Monday, February 4, 2013

Thomas Lynn Carter (1870-1913)

Thomas Lynn Carter (1870-1913)

Thomas Lynn Carter
Born: 3 February 1870 in Philadelphia, PA
Father: Thomas Fitzpatrick Carter (1842-1913)
Mother: Elizabeth B. McKee (1848-1889)
Siblings: Richard Henry (1868-1870), Mary Jennie (1872-?) William Russell (1874-?), Ella (1876-1878, Lillian Ross (1878-1958), Effie Mae (1880-?), Edward Vernon (1882-1882), Walter McClure (1883-?), Elizabeth “Lizzie Brady (1885-?) and Robert Lyman (1888-1944)
Spouse: Agnes Loretta Warren (1877-1951) Married 3 January 1899 (he was 28)
Children: Lynn McKee Carter (1901-1938) and Miriam Leedom Carter (1903-1965)
Occupation: farmer (in Virginia), carpenter (after moving to Pennsylvania in early 1900s)
Died: 23 June 1913 in New Brighton, PA

Thomas Lynn Carter was my great-grandfather. He was born in Philadelphia, but about 1870 or 1871, they moved with his parents to Amelia Courthouse, Virginia, a farming community south of Richmond. According to one family relative, the move may have been precipitated by the murder of Thomas Fitzpatrick Carter’s brother Richard in Philadelphia. (See my post about Richard’s murder here.)

Thomas’ school slate, etched with his initials and the date: TLC 1881.
Photograph and item in possession of Susan Brubaker Knapp.
I do not know exactly how my great-grandfather met my great-grandmother. He was a young man working the family farm with his father in Virginia, and she was from western Pennsylvania. I suspect they may have met through George B. McKee, who I think was Thomas’ mother’s half brother. I believe that George was the son of John M. McKee (Elizabeth’s father) and his second wife. George was a Baptist minister, and may have known Agnes through a church connection. By 1896, George B. McKee was corresponding with Thomas and encouraging him to leave the Presbyterian church of his family and be baptized as a Baptist (see the fascinating letter below). George officiated at  Thomas and Agnes’ wedding, and signed their marriage certificate.
To Thomas Lynn Carter in Amelia Court House, Va., from his Uncle George B. McKee in New Brighton, Pa., Oct. 15, 1896

Dear Thomas,
Your [letter] received yesterday. You expected me to be surprised, did you? Well I can scarcely say that I am, for I knew you were reading your Bible with a definite purpose in view and I know how that always comes out. God always gives light to those who really desire it. Of one thing I am particularly glad, speaking from a mere human point of view; and that is your being made out of the kind of material that dares to face a point and then follow what you find to be right. Most people won't do it. There are multitudes of people who are convinced that we are right in our Baptist position; yet they will not declare themselves for many reasons. I know one woman in particular  who in her heart was a Baptist, yet she will not come out because her father, who is rich, is a Presbyterian and she is afraid it would make him cross and cause him to cut her out of his will.

Preachers in droves are convinced that we are right, yet they do not declare themselves because of the loaves and fishes and for many other reasons, so they say. Some say they won't come out because it will separate them, in church relationship, with their people. The last time Lilian wrote me she said she often wondered whether she had been baptized. She said she sometimes feared she hadn't, but then she said her mother was in heaven and maybe it wasn't necessary. Of course I made no reply, as I never wished to do anything to influence any of you to my way of thinking; yet it must be remembered your mother knew nothing but infant sprinkling, possibly had never heard a Baptist state his position or read a Baptist book, except the Bible, and that she would read with her old church and training before her eyes. Yes, I know your mother is in heaven, and she was never baptized, yet I feel confident had she ever known differently she would have followed her Lord in Baptism. She was well acquainted with the Lord, and those who know him well want to do as he done, just as far as they know.

So, looking at it from every point of view, I am very grateful to God that you are made out of such spirit as dares to do the right as you see it. I don't know of any one among our people but yourself who would do it. Now there will be two of us. You and I. This my dear boy, will make you dearer to me than ever. I wish Linn were made out of your material.

