The Bicentennial celebration of the founding of our country has focused attention upon the people who played a part in it. The history of the Carpenter family parallels the history of America, beginning with the earliest immigrations from Europe many years before the Revolutionary War, and continuing with the periodic westward migrations of the 19th century in America. The story of our ancestors is the story of thousands who left their homes and loved associates to make a home beyond the mountains. Just a different setting for the starting point, and just a little different course across the mountains, or the vast area of forest and prairie, and these pioneers paved the way for those to follow.
In 1780, Carpenter’s Station was established on the waters of Hanging Fork near present-day Hustonville, Kentucky by three brothers: Adam, Conrad and John Carpenter from the western section of the present-day state of Virginia, all Revolutionary War veterans. The land they chose lies at a high point in south central Kentucky, covering the head waters of both the Green and Kentucky Rivers draining to the north and west into the Ohio River, and also within reach of the Cumberland River which runs south into Tennessee before emptying into the Ohio River in western Kentucky. This land lies in the northern foothills of the Cumberland Mountains and is often referred to as ‘The Knobs Region’ because of the densely wooded hills which rise abruptly and steeply out of the rolling terrain. Carpenter’s Station, rectangular in shape, was built on a low hill with knobs visible in almost every direction. A station was a walled settlement unmanned by military personnel.
Carpenter’s Station was among the very first permanent stations to be built in Kentucky, following Daniel Boone at Boonesborough, James Harrod at Harrodsburg, and Benjamin Logan’s Fort at St. Asaph, near the present city of Stanford, Kentucky. The station was located on a trace (ancient trail) leading from the Kentucky River to the Green River territory. The Kentucky Historical Society placed a memorial marker on the site in 1969, which reads as follows:
Established near this site, 1780, by the brothers Adam, Conrad and John Carpenter. All were American Revolutionary soldiers, sons of George Carpenter, Sr. who died while serving with the First Virginia Regiment. One of early stations through which the settlement of Kentucky was achieved. Carpenters once owned 3,000 acres in vicinity of this station.
When the Carpenters came into this land, it was called Kentucky County of the State of Virginia. In 1780, it was divided into three counties: Lincoln, comprising roughly the southern half of the present State of Kentucky, with Jefferson (west) and Fayette(east) dividing the northern half. Lincoln County was the largest and most important county, and St. Asaph was its county seat.
The story of this pilgrimage into the wilderness began several years before these courageous few reached this point in their quest for a place to found a home.
In the middle 1700’s, there lived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a family of Swiss descent by the name of Zimmerman. George, the father, had emigrated from Switzerland (so stated in the Adam Carpenter family Bible) around 1740. One George Zimmerman arrived in Philadelphia on the ship Neptune and signed the oath of importation on October 25, 1746. This may have been our George. He moved westward from Georgetown, the present Washington, DC area, and into Pennsylvania, then down into the southern Shenandoah Valley near McGaheysville, Stonewall District, Peaked Mountain area. This is in the vicinity of the southern tip of Massanutten Mountain. This section was originally in Orange County, Virginia. In 1738, it was placed in Augusta County, and in 1777, it was made a part of Rockingham County as it is today. George Zimmerman was a well-to-do planter and also a surveyor. Family tradition indicates he may also have been a physician.
During these pre-Revolutionary War days, many Swiss and German people from Pennsylvania and New Jersey came into the Shenandoah Valley where they bought farmland and settled down to grow fat cattle and raise bumper crops of grain and babies. The thrifty German farmer, considered a very valuable type of immigrant, wanted mostly to be left alone to tend his land, raise his family, enjoy his old-world customs and language, and practice his religion in his own fashion. He spoke of course with a thick German accent, but this would be unremarkable in a land where everyone came from a foreign country with accompanying strange accents, and he would have spoken German in his family circle.
Religion played an important part in the lives of the immigrants. Many of the Protestant immigrants had been victims of Catholic persecution in Europe, so that their desire to emigrate to the colonies in the first place was partially prompted by their strong religious convictions. George Zimmerman and his family were members of the Peaked Mt. Church which in 1769 combined two congregations of the Reformed and Lutheran Churches, and George Zimmerman was a signator to the agreement. In this church’s records are the dates of the the births of his eleven children and some of their marriages.
George Zimmerman married twice; his first wife’s name is unknown. His second wife was Ann Schulteli, daughter of Johannes Schulteli of Switzerland. Two sons were born to the first wife: John and George. In the family chronicles, we distinguish son George from his father by calling him George II or Junior. Four sons were born to the second wife: Conrad, Henry, Adam and William. There were five daughters in all: Anna, Barbary, Elisabeth, Margaret and Solema. Sometime during this period, the Zimmerman name was changed to Carpenter, but the two names are used interchangeably until after the Revolutionary War.
Court records in Virginia tell us about a few events in George Zimmerman’s life before the Revolutionary War; however, the courthouse in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the county seat, burned during the War Between the States, and valuable papers were forever lost. But the names of George Zimmerman and George Zimmerman, Jr., appear in the deed, will and record books throughout the 1750’s and 1760’s in buying and selling land, in appointments to civil jobs, as witnesses to wills and legal documents, sometimes as German translators, and in various civil disputes.
In November of 1766, George Zimmerman and his wife Ann were partners in a complicated inheritance suit, along with Ann’s two sisters against Ann’s stepfather, John Fotch (or Frosch or Foch). Ann’s sister Ursilla was married to Stephen Hantsberger (or Hansbarger) and her other sister Francis was married to Mathew Hearce (or Heard). The suit, which stemmed from the death of the girls’ mother on the passage to America, was settled for rather nominal amounts.
On May 21, 1767, one George Carpenter was appointed surveyor of highways in Rockingham County, whether Senior or Junior is unknown and immaterial since we know that both were surveyors, also Conrad and Adam. This skill was handed down several generations. Surveying was a lucrative profession because the surveyor was frequently paid partly in land, and it is safe to assume that this work helped to increase the Carpenter family affluence. It also indicates that George Carpenter was educated well above the standards of the day and that he possessed the intelligence to teach himself and his family to speak, read and write English, their second language, as well as German, George’s native language.
When son Adam purchased and inscribed his family Bible in 1784, his first few entries are written in both German and English. The Bible itself is in German, published in 1773. Family records state that John Carpenter was the first to speak the English language. All of the Carpenter children, including the daughters of the family ( even more rare in those days) could read and write English.
It seems that George Carpenter was a man of principle and one ready to stand up for his rights. In the Virginia Records of August, 1767, George sued Wm. Crow for trespassing. The story concerns a cattle drove of Wm. Crow on his way to Pennsylvania. George accused Wm. Crow of gathering some Carpenter cattle into Crow’s drove and apparently Wm. Crow disputed George Carpenter’s allegations. A number of pro and con depositions were taken. A Mrs. Buchanan deposed that “Crow’s drove increased damnably”. The suit apparently could not be settled amicably for in June of 1769, Wm. Crow sued George Carpenter for slander. The outcome is unknown.
The Shenandoah Valley contributed heavily in manpower to the Revolutionary War, and the Carpenters participated. George Carpenter Senior served as a private in Captain Thomas Hamilton’s Company of the First Virginia Regiment commanded by Col. George Gibson. He enlisted for three years and his name is borne on the roles from September 14, 1777 until November, 1777. He probably died or was killed during that period. The major events of the war in that time period were Washington’s defeat at Germantown, PA., which followed Brandywine and preceded the Valley Forge winter.
The last court record of George Zimmerman, Sr., in Rockingham County concerns the bond for the administration of his estate in the sum of £10,000, given by Ann Zimmerman, his widow, George Zimmerman (II) and Adam Zimmerman, as executors of the last will and testament of George Zimmerman, on July 26, 1779, ‘in the 4th year of the Commonwealth’. The signature of George II on this document is so shaky that it suggests a palsied condition. But perhaps it was just nervousness because according to Virginia Court Records, in March 1782, George was awarded £5 5s for ‘one gun, shot, poutch and powder horn lost in the year ‘81 in the Battle at Jamestown Ford.’ So the Carpenters apparently used their own guns in the war and had the patience and determination to see that they were compensated for loss.
The last information in the family papers relating to George Zimmerman is contained in a copy of correspondence between Dr. J. C. (Clay) Carpenter of Clifton, Texas, and Jennie (Virginia) King Carpenter of Kentucky dated February 19, 1913. These letters corroborate the names of the children of George Zimmerman and seemingly confirm the family legend that he was a physician.
Jennie Carpenter wrote as follows: “I am the widow of Will Frye Carpenter, your father’s first cousin . . . Several years ago, my husband was in correspondence with a man in Virginia who had married a Miss Carpenter and his father-in-law, Billy Carpenter, was an old man and with him at the time, and furnished the following information to my husband who had written to know about the old Virginia Carpenters. The earliest one of the name of whom he had any knowledge was Dr. Carpenter from Germany, my husband’s great great grandfather. . . This old German Doctor was married twice. You are descended from the first marriage from the son George (II); his only (full) brother John, was the father of old man Station George Carpenter. Then the old doctor’s sons by his second marriage were Conrad, Adam, William and Henry. There were also three daughters (Note: there were actually five). The old German doctor when he first came to this country settled near Georgetown, near Washington, D. C. The Virginia Carpenters had a ware in their possession that the old doctor brought from Germany, one an old iron kettle and mortar to mix medicine in.”
Will Frye Carpenter was a son of Jacob II who was a son of Jacob I who was a son of George II who was a son of George Carpenter, immigrant.
Dr. J. C. (Clay) Carpenter was a son of Jacob (Jake) Young Carpenter (b. 1834 - d. 1910, m. Susan Hannah Riffe, Confederate War Veteran, moved to Texas in 1880) who was a son of John Carpenter (b. 1803 Casey Co. Ky. d. 10-11-1851, killed by persons unknown) who was a son of Jacob I, who was a son of George II who was a son of George Zimmerman Carpenter, immigrant.
John Carpenter, second son of George Zimmerman, served three years as Sgt. of the Virginia State Line and fought in the battles of Brandywine and Yorktown. His warrant for Kentucky land was signed by Patrick Henry. A penciled note on the back of an envelope in the handwriting of Adam Wilson Carpenter (b. 1852, d. 1928) states, “John Carpenter was a man of great simplicity, integrity and force of character, of blameless life, one of ardent devotion his whole life long.”
John married Elisabeth Spears, also from Rockingham County, Virginia, sometime in 1775. The Spears family and the Carpenter family were apparently well acquainted in the Shenandoah, and with this marriage there begins a long history of mutual respect, affection and intermarriage which continued for several generations.
Adam Carpenter served a short term in the Revolutionary War and was unmarried at that time. There are few clues to the personality of Adam in the Carpenter family papers. Family tradition says that he was a minister, perhaps pressed into religious service because of later circumstances, and of course his own inclination. That he was a respected man of unquestioned honesty is evidenced by the number of legal matters in which he was named administrator or executor of wills later on in Kentucky.
Conrad Carpenter, half-brother of John and George II and full brother of Adam, is a fascinating, shadowy figure cut in the pattern of Daniel Boone, who was undoubtedly an acquaintance of his. Conrad was a surveyor, a rugged outdoorsman and an early explorer of Kentucky. Most of the time he signed his name ‘Coonrod’. He was a ‘Long Hunter’, a member of a band of about twenty men who went into the Kentucky area in the early fall of 1769 to trap, fish, hunt and explore. In 1770, under Col. John Knox, several members of the band camped for some time in the area of Green County in south central Kentucky. Altogether, they remained in the wilderness about two or three years. Records indicate that Conrad with several companions made a second trip into Kentucky in 1776 where they located on the waters of Hanging Fork, built a cabin, cleared a field and raised a crop of corn. An unauthenticated record says that Conrad was accompanied by his wife, Sarah, by several other men and also George Spears. If it is true that Conrad was married at the time, we must conclude that his wife did not live long because Conrad lived as a bachelor in Kentucky and died without issue.
