A Brief History

The story of Joseph Carter and Mary Gaskill’s life is both interesting and compelling. Though they both came from Quaker families, Joseph seemed to have neglected his religious duties, while Mary clung to her faith even has her husband and children left the Quaker community one by one.  Though Joseph and his oldest son Joshua could have served with the Continental Army during the American Revolution, and many of their cousins, friends, and neighbors did, there is no record of their involvement. We can be confident that his lack of participation in the military would not have been out of loyalty to the King because of his family’s Quaker background. Joseph may have also been a “distiller of liquor” and so when the Crown imposed a high tax on the import of molasses and sugar into the American Colonies, it would have impacted his business and given him further reason to dislike the English government. Mary and her Quaker beliefs may have been the only reason that Joseph remained neutral.

After the war, Joseph, Mary and their children, including their daughter Sarah and her husband Joseph Kirby and their children, departed for western Pennsylvania, near the town of Brownsville. They were joined by some of Mary Gaskill’s siblings, and/or their children and their families, as well as some of Joseph Kirby’s siblings and their families. Many of their lifelong friends also joined them. There, they were at the western edge of the new country and situated near one of the main roads of travel between the States in the east and the territories to the west. It was also here that the family found itself in the middle of the Whiskey Rebellion. After the rebellion, Joshua and his family briefly returned to Burlington County. We only know this because my 3rd great-grandfather was born there in 1796 or 1797.  It was also about this time that Joseph Carter II may have died in Pennsylvania.

Soon after, the family moved again and many of the same families left with them. Joseph Carter III and his brother-in-law Joseph Kirby purchased 452 acres of land about 6 miles north of what would become Lebanon Ohio, that was bordered on the western side by the main route from Lebanon to Dayton. Joseph Kirby’s brother Richard purchased 452 acres on the east side of the road about a mile to the south. Both are known to have operated stills during the time they lived in Warren County. The land had rich soil and the climate was well suited for growing the grains they needed to supply their needs. Unfortunately, their land was part of what was called the Symmes Purchase which ended up with the family having to pay for the land twice to receive their final deed. Mary Gaskill Carter is thought to have passed away here in 1814. All her children lived the remainder of their lives on the property in Warren County, except for Joseph, who sold his land and moved near Eaton in Preble County a few years before he died in 1841.

James Carter Jr.

The History of Miami County, Ohio – Publ. Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1880 – Brown Twp. P. 478

JAMES CARTER [Jr.], retired farmer; P. O. Conover; was born in Warren Co., Ohio, Nov. 14, 1813, and is a son of James Carter, St., who was born in New Jersey.  During the war of independence, and when but 5 years of age, he came with his parents to Pennsylvania, where he matured, and married Sarah Freel, a native of that State; they emigrated to Ohio, passing through where Cincinnati now stands, when it consisted of three log cabins.  They onward pressed to Warren Co., where they entered 100 acres of land, four miles north of Lebanon; here they settled in the wilds, and at once began to open out a farm, which was done in a reasonable time; there they died, after having passed through the pioneer days of Warren Co., he in 1832 and she in 1827; their children were eleven in number, of which all grew to maturity; the above family have possessed an extraordinary degree of health, and boast of never having a physician called to their assistance, not even in the illness of their father, as his disease was what they regarded as incurable (consumption); the family all possess a medium degree of health.  James was brought up to farm labor, and obtained a common education; in 1839, he emigrated to Miami Co., purchased his present farm of 80 acres in Sec. 6, Brown Township; this he has since improved and cultivated, and now is one of the finest farms in Brown Township.  James Carter, in 1834, united in matrimony with Catherine Williams; she was born in Warren Co., Ohio, in 1816; they have trod the path of connubial life for nearly half a century, and are the parents of nine children, of whom one, Jasper, was lost in battling for his country, in 1864; the remaining eight are now living, viz., William S., Maria, Joel, Eunice A., Cerelda, George, Jennette and Charles G.

Family History Project

There are three published histories that contain information about our Carter family. Beers published biographical sketches of Caleb Merritt and James Carter Jr. (reprinted here) that contain numerous factual errors and present a misleading and inaccurate migration story of the family. The third, A Quaker Migration To Southwestern Ohio, by Jack Hutchenson, repeated these mistakes and added to the misinformation about the family. These errors became apparent as I gathered and read through the records that document the family’s history; however, it also became apparent that a more accurate story of their life and migration to Ohio is possible.