I am quite sure you have thought the matter over carefully, and know just how far reaching that will be. I want to talk to you about it just now, for a little. When you come up here you will become a member of my church. That is the only way I can baptize you according to the word. Of course Presbyterians as just as good as we are, but as a church, they are not walking according to the New Testament. I remember just here that you say, "I am no longer a pedo-baptist." [pseudo-Babtist?] So it is not necessary to speak more on that point, but what I wanted to say was that they would not allow me to baptize you and you remain a Presbyterian, for that would be to recognize their infant sprinkling. So on coming up you would unite with my church, and remain a member in it until you would wish to become a member elsewhere when they would give you a letter. If you so preferred you could remain in this church for your life time. When I use the word church, I mean, of course, a Baptist church. For good as other societies may be, you saw in your reading, especially in Acts, how the church was made up of baptized believers, not sprinkled infants; consequently we can't recognize them as a church, much as we love them and fellowship them individually.

Have you spoken the matter over freely and fully with your father? I have no doubt but that you have, yet I wanted to mention it to you. Of course you are over age, but it would be right, as you know, to confer with him very fully. I suppose when your step becomes knowing it will raise some considerable excitement around Amelia. I can imagine that one man, I forget his name now, coming in to read you some poetry about the Baptists, and Gen. Hundley ranting around like he did about Mr. Lee. By-the-way he must have been eating considerable crow lately. That is a Northern expression for taking things back. And Mr. Rennie, I presume, will then extend his visit over two days to labor with you in word and doctrine, and chew more tobacco than ever. I am inclined to think there is considerable of a nest in there. I wonder your father has patience with them. Do you think you can listen to some bushwhacker Methodist boy lay out the Baptists and keep your father smooth? Presbyterian preachers don't "do them up" so severely. Most of them are scholars enough to know that the words of the N.T. don't argue with their practices; so they quite frequently "saw wood."

I will look for you at the time you mentioned, during the early part of November. If you can be here over the first Sunday, I wish you would write me. Or the second. We will all be very glad to see you again. The girls were quite exercised over it this morning when I told them. And you know your Aunt Lou will be glad to see you, for you are one of her ideal young men. The second sister's husband died a couple weeks ago, leaving her with six children, one just six months old. I wish we could keep them. Perhaps God will open up some way for us to do so. Your Aunt Lou feels it very sensibly.

We are getting along nicely in the church. Our last year was very excellent, and we have started out ahead for this year. I hope all will continue to go well and that God will be glorified. Your baptism will do us all good. Remember me to all the rest.

In much love, Your Uncle Geo.

By November, 1889, Thomas had proposed to Agnes and wrote his future father-in-law to ask for her hand:

Letter addressed to Mr. Isaac Warren, Box 509
New Brighton, Penna.
Postmarked VA, Nov. 1898
Stamped Received in New Brighton, PA, Nov. 7, 8 a.m., 1898

Amelia C.H.Va
Nov. 3d, 1898

Mr. Isaac Warren,
New Brighton, Pa.

Dear Sir – You and Mrs. Warren doubtless know of the engagement existing between your daughter Agnes and myself, so, I hope you will not be surprised at me for taking the liberty of writing to you, asking at your hand your dear and only daughter Agnes.

I have no fain promises to make you regarding your daughter, and I think all I need to promise is that I will endeavor to the best of my ability to be as good a husband as she will be a wife, that is to say, I will do my best for her. I think Agnes and I have known each other long enough to know our own minds, at any rate, we are agreed as to this matter, it is by her consent that I come to you, and hope this will meet your approval and consent.

I am,
Yours sincerely,
Thos. L. Carter

Thomas and Agnes Loretta Warren were married on Jan. 3, 1899.  This is Agnes’ wedding band:

Gold wedding band belonging to Agnes; engraved TLC to ALW.
Item and photograph in possession of Susan Brubaker Knapp.
Marriage Certificate of Thomas L. Carter and Agnes Loretta Warren.
Item and photograph in possession of Susan Brubaker Knapp.

