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William M. CARTER
Source: The Biographical Record of Jasper County Missouri; By Hon. Malcolm G. McGregor; The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago: 1901; Pg. 82 - 88
The subject of this article was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, in the year 1835. His father, Daniel Sims CARTER, was born in Kentucky, in 1809, and his grandfather, John Carter, was born in Albemarle county, Virginia, in 1766. His great-grandfather, Thomas Carter, with two of his sons, gave up their lives in the struggle for liberty and independence, serving under General Francis MARION, the swamp-fox of the Revolutionary war. They were also from Albemarle county, Virginia. John Carter, the grandfather of our subject, was an early settler of Kentucky and removed to Indiana in pioneer times. His son, Daniel, was the eldest of three sons and two daughters, the other children being: John, Henry, Elizabeth and Mary. He was married in Indiana, in 1832, to Sarah J. BEERMAN, a native of Tennessee, whose father, William Beerman, was a native of the city of Charleston, South Carolina, born in 1769. His grandmother, on the maternal side, was a BUCHANAN, also of the state of Virginia, and they were also early settlers of Kentucky and thence removed to the territory of Indiana. The paternal grandmother of our subject was a member of the SIMS family and her mother's maiden name was Everett. Their respective families became residents of the south in colonial days. In the year 1838 we find William M. Carter upon the border of western civilization - the southeastern county of Iowa, to which place his father had removed the family in the autumn of 1838. It was there that almost fourteen years of his boyhood were passed amid primitive pioneer surroundings, which were typical of the wants and hardships of a western farmer. He participated in all of the ordinary sports of children, yet never tired of listening to his mother read, and would thus sit for hours, receiving from her his earliest education. It is to her influence that he owes his faith in human progress through the dissemination and triumph of truth, as well as his taste for philosophic speculations. Ever actuated by motives of principle, whose effulgent light always proved the sunshine to guide and direct his footsteps in all his associations and relations in life, in proportion to his love for the honorable, the just and the fearless, has been his hatred of the hypocrite, the humbug and the truckling sycophant. In conversation his words have the intensity of thorough conviction, yet he at all times manifests a generous appreciation of the views of others, which trait attracts and commands the respect of his friends. In the seventeenth year of his age he manifested that spirit of adventure inherent in his ancestors, and bidding adieu to home and friends he turned his face toward the setting sun, entering at that fine - fifty years ago - upon a long and perilous journey, driving an ox team across the western prairie to where the city of Omaha now stands, and thence to the golden sands of the Pacific, constituting a journey of two thousand miles over what was at that time a desert and savage waste. After six months of hardships, danger and privation Mr. Carter reached the gold fields of the mountains of California. With alternating success and misfortune, with many weird and hazardous trials in search of golden treasure, seven years were passed amidst extremely adventurous life in the mountainous regions of the Golden state, twice accumulating handsome fortunes, and as often, through adventure, sacrificing all. With a few hundred dollars and an experience in every phase of western mountain home and mining life, in November, 1859, he returned, at the age of twenty-four, to the scenes of his boyhood, to meet once again the loving mother and father, his only sister, Eliza, and his three brothers, Frank, Everett and George. Possessing an active mind and desirous of improving his opportunities, he started to school and for three months he pursued the study of mathematics and bookkeeping, but again visions of the gold mines, snow-capped mountains and pine forests lured him away from home and friends, and after a stay of eight months under the parental roof he made his way to the banks of the Rio Grande river, the border of old Mexico, - a distance of one thousand miles from home, having ridden the entire way on horseback. While en route he meditated upon the value of financial opportunities in the interior Mexican states and the insecurity attaching to life and property at that, the most dangerous and unsettled period of political and Indian affairs ever known in that border country. The result of his meditation is indicated by the fact that seven months later he was found in the gorges and on the mountains of Colorado, near the region which is now known as the Leadville and Cripple Creek country. The following winter he again returned to Iowa, and on the 2d of March, 1862, in the town of Salem, Lee county, Iowa, he was married to Miss Olivia Mary SHELDON, a daughter of a well-known and highly respected Quaker family. It was at this time that the earliest reports of gold discoveries in Montana were being circulated, on the morning following their wedding day the happy couple started