The Case of Too Many Isaacs
Have you ever come upon some information that was published in a book by credentialed individuals and assumed that because they said it was so, it must be? I’m sure that at one time or another we’ve all done that. But can authors make errors? Yes. There are some cases where the only people who might be able to spot such a mistake are those who have first-hand knowledge of a family’s history because it is their own. When presented with what appears to be a find, they accept it as a clue and take it to the next level.
It’s a bit like being a detective.
This latter group of researchers is familiar with the names associated with their family. When a clue is revealed, they possess the instinct to know if the information is sound, or if there might be some room for interpretation. Such was the case of Isaac Carter’s Revolutionary War record. (March 2008)
My husband’s CARTER ancestry takes us back to colonial North Carolina, to New Bern in Craven County. His 3rd great-grandfather Isaac Carter, Sr. was born a Free Person of Color about 1760 and married Sarah Perkins, on February 3, 1786. She was the daughter of George Perkins and sister of Isaac Perkins. You can see them enumerated here on the 1790 Census.
Isaac Carter' family of five (5) were living adjacent to his brother-in-law Isaac Perkins (2) and two up from his father-in-law, George Perkins (4). Note that the only record was the total number of All Other Free Persons of Color living in the household.
Following the 2007 George Family Reunion in North Harlowe, NC, my husband and I paid a visit to the Kellenberger Room at New Bern-Craven County Public Library. After giving some background information to Local History Librarian, Victor Jones, Jr., he immediately pulled Paul Heinegg’s award winning book, Free African Americans of North Carolina and Virginia, 3rd Edition, 1997.
Isaac Carter, called a "Mulatto" in his Revolutionary War pension application, enlisted in the 8th North Carolina Regiment on 1 September 1777, was taken prisoner, and was discharged on 20 February 1780 [Crow, Black Experience in Revolutionary North Carolina, 98]. He was head of a Craven County household of 5 "other free" in 1790 [NC:131]. <<http://www.freeafricanamericans.com/revolution.htm>>
There it was. Our Isaac Carter recorded in the 1790 Census had served in the Revolutionary War. But that was too easy. I decided to stay on the trail and examined the next clue.
I went to my home library's North Carolina Room and checked the original citation in Jeffrey Crow’s book, but it didn’t record any more information than the transcription which Heinegg had cited.Believing that there had to be more information somewhere to identify this Isaac Carter as ours, I started looking at sources detailing the 8th North Carolina Regiment . . .