Almost immediately after their wedding, Thomas was on his way back to Amelia Court House, Virginia, presumably to set up household for his new bride. He wrote this letter to Agnes on Jan. 9, just six days after their wedding:
On board wagon, Burkville, Va.
Jan. 9, 1999
My Dear Wife,
Just thought perhaps you might be wondering where "Thos" is this dark and stormy night so I thought I would mail you this so as to give you some idea. I got to Burkville alright this afternoon about 1/2 after four. I had no trouble getting here, even if the roads are bad. I stopped to feed once and made a set of bows for my wagon and have the cover on now and am using my wagon for a house. Am "living on wheels" see, I managed to get some kind of stable room for my horses, not specially good, but better than being out out-of-doors. Guess it was a fortunate thing that I overslept myself this morning for I could never have found the way in the dark under the present condition of roads. I hope I can make the balance of the trip tomorrow without further trouble. I am afraid it will either rain or snow tonight which will make roads even worse than they are.

Guess I will have to "bunk" in my wagon tonight, suppose I could find a room at the Hotel or some place, but am afraid to leave my wagon lest when I return I should find it empty and what would I do if all of my "Hims" be gone, guess I can make out very well in my wagon house for one night any way, and I am not so fortunate as you, to be in a good house by a hot fire with company, and I am out here in my wagon in this man's front yard, and all alone too. Guess I will not sleep too late tomorrow morning.

I hope to be ready for you by Friday noon, but can't tell you yet as the storm may bother me, I shall do my best. I left my umbrellas that I had intended bringing. If not too much trouble, bring them with you, you can tie all of them together and they won't give you much trouble I guess, but you have a Tel-&-Bag ??? already, get the conductor to help you off with them at Farmville. Will close, so goodnight my dear, I will miss you so much tonight, no one to kiss me either, but it won't be so long with all my heart, my love, and self, I am your ever loving and beloved, Thos.

He wrote again on Jan. 11:

Letter addressed to Mrs. Thos. L. Carter, Amelia C.H. Va., c/o Thos. Carter
from Thomas Lynn Carter

Sauco,P.O., Pr. Edward Co., Va
Jan. 11, 1899

My dear wife, or my dear Agnes,
I got to the place at twelve thirty o'clock. I got along alright, but found the roads very rough. I spent rather an unpleasant night at Burkville, it was too cold for comfort in a wagon, but don't think it hurt me in any way, at any rate, I haven't felt it yet. The house is huge. But that is about all I can say for it, every thing is as dirty as can be, and the house is in bad condition, too, even worse than I had expected.

Suppose you got the telegram alright. I found it would be impossible for me to get anything ready by Friday, as it is so cold and roads very bad, so I thought it best to send telegram telling you not to come til Tuesday. I feel more like telling you not to come at all, as I have told you already, I dislike most of all things to bring my dashing girl here under present conditions of things, but suffer it is the only thing we can do, as I have my money tied up here, so there is only one thing left for us to do: to begin here with determination to make a success of it, God being our helper. I shall look for you next Tuesday on midday train. Hope you are well and all right, with much love for my own dear sweet and lovely Agnes. I am yours in love, your real admirer, Thos.

This was added later, on Jan. 12:
The things you shipped from New Brighton have not come yet, and if not here by Sat. I will write you not to come til they do get here. There is no possible chance for you to go to the house till they do come. Hope they will be here ??? by Sat.

