Saturday, April 6, 2013

How Family History Writing Forces Us to Dig DEEPER

February is Family History Writing Month
During the month of February, I went on hiatus from the Civil War Pension File of Isaac Carter in order to participate in the Family History Writing Challenge. My goal was quite ambitious, but I did succeed in setting up the framework of the family history memoir, and wrote a rough draft of the opening scenes.

The memoir focuses on a promise I had made to our Cousin Hattie Carter Becton in an interview, following the the 2009 George Family Reunion in North Harlowe, North Carolina. In case you missed the Challenge, you can find the posts here. The site was developed especially for writing challenges, beginning with this year's; so, you may want to go back to the first posts in the archive.

March was memoir reading, research & development month
Last month I continued working on the writing, but also began focusing on webinars and YouTube videos related to writing memoir. Two really great sites are National Association of Memoir Writers and Women's Memoirs blog. There are so many helpful resources available to assist memoir writers.

In between training sessions and archived videos from RootsTech, I pulled out my Legacy 7.5 training videos and started attaching scanned copies of primary documents and photos to my family tree in order to bring it up to professional standards.

April is the month to Dig DEEPER
As I was writing about my grandfather-in-law...the son of Isaac Carter...I wanted to refer back to a particular Census document that was not yet attached to my family tree. It wasn't too difficult to find located in a family surname binder by generation, but it would have been so much easier to just pull it up from the family tree. I could've gone to my tree, but got involved looking up something else.

My mind went back to the family legend of how Hezekiah Carter killed a man over a woman. You can find the original post here. I had been told that there was more than one Carter family living in North Harlowe, and that John Henry Carter was from one of those other families.

But today, I decided to dig a little deeper and try to discover if there was any familial relationship between Hezekiah and John Henry Carter.

The Death Certificate
First I went back to John Carter's death certificate and abstracted the information contained there:

  1. A "colored" male, born June 10, 1888 in North Harlow
  2. Parents: James Fenner and Nancy Carter
  3. Married
  4. Occupation: Laborer
  5. Died on August 26, 1926, age 38
  6. Place of death: St.Luke's Hospital
  7. Cause of death: Homicide--gunshot wound, arm
  8. J.L. Hartsfield, coroner
  9. Buried Aug 27, 1926 in North Harlow
  10. Undertaker: Merritt Whitley & Sons, Newbern
  11. Informant: Josephine Carter, North Harlow
The last bit of information intrigued me. Josephine (Dove) Carter was Hezekiah's sister-in-law, the wife of William Henry Carter, who lived in the house next door. I began to wonder what her interest in the case, other than perhaps a witness, might have been such that she would be the informant on John Henry Carter's death certificate. Usually the informant is related to the deceased.

1900 Census
Next, I decided to search for his parents in the 1900 Census. I couldn't find a record of him living with his parents, or at least his mother. Instead, I found him in the household of Barbara Dove. She was a fifty-seven year old widow living with her nephews: Syvester (18), Ruffus (17), Lavy (10) and John H. (11), and her neice Alivia (7). The children were all Carters. 

Marriage Register Search
Now that a relationship is established between the Carters and the Doves, I wanted to see if Barbara was indeed a Carter. I discovered on the New Bern-Craven County Public Library's Marriage Register Search  that Barbara Carter married Jacob Dove on June 22, 1868. 

Family Tree Database
I searched my family tree database for a Barbara Carter and found one born abt. 1842 (NOTE: Barbara Carter was enumerated in the 1900 Census as being born in 1843, age 57), the daughter of William Carter and Nancy Moore.

The only problem with this information is that this Barbara Carter, to my present knowledge, did not have a sister named Nancy. 

1910 Census
In 1910, John (19) and his sister Olivia K. Carter (18) are both still living in the household of Barbara Dove. The other siblings have removed elsewhere.

After this, I was unable to find any further information on Barbara (Carter) Dove and her nephew, John Henry Carter, on Nor could I find any information on his mother, Nancy Carter. did not reveal any estate records which might prove any relationships in this case. 

Ask Family Researchers
My next step is to see if any cousins have any related information that might help reveal the relationship between John Henry Carter and Hezekiah Carter. 

If you might have any ideas on how to break through this
please leave your comments here.


  1. I would call the Craven County courthouse and ask about inquest and criminal court records.

    1. Thank you, Amy Sue. According to the newspaper, no charges were filed because the death resulted secondarily from blood poisoning due to a botched amputation of the arm. Also, the Sheriff determined that the gunshot was a result of J.H. Carter's attempted theft of $175 in H. Carter's bedroom. Court records are kept in Raleigh on microfilm. I supposed I could inquire about a search for records between the date of death (26 Aug 1926) and the date of the news article revealing the findings (28 Aug 1926).

  2. How about records for Hezekiah Carter? Surprised that the newspaper doesn't mention the relationship of two people with the same name involved in an issue like that? Unless the family was well enough known in town that the relationship didn't need to be explained? Ahhh don't you love the smell of genealogy in the morning?

    1. Back then they probably all knew who was related to whom. My father-in-law's generation knew the relationships, but they're mostly deceased (my father-in-law was born in 1910). The living from that generation were born too late to know. There's a saying, If you're ancestors are from North Harlow, don't date a Carter, George, Dove, Fenner, Moore or Godette...they're probably your kin.

  3. The more you dig deeper, the more I know that our family is intertwined. Interesting...and if I have the time, will look at what you are digging deeper for.

    1. I wish I could connect with a Dove historian. Can't find any trees for the Doves on I've emailed my two experts and haven't heard back yet. I have another Carter cousin living in North Harlowe I could ask today.

    2. I've done some research on the Dove's. This might be a good time for me to help you with anything I find. Please direct me as to what you need. I will reread your posts and see what I come up with..However, I know you are very resourceful!

    3. Thank you, Yvette! I just got verification today that the 1880 Census I found was Cousin Hattie's grandparents, the parents of Josephine Dove. I had no names of any of her siblings...and the spelling for her mother's name was horrendous. Now to find William & Genorah (Bryant) Dove in the 1870 Census.... Trying to see if the connection between Josephine (Dove) Carter to John Henry Carter is on the Dove side or the Carter side. His parents were Nancy Carter and James Fenner, and his aunt was Barbara(Carter)Dove,the widow of Jacob Dove.