|Portion of William's letter announcing John's death|
This brings us to probably the most interesting document in existence related to John Carter – his last will and testament. It was filed in Adams County, IL August 19, 1852, Probate Court, Box 167. The following is a transcript of this interesting document:
“In the Name of God Amen I, John Carter, of the County of Hancock in the State of Illinois, being of sound mind and Memory (blessed be Almighty God for the same) do make and publish this my last Will and Testament in Manner and form following (To Wit.)
1st. It is my will that any funeral expenses and all my just debts be fully paid.
2nd. I give and bequeath to my Daughter Almira Trip, late Almira Carter, five Dollars to her
and her heirs respectively.
3rd. I give and bequeath to my son Philip Carter five Dollars to him and his heirs respectively.
4th. I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary J. Dooley late Mary J. Carter, All the rest of my
estate real personal or mixed of whatsoever kind description or quality of which I shall
die seized and possessed or to which I shall be entitled at the time of my decease. To
have and to hold the same during her Natural life.
5th. I give and bequeath to my Grand son John Dooley the reversion or remainder of my
Estate Real person or mixed of what soever kind description or quality and all the profit
in come and Advantage that may result there from. From and after the Death of my
said Daughter Mary J. Dooley late Mary J. Carter.
6th. I do nominate and appoint my Daughter Mary J. Dooley, late Mary J. Carter to be
Executrix of this my last Will and Testament.
In testimony where of I have here unto set my hand and seal and publish and decree this to be my last Will and Testament in presence of these Witnesses named below the Ninth day of August in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight hundred and fifty two.
John Carter (seal)
Signed sealed declared and publish by the said John Carter as and for his last Will and Testament in presence of us who at this request and in his presence and in presence of each other have subscribed Our Names and Witnesses hereto.
Martha L. (X) Wilson
Filed in Adams County, Illinois Catharine Carter
August 19, 1852
Recorded, page 406.
will is a classic genealogical record that teaches the genealogist to beware of
single sources. It clearly sets out that
John has three living children Mary J. Carter Dooley, Almira Carter Tripp and
Philip L Carter. The interesting
signature on the will is Catharine Carter.
For a long time we were not sure who she was. In correspondence Joe Irvin Conover he
mentioned that his great grandfather, Charles, mentioning an Aunt Catherine
Carter. Upon a little more research, I think Catherine Carter is actually the Catherine Carson who married
Varanes Carter (son of Richard Carter Jr. our John Carter's brother.) This
would make Catherine Carson Carter John's niece by marriage. There is a Geo. Emsminger who witnessed the will too. Emsmingers
marry into the Varanes Carter line - though after the signing of the will - so
they become family members and probably knew John’s family in the 1850's as
|Will of John Carter|
The will though is remarkable for what it doesn’t say rather than what it does say. In this will John fails to mention his estranged wife, Hannah, and living children: Dominicus, Hannah, William, Philip Libby, John “Harrison”, and Eliza Ann. (Son, Richard Harrison had died in 1848 as part of the Mormon Battalion march to California.) Therefore, John wrote out the entire Latter-day Saint part of his family. This shouldn’t be viewed as unusual or vindictive in nature. The LDS part of the family had left Nauvoo in 1846 and had probably never returned and may have had only sporadic, if any, communication with John after they left. For all intents and purposes what John had left was a small acreage and the Utah part of the family wouldn’t be interested in that.
|John Richard Dooley|
(by Gregory Park at Findagrave.com)
|Fletcher Cemetery (many stones missing)|
|Carter Hill Cemetery|
With this the story of John Carter comes to an end. It is also time to consider a passage previously quoted from the Barton L. Carter biography of his son Dominicus: “Let us be kind in our judgment of those who stayed in Illinois. John Carter was at the time nearly sixty-four years old. Though he was not of the faith, his love for his wife and family had steeled him to endure the same hardships as they.” Hopefully after reading this, you have a better understanding of our ancestor John Carter. Though he did not personally join the LDS church his posterity today number in the tens of thousands and a majority of them are members of the Church. So LDS or not, many people owe their life to the complex man who traveled the path of the early Mormon pioneers all the way from Maine to Illinois. John Carter, our honored ancestor, we salute you.
 William Furlsbury Carter from Boston (sic), to Sarah Carter, 1854 Feb 5, LDS Church History Library, Manuscript 19589 – this original was donated to the library by the author)
 Adams County, Illinois, Probate Court, Box 167, August 19, 1852
 Biographical review of Hancock County, Illinois, op, cit.
 Historical Atlas of Hancock County, 1874, p. 95 (Family History Library Film # 954296, Item 2.)
 Barton L Carter, op. cit.