Thos. L. Carter
And he wrote on Jan. 13:
To Mrs. Thos. L. Carter, Amelia C.H., Va.
Jan. 13, 1899

9PM (Jumping off place) Sauco R?, Va.
My Dear Wife,
After a busy day and nothing done, I will spend a few moments in writing to you, by the way this is my usual evening for writing to you, that is to Agnes Warren, but not to my dear wife. Well, did you ever see such weather? I have been ice bound ever since getting here. I managed to drive to Farmville this afternoon for the first time, I went for some ?? but found the roads terrible. They are frozen with the rough side up, and suppose after they are thawed out, I will travel the new road which is about two feet under the old one. I have not gotten a single thing from the depot yet. I expect to haul tomorrow if possible. I suppose everything is there by this time, except the six wooden chairs we bought for kitchen use.

Had a letter from the man we bought them of saying they would follow in a few days. Think that was a nice way for him to do. Think he is entitled to pay freight on them for the freight would have been only a few cents if they had come with the rest of the things. He should have told me that he did not have them in stock. Don't know whether your things are there yet or not. I will inquire before I mail this and tell you.

Well, when I left home I hoped to have had you with me tonight, but am living in hopes of having you here next Tuesday eve, unless the weather continues bad. Just think of it, 29 years old and never had to back it until I got married. I will begin to want to see you by Tuesday don't you think, am sorry you can't get here sooner for another reason also: that you have to come next week think you said the fourth Sunday was your regular bad day, am sorry you have to come here so near the time and afraid you will get a cold, which of course will make it harder for you. Now when you get here you will find everything dirty and all to pieces. I want to make one request of you, that is, when you come you must not put in and work too much. I had rather see dirt than to see my dear ??? . I want you to take things easy and not worry, for if you are not careful you may have trouble some day.

Jan. 14; Your things from N.B. are here and in good condition. And still it rains, how will I ever get the things out I can't tell. Have to do best I can. Am well, with all love, I am your own Thos.
Thomas and Agnes. These are probably wedding portraits.
Photos and digital image in possession of Susan Brubaker Knapp.

This is a letter to Agnes a few months after she had joined Thomas in Amelia Court House, Virginia:

Letter addressed to Mrs. Thomas L. Carter, Sauco, PO, Prince Edward Co., Va
from her old minister and his wife in New Brighton, Rev. and Mrs. W. L. Anderson

New Brighton
March 20, 1899
To: Mrs. Retta Warren Carter

Dear Sister,
Your kind letter received in due time and read with pleasure. I sincerely hope you will like your church, it will make it so much more pleasant for you, and there you will not miss so much your old church. Go in and go to work for the Lord, "who knoweth wheather [whether] thou has been brought to the kingdom for such a time as this." I am glad for your interest in our home work and we miss you very much, but I am also glad for the interest you manifest in those around you. "??? the Ethiopian change his skin" I think sometimes that we are not half awake to the condition of those "who know not the Gospel" and that God will hold us in accountable for their condition. I suppose from what I hear that you had a very nice time going to your home and I trust you may have a nice time in it always.

Of course you expect to attend the convention at Richmond in July. I hope it will be a grand success. Our work goes on about as usual. I have been preaching nearly every night for many weeks. 3 weeks at my old church at McKeesport, 5 weeks in the church, and 2 weeks in the school hall at Fallston. We will receive about 15 as a result. We have organized a "Normal Class" for bible study which meets on Monday Eve. at the church. I have also organized a bible class to meet in the Fallston School house on Thursday Eve. I expect great things from this.

?? Baptist we ??? to finish the study of God's work with all our might. We had a very stormy day last Sunday and as a result our congregation was small but nevertheless we had a good meeting. Mrs. Anderson is well and the children are pretty well now Lila has been out of school for several weeks on account of cold but is better now. Baby Ruth is sweet as she can be and full of mischief as an egg of meet. Ethel started to take music lessons Thursday morning of a Unis Fisher from J.J. Well I wonder weather [whether] I will ever see "The South" or not I would like to go to Richmond but don't think now that I can. Well I guess Mrs. Anderson will write a little so I will quit for the time. Give my love to Mr. Carter and say – do I owe him a letter or not. I have forgotten. Shall be glad to hear from you at any time. I am truly your Paster, W. L. Anderson

Well, Mrs. Carter, As Mr. Anderson is writting [writing] I want to say a few words to  [too] as we often think of you and wish you much joy in your new house. We are quite well again and happy in trying to work for the Master the only thing whitch [which] brings content. We miss you in the work here but no doubt you will find pleanty [plenty] to do there. Annie Harlzel is still here but is going home the first of April. I suppose you get all the news from home often your Mother misses you very much. This is a short letter but I will close for the time with love to you and best wishes to your husband.

Yours, Mrs. W. L. Anderson
According to a family relative, Agnes was not fond of the hot temperatures in Virginia, and was homesick. By the early 1900s, she and Thomas had moved back to Beaver County, PA, near Agnes’ family, Thomas worked as a carpenter. Thomas, Agnes, and their two children, Lynn (born 1901) and Miriam (born 1904) are listed on the 1910 Federal Census as living in New Brighton, Beaver Falls, PA.

Lynn and Miriam Carter, about 1908
In 1913, Thomas was working as a carpenter, and had a serious fall from a scaffolding that was reported in the newspaper:
 Newspaper clipping and photograph in possession of Susan Brubaker Knapp.
He died soon afterward, on June 23, 1913, at age 43, and was buried in Grove Cemetery.

Photo by Mark R. Brubaker, taken August 2013

Photo by Mark R. Brubaker, taken August 2013

I have several condolence letters that Thomas’ family wrote to Agnes. I think the writer of this letter is Mary, Thomas' sister, born in 1868:
Bon Air, Va.
July ??

My dear Agnes, have thought of you and the dear little ones so often and intended writing again before now, but having company it just seemed I couldn't get at it – By time I would get through my work and think of sitting down to write a little while my company would be out ready to be entertained and I have not had such a chance to write. Lyman came out and spend Sunday with me and we got off to ourselves and had a long talk. It was the first time I had seen him, except for a few moments on train while passing, since he came back from your place. I was so glad to see him and have him  tell me all he could about poor Thomas's last hours on earth.

He said he did not think Thomas knew any of you after ten o'clock on Monday. I hope, being unconscious, that way means he did not suffer. Isn't it hard to hear, dear Agnes, when he thinks of his not returning to us again? I know you miss his return, as the evenings come, more than words can even tell. I cannot feel it, being separated from him so long, dear Agnes as you do. No one can realize fully, I guess, how one placed in your position feels until he experiences it them selves. My heart just aches with sympathy for you, bur there is nothing I can do but pray for comfort for you and all of us. Dear Agnes do try to look on the bright side and remember God knows best and does all things well. We cannot understand why God in His mercy saw fit to call dear Thomas Home, while yet young, strong, useful with a family dependent on him, but I am sure God knows best and "sometime we'll understand."

I trust your children may be a great comfort to you. It will not be long now before Lynn can be of help to you if all goes well. Lyman said he was well grown and seemed to be such a nice, good boy. He is just getting to the age when he will need a father's influence, but being such a good steady boy and good influence around him I feel satisfied he will try to pursue the right course. I am glad you have brothers living near you to give you advice. Rather, I suppose they live near you. Lyman talked a lot about Hannah in fact was so pleased with all of your people who he met, but it seems that Hannah's disposition just appealed to him specially and he said she was so very nice to them in every way.

He said he wished he could have stayed with you all longer. He said all who he met were so nice to him and William. I am so sorry Walter did not get word so he could go — Lyman said the poor boy ??? like he was so distressed and felt so alone in the world now — you know he thought your place was one place, something like home, that he had to go to  – sometimes – and he did enjoy going there so much. He didn't feel like he was wanted at home again. Papa never wrote him to return, but I can't help feeling dear Agnes, that Papa is doing wrong there. I am going to write him to come to see me – I have nothing but forgiveness in my heart anyway, for anyone, and he is my own brother and I see no reason why we should cast him off completely just because he did that way — nt doubt he regrets the course he took and may yet do better. There are many others just as unfortunate in this world I guess and many much more so.