Sometime during the war years, the idea of moving into a new land took hold of many of the colonists and the young veterans. History tells us about some of the factors that must have played a large part in the momentous decision of these young people, many scarcely into their twenties, to break away from their familiar surroundings and go out into a wilderness teeming with every conceivable kind of danger and accompanied by extreme hard-ship.
Briefly, during the Revolutionary War period, times were hard and there were many troublesome problems in the Shenandoah Valley. Many settlers there were plagued with legal hitches over their land titles. In addition, living under English law, the rule of primogeniture prevailed, that only the eldest son could inherit the family land, and this was a serious problem for the sons of large families who faced the choice of striking out on their own with few financial resources or living upon the bounty of a brother and working land that could never be theirs nor their childrens.
The desire for one’s own land and lots of it was a fever that seized the minds of the 17th and 18th century people in the crowded European countries, and the idea swelled to even greater proportions among the eastern seaboard colonists as they became aware of the land to the west inhabited only by Indians, and where land could be had for the taking (if the land companies didn’t get there first). In fact, for men who served in the Revolutionary War, the land was there for the taking, since both Virginia and North Carolina set aside land for payment to veterans, the amount depending upon rank and length of service. So, Adam, Conrad, John, George I and George II were entitled in their own right to free land. The sons were entitled by inheritance to the rights of their deceased father.
Under English law, all colonists were taxed for the upkeep of the Church of England, and this was a real bone-in-the -throat for our German-French Protestant ancestors who probably felt that there was little difference between the Church of England and the Catholic Church, whose persecution they had fled.
By now, men who had hunted and explored the western lands were coming and going in the colonies and telling about the richness of the land and the bountiful resources. Conrad had already been there with first-hand knowledge and there was no need for the Carpenters to accept a stranger’s word. Already Boone, Harrod and Logan had established settlements in Kentucky, so from a frontiersman’s point of view, the land was already filling up.
To sum up, given the unsettled and unhappy conditions of life in Virginia, and against this, weighing the lure of free land and personal freedom in a new country, it is not surprising that the young people decided to strike out on their own, even before they knew who would win the war. They may have felt that there would be plenty of distance between them and the seaboard no matter who won and so, “a pox on both your houses”.
Using a modern expression - - the Carpenters had a lot going for them. They were not going into a completely unknown country as did many early settlers of Kentucky who then found they could not cope with the conditions facing them and returned to the colonies. The Carpenters had Conrad, the experienced woodsman as a guide. They were not impoverished, but men of ample means who could command the best equipment and resources of the time. These people were all good farmers - - they lived as farmers in Virginia and they knew their work would be quite the same in Kentucky. They knew exactly where they were going to locate, and that they would have friends, relatives and acquaintances from the Shenandoah there at Boonesborough, Fort Harrod and Logan’s Fort, all nearby, for aid and comfort. There would be Spears, Fryes, Riffes, Fromans, Morrisons, Pences, Barnetts, and Montgomerys to name only a few. The Carpenters had education and intelligence and exceptional health. The Spears and Carpenters were members of families all with ten or more children, produced with almost no infant deaths , and nearly all lived unusually long lives even by present-day standards.
Certainly the idea must have occurred to them that by combining all their land grants adjacent to one another, they could create what would almost be a little kingdom of their own. Truly a dream worth dreaming.
Many Revolutionary War veterans sold their land grants. The Carpenters did not, or if they did, they sold to one another. Lists are incomplete, but the Kentucky Land Office records that Conrad Carpenter by Treasury Warrant took up 1755 acres of land in Lincoln County and John Carpenter under seven warrants took up about 2870 acres. Bearing in mind that Adam, George I and George II were also entitled to land warrants, we are then speaking of a large area. The Virginia Department of Archives certified that John Carpenter and Michael Delph requested delivery of land warrants for military service done by George Carpenter and Daniel Delph, both of whom died in the service before the expiration of their three years enlistments.
So sometime in late 1778 or early 1779, a group was ready to leave for the western country over the mountains, along with household possessions, farming equipment, horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, fruit tree stock, etc. The entourage would travel south to Cumberland Gap, then north and west along the old Indian trails to the area that Conrad Carpenter had explored. This route is called the Wilderness Road. It is rather mind-boggling to contemplate the problems of transporting the equipment which we know they brought with them from later records. From Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, there was no wagon road. Not until nearly 1800, was a road cut through the mountains that would accommodate a wagon. So all of the Carpenter equipment had to be carried on pack animals.
It is not known if all the settlers of Carpenter’s Station traveled in one group, but if not, they must have been closely spaced. The known members of the group were: Conrad Carpenter; Adam Carpenter; John Carpenter with his wife the former Elisabeth Spears; and John Frye, also a Revolutionary War Veteran, with his wife Katherine (or Catherine) Spears and their infant daughter, Leah, who was born November 11, 1778 in Rockingham County, Virginia.
Catherine Spears Frye and Elisabeth Spears Carpenter were sisters. Undoubtedly, there were also other families. Probably Jacob Spears, brother of Catherine and Elisabeth, went along too, although he may have met the group in Kentucky. He was a member of the military at Harrodsburg during the 1770’s, and he later farmed land owned by his father in Lincoln County, Kentucky. In 1781, Jacob Spears married Elisabeth Neely, one of the first recorded marriages in Lincoln County, Ky.
The Spears background is very similar to that of the Carpenters. George Spears (Speyers in German, Spiers in French) was born in Aachen, Germany (also known as Aix-La-Chappelle) c. 1731, and he was brought to this country as a child. One family paper says that the Spears were Protestant refugees, driven by Catholic persecutions from Arensburg, Westphalia, Germany, to Aix-La-Chapelle. Another paper says they were French Huguenots from the Palatinate and Alsace-Lorraine. These places are all in the same general area of Europe along the Rhine River valley. The Adam Carpenter Bible says that George Spears migrated from Germany. An interesting possible link is that the present-day city of Speyer, Germany, was the former capitol of Lower Palatinate Province which is now part of the Rhineland Province where Aschan is located.
From correspondence of Abigail Riffe Montgomery Kirtley, a descendant of Adam Carpenter, Pioneer: “Marie Louise de la Noye was the daughter of Carlo da la Noye, a linen draper who lived in Aix-La-Chappelle, France, now Aachen, Germany. She married Michael Christopher Spears and they came to America. Their son was George Spears.”
The Spears moved down into the Shenandoah Valley and settled at Linville Creek, the same area from which Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather emigrated into Kentucky.
George Spears married Christeenah Hardwin around 1752, and they had ten children, eight of whom were to emigrate to Kentucky. George, the father, appears to have been quite a well-to-do planter, since at the time of his death, the bond on his estate, consisting of land, cash and slaves, was fixed at $40,000. His name appears on land sale records in Virginia Deed Books in the 1700’s like that of George Zimmerman. His children were also taught to read and write in English, girls included.
George Spears fought in the Revolutionary War at Brandywine and as a veteran was also entitled to his land grants. Records indicate that between 1780 and 1789, he obtained several parcels of land amounting to 2,700 acres by land grants, at least some of which were adjacent to Carpenter’s Station. In spite of these large land holdings, and the ties with his children, George maintained his residence in Virginia and did not migrate to Kentucky.
Another of those penciled notes on the back of an envelope in the family papers states that, “John F. Spears rode behind his father, George Spears, over the battlefield at Brandywine. He enlisted as a drummer boy and at the close of the War was paid amount due him by the U. S. Government.” Collins History of Kentucky says that this same John (F.?) Spears witnessed the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.
The Board of Geographic Names of the United State quite recently approved the name, Spears Creek, as a geographic feature in Lincoln County. Spears Creek is located about a mile west of Moreland at Black Pike and flows south to Baughman Creek, northwest of Hustonville.
When the band of pioneers arrived at Hanging Fork, the first order of business was to build a stockade, so as to provide shelter for themselves and protection for the livestock. Then they could proceed to build their outlying homes later on, on the land they had chosen for their individual holdings. It was vital that the land be worked as quickly as possible so as to provide food for themselves and fodder for the livestock, and also to fulfill homestead requirements, i.e. a dwelling house and planted crops.
The first set-back for the people at Carpenter’s Station occurred during their first winter in Kentucky. The story is told that the winter of 1779-1780, was one of unusual severity and that the few people then in Kentucky at the time endured extreme hardship. One of the members of the Carpenter family made a trip through the wilderness from the newly-settled station to Boonesborough to get provisions. While there, he purchased a bushel of corn for which he paid $40, since at that time there was not much corn to be had at any price in Kentucky. Some of the corn is said to have been planted the following spring.
The second set-back for the little station concerned problems with Indians. Undoubtedly Indian difficulties were anticipated, but probably not of the magnitude that ensued, for Kentucky land was not a settled Indian area. It was crisscrossed by common trails that had been used by migratory tribes and herds of wild animals for centuries, and it was sort of a neutral hunting-ground used by all. The French traders and Long Hunters had also traveled, hunted, trapped and fished here along with the Indians, and they all more or less cautiously tolerated one another.
After George Rogers Clark and his men took Kaskaskia and Vincennes in 1778 and 1779, the Indian tribes to the north had been pretty well checked by Clark’s soldiers stationed either in Illinois or at the Falls, present-day Louisville, Kentucky. However, the Indians soon saw that hunters were one thing, but farmers with women and children were quite another; wherever the settlers came, the land was cleared and game disappeared. The English capitalized upon the situation to enlist the Indians on their side and make war upon the settlers as part of the strategy of the Revolutionary War.
Indian problems had waxed and waned in the Shenandoah Valley before the American Revolution. Scarcely a family but had one or more members killed by Indians. The Carpenters therefore were familiar with Indian ways and the defense problems of isolated farms and communities. The women could shoot and ride as competently as the men in the western sections of Virginia, and they had little in common with their sisters on the Tidewater.
“For nearly twenty years they (pioneers at Carpenter’s Station) were an object of jealousy to the savage tribes who claimed Kentucky as a hunting ground, and repeated efforts were made to destroy the little station. But with Spartan valor, the inmates of Carpenter’s Fort stood to their arms and repelled every attack made upon them. . .the last incursion of the Indians into this part of the state was in 1797, eighteen years after the settlement of Carpenter’sStation. While they did not boldly attack Carpenter’s Station at this time, they did not neglect to pay the settlement a visit. Margaret (Betsy ) Carpenter, daughter of John and only 16 years old, was sitting in the lap of a negro woman one day, when they were suddenly fired upon by the Indians. The negro woman was shot dead, but the girl was uninjured. The Indians escaped into the woods.”
In the Draper papers (University of Wisconsin) is another version, rather garbled, of the same affair. A man by the name of McFarlan deposed that he came west in 1788, went to Bryan’s Station, then Carpenter’s Station, where Indians attacked and several men were killed. He said:
“Old Conrad was wounded and Mrs. Morrison’s negroes were killed. This attack the night after we left, Mrs. Morrison herself was in so good a house they couldn’t get in.” (Note: The Mrs. Morrison referred to is Elisabeth Spears Carpenter who married Ezra Morrison after the death of John Carpenter.)”
So it must have been a frustrating situation for our pioneers in 1780, torn between their desire to get on with the business of establishing their holdings and planting crops, and the fear for their lives when away from the station.
When Indians were reported to be about, it was customary to have a scout on patrol so that warning could be given to the men out on their land and they could then return to the station, driving in the livestock to the safety of the stockade. There is a first -hand account of the situation on record in the pension applications of Lincoln County War Veterans. One Abraham Estes, a Virginia Militiaman under Col. Benjamin Logan and Lt. John Logan, certified that he served several tours of duty,
“also another tour of duty of one month in the same company and district at the station of John Carpenter in the summer of 1781, acting in capacity of an Indian spy and guard (scout). He states that the country in which he served and acted as a spy was in a state of continual warfare with the Indians. . . and that their inroads were almost incessant and so dangerous that the people were compelled to live in forts and stations and that he generally marched from one part of Lincoln Co. to another as a spy and guard in and about the different stations he has named.”
