Utah.  Archibald was interested in the Carter ancestry through his wife, and while researching it came into communication with Leslie.  Leslie graciously shared thousands of pages of information with Archibald.  It was this material that became the basis for Archibald's study of the Carters in his books Finding Your Forefathers in America and Finding Your Pedigree.   Unfortunately Archibald and Leslie locked horns over the actual pedigree over the original Richards in our line.


       Arthur D Coleman is the author most of our Utah branch relatives are familiar with thanks to his work "Carter Pioneers of Provo, Utah."  It should be noted that this work is really a delineation of the descent of John and Hannah.  Yes, it has a description of John's ancestry, but basically all Coleman did was take what was found in Bennett's writings and condense it into his book.  His book is so shallow on the ancestry that, I personally, would not use it as a source for our ancestry.  His treatment on the descent of the family down from John was wonderful but now is 50 years out of date.

Kate Bjarnson Carter 1891- 1976


        Kate was president of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers from 1941 until her death in 1976. She was married to Austin Carter, a great grandson of John and Hannah through their son William Furslbury Carter and Sally Ann Mecham.  Kate was a prolific writer and the DUP museum building in Salt Lake was funded in part by the proceeds of her books.  She did write a lot about our Utah branch of the family, though she never really added materially to the pedigree.  Her value is in the program she developed at the DUP for gathering and preserving the records of the early pioneers to Utah.

     So there in "brief" form are the early movers and shakers of our family genealogy.  To them we are all indebted.

Tomorrow:  The Life of John Carter - Part 1


  1. I too have some worry about publishing, in book form, my family's genealogy. There are some disagreements about dates and which stories should be shared and which ones should remain hidden. So glad your family's history was finally written!

  2. I love Kate B Carter and her books. Thanks so much to some of her work for documenting pioneer histories.

  3. It is fun to go to the DUP museum and say I am a Carter descendant. If I mention Kate, I usually get "Oh, THAT Carter family." Love it.