My baby has been little poorly for couple days, I let him eat ???  too much I think and it is so warm – still he looks right fat and well and everyone seem to think he is a fine little fellow.

Lyman said Hannah's baby is just fine, almost as large as Meredith now. Wish I could see and be with you – this afternoon Agnes. I must stop now – Take good care of yourself and write to me when you can. Best love for each of you. Will write very soon again. I am entirely out of paper so please excuse this.
Since writing this your letter came in. So glad to get it. Sorry to hear of Lyman’s having such a ??? ??? hope he will soon be all right again. Will send you the chart in my next letter. Best love and may God bless you and help you dear Agnes!


Most lovingly, Mary

William is probably Thomas’ and Mary’s brother, born 1855.
Walter is probably Thomas’ and Mary’s brother Walter McClure, born 1883.
Lyman is Thomas’ and Mary’s brother, Robert Lyman Carter, born 1888.
This letter is from Lyman (Thomas' brother) to Agnes (his sister-in-law):

1602 First National Bank Building
Richmond, Va.

July 2, 1913

My dear Sister:
This is the first opportunity I have had to write to you. I came to the office half an hour earlier this morning for that purpose. Have been very busy since I returned. Willie and I reached here late Friday night, and he stopped over here until the next morning. I went home Saturday and came back Monday. I found them fairly well at home. Father was in very low spirits, of course, but he is standing our trouble as well as could be expected. He, like the rest of us, thinks more of you and the children than of our own sorrow. While we miss our dear brother sadly, yet we know you will miss him even more. My thoughts have been of you all alone, and my prayers are that God may give you the comfort which can come from no other source. It is useless for me to try to say more. I do hope you are feeling so much better now, and that Lynn and Miriam are well and happy. Wish I could see you all again real soon. I regret that I couldn’t stay with you all a few days longer anyway, but it was impossible to arrange it right at this time.

Lizzie reached home a few days before I did. She was at Harrisonburg just a week. I expect she will give up teaching for this year.

I expect to go to Mary’s Friday and hope to go home again Saturday. Willie expects to be there then also. I have not heard anything from Walter yet. I wrote to him as soon as I got back. Hope it is not so hot up there now.  It is very hot here yet. I can’t write anymore now, but will write to you again soon. Please give my best regards to all of your family. I hope they are all well. With much love and best wishes for each of you, I am, as ever,
Devotedly, Lyman

NOTES: Lizzie is Thomas’ sister, born 1885. Willie is William, Thomas’ brother, born 1866

This letter is from Elizabeth (Thomas' sister) in Amelia, Va., to Agnes in New Brighton:

June 30, 1913

My dear Sister,
I feel that I want to write to you, though I hardly know what to say – at a time like this words fail me. This great affliction seems greater than we can bear, but it is the Lord’s will we must submit to it. I just can't realized that my dear brother has gone, and I won't see him any more in this world. It seems that it just can't be true.

I was at Harrisburg, among strangers, when the tidings came, and it was a great shock to us, for I had not heard of the accident before. The greatest comfort we have is that Thomas was a Christian, and is happy in Heaven with Mother. How can we wish him back from such a Home! Yet dear Agnes, it is hard; hard for us all and especially for you and the dear little children, and through it all we have thought as much about you. I regret very much that I couldn’t be there for the burial. But I was away from home and so shocked that I hardly knew which way to turn. Papa couldn’t have stood the trip along. I wish he could have been there. Lyman came home Saturday, and we were glad to hear full particulars.

It is a great consolation to him to know that Thomas has so many friends, and was so well loved by the people there, and we appreciate all that was done for him and his family – I know that I can say nothing that will comfort you. I can only mingle my tears with yours, and pray God to give you and all of us strength and courage to bear this blow the best we can. You must come to see us just as soon as you can. We want you with us. We will be glad to hear, as soon as you can write, how you are getting on. With a heart full of love and sympathy,

Your devoted little sister,
Elizabeth Carter

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