Almost all able-bodied men in Kentucky at the time were automatically members of the Militia. The George Rogers Clark Muster Rolls record that Conrad Carpenter was a member of a ranging party of Lincoln County Militia under Thomas Montgomery and Benjamin Logan. He entered service on Feb. 28, 1782, and served till April 1, 1782, for which he was paid £1.18.2. Adam Carpenter is recorded as serving from March 15, 1782 to April 5, 1782 under Capt. Estill and Col. Benj. Logan. It would seem that the men of Carpenter’s Station took turns in service in the Militia so that the Station would not be undermanned any more than could be helped.
Living behind log walls in fear and on constant alert was a difficult enough situation, but there were additional problems. For example, early accounts of pioneer forts tell us of the sanitation problems that developed with humans and animals living in close quarters and that some forts were frankly filthy under siege. Disease and sickness developed. Nerves became frayed and tempers flared. It was an intolerable situation.
Therefore, when a large war party of Indians with the infamous renegade, Simon Girty, laid siege to Bryan Station, not far from present-day Lexington, Kentucky, in the summer of 1782, George Rogers Clark called up the Kentucky Militia to give battle and end the Indian problem once and for all.
So on August 18,1782, 182 men gathered, 130 men from Lincoln County and the rest from Fayette. They were commanded by Col. Stephen Trigg. Among the men were Daniel Boone and one of his sons. On August 19, the two opposing groups met at the bloody, tragic Battle of Blue Licks where the Kentucky Militia walked into an ambush and where sixty Kentuckians died before the rest fled. Daniel Boone’s son was killed and also Col. Trigg. Carpenter’s Station was fortunate to lose only one man, but that man was young John Frye, husband of Catherine Spears. It had been his turn to serve.
The monument at Blue Licks Battlefield lists John Frye as buried there with the rest of the slain; family tradition says that John’s body was returned to Carpenter’s Station for burial. However, there is no marker for John Frye in the Carpenter Burying Ground. It is more logical that John was buried at Blue Licks because the Indians scalped and horribly mutilated all the bodies of the dead. Catherine Frye’s brother, Jacob Spears, was with the burial group and paid 8 shillings for his service.
In a pleasant little park just north of Liberty, Casey County, Kentucky, the Kentucky State Historical Society erected a marker as a memorial to John Frye. It states:
John Fry entered land on Carpenter’s Creek, 8 miles north, 1780, on a Treasury Warrant for service in Revolution. Land Grant signed,1783, by Gov. Benj. Harrison. Engaged in Battle of Point Pleasant, 1774. Served in Rockingham Militia, VA. during Revolution. With Kentuckians when killed at Blue Licks Battle, 1782 at age of 28. Four generations of family owned land over a century.
Historians now consider that the Battle of Point Pleasant was in reality the opening battle of the Revolution. Blue Licks is considered the last major battle, so John Frye has the distinction, possibly unmatched, of having served at the very beginning and at the very end of the Revolutionary War.
Please note the different spelling of Fry. In the Carpenter family papers, Catherine and her children all signed their names ‘Frye’, but historians use the short spelling, which is also used now in the area where they lived. Catherine spelled her given name as ‘Katherine’ as a young woman, switched to the ‘C’ spelling later on. In like manner, we find Elizabeth and Elisabeth used interchangeably. Sometimes Frey is seen.
Although by 1782, new settlers had been pouring into Kentucky, the loss of sixty able-bodied men was a catastrophe in the young land. It was customary military strategy that no Indian forays go unpunished, and instant retaliation was mandatory. Prompted by feelings of sorrow and outrage and revenge, an expedition was quickly organized by George Rogers Clark, and the marauding group was chased back across the Ohio River where devastation was laid upon the Indian villages there. Military records show that Adam and Conrad Carpenter enlisted in this group, served for 32 days under Capt. Robert Barnett against the Shawnees under Command of George Rogers Clark and for this they were paid the sums of £2.2.8 at a rate of 1/4 per day. Thus ended the last major efforts of the Indians against the Kentucky settlers.
There is a feature article in the Danville Daily Messenger, June 19, 1924, on Carpenter’s Station, containing a tribute to our pioneers, as follows:
“There has been so much written of the pioneers of Kentucky, that we,who have followed in the paths they marked out with their blood seem as familiar with them as though we had been their contemporaries. But the subject is by no means exhausted. The early settlers of Kentucky, it is a fact of history, were men of iron mold, and indomitable will and as insensible to fear or danger as they were indifferent to fine clothes and the luxuries of civilized society. It is a fact that with corporal frames, unusually large and muscular, and constitutions singularly robust and enduring, they possessed, also, intelligence and mental energies, which considering what might be naturally expected of men of their condition in life, and their situation in a wilderness affording none of the intellectual calibre, were equally remarkable. The people of no section of the country nor of the world possess a larger share of native intelligence than the descendants of the pioneers of Kentucky, nor of courage, heroic daring and endurance.”
Consider now the situation in which Catherine Spears Frye found herself. A widow at the age of twenty-two and dazed and stricken with grief, she could scarcely have had time to indulge herself, for she had little Leah to care for, and she was seven months pregnant with her second child. And life must go on. Undoubtedly she turned to her sister Elisabeth, wife of John Carpenter, for assistance, and the other families at the Station would have rallied around. But the stark, brutal facts of life at that time were that there was simply no place for a dependent woman on the frontier. There was no way a woman could make her way alone in the wilderness, and equally, no man could hope to establish himself successfully without a woman in his house. Men and women then were truly partners, and womens’ opinions valued equally with a man’s. Furthermore, except for chores requiring a man’s greater strength, a woman could do everything a man could. So a capable pioneer woman was a pearl beyond price and consequently she was never a widow for any length of time, many women even marrying within a few weeks after the death of their first mate. An average woman in Catherine’s circumstances might have returned to her family in Virginia if she did not immediately remarry. Catherine Spears Frye was neither average nor ordinary.
Catherine had plenty of time to ponder her situation while awaiting the birth of her second child and the following winter while recovering from childbirth. Her posthumous son, John Frye, was born on October (19 or 29), 1782. The estate legalities of the deceased John Frye had to be taken care of, and on March 13, 1783, Catherine Frye, adm. presented to the court an inventory of an appraisement of the estate. The personal property listed consisted of the usual farm equipment and household furnishings such as pots and pans, John’s wearing apparel, pewter plates, cutlery, Bible and prayer book, horses, cows, pigs, sheep, a small loan due from Paul Froman, 169 pounds of salt due from John Felton, etc., for a total valuation of £144.12.0. Catherine priced one bay mare at £30. At the subsequent sale of these items at Adam Carpenter’s (no date given) the sold items totaled £164.7.7. The bay mare was bought by one Capt. Warren for £16.10.0., another horse went for £22, and these are quite fancy prices for horseflesh considering that a cow and calf went for £3.10.0., and 15 small hogs for £11.10. Adam Carpenter was a heavy buyer at the sale, mostly taking livestock, but also buying one feather bed for £6.1.0. In the wilderness, a feather bed was considered the height of luxury, and obviously Adam had an eye for his comfort. Possibly he also had an eye for the widow.
How Catherine managed during the next year and a half of her widowhood is not precisely known, but the indications are that she managed very well indeed. This tragic experience and others she suffered during her long lifetime apparently strengthened her character and molded her into a strong woman, thoroughly capable of handling any kind of situation that arose, and also with a solid talent for financial matters. Receipts found in the family papers for this period indicate that Catherine began to engage in land transactions. She bought 50 acres of land on Carpenter’s Creek from
W. Montgomery for £100, the land joining two holdings of John Frye,
deceased. Witnesses: George Spears, Jacob Spears.
On March 9, 1784, Catherine Spears Frye and Adam Carpenter married, and they settled down to the business of establishing their plantation and raising a family. They made their home in a valley formed by the waters of Frye’s Creek, several miles south and a little west of the Station. Here begin the waters of Carpenter’s Creek which then joins Frye’s Creek a few miles south to flow into the Green River near Liberty, Kentucky. The valley is a rather wide one by eastern Kentucky standards, surrounded by the usual wooded knobs and floored with rolling hills. Perhaps the landscape reminded them of their former homeland in the Shenandoah. This land was part of Lincoln County, Kentucky, until 1806 when Casey County was created. The new boundary line was drawn a little south of the Station, so that the Station remained in Lincoln County.
Land in the Knob region of south central Kentucky is not considered especially fertile as it consists mainly of a thin layer of soil over limestone rock, and much of the area is so hilly as to be unsuitable for farming. But it is a very scenic area.
The family papers, tax receipts and legal documents relative to land sales all indicate that Adam Carpenter was a busy man in this period going back and forth to St. Asaph (Stanford) conducting his affairs, and also to Danville to the District Court. Courts had been established in Kentucky after the Revolution, but the state capitol was still in Richmond, Virginia, until Kentucky became a state in 1792.
Adam was frequently named administrator of wills; several times he was named guardian for minor heirs of deceased friends and relatives. He was involved in many court suits, mostly disputes over land titles -- a very common thing in Kentucky at the time. He bought, sold and leased land and lent money. All of these transactions are recorded in the family papers, and so we must conclude that Adam spent as much time in the court houses as he did at home.
The colonists in Virginia and frontiersmen in Kentucky seem to have enjoyed bringing legal action, often for trivial amounts and matters. Suing at the drop of a hat was apparently sort of a form of recreation or perhaps a test of one’s integrity. Whichever, Adam and Catherine Carpenter participated enthusiastically.
Although the quality of life improved for the pioneers after the close of the Revolutionary War, it was still a very unsettled period until the turn of the century. There were sporadic Indian raids, many them originating from tribes in the Tennessee area. Outcasts of society were drawn to the frontier area, and plundering bands of outlaws roamed over the land. The home remained the principle institution and the center of learning, social life and personal defense.
There are no indications nor records that the pioneer Carpenters participated in any of the political life of the day. All seemed content to concentrate on their own affairs to the exclusion of the outside world, but many relatives and friends held government offices.
During this period, 1784 -1806, ten children were born to Adam and Catherine. Raising these ten children, plus Leah and John Frye, obviously occupied all of Catherine’s time. We know that Catherine was a skilled weaver and that she brought weaving equipment with her from Virginia. In her papers are ten precious drafts (patterns) for weaving, one dated Jan. 4, 1777 ‘for Catrin Spears’ and signed by one Rodgers McPeacks. Another draft is signed by James Murrel on December 5, 1805, another by George Carpenter. Copies of these drafts were given to Miss Lou Tate, nationally known weaving historian and weaving teacher in Louisville, KY. These drafts are to be included in Kentucky’s Bicentennial program. There are also dye recipes.
We have records of many of the events taking place in the neighborhood among the relatives and friends of Adam and Catherine, with births, marriages and deaths following one another in rapid succession.
Sometime in 1785, John Carpenter died, leaving his wife, the former Elisabeth Spears (Catherine’s sister) and also three small children: George, born 1784, Margaret (Betsy) born circa 1781, and Mary (Polly). John’s untimely death was the first break in the circle of founding brothers. Whatever the cause, John’s will indicates that he knew death was approaching and he had ample time to make out his will so as to provide in a very loving manner for Elisabeth in her widowhood. Adam and Conrad Carpenter were executors of his will, Elisabeth the executrix. John signed his will on Nov. 19, 1784. The will disposes of 2550 acres of land to be divided among his wife and children except for 200 which he gave to Adam.
“I also lend unto my wife the plantation where on I now live (Note: the Station) during her widowhood or until my son arrives to the age of twenty-one years. I give and bequeath to my wife all my beds and such of my pots and ovens as she may choose to keep also a plow with Irons & Geers for two horses also my big(?) mare also four milk cows also six head of sheep also two good Breading sows also all my puter(pewter). It is my further will and desire that all the rest of my personal estate not here in before disposed of shall be sold by my executors and the moneys arising therefore to be equally divided between my wife & three children. I give and bequeath to my brother George Carpenter the sum of £10 to be payd him by my executors for the purposes of edicating of his children.” (Note: the George Carpenter referred to is George II who remained in Virginia. His sons were Jacob and John.)
When Adam and Conrad concluded their executorship of the estate on Oct. 30, 1794, they listed 34 loans in total amount of £530.4.4, all of which had been cleared.
One provision of the will concerns his slaves: “I also give and
bequeath to my son George Carpenter my two negroes but I lend said two negroes to my wife Elisabeth Carpenter during her widowhood or until son George shall arrive to the age of twenty one years.” This is the first mention of slaves in the family holdings. The German farmers in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia were rarely known to own slaves, preferring to work their land themselves. However, George Spears, father of Elisabeth and Catherine, was a slave owner, as mentioned in his will. So it is quite possible that these slaves came into Kentucky from Virginia with John and Elisabeth.
Elisabeth Spears Carpenter remarried on Sept. 30, 1791. She married Ezra Morrison also a Revolutionary War veteran who had been with Washington at Valley Forge. Elisabeth and Ezra are both buried at Carpenter’s Station along with John Carpenter.
More members of the Carpenter family from Virginia came into Kentucky during this period. Henry, a younger brother of the pioneer brothers, came to Casey County, settled and raised a large family. Barbara (or Barbary) married John Pence in Rockingham Co., Virginia on Jan. 10, 1783, and they moved to Shelby County, Kentucky, in the north central section. Of the eleven children of George Zimmerman, immigrant from Switzerland, five moved to Kentucky and six remained in Virginia.
George II, who remained in Virginia, and who undoubtedly inherited his father’s lands there under the primogeniture laws, had two sons: John and Jacob, the ones mentioned in John Carpenter’s will. John stayed in Virginia probably because of those same primogeniture laws, but his brother Jacob came to Kentucky and on Sept. 9, 1800, he married none other than Leah Frye, the first-born child of Catherine Spears Frye Carpenter and step-daughter of Adam Carpenter.
John Frye, the second-born child of Catherine, married Sally McKinney on Jan. 31, 1803 in Lincoln County. Both John and Leah produced very large families, and they began to have their children even before Adam and Catherine had finished having theirs. Leah and Jacob’s first child, John Carpenter, was born on March 21, 1803, in Kentucky. John and Sally Frye’s first child, Thomas, was born on Jan. 20, 1805.
Around the middle 1780’s, another Spears sister joined Elisabeth and Catherine in Lincoln Co., Ky. Mary Agnes Spears, born 1766, married Christopher Riffe in March 1783 in Rockingham County, Virginia, and they took up land in Lincoln County. In 1783, Christopher Riffe bought 800 acres of land in Lincoln County from the grandfather of President Abraham Lincoln. The grandfather’s name was also Abraham. He was killed by Indians in 1785 near Louisville, Ky.
Jacob Spears, a brother previously mentioned as being in the military at Harrodsburg, lived nearby. Another brother, George, came and settled in what was later Green County, Kentucky; also Hannah who married Jonathan Newman lived in Jessamine County; John in Fayette County and David in Lincoln County. Only two Spears children stayed in Virginia.
David Huston Spears (1798-1876) eventually settled in Springfield, Kentucky, and he was a noted early Kentucky silversmith. He was the son of Jacob Spear and Abigail Huston.
With all the comings and goings of various Spears and Carpenter and Riffes and Fryes, we know that the pioneer Carpenters did not lack for company in the new land. The children of these pioneer families, including the Powells, intermarried to an astonishing degree, and there is scarcely a Carpenter of this lineage today who does not have at least a double and sometimes triple family connection with those names.
George Spears, the father of all these Spears children, died sometime shortly after 1800, and his will was presented and proved in the November 1803 court in Rockingham County, Virginia. Catherine Carpenter inherited £40 as a specific bequest and shared in the 2/3 portion of the estate which was divided among her brothers and sisters. Several documents relating to the settlement of the George Spears estate are in the Carpenter family papers; one dated April 6, 1805, indicated that Christennah Spears (wife of George) was to have “use of the new house, stable, spring house, oven and yard that is next to Linville Creek”.
When John and Leah Frye’s grandfather died in Virginia, John and Leah received bequests, and Catherine Carpenter signed an affidavit swearing that John and Leah were the legitimate children of their father, John, who was killed at Blue Licks. John Frye Jr. gave power of attorney to one of the Carpenters to collect what was due him from the estate. John Frye borrowed £270 from Adam Carpenter, his step-father, on October 26, 1805, just a few months before Adam’s death.
On January 11, 1806, Adam Carpenter died and once again Catherine found herself a widow. At this point she had nine minor children, and only her oldest son, William, was 21. No will is found in the family papers and the cause of death is unknown. In the list of estate expenses is an item of payment for medical service to Dr. McDowell of Danville, in amount £1.4.0. This doctor is the famous Dr. Ephraim McDowell who in 1809 performed surgery for removal of an ovarian tumor, the first such recorded case.
Catherine inherited her widow’s third of the property, and the rest of the property was divided up in the names of the children. George Murrell and George Carpenter were named administrators of the estate. Since Catherine’s son George was only nine years old at the time of his father’s death, we assume that the executor referred to is George Carpenter, son of Pioneer John Carpenter. This George would have been 22 years old at this time and he was always called Station George: first because he lived at the Station, and second, it was necessary to distinguish him from his cousin George, son of Adam and Catherine, who was called George, Red-face. George Red-face was later usually referred to as Major after he had served in the Kentucky Militia. The two Georges lived only a few miles apart.
Catherine received 667 acres of land in three tracts, one of which contained the dwelling house. 1065 acres were divided among the minor children. Included in the estate papers is a list of small loans made by Adam to about a dozen relatives and neighbors in the vicinity.
A document signed by George Murrel on March 31, 1807, lists “the articles that Mrs. Carpenter received out of the Estate of Adam Carpenter Deceased, by the hands of the administrators” and the estimated value which totaled £196.16.7. The articles consisted of farm stock, one bull, two yearling heifers, five hogs, four yearling calves, two cows, two cows and calves, nine old sheep and six lambs, one old brown mare, one sorrel horse, one bay mare colt, one bay horse colt, eight hogs, three sows and twenty pigs; farm equipment - plows, hoes, one set of doubletrees, log chain, two grindstones, saws, tools, etc.; household equipment - one ‘cubbert’ & furniture, value £7.4.0, kettles, pots, ovens, three beds (one valued at £9). Catherine’s precious loom and sundry gear were listed at £4.12.0, also one woman’s saddle at £0.9.0
The last and most important item was ‘One Negro Boy’ valued at £ 75. This is the negro boy named Joseph who is also listed with the real estate, and it is the first mention of slaves in the Adam Carpenter family. £75 was a large price for a slave and it indicates that he was exceptional. Compare his value with the next highest priced item on the list which is one sorrel horse at £15 or eight hogs at £10.16.0. Joseph was to remain with Catherine Carpenter until her death, and he was the supervisor of her plantation.
Now comes the period of Catherine’s life that shows her strong indomitable spirit. Wherever she had acquired her knowledge of law and financial affairs, either from early life in Virginia, or in association with Adam, or just plain innate intelligence, she now embarked on a path that would make her a well-to-do woman.
Before Adam Carpenter had been dead even a year, Catherine was buying land, and she continued to buy land up until the time of her death. Early land grant certificates show that Catherine Carpenter as assignee of John Warren took up 130 acres in Adair County on March 9, 1808. On the same day, as assignee of Richard Whitman, she took sixty-five acres in Adair County, and on May 31, 1808, Catherine as assignee of Martin Warren, took 200 acres in Green County. An interesting footnote here is that Catherine and Adam’s first-born child, William, married Mary Warren, a daughter of Martin Warren.
Catherine kept voluminous receipts, hundreds, even for such mundane events as having the plows sharpened, and records of money paid out for instance ‘for the seasoning of Tecumseh’, her mare. She paid her taxes and levies (carefully keeping all receipts) on her lands and produce. One of her sources of revenue was whiskey, as evidenced by one receipt, among many others, from the tax collector on September 30, 1815, for $31.31 1/4 for her account of 100 gallons of spirits distilled. In her papers is a recipe for distilling sour mash, dated 1818. It is entitled “A receipt for distilling By Sweet & Sour Mash”, and it required the use of a hundred-gallon tub. There is also a recipe for making bitters.
As her holdings increased, Catherine’s need for labor also increased and there are a number of bills of sale for slaves she bought. On Sept. 2, 1809, she bought a ten year old girl named Mary for $250. from one Bennett Shaikleford. On July 20, 1810, she bought a negro girl named Nancy at a sheriff’s sale for $40.50. On May 8, 1824, she bought two negroes, Jim and McClain (Mack) for $419. from Mathias Speed and Jacob Conkright of the County of Fentress, State of Tennessee. On March 25, 1825, Catherine purchased from Chas. S. Perkins of Casey County ‘one Negro girl slave named Malinda aged supposed to be Ten or Eleven years old for the sum of $250 in silver.’ All of the above-named slaves were living at the time of Catherine’s death in 1848 and are among twenty slaves mention by name in her will.
The legal affairs that Catherine dealt with during these years are quite astounding. Since Adam’s estate was not closed out until after the youngest child was 21, which would be 1825, there was constant concern with the administration of the property held in custody for the minor heirs. As invariably happened during these early days, the title to one parcel of land divided among her children did not hold up, and this necessitated endless court procedures to straighten out, and was not finally settled until well into the 1820’s. The Carpenters lost their suit, so each one of the children had to make a refund to the sister, Margaret, who had sustained a loss in her share of her father’s estate.
At the September term of the Lincoln County Court in 1812, the clerk certified that William Crow was appointed guardian for Margaret, George, Conrad, Henry and Adam Carpenter, infant heirs of Adam Carpenter and for Catherine Carpenter. The reason for this change of guardian is unknown; it may have had to do with the creation of Casey County out of Lincoln County in 1806, the year of Adam Carpenter’s death -- another complication involving two county courts. (It is doubtful that this Wm. Crow would be the same one involved in George Zimmerman’s cattle dispute back in Virginia, but he could be a relative.)
Another reason may have been that in the brief six years since Adam’s death, there had already been a change in status of five of their children. William, Christina and Sarah were married; Margaret was to marry in December of 1812, and Mary had died in 1810 at the age of eighteen, only four years after her father. To the sorrows of widowhood, Catherine now added the bitterness of losing a child, and Mary was placed in the Carpenter Burying Ground beside Adam. The Burying Ground is located near the family homestead. In the late 1810’s and 20’s, William, Christina, Sarah and Margaret all migrated into western lands as pioneers themselves. So, many of the details of Adam Carpenter’s estate had to be settled by the uncertain mail of the time, not an easy matter. As each child left Kentucky, Catherine bought back the lands which they had inherited from Adam’s estate and on which they had lived. She also bought back Major George’s land, also Conrad’s even though they remained in Kentucky.
A very good example of the legal miseries of the time which seem to have absorbed so much of the time and energy of the Carpenters is a suit which dragged on over twenty-five years before it was finally settled. It seems that at some unknown date, late in the 1700’s, Adam and Conrad Carpenter lent a large sum of money possibly as much as £750. to Joseph Berry, and John and Simon Kenton, the latter being the famed early frontiersman. Simon Kenton served in the Kentucky Militia with Conrad and Adam after the Battle of Blue Licks.
On November 21, 1799, Adam and Conrad Carpenter engaged Francis Taylor to institute proceedings against Joseph Berry and a second suit against the Kentons to recover the loan. On January 19, 1801, Mr. Taylor advised them in a letter from Mason County,
“Your first Execution was returned by the Sheriff that there was no property of the defendants in his Bailiwick - - I have since ordered an Exen against his body... I am fearful from the information that I have had, that your debts will probably be lost.”
At the March, 1801 term of the Quarter Sessions Court in Washington, Mason County, Kentucky, a jury held that the defendant, Joseph Berry, did not pay the debt and that the plaintiffs ( the Carpenters) be awarded one penny current money in damages from Joseph Berry . . . also that :
“the plaintiffs recover five hundred pounds lawful money ... and their costs. But this judgment except costs is to be discharged by paying two hundred and fifty pounds current money with interest there on at the rate of 6 per centum per annum from the 24th day of September l798 til paid.”
From here on things get complicated, with partial payments by some of the defendants, changes of attorneys, the death of Adam and resulting trusteeship, and cross bills.
On September 24th, 1812, John Kenton wrote a very bitter letter to Conrad Carpenter as follows:
“Mason County. Dear Sir When I see you last I promised to let you know by post when I payd the Money to the Sherriff I paid the Money about a week a go Mr. Chambers in formed me he would write but Mr. Chambers has been much engaged in (?) the voulenteers and I have not seen him for several days and do not know whether he has wrote or not I have paid upwards of $900 which the Sherriff or Mr. Chambers has for you and I do not wish to keep it in there hand I have lost my Exspence on two trips to your house and $138 Besides and if this is the way to do (?) I will never do so again So fair well to this kind of friend Ship If I had said nothing to your Brother But let him took his own way I should have saved my money you would have got none of it But I will faithfully promise you that I will never be guilty of that Kind of friend Ship a gin I will endevor to take care of my own property let others do so as I never will Loose my self to save another, altho this is the first I ever have been so taken on with out Being in sum way intrested on an Exspctation of some holding of my own and not being so much Looser.
Respecttavely your (?), John Kenton”
It appears that some moneys were collected but not paid to the Carpenters, and in 1814, twelve years after Adam’s death, Wm. Crow, guardian of the minor heirs, sued for recovery of the money. It must not have been fruitful for on January 3, 1821, (Major) George sent a letter to Mr. John Chambers, Washington City, Mason County:
“Casey County, KY. Dear Sir I have conversed with Uncle Carpenter (meaning Conrad) & Mr. Crow in regard to the Interest on the Decree rendered against your self they appear to think it Just that you ought to pay Interest on the money while in your Service and appear to flatter them selves that you will not think it hard to do so I will certainly attend to our appointment at Frankfort in March and I want you to forward on all written agreements you made with my father and the administrator if any for your fees and every other paper necessary in the settlement with me I am very anxious to have the affair intirely settled your most humble servant,
A true coppy of a letter sent to Washington, Mason County, KY (Signed) Coonrod Carpenter”
Apparently again, no action resulted from the above letter, for on March 12, 1821, Conrad and Station George Carpenter legally appointed Major George Carpenter their attorney to recover moneys due them. From then on, events moved quickly, and one wonders if Major George accomplished his mission at pistol point!
On March 20, 1821, Major George was in Washington City, Mason County, where he obtained the following signed statement from John Chambers:
“I have this day paid to Mr. George Carpenter Seven hundred and fifty dollars the amount of a decree obtained against me in the Mason Circuit Court by George Carpenter surviving Administrator of Adam Carpenter decd and Conrad Carpenter and as this money has laid in my hands a long time I have agreed and hereby do agree to pay all the costs of the suit in which the decree was pad.On the back of the paper are two other receipts:
“I have no claims against the Mr. Carpenters or any of them for fees -- The fees due me were allowed out of the money in my hands & the(?)decree to be paid to the Carpenters March 20th, 1821
(Signed) John Chambers”
“Recd 20th March 1821, of John Chambers twenty dollars my fee in the suit refered by him in the within writing I having been attorney for the Carpenters in that suit.
(Signed) James A Paxton”
“Recd 20th March 1821 of John Chambers the full amount of the Clerks fees in the within mentioned suit due to me
(Signed) Marshall Key, Clerk, Mason Circuit Court”
On various dates in April and May, 1821, receipts were signed for the distribution of the money recovered. The children received $27.77 apiece, Catherine Carpenter received $125 which she claimed as the widow’s share, and Conrad acknowledged $375 as half of his share. This apparently concluded the unhappy affair which must have been most distressing to all concerned. It is not possible to judge the merits of the case years later especially since we do not have all the documents pertaining; nor is it possible to know just how much value was recovered particularly since the matter began in pounds sterling and ended in dollars.
Another tangled affair that seems typical of the problems that Catherine Carpenter dealt with in her widowhood occurred in 1818, and involved her brother-in-law Conrad who operated a hog-drove business. This was a popular enterprise in those days as it was profitable to drive stock to the lucrative eastern markets. Catherine either loaned money or made an investment in the operation, and the affair must have become so mixed-up that she asked Conrad to write out the details. Accordingly, Conrad wrote a lengthy account which he entitled “An account of the Business between Roland Burks & Jesse Coffee and myself” as follows:
“Burks, Coffee and myself was engaged in a drove of hogs for which we paid sound money & gave our hands jointly for the balance. We borrowed of Catherine Carpenter $310 to pay expenses on the road for which we gave two notes jointly and for $200 in silver the other for $110 dated November 1818 . . .After we had went some distance into Virginia Burcks proposed to me to by my interest of the whole Business of Hogdriveing. . . to be paid after they returned home. . . I agreed . . .and they gave me there bond for the payment of $709 and I was to deliver up or cause to be delivered up the two notes that was given to Catherine Carpenter for the amount of $310 which two notes I delivered to Jessee Coffee on the 2nd day of November Cort 1819. When they returned it was not convenient for them to settle up in consequence of a trade between Catherine Carpenter and John McGraw. Catherine Carpenter was owing said McGraw $100 for which said McGraw took said Burks & Coffee (note) the said Catherine Carpenter give up to me a note that was given for her pork to the amount of $350.09 which note I give up to R. Burks and J. Coffee. I credited the obligation of $709 for the balance of the six hundred the said Roland Burks and Jessee Coffee told me that they could not pay me nor the people there was money due to, and if I would pay any of them they would account to me for as much as I paid out.”There follows a listing of cash paid out, then he concluding paragraph:
“On the date of (blank) in the year 1819 I made a final settlement the above mentioned Burks and Coffee I was oweing Joel Right $40 they settled that & I give up there obligation for $709 and they the said Burks and Coffee then give me there note for what they was oweing me by proper calculations.”
In the collection of Catherine Carpenter’s receipts, there is a promissory note to John McGraw for $110 dated March 8, 1820. Then a receipt from the county clerk for $12.72 for court costs received from George Carpenter in the matter of Jesse Coffee & Roland Burks on October 7, 1820.
Another chapter in the affair comes to light in a cordial letter written by Jesse Coffee(Coffey) to Major George on May 10, 1850, probably in connection with settlement details of Catherine’s estate. Jesse Coffey wrote:
“Friend Carpenter Inclosed you will receive the note I was to get fitted up & send you. You will please send the two notes you have by the Old Major. I attended the election on Monday & Tuesday a part of the day & found all worked wright. I can’t tell how the poll closed in all the precents but about sixty ahead for the New Constitution & as far as heard from other countys is ahead everywhere. If you have any information upon the subject let me hear from you. We are well as (?) on. Compliments to Mistress Carpenter I wish you both great success.In George’s handwriting, there is a memorandum as follows:
(Signed) Jesse Coffey”
“Jessee Coffey’s, Joel Swenney’s & Nathan Coffey’s note for $659.89 cents was executed the 6th of May 1850 came due the 1st of January 1851 and sued on the 9th of August, 1852”
It does seem incredible that the settlement of the hog-driving affair, begun in 1818, should hang on for thirty-four years, but if so, it is typical of the financial affairs of the early Carpenters.
It is apparent from the family papers that Catherine’s son, Major George, became her right-hand man in the management of her affairs and that he probably lived with her in the family homestead, or nearby in Casey County, from which place he conducted his own extensive financial and legal dealings. To him eventually fell the burden of handling the myriad details of administering the will of his father Adam, helping with the settlement of Conrad’s estate, and then that of Catherine herself.
One cannot help but speculate on the reasons why Major George remained single at a time when men and women married at a very early age. Obviously he assumed the duties of his deceased father in Catherine’s household and was an extremely busy man, but this should not have prevented his marrying. It is possible that he was dominated by his mother, who was certainly a strong-minded woman. The reason George was called “Red-face” is that he had a facial birthmark. If the birthmark was extremely disfiguring, of course, few women would have have been drawn to him, and this may have been a factor. But it does seem curious that a year after Catherine’s death in 1848, and at the age of 52, George married Rachel Wilson Jones and moved to Lincoln County where they settled near Hustonville and produced seven children in rapid succession, but that is getting ahead of the story.
On February 1, 1825, George was commissioned a captain of the 74th Regiment of the State Militia; on June 5, 1830, he was commissioned major, and after that he was usually ( and more kindly) referred to as Major Carpenter, rather than George Red-face, in distinguishing him from his cousin Station George.
William, first-born child of Adam and Catherine, married Mary Warren, daughter of Martin Warren, Revolutionary War veteran, and at least some of their children were born in Casey County, (Beaufort in 1815) before they joined the vanguard of the western movement and went to Lafayette County, Missouri. Their descendants spread out to Colorado, Idaho and Oregon.
Christina (Christeenah, Christenah), second-born child of Adam and Catherine, had first married Nathaniel Spraggins in 1809. After his death, she married Daniel Funk, and they moved to Palestine, Crawford County, Illinois Territory, located in southeastern Illinois, on or near the Wabash River. Christeenah and Daniel wrote a letter to Major George on March 9, 1825, the first part of which concerns inheritance affairs, then goes on :
“I have for some time bin Building a house and converted what little money I have made to that use But I raised an elegant crop of corn last season a good part of which I have yet for sale but since last fall Corn has been frequently sold for 6 1/4 Cents per bushel but the boats that have went from this Country have taken a grat deal of Corn off for new Orleans and i Expect to get a good price for mine before Harvest if I can make the money in this way me and Christenah will come and see you this fall but if not I have no other prospect of Making money till fall and if we don’t come this fall I intend to Rent my farm next season and we will come to see you in the spring as soon as the waters fall and I want you to give my compliments to Mr. Crutcher. . . Me and my family have enjoyed agrate Degree of good helth for two years past. Milley received your compliments with gratitude and wants her Love Remembered with all the feelings of generous mind but she rather regrets your batchelor hood and says she thinks your trust must be in your Saviour. We want you give our love to Mother and the Familly and all Enquiring friends nothing more at Present only to add we Remain with Sentiments of unalterable attachments Loving Brother and Sister til death
(Signed) Daniel and Christenah Funk”
Sarah (usually called Sally), third child of Adam and Catherine, married Ephraim Cunningham in 1809, and they moved to Morgan County, later Sangamon County, Jacksonville, Illinois Territory, around 1819.
Margaret, fifth-born, married Shadrach Blount Anderson Carter on December 3, 1812, and they moved to Orleans, Orange County, Indiana.
Catherine, ninth child of Adam and Catherine, married Wm. Dinwiddie on October 3, 1820, and they remained in Casey County. This Catherine was the only daughter to remain in the vicinity except for Leah Frye who married Jacob Carpenter, but Leah died in January of 1820, leaving a large family.
Of the four children of Adam and Catherine who were still at home in 1820, two more were to leave for the west: Conrad, twin to Henry, went first to Montgomery County, Missouri, later to Honey Grove, Fannin County, Texas. Adam, the youngest child of Adam and Catherine, married Mary Ann (Polly) Jones in 1834, and they moved to Knobnoster, Johnson County, Missouri.
Henry, Conrad’s twin, married his cousin Amanda Powell of the John Carpenter line, and they remained in Casey County. So of all the ten children, all that remained in Casey County near Catherine were Henry, Catherine Carpenter Dinwiddie, and Major George. (John Frye, Jr. also lived in Casey County.)
On September 25, 1821, Catherine wrote a letter, apparently never dispatched, to a brother not identified, and this letter gives us a little insight into her circumstances. She writes:
“Casey County Kentucky Dear brother: I gladly embrace this opportunity of writing a few lines to inform you that I and my family are at this time enjoying a reasonable state of health and I trust they may find you and your family enjoying the same like helth. I would be vary happy to see you and sister Sally and family once more which I doubt I never shall have the pleasure of seeing you again except I see you in this country as I am geting old & vary much decriped so that I am not able to walk without the help of crutches I have nothing strange to write to you Respecting of only dull times of trade and produce low and as it respects crops corn is tolerable good & small grain indifferent I believe the only article amongst us that will bare a price is tobacco. A B (N?B?) I request that you would apply to the cort for Commissioners to be appointed to settle the whole of your Executorship between you & me according to Law and be pleased to write to me respecting of it What there is coming to me for I expect to send in(?) for it & I want the business finally settled between us you will please to write to me by the first opportunity No more at present but still Remain your loving Sister until death please to give my respects to all enquiring friends.