westward on their bridal tour, experiencing as great hardships, perhaps, as has ever yet been penned by writer of pioneer perils, amid savage, wild and western wanderings. After many weeks of perilous journeying Mr. Carter and his bride reached a point nearly three hundred miles north of Salt Lake City, camping at the foot of the precipitous and snow-capped peaks of the Salmon river mountains. Unsuccessful in his efforts to penetrate the newly-discovered gold fields at this quarter, a weary return journey of two hundred miles was necessitated over a region of as desolate country as is embraced within the confines of the United States. When they arrived at Green river their horses were very much exhausted by the trip, and in order to lighten their burdens featherbeds, trunks, and, indeed, everything not absolutely essential, were cast away and a new start westward was then made. After many weeks of great hardships they arrived on the west bank of Snake river, near the mouth of Boise river, where four days were employed in transferring their wagons, teams and little personal effects across this perilous, rapidly-running river. In crossing they were so unfortunate as to lose two of their horses, but happy in the thought that they escaped with their lives, although they had only two wretchedly poor horses remaining. The loss of their other horses necessitated the abandonment of the wagon. From this point to the nearest settlement was a distance of nearly four hundred miles, and to get transportation was absolutely impossible, so naught was left for them but to walk, which they did, leading their miserably poor horses, on whose backs were tied their earthly all, - their bedding, a meager supply of flour, a little salt, tin cups and a frying pan. Their shoes were held together with buckskin strings, petticoats were torn in tatters and pants were made of grain sacks. In the early part of October Mr. And Mrs. Carter, together with six other families, arranged a home for the winter in a little valley in eastern Oregon, one hundred and ten miles from a store or postoffice. A cabin and a cow were soon among their possessions, and there for the next eight years they made their home. The gold discoveries in that portion of the country - in Oregon, Montana, and Idaho - wrought a rapid financial revolution throughout the district, and prosperity and peace, in their truest sense, came to bless the Carter household. At the age of thirty Mr. Carter was again comfortably situated and well-to-do financially, but three years later, in his eagerness to get rich, he made investments, and instead of success met with reverses and misfortune. It was at this time that his wife and daughters, Fannie and Willie, and his son, Lee, then six, four and two years of age, returned to the old home in Iowa for a visit. This necessitated a six-hundred-mile trip by wagon to the nearest railroad point on the Central Pacific. On returning to Oregon Mr. CARTER concluded to sell his effects and seek other fields for future effort. During the summer and fall of 1870 with his family he traversed the western and southern borders of Kansas, arriving finally in Baxter Springs. Late in November of that year he ventured into the cattle business, hoping to regain his lost fortune, but was again unsuccessful. One year later he was found living in a shack in a little-out-of-the-way lead mining town in southwestern Missouri, and here he remains to-day, - thirty years later, - an old man, but still retaining his intellect and healthy vigor of mind and soul, a highly respected citizen of a city he has done so much in transforming from a little lead-mining camp to the fourth city in point of population in the state of Missouri. 'Tis here with a modest competency, living in his comfortable and pleasant home, surrounded by family and friends, together with flowers and books, that he watches the shadows as they deepen over life's sunset, maintaining a staid and thorough conviction that there is naught but nature and her immutable forces. To the query, "What is your belief in a future life?' he gives answer by quoting: "What is there to fear after death? If the body and mind suffer the same fate, I shall return and mingle with nature; If a remnant of my intellectual fire escapes death, I will flee to the arms of Nature's God.' During his active career Mr. Carter has held the positions of county assessor, deputy sheriff, mayor, delegate to the state conventions, and delegate to the Democratic national convention, at Indianapolis, in the year 1896. He was an active worker for many years in the Joplin Commercial Club, is the present chairman of its historical committee, is a member of the Carnegie library board of Joplin and president of the Old Settlers Associations. In his thirty years residence in Joplin, for the sterling qualities of truth, integrity and honesty he commands the confidence and esteem of all who know him. Outspoken, blunt and fearless, he is ever ready to express his convictions and defend them by the force of reason and logic at all times. In his comfortable home, amidst loved ones, we leave him with his books and home pleasures - one of the very oldest and most highly respected citizens of the great mineral metropolis of Missouri - the proud city of Joplin.
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