I would like to produce an accurate family history that includes chapters on the Quaker history of their ancestors, their life in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and chapters about each of their children’s lives and their families. I also plan to include a chapter about our Carter ancestors who served in the Civil War and one for Carter ancestor stories submitted by our cousins. I’m not interested in writing a long boring tome that is only interesting to a genealogist, but I would like to produce a factual, interesting, and easy to read family history for our cousins with only a passing interest in the family history. (I will include a descendants report as an appendix for the genealogy geeks.)

When complete, I will make the book available for free on this website and Ancestry.com.

Work has begun on some of the chapters; however, additional research will be required. My plan is to publish research articles and preliminary chapter sections on this website for your review and critique. I do not purport to be an expert on the family history, nor do I claim to be an excellent wordsmith, so your critique and suggestions are welcome. You may leave your comments and suggestions in the comments section for each post. If you are interested in helping to write our family history, contact me.

Several articles are in progress and will be posted soon. I am also working on a map of part of Clear Creek and Turtle Creek Townships with section and township grid to show where our ancestors’ property was located and who their neighbors were. I’m making the map in layers so that tracking the sale and purchases of property can be shown. The main purpose of the map is to help determine when the family migrated if they all came at once as suggested by the published histories, and determine if Joseph Carter and Joseph Kirby were the first to migrate to Ohio, or if some other family member came first. It will hopefully also aid in the search for Joshua Carter’s first wife, the theory being that some of her family migrated from New Jersey to Ohio with the rest of the families. That, and I just love maps!

Caleb Merritt

The History of Warren County Ohio, Part V. Biographical Sketches, Clear Creek Township, p. 913

CALEB MERRITT, deceased; he was born in Pennsylvania August 2, 1796; was a son of Abraham and Garthory [sic] Merritt, natives of Pennsylvania, where they resided until his death. They had eight children, all now deceased. His wife subsequently married Joshua Carter; who with his brother Joseph and family, Joseph Kirby and family, and others, had previously settled in Warren County, Ohio, about 1797, being among the earliest settlers of Clear Creek Township, and here they lived and died.

Caleb Merritt grow to manhood in Pennsylvania, and while a single man came to Warren County, and was married Oct 16, 1817, to Sarah Kirby, born in this county Feb. 10, 1799, a daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Carter) Kirby, who, at abovementioned date, settled in Warren County, and here lived till their death; he died June 22, 1832, aged 72 years; his wife survived him till Feb. 15, 1847, aged 82 years.

They had nine children – Benjamin, born Feb. 13, 1784; Joseph, Jan. 26, 1786, both deceased; Mary, April 30, 1788, married John Garrard, died Oct. 18, 1855; James, Jan. 18, 1791, died Jan. 16, 1851; Elizabeth, Sept. 24, 1794, married Jonathan Kirby, deceased; Sarah, Feb. 10, 1799, married Caleb Merritt, died Aug. 21, 1824; Hepsabeth [sic], May 29, 1803, married Lewis Lewis, died Dec. 28, 1850; Jane, April 16, 1806, second wife of our subject, and Ann, born June 4, 1809. The grandparents of Mrs. Jane Merritt were Joseph Carter, born in Pennsylvania July 7, 1729, and Mary Gaston [Gaskill], born June 3, 1739, who, as stated above, settled here in 1797. He died July 7, 1798; she died June 3, 1814. Mr. Merritt and wife by their marriage had three children – Joseph, July 15, 1818, died Sept. 25, 1847; Garthory[sic], June 9, 1821; and James, Jan. 12, 1823. Mrs. Merritt died as given above. On Dec. 14, 1826, he married Jane Kirby, by whom he had six children – Sarah, born July 19, 1827, died July 13, 1839; Benjamin, Aug. 27, 1829, married Amelia Williamson, resides in Henry Co., Ohio; Amos, Feb. 16, 1832, died March 19, 1872; Jane, June 10, 1834, married Marcus Unglesbe, have three children – Leora, Ida, Florence and Maggie Jane; Rachel, Dec. 10, 1837, married Harvey Earnhart, have two children-Howard Ellis and Ella May; and Mary, born May 23, 1840. Mr. Merritt died April 6, 1840.

This record of the above family and their ancestors embraces some of Warren County’s first settlers, and were the true pioneers of the county, who bore the brunt of the battle with the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, which then covered this land; and the present and future generations look upon this now beautiful country, with its fine farms, with all the comforts and conveniences, which have been brought about by their industry and hard labors, well may their hearts swell with gratitude and kindness for these rich legacies bequeathed to them Truly their lives and labors should be recorded in indelible letters, upon the pages of history, which shall be more durable than the marble monuments which mark the resting places of their remains.

The information about the children of Sarah Carter and Joseph Kirby in this biographical sketch is fairly accurate and may explain why our Carter-Kirby cousins have had little trouble tracing their families.