(Signed) Catherine Carpenter”
Catherine was sixty-one years of age when she wrote this letter indicating her poor health, but she still had twenty-seven more years to live. The air of weariness in the second paragraph contrasts sharply with the crisp directions she gives in the third paragraph when it comes time to deal with business affairs. For a guess as to the identity of sister Sally, it seems possible that it was Catherine’s sister Sarah Spears who married John Rader. The Raders remained in Virginia, and John Rader was the executor of the estate of their father, George Spears, and probably also of their mother, Christennah, when she died. In the custom of the day, Catherine would have addressed her sister’s husband as “brother”. The name of Sarah often became Sally in general usage.
On August 22nd, 1829, Conrad Carpenter, the last surviving pioneer brother, made his last will and testament, and died around September 5th or 6th. He directed that the perishable parts of his estate and his Landed Estate be sold and that:
“all moneys arising therefrom to be equally divided among my ten Brothers & Sisters. . . making my half brothers and their heirs equal in full with my full brothers & sisters to wit The heirs of my half brother George Carpenter dec’d one equal part in full with any of my full brothers or sisters Also my half brother John Carpenter dec’d heirs one equal part in full with my full brothers and sisters Also the heirs of my brother Adam Carpenter dec’d one equal part in full, also my brother Henry Carpenter one equal part in full Also my brother William Carpenter one equal part in full Also my Sister Anna Carpenter now Anny Meltebarger one equal part in full Also my sister Barbary Carpenter now Barbara Pence one equal part in full Also my sister Elizabeth Carpenter now Elizabeth Keblinger one equal part in full Also my sister Margaret Carpenter now Margaret Pence one equal part in full Also my sister Solema Carpenter now Solema Kiplinger one equal part in full which I give to them, their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns forever. And lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friends Carrell Bailey and Station George Carpenter executors. . .Signed in presence of John Russell, George L. Carter, John Spears, John McBride”
The will was presented to the Lincoln County court on October 12, 1829. Carrell Bailey was Conrad’s great-nephew. He was married to America Patton, daughter of James Patton whose wife was Mary Carpenter, daughter of Pioneer John Carpenter.
Conrad’s meager personal possessions were sold on December 15, 1829. They were listed as follows:
“1 negro girl named Kesiah (Note: appraised and sold to Edmund Powell, a nephew for $300), 1 bedstead and furniture, one chest, 5 bottles, 1 chair, 1 Bible, 1 dictionary, 1 arithmetic, 1 geography, 1 medical book and five Dutch (meaning German) books”
Obviously, Conrad lived in a very simple manner. At the time of his death, he had on hand $9770 in cash, and $5590 due in promissory notes. The final accounting on his estate amounted to $30,327 which included the sale of his lands. The administrators paid $7.00 for his coffin, $5.50 for his burying clothes, $12.50 for doctor’s visits prior to death and $114 to James B. Patton, Conrad’s nephew, for service in attending Conrad in his last illness. Conrad was buried at the Station.
Conrad’s will, together with the settlement papers of his estate, constitute the main body of proof of the Carpenter family members of that generation. At the time Conrad made out his will, he knew of course that George II, John and Adam were deceased, but he apparently did not know that back in Virginia, three of his sisters had died: Anna, Elizabeth and Margaret.
Each share of the estate was worth around $2703 and it was paid out in three installments. Ninety vouchers were paid out in the settlement, in which approximately 46 descendants shared, and the signatures of these heirs provide additional proof of lineage. The task of settling the estate must have seemed monumental to Carrell Bailey and Station George Carpenter, considering that in some cases minor heirs were involved and guardians had to be appointed, and also by now many children of the deceased heirs had scattered into the western frontier. Communications at the time were uncertain and time-consuming. Nevertheless, by the early 1830’s, the basics of the settlement were concluded.
The final settlement showed that Conrad had four living brothers and sister, and six deceased brothers and sisters. Full shares were issued to the four still living: Henry in Casey County, Kentucky; William in Virginia; Barbara Carpenter Pence in Shelby County, Kentucky; and to Solema Carpenter Keblinger (Kiplinger) in Virginia.
George II was deceased so his share was divided between his two sons, John who lived in Rockingham County, Virginia, and Jacob who had married Leah Frye and lived in Casey County, Kentucky. By 1830, both Jacob and Leah were deceased and Jacob’s half-share was divided among ten children, five of whom were minors. It is guessed that Jacob married again after Leah’s death. George Franklin Carpenter, one of Jacob and Leah’s sons, was guardian for the minors. He had married his cousin Sallie (or Sarah) Powell of the John Carpenter line and moved to Tennessee later.
John Carpenter’s full share was divided among his three children: Margaret who had married Dr. Lindsey Powell, Mary who had married James Patton, and Station George who had married Jane Logan (Jennie), daughter of General Hugh and Sara Woods Logan. Hugh Logan was a younger brother of General Benjamin Logan of the Fort.
Adam Carpenter’s share was divided into ninths, since Mary had died in 1810, leaving no heirs. Eight of these brothers and sisters were living in 1829, but William, the first -born child of Adam and Catherine, had died in Lafayette County, Missouri, leaving five children. His wife, Mary Warren, later married Chris Mulkey. So William’s 1/9 share was divided into fifths for his children who were as follows: Beaufort (sometimes written as Buford) who lived in Johnson County, Missouri, moved to Colorado in 1870, and had eleven children of his own; Amanda who lived in Johnson County, Missouri, and married John S. Mulkey; Zerelda who lived in Cass County, Missouri, married first John Boen, then Samuel Stone and they moved to Dallas, Polk County, Oregon; James who lived in Lafayette County, Missouri, and moved to Idaho during the Civil War years; and Sarah (Sally) who first married Thomas Mulkey and lived in Johnson County, Missouri, and then married a Lancefield and they lived in Oregon Territory.
See the Carpenter-Zimmerman chart for a listing of the children of Anna, Elizabeth and Margaret who received their mothers’ share of Conrad’s estate.
In the early 1800’s, and especially after Missouri was admitted to the Union in 1821, another great westward migration began in America and thousands of Kentuckians went to Missouri and took up land. A number of Carpenters were in the vanguard.
It should be noted that after the Great Settlement Period of 1780-1800 in Kentucky, the tide of commerce had flowed away from the south central area, and toward the Ohio River. As transportation and trade along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers developed, from Pittsburgh to St. Louis and New Orleans, the northern part of Kentucky developed more rapidly, especially around the cities of Louisville and Lexington, and the Cincinnati area. As the years went on, the south central counties of Kentucky where the Carpenters lived, tended to become more isolated from the mainstream of commerce. These sections remained almost completely rural, with agriculture the only business until well into the 20th century when hard roads were built.
Three sons of Adam and Catherine went to the west central section of Missouri and settled, William, just mentioned above, Conrad (twin of Henry) and Adam II, the youngest child.
Catherine received a letter from her son Conrad from Montgomery County Missouri, written April 9, 1835, to inform her of the good health of himself and his family and that “my general prosperity is not to be complained of. With my best respects as a son, Emaline also joins me in respects to you and the connections.” (Signed) Conrad and Emaline Carpenter.
Major George apparently entertained the thought of moving to Missouri himself and had corresponded with his relatives there concerning real estate conditions. On June 28, 1836, Conrad in Missouri wrote a letter to his brother, Major George. Unfortunately the letter was torn in two and the right half is missing. The Carpenters had a habit of using strips of old letters to wrap around packets of receipts, so we have a number of partial and tantalizing letters in the family papers. But there is enough information on this left-hand portion to deduce that Conrad was attempting to advise George about land conditions in Missouri.
The next year, 1837, George left Kentucky on horseback, probably in the spring, for a tour of Missouri, and he kept a journal of his trip and an account of some of his expenses. We have only the middle section of the journal, which begins on June 12, 1837, in Johnson County, Missouri. As George traveled throughout western and northwestern Missouri, he recorded his appraisal of the land he saw about him, the distance he covered each day, the names of the streams he crossed, as well as the names of the towns he entered. He visited with many Kentucky relatives and friends, and mentioned the following: Thomas Mulkey, James L. Mulkey, Daniel Mulkey, Jessee Caices (?), John Wells, James Carpenter (son of his deceased brother, William), Silas C. Davis, Ben Kensey, Jessee Pemberton, Judge Ramey, David McBride, C. Carpenter (probably brother Conrad), S. Crutchers, etc.
George crossed back over the Mississippi River at Louisiana, Missouri, and proceeded across Illinois where he visit his brother-in-law Ephraim Cunningham and family, and mentions visiting the grave of George Spears in Sangamon, later Menard County, Illinois. George Spears was Catherine’s brother who died in 1836. Around October 2 or 3, Major George visited with his sister Margaret Carter in Orleans, Orange County, Indiana, and probably arrived back in Kentucky a few days later.
During the time George was gone, Catherine apparently wrote to her daughter, Margaret, in Indiana, requesting that Margaret and her sisters in Illinois make a trip to Kentucky to visit with her while George was absent. We have this letter from Margaret Carter, written to Catherine in November 1837:
“Beloved mother I now take this opportunity of writeing to you to tel you know that I & my family are all well & hope these lines may find you enjoying the same blessing I will know inform you that it was with pleasure mixed with sorrow I received your letter dated August 6 - 1837 it was a pleasure to me to hear that you enjoyed good health but I am sorry to hear of the lonesome situation in which you live left entirely alone with your black people & the distress which sister Catherine has had a son torn from her embraces by the roothless hand of death I can well simpathize with her in all her distress you requested me to write to my two sisters living in Illinois requesting them to come to see you in Nov which I did according to request I received your letter on the 21 of August & on the 22 I wrote to both my sisters to come on by the first week in Nov & I wold be ready to go on with them to see you. & sister Christenah informs me by letter that she received my letter & that it must have bin mis laid or missent so that she did not receive it until it was to late to comply with the invitation but she says she is as thankful to you as if it was in her power to embrace the opportunity visiting you. I have never received any answer from sister Sally & I cannot tell whether she has got my letter or not. I made preparations & was ready to go if they had come but they did not & I had no person to go with me or send therefore it is impossible for me to do either but I wold be very glad indeed to see you & all my friends in Ky. & I entend to come to see you the first convenient opportunity. Brother George has been to see me & he told me was then on his way home & I have never heard whether reached there or not he left my house on the 2 or 3 day of Oct. & I wold be glad to hear from him he said he expected to be at your house in a few days. Our crops are verry good this year. Wheat crops are better than they have been for several years & corn is good as common pork is verry plenty & no market for it & money is verry scarce I wish you to write to me as soon as possible without delay Nothing more but remain your affectionate Daughter until Death so Farewell
(signed) Margaret Carter”
It’s obvious that Catherine was unhappy and lonesome while George was on his trip, but it does seem preposterous that Catherine would expect her three daughters to leave their busy households and with all the travel uncertainties of the time, come to Kentucky and keep her company.
Interestingly enough, Margaret Carter did come to Kentucky at a later date. On September 28, 1841, she signed a document appointing Major George her attorney in a suit involving her legacy from Conrad Carpenter and swearing that she was a legal resident of Casey County, Kentucky, ‘late of Orange County, Indiana’ Witnesses: Fry Carpenter and William Dinwiddie.There is no clue as to why Margaret moved to Kentucky (if indeed she really did) nor how long she stayed there or where her own husband and five children were. Margaret died of skin cancer of the face in 1877 back home in Indiana where she lived then with her son, Theophilus P. Carter.
Major George made another trip to Missouri in 1842, leaving in September, returning in October, and again on horseback. He recorded his expenses again in his same old journal, but did not describe his travels as formerly. He was in Missouri once more in 1846, but the only record of his journey is a list of land patents he took out in the name of Conrad Carpenter at the land office in St. Louis, totaling 484 acres. In any event, George did not emigrate, but remained in Kentucky.
