Unique Visitors
Total Page Views

"View Teri Hjelmstad's profile on LinkedIn">

Archive for the ‘Carter’ Category


This week I received word that my supplemental application to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been accepted. It has taken almost two years.

All applications for membership go to the organization’s headquarters in Washington, D. C. Initial applications take priority and approvals come in a few weeks. The society wants new members. They know that dragging their feet when someone is interested in joining may discourage that person from continuing the process.

Submissions for additional lines of descent take longer to review. Only women who are already members send those in. The approval process for them takes a back seat to the initial applications, and that is why my supplemental took so long.

I joined the DAR in 2021 based on my paternal grandmother’s lineage from Gershom Hall of Massachusetts. He was a private in the militia serving on the coast of Cape Cod. Their mission was to guard the coastline and prevent a British invasion that never came. Because Gershom Hall was already in the DAR database with proven Revolutionary War service, the organization needed only to review my genealogical proof. I was accepted within a few weeks.

The next year, I filed a supplemental application for my paternal grandfather’s ancestor, Robert Kirkham. He was a Virginian who served at Boonesborough, Kentucky. This is the application that took so long to review and approve. Robert Kirkham was also in the database already, but my genealogical proof of descent from him went into the slower pipeline. It took 23 months to receive an answer.

The DAR knows this is a problem. Last week they announced that they have hired 5 additional genealogists to work on the backlog of supplemental applications.

Now I wonder whether I should send in another. I have already done the easiest ones for my family.

I am looking at two possibilities, but I do not know whether I can make a convincing case for either one:

  1. Levi Carter, Sr. Levi is a proven patriot in the DAR database. The Carters settled in east Tennessee during the Revolutionary War, and many of them, including Levi, Sr., served. But was he my ancestor? I can prove my descent from John Carter (1790-1841), but his parentage is unclear. He may have been a son or grandson of Levi, or perhaps they were related in some other way. Work remains to be done on this line.
  2. Caleb Reed. He lived in present-day Fayette County, Pennsylvania during the war, but I have no proof of military service for him. He is not in the DAR database. He did, however, pay taxes to support the war effort. That is enough for the DAR to recognize him as a patriot. Other family information for him is lacking, so I need to do some additional research to compile a complete application for him.

If I can pull together a convincing file on either of these men, I plan to submit another supplemental application this year. I wonder how long the approval process will be.

John Carter: Who Were His People?

John Carter (1790-1841) settled with his wife and family in Coles County, Illinois along with a host of other new settlers in 1830. The county history tells us that he was alone among his relatives to migrate there. Who were his siblings and parents, and where did they live?

Some information about his family comes from family lore:

  1. He was born in Greene County, Tennessee and served in the War of 1812.
  2. He was married in Greene County in 1815 to Mary (Polly) Templeton, and their first child, Susan, was born there.
  3. They migrated to Wayne County, Kentucky where the next seven children (Shelton, Nancy, Bailey, Thena, Janete/Jane, Joseph, and Elizabeth) were born between 1816-1829.
  4. The youngest daughter, Catherine, was born in Coles County in 1832.

The Coles County histories give us a little more information:

  1. John had some blacksmith skills. He served the Ashmore Township community in this capacity until a regular blacksmith arrived to set up shop. Where did John acquire these skills and the requisite equipment? Did he come from a family of blacksmiths?
  2. John migrated to Illinois from the Crab Orchard area of Kentucky. I do not know where that is, but it must have been familiar to 19th-century Illinois residents. I assume the region included Wayne County.

None of these sources offer any clues to John Carter’s natal family. The Carters were numerous in East Tennessee. How did he fit in with them?

I have begun the search for evidence:

  1. John’s wife Mary executed a declaration for a Bounty Land Claim based on John’s War of 1812 service in 1857, a few months before her death. My