WILLIAM M. CARTER.
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
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 with 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 time - 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 little 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, and 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
cf 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 mank 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 at Baxter Springs. Late in November of that year he ventured into the cattle business,
hoping to regain his last 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 today, 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 Association. 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.
The Biographical History of Jasper County, Missouri
By Hon. Malcolm G. McGregor
The Lewis Publishing Co.
Jasper County, MO
For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium