Wednesday, June 8, 2016


There are times life takes unexpected turns, and today’s blog will describe one of those events.  Back in installment 7 of John Carter’s story we discussed the children of John and Hannah and their birth information as recorded by their brother, William Furlsbury Carter, as he recorded this data on his journey home from his mission to India in 1854.  It was described in installment 7 how William most surely copied the information in his letter (the photo of which was previously posted in this blog) from a list that his brother, Philip Libby Carter had written down in 1835.

Philip Libby Carter (1813 - 1876)
                It occurred to me in the past few days to inquire of Joe Conover, our cousin and descendant of Philip Libby Carter, if he might have the original of the Philip Libby Carter list.  With that request begins the Tale of Two Papers in a Trunk.

                None of this story could be described today except for the dogged researching of Leslie A Carter more than 60 years ago.   Even though the John and Hannah family was not his direct line, he was compelled to help research our ancestor’s stories.  His ancestor, Richard Carter Jr (1780 – 1860) was a brother of our John Carter.  This Richard’s son, Varanes Carter (1823 – 1909) moved from Maine and  ended up in Tioga, Illinois, though he was not a member of the LDS Church.  Because of Leslie’s family coming from Hancock County, he was acquainted with the remnants of our family that continued to live there and thus his intense interest in our family.  In 1952 his journeys took him to the home of Mrs. Dora Carter Bolt (the grandmother of Joe Conover) who lived in Lima.   It was on this visit with Dora that she produced two documents for Leslie to view.  For whatever reason Leslie didn’t take a picture of either of these documents.  If he had had his camera with him, I am sure he would have copied them, so he must not have been with camera that day.

                The first of these documents was previously described and the image of its transcription was posted below in the former blog entry.  In 1835 probably about the time of his leaving Maine for Massachusetts made a copy of the family births.   One would think that he might have had access to a family Bible or he interviewed his mother.  In any case he took with him in 1835 a list of the births of his siblings.

                The second of these documents was an 1839 document transcribed by JCS.  It reads as follows:

                                A Family Record
                                Arlotte L. Carter was born May 18 A.D. 1829
                                Lucinda M. Carter was born January 14 A.D. 1831
                                Sidney R. Carter was born August 29 A.D. 1834
                                Lydia Ann Carter was born February 20 A.D. 1838

                                John Carter was born May 19, A.D. 1783
                                Hannah N. Carter was born October 4th 1786

                Dora Carter Bolt felt that the author JCS was non-other than James Chauncey Snow, Dominicus’ brother-in-law.   The children listed here were 4 of the children of Dominicus Carter and Lydia Smith.  The list is incomplete as it leaves out two children, Barrett and Sarah Emily, who had died previous to 1839.  The mother Lydia herself, died on 24 Oct 1838.  One has to think that the death of Lydia must have precipitated the creation of this list.   Why James Chauncey Snow  wrote this family record and how it ended up in the possession of Dora is unknown.  Regardless it ended up in Dora’s possession probably as a result of the Mormons being driven out of Illinois.  When the LDS part of the family left the area in 1846 or so they may have left some documents with Philip for safe keeping, or it may have been that after the LDS family homes were destroyed, it is possible Philip and others may have searched for things that needed saving.  The Carter Hill home that Philip lived in adjoined the little community of Morleyville so he would have been an eye witness to what happed when the mobs destroyed his father and sibling’s homes.

The Old Deerskin Chest
                In any case after that 1952 viewing by Leslie, these documents were probably returned to the old family trunk where they resided, forgotten and deteriorating until literally yesterday, when Joe Conover was able to locate them.   This trunk – what of it?  This is what Joe wrote about it:  “The chest is 18 inches wide, 10 inches front to back, and 7.5 inches deep on the outside and 5 inches deep inside.  It is deerskin covered.  The only history I know is that from my earliest memory it was always inside a larger trunk in the storeroom at Carter Hill.  My memory says Grandma Bolt said it was her grandfather’s (i.e. Philip Libby Carter).  But my memory deceives me these days.

Inside lid of Chest
There is some old writing on the inside of the lid.  Also some later pencil marks that were probably put there by me or my siblings at some point.  But I can make out the name Ella Dora and an “86”.  There are the words “Trunk of …” but I can’t make out the rest … something like Jerad or Jezeb…  Perhaps this means something to you.  The name Ella Dora sounds familiar. I will send a photo of the inside trunk lid.”

I am not positive who Ella Dora was but Philip Libby Carter did have a daughter Dora Ella Carter who married Oliver Perry Spencer.  They lived and died in the Tioga/Lima area.  The Jerad or Jezeb could possibly be Zebulon as Hannah’s father was Zebulon Libby.  Possibly Hannah had received the chest from her father, and used it to preserve important papers and records.  When the Mormons left Nauvoo it would be likely that this chest would be one of those items that Hannah just couldn’t take with her, so she left it with her son, Philip Libby Carter.  This is all supposition on my part but seems to make sense. 

In any case the old chest sat neglected until June, 2016 when these two treasures were found and through the graciousness of Joe Conover, will be seen by most of our family for the first time in 160 years.

Dominicus Carter Family List of 1839
Philip Libby Carter Family List 1835
 And now you too know the Tale of the Two Papers in the Chest.

1 comment:

  1. Robert what an amazing story, "The Tale of the Two Papers in the Chest." I liked how you told the background story of finding these papers. The story behind the story if you will. We never know what we are going to find when we do family history.