Catherine Spears Frye Carpenter died on April 1, 1848, at the age of 87 years 7 months, the last of the hardy band of pioneers, and she was put to rest beside Adam and Mary, her daughter, in the Carpenter Burying Ground near the homestead. It is conservatively estimated that she had at least sixty-seven grandchildren, including the children of John Frye and Leah Frye Carpenter, and uncountable great grandchildren. Her last will and testament was dated May 7, 1846, and she named her sons, George, Conrad, Henry and Adam as executors.
Of the twenty items in the will, the first eight deal with the disposal of her slaves. $700 was to be given to Catherine’s friend, James A. Fisher, to use as much as necessary to buy the freedom of her slave, Joseph, and to handle the business relating to the other slaves. The remaining slaves, named Mary, Roxa, Eliza, Hiram, Robert, Malinda, Reuben, Oliver, Mack, Barnet, James, John, Sampson, Maria, Mary Elizabeth,Sally, Francis and Josephine were to be hired out for five years and their wages to go into a general fund for the slaves, except Joseph.
“At the expiration of said term of five years, all of the aforenamed slaves and their increase are to be free, upon condition they move to Africa. And I do bequest and devise that the hire of said slaves be appropriated by my executors hereinafter named for the purpose of removing and settling them in Liberia or any other African Colony to which they may desire to emigrate and which shall be open for the emigration of free persons of colour.
Item 5. It is distinctly understood that it is my will & desire to emancipate all of my slaves and should any of the females prior to the time at which their freedom is to commence have children, I wish it distinctly and unequivocally understood that such children to be free whenever their mothers are or would be free.
Item 6. Should any of my aforesaid slaves, Joseph excepted, refuse to emigrate to Liberia or some other African Colony, the means being provided for that purpose. . . it is then my will and devise that said slave or slaves be by my executors sold to the highest bidder after advertisement, and the proceeds equally divided amongst my nine legatees as hereinafter named the children of my last husband, Adam Carpenter.
Item 7. I give to my negro man Joseph during this natural life, from the time his freedom commences, the use of the tract of land that I purchased of Randolph Peyton lying in Casey County on the headwaters of the Big South Fork of the Rolling Fork of the Salt River. If Joseph should become so infirm as to be unable to make a necessary support, in that event the rent of said tract of land is to stand as security from year to year to the County Court of Casey County, Kentucky, to prevent Joseph from becoming a charge to said County: And after the death of Joseph, said tract of land I will and devise to be sold after advertisement and the proceeds to be equally divided among my nine legatees.
Item 8. I give to my man Joseph a horse which he may select out of my stock of horses after my death, and which he may have to dispose of at his own discretion.”
Catherine provided well for Joseph and obviously held him in high regard, but her stipulation concerning the rest of the slaves must have presented them with a cruel dilemma. It is a mind-stretching exercise to try to imagine how James A. Fisher went about the chore of explaining the will and its provisions to the uneducated slaves. Since it was unlawful to teach slaves, they could not possibly have known where Africa was, or even what it was. There is no material in the family papers to tell us what decisions the slaves made. There is no further mention of James A. Fisher, but from 1848 until 1853, Major George kept an account in his old journal for the estate of Catherine Carpenter in which he listed the income from the hire of the slaves. It ranged from $217 to $557 yearly. George also listed his expenses for keeping some of the slaves, for trips over the countryside to see about their welfare and doctor bills for their care, all of which generally indicates that George assumed the responsibility for their custody. One slave, Eliza, died and was buried in April of 1849.
In the family papers for this period, there is another one of those partial letters, left side again, date line Lincoln County, and addressed ‘Dear Sister’. It was apparently written by one of Catherine’s daughters, and she is telling another sister of Catherine’s death. She was staying with John Frye, Jr. who was recovering from a severe case of typhoid fever. One can make out that Catherine had been in a declining state of health for a year ‘wore out with age’ and that Catherine died in her daughter’s arms, and ‘rejoiced in her last hours’. There is mention of ‘old Jo’ who died the thirtieth of( ? )of something called ‘the negro consumption’ so we may assume that Joseph died around the time that Catherine did, and had little time to enjoy his freedom. There is mention of ‘Mother’s will being proven and the executorship’.
In Items 9 and 10 of her will, Catherine directed that all her lands be sold at public sale, and also the balance of her estate consisting of cattle, sheep, horses & hogs, grain, hay, hemp and flax, farming utensils, household and kitchen furniture, goods and chattels of every kind.
“Item 11. I will and devise to my son John Frye the sum of twenty dollars which is all that I intend him to have of my estate.
Item 12. I will and devise to my daughter Leah Carpenter’s children formerly Leah Frye and who married Jacob Carpenter twenty dollars which is all that I intend them to have of my estate, which sum of twenty dollars is to be divided amongst said daughter’s children equally.”
One hopes that Catherine made gifts during her lifetime to these two children, otherwise it would seem to have been somewhat of an injustice to them, but the tone of the sentences seems to indicate otherwise.
In Item 13, Catherine’s daughters Sally Cunningham and Christinah Funk were each given $225 to make them equal to amounts given the other seven children. Most of the remaining items in the will are routine except for those which pertain to Catherine’s daughter, Sally, who married Ephraim Cunningham and moved to Illinois around Jacksonville. Catherine neatly tied up Sally’s share of the estate to make sure that her son-in-law would never get his hands on any of the money, and it indicates a deep family rift whose story we will probably never know. Catherine certainly placed Ephraim in a rather uncomfortable position. The stipulations read as follows:
“Item 14. I do make and constitute and appoint my son George Carpenter trustee for my daughter Sally Cunningham formerly Sally Carpenter and wife of Ephraim Cunningham to receive what I have and do hereinafter devise to my said daughter to hold the same during the natural life only of said Ephraim Cunningham for my said daughters use & benefit by paying over to my said daughter annually only the interest at the rate of six percent per annum and if said Ephraim Cunningham should die before my said daughter, as soon as practicable thereafter my said son George Carpenter trustee is to pay over to my said daughter the full amount of the legacy and not before. And also all of the unpaid interest theron. And furthermore if my said daughter Sally Cunningham....should die before her said husband Ephraim Cunningham in that event my said son George Carpenter Trustee is to pay over to each of my said daughter’s children as they arrive at 21 years of age and not before their respective shares in their mother’s legacy that will be coming to their Mother from my son George Carpenter as trustee with all the unpaid interest thereon.”
The above provision may have become known to Catherine’s other children and caused problems, or perhaps Catherine felt there were legal ‘outs’; in any event she thoroughly nailed down all possibilities in the last item in her will. She ordered that if George refused to act as trustee, then the other executors were to serve; and if the other executors refused to serve or should die, then the Casey County Court was to appoint someone as trustee. Of the four sons who were executors of the will, Adam II lived in Missouri, and Conrad in Texas, so only Henry and George were in Casey County. George probably had power of attorney for all his brothers and sisters.
The papers show that in the spring of 1819, Sally and Ephraim Cunningham had been living in Casey County on the 88 acres of land which Sally had inherited in the division of her father’s estate, and that on March 9, 1819, they sold this land back to Catherine for $1200. The Cunninghams were apparently liquidating their assets and preparing for the emigration to Illinois Territory. On May 29, 1834, Sally wrote a letter to her mother from Jacksonville in which she spoke of her children and their families ( and indicating that she, Sally, was now a grandmother herself) and mentioning farm produce prices. The letter was written for Sally by her son, Lindsey C. Cunningham. On September 4, 1837, one of Sally’s sons wrote a long letter to Catherine Carpenter, his grandmother, indicating that he had ‘got religion’ and was devoting the rest of his life to ‘administering the Gospel of Jesus Christ and forsaking his sinful ways.’ In the fall of 1848, another one of Sally’s sons, Thomas P . Cunningham, made a trip to Kentucky after Catherine’s death, to see about his mother’s legacy, and he signed receipts acting as ‘attorney in fact’ for the $225 that Sally was bequeathed directly, also another for $198.40. Upon his return home, he wrote to Major George, on Nov. 9, 1848:
“Morgan County, Illinois, Dear Uncle I sit down to inform you that I have through the unmerited favors of providence arrived safe at home again after a tedious journey of fifteen days notwithstanding I suffered myself to be hindered owing to a providential occurance one day longer than I would have been otherwise I have been favored with finding my friends all enjoying a reasonable portion of helth with one exception as I returned home I arrived at Lewis Egberts (Note:Lewis Egbert was his brother-in-law, having married his sister Amanda Catherine) on Monday evening the sixth of Nov. and found his little child very low with the fever It was perhaps dying when I entered the room it expired that evening about six o’clock age one year two month and fifteen days. Mother is enjoying as good health as common she was begining to think each hour nearly as long as a hole day should be my time for returning and run out on Monday the sixth and I did not git home untill the eighth. I now will give you a short history of my journey home I got on Bote on Friday mourning at Louisville and spent the remainder of the day geting through he canall the boat was remarkable for slow runing only we was nine days coming from Louisville to St. Louis I was there one day and two nights before I could get other conveyance on my rout I cannot complain of the safety of the trip altho slow but with great cair My trip home was full out as expensive as it was gowing I have no great deal to wright and therefore I shalnot wright a great deal. Pork is here worth from $2.50 to $2.75 cts per hundred pounds other things generally in accordance I am sorry to say that we have strong apprehensions hear that general Taylor is elected President of the United States if so we may look out for High Tarrif and United States Bank. (Signed) Thomas P. Cunningham. I will add the compliments to you and to all inquiring friends.”
The last letter in the Carpenter family papers from the Cunningham branch was a letter again from Thomas J. Cunningham in Jacksonville to his uncle George on June 16, 1856, with instructions for forwarding receipt and a draft for the money ‘due to the Administrator of Mother’s estate, David A. Smith’. This letter referred to one from George written May 29 in which George had declined to attend to Sally’s business. From these letters, we might deduce that Sally died before Ephraim, and that the money therefore was divided among her children. In the year 2000, further information came from Patricia Garwood Finke, Springfield, IL, and it was further documented by copies of probates submitted by Cindy Kuhn of Forest Ranch, CA, both of whom are descendants of Sally and Ephraim Cunningham. They have documented that Ephraim died June 29, 1846, shortly after Catherine Carpenter wrote her last will on May 7, 1846. Catherine died April 1, 1848, and either chose not to change her will, or, possibly because of the family estrangement, did not know of Ephraim’s death. Sally died Sept. 7, 1853.
From the papers of Christennah and Daniel Funk in which they bonded themselves on May 28, 1849, in the amount of $3,000. for their share of Catherine’s estate, we may guess that this was the approximate amount of the value of each share, give or take a little. On October 24, 1851, Christennah signed a receipt for $805 for a partial payment in her legacy. That there were legal complications following Catherine’s death, we know by the following letter from Christennah Funk dated Jan. 28, 1853 to her brother George:
“Crawford County, Jan. 28, 1853 Dear brother and sister i received your letter yesterday i have set down with (?) in hand to let you know that i am left to mourn the loss of my companion Daniel Funk on the twenty-third of December he was taken with a diarrhea on Sunday evening and he lived till thirsday morning at eight o’clock and departed as though he had fell asleep the doctor tended on him thirsday but could not do him any good I know that the lords will must be done and when death comes we must submit i am looking for the time to come when the lord will call for me and i shal lie down in the dust as well as him and lie till the resorrection i trust that then we may both have a part in the first resurrection or know the second death hath no power we are all well at this time and our friends are all well as far as i know you wrote to me ther was a law suit depending and for me to autherise someone to do my business and i make choice of yourself i send you the power of atourney to act for me George Carpenter
(Signed) Christenah Funk
The insturment is not ready to send to you yet. I start the letter without it she mother will send it as soon as possible Dear Uncle Remember me
(Signed) D. Funk”
It was many years before the final settlement of the estate of Catherine Carpenter. At least one of her grandchildren had grown, married twice and had children of her own before Catherine died. This grandchild is Sarah(Sally) Carpenter Mulkey Lancefield, daughter of William, deceased of Missouri, who was the first-born child of Adam and Catherine. On August 16, 1873, the nine children of Sarah Carpenter Mulkey Lancefield signed receipts for $51.40 and $336 for final settlement in the State of Oregon. On May 10, 1873, Sarah’s sister Zerelda Carpenter Boen Stone wrote to her uncle George from Dallas, Polk County, Oregon, acknowledging final papers.
All of Catherine’s personal property was sold on April 27, 1848, as prescribed in her will. The list covers eleven legal size pages listing the sale items and names of buyers among which are many familiar names of neighbors and relatives. George bought only two items. One, the half of a pair of steelyards for $1.50, and, bless him, the Adam Carpenter family Bible for $1.50. Several items were appended to the sale list in George’s handwriting, among which is ‘one note on Jessee Coffey for $426’ , still a hangover from Conrad and Catherine’s hog-drove affair of 1818.
On April 30, 1849, Major George Carpenter married Rachel Wilson Jones. He was then 52 years of age and she was 21.
(Rachel Wilson Jones was a relative, perhaps niece, of Patsy Jones who married Jacob II Carpenter of the George II line. Patsy was a sister of Polly Jones who married Adam Carpenter II. One son of Patsy and Jacob II, Sandy Taylor Carpenter, married Maggie Spears. Their daughter, Eddie T. Carpenter, Mrs. Ott Jones, was primarily responsible for the erection of the historical marker placed at Carpenter’s Station.)
George and Rachel eventually settled in Lincoln County, on the Mt. Salem Road, southeast of Hustonville. Their two story house, partially log, survived until recent years when neglect and the intrusion of cattle caused it to collapse. The old spring house, a well and the stone retaining wall can still be seen and are of fine workmanship.
Seven children were born to George and Rachel: Adam Wilson Carpenter, 1852; Nannie Catherine, 1854; George Henry, 1856; the twins John Dinwiddie and Major Sampson, 1859; Theophilus Luke, 1861 and Rachel in 1865. Major Sampson died at age 1 1/2 and George Henry around age 3.
Unfortunately, George’s wife died a few weeks after the birth of little Rachel, leaving him a widower at the age of 68, with five minor children. Adam Wilson Carpenter, the eldest, was thirteen. We do not know how George managed his household after the death of Rachel, but it was probably with the help of his negroes. He had owned slaves in Casey County, and after the War between the States, at least some had remained with him.
George kept receipts and records as carefully as had his mother, and they indicate that a doctor called at his home almost every day giving attention to his family and to the negroes. Sometimes the names of the patients are listed, so we know that at least some of Catherine Carpenter’s blacks remained with George. No where in the family papers is there any indication that any of Catherine’s slaves went to Africa.
In addition to his extensive land holdings, George owned stock in local banks and toll road enterprises, and was a money lender like his pioneer mother and father. His loan records show that he charged interest rates from six to ten percent and that the loans were rarely for longer periods than one year.
There is an absolute blank in the family papers for the period covering the War between the States insofar as any information or references are concerned. Perhaps it was too painful to mention since there were Carpenters on both sides of course. There is only one obscure clue that might be construed as reflecting the influence of the war and its events occurring in Kentucky. In George’s faithful old notebook, he listed numerous charges made to men who pastured cattle on his Casey County lands in the spring of 1864. Morgan’s Raiders had been active in Kentucky in 1863, and it might be guessed that cattlemen were trying to conceal their stock in a more remote area.
Mrs. Josephine Elston of Bardstown says that her father, Dr. James Givens Carpenter of Stanford, who was a great-grandson of Pioneer John Carpenter, could remember hearing the sounds of the cannon from the Perryville battlefield when he was a young boy living at the Station.
Many Carpenters in the Hustonville area were devoted members of the Christian Church in Hustonville including Station George Carpenter. When the Church building was erected, Station George donated the land and gave an additional $100 so that an even higher spire might be built. He wanted to be able to see it from his home at Carpenter’s Station. On the evening he died, a severe storm destroyed the steeple. Major George and Adam Wilson Carpenter were members of the Christian Church in Moreland.
Major George’s first-born child, Adam Wilson Carpenter, married Paralee Cloyd (called Maggie Lee) on October 14, 1873, and so Major George lived to see a grandson and namesake, George Lee Carpenter, born in 1874. The tragedy was that the mother died shortly after giving birth, so that now there were two widowers, each with a young child or children left motherless.
It must have been not long after Maggie Lee’s death that Major George and Adam Wilson Carpenter began drawing up plans to build the large red brick home, owned today by the David Bodner family, located on a hill overlooking the McCormick Church Road, east of Moreland, KY . The new home, named Bonnie Castle, was built in 1878, but too late for George for he died on Nov. 25, 1877 at eighty years of age after a long, eventful and fruitful life. The architect’s specifications for the brick house are in the family papers, titled the Catherine Carpenter Collection, at the Kentucky Historical Society. Copies were given to the Bodners.
Major George drew up his last will and testament on November 20th, 1877, naming Adam Wilson Carpenter his executor and directing that his lands be sold and all monies be divided equally among his five living children. Nannie Catherine Carpenter had married Chrisman Lyon on December 12, 1876, before George’s death. Adam Wilson Carpenter was guardian for John Dinwiddie Carpenter, Theophilus Luke and Rachel.
The appraisal of George’s personal property indicated that he held stock in the amount of $4750, a few hundred dollars worth of personal possessions, and held $36,000 in loans and rent due from his farms. He owned at least five farms, totaling several thousand acres.
Adam Wilson Carpenter took up residence in the new home, and on October 29, 1879, he married Lizzie Lee Turner in Louisville and brought her home to Bonnie Castle. Mrs. Cloyd, mother of Adam’s first wife, prepared the wedding supper that awaited the bride and groom and the wedding party after the train ride from Louisville that day. The Cloyds and the Adam Carpenters were good and devoted friends throughout their lives. George Lee Carpenter, the Cloyd’s grandson, was epileptic and died a bachelor, but he was able to lead a fairly normal life.
Seven children were born to Lizzie and Adam, two died in infancy. Lizzie and Adam lived at Bonnie Castle until 1919 when Adam retired, and they moved to Danville, Kentucky.
Lizzie Lee Turner was the daughter of Augusta Georgia Bryan and Benjamin F. Turner, of Louisville, but formerly of Winchester, Kentucky, and both were descendants of pioneer Kentucky families. There was a strong bond of affection and respect between Adam Wilson Carpenter and his second mother-in-law ( as well as his first), and Mammy Turner, as she was called, was much beloved by all. Adam Wilson Carpenter died in 1928, Lizzie in 1929, and Mammy Turner in 1930, all in Danville, Kentucky.
In 1904, Adam Wilson Carpenter was the prohibition nominee for Congress from his district. He also opposed the use of tobacco and grew no tobacco on his farms. The Louisville Times printed his picture with the following description: “Mr. Carpenter is one of Lincoln County’s best and wealthiest citizens, and no man in that county stands higher.”
The Stanford Interior Journal also printed his picture along with the following paragraph, “Mr. Adam W. Carpenter, Prohibition nominee for Congress in this district, a Christian gentleman and a most excellent citizen. Of course he will not win, but that he will poll the full strength of his party, there is no doubt. Mr. Carpenter is a wealthy West End farmer and a man of ability.” Adam was defeated.
One Carpenter descendant who was successful in Kentucky politics was the distinguished Judge Morris Carpenter Montgomery (1907-1969). He rose to the position of Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals (now called the Kentucky Supreme Court) and occupied that position when he and his wife were killed in a tragic automobile accident in 1969. Judge Montgomery was a grandson of Abigail Riffe and Theophilus Luke Carpenter, brother of Adam Wilson Carpenter.
Stephen Joseph Carpenter is the son of Bryan Boys Carpenter, who was the son of Adam Wilson Carpenter, who was the son of George Carpenter (Red-face or Major), who was the son of Adam Carpenter, Pioneer, who was the son of George Zimmerman-Carpenter, Emigrant. The mother of S. J. Carpenter was Grace Carpenter Robinson, who was a daughter of William Dinwiddie Carpenter of Knobnoster, Missouri, who was a son of Adam (II) Carpenter, who was a son of Adam Carpenter, Pioneer, who was the son of George- ZimmernanCarpenter,Emigrant.
Many of the Missouri Carpenters maintained ties with their Kentucky cousins over the years. Major George Carpenter received the following letter from Adam II Carpenter, written March 22nd, 1868.
“Brother George, Received your very kind letter a day or so a go which I was much grattifyed to hear from you onst more I have looked and with great anxiety and often wonderd why you and Henry did not write or if there was any caus for it enuff this. You sent a letter Enclosed for Bufort Carpenter which I will remail in a day or so to him he lives in seven miles of Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri, his post office is Lexington. Sally his sister was living in Oregon the last I heard from him and his two sisters moved there also I don’t recollect whether they are all alive or not it has been some time since I heard Bufort or seen any of his family Bufort is doing well and stands high in view of all that is heard speek of him or his family and is doing as well as it appears ought to want. He bought a very fine farm which I suppose is a good one give seven thousand dollars for when land was cheap and had plenty around him. James is dead his family is I suppose in Idaho he went to the Rocky mountains in the time of the war took his family and bought a drove of cattle and took them with him and sold out and I suppose he done well and he and his son Bufort came back for another drove and he took sick at Independence and died his wife died also in the mountains; his children is still aliving in the mountains and I expect are doin well. I suppose I have ritten as much as will give satisfaction. This leaves myself and family in good health at present our friends and relatives are all well as far as I know. I don’t know of anything new at present that apears of particular interest. Our country appears onst more in a lively state of prosperity the people appears a live to business and as much to harmony as we could exspect, times here seems brisk and lively and no scarcity of money. Stock of all kinds are high and in brisk demand produce of every kind is in demand. Receive my kindest respects to you and children. (Signed) Adam Carpenter”
The last letter from the Missouri Carpenters was from Will Dinwiddie Carpenter in Knobnoster, to Adam Wilson Carpenter, and written May 19, 1928:
“My dear Cousin Adam: It has been a long time since I received a letter from you - so long that I cannot recall when it was, but as near as I can remember, it was in Nov. 1886. In was then that we visited you, something like forty two years ago. I shall never forget how nice and pleasant you and your dear wife were to me and my wife, and you seemed to do everything that you could to make us have a good time: and I want to assure you that we did have a good time. And the two weeks that we spent with you were the most pleasant that I can recall in my whole life of eighty one years. Oh, how much would I give if I had the opportunity to extend to you and your wife the courtesies that you extended to us. . .I have to walk with a crutch and cane and have been doing so for the past eighteen months. I have rheumatism in my left hip so bad that I can hardly use it, but my general health and mind, I think, is very good for one of my age. I am still feeding cattle and hogs. I have on hand now ninety five good cattle, and one hundred and twenty hogs, worth 12 cents per lb. and my hogs will weight 135 lbs. and are worth 9 cents. I have 70 cattle on grass that will weigh 900 lbs. worth 11 cents. I do not try to be a stock shipper any more, but still buy many cattle and hogs, and I think my judgment on values at times is as good as it ever was. I try to keep posted on politics and the coming of the future and remember what I have seen of the past eighty-one years. I still believe Teddy Roosevelt about the “Square Deal”. I sure do love the word “Square Deal”. That is what the poor and ignorant need at this time. . .I am praying to God to help save this country from the hand of Al Smith or Herbert Hoover, but for God sake give us Lowden and Dawes and I feel sure that we will be on Christs side and not on the Devils side. Oh, I wish I could see you once more and go back and review the past eighty years over which we have both passed. Now write and tell me when you will come and see us, for I would rather see you and your dear wife than any one on earth. With lots of love to you and all your family, I am Your devoted Cousin,
The Adam Carpenter Family Bible and all of the original papers received by S. J. Carpenter were in 1976 donated to the Kentucky
Historical Society in Frankfort, Kentucky.
A transcription of family letters entitled "Letters from the A. W.
Carpenter Family of Lincoln County, Kentucky 1869-1928" has also been
printed by Virginia Carpenter. Copies are available at the Kentucky
Historical Society in Frankfort, Kentucky, the Filson Club in Louisville,
the University of Kentucky Library in Lexington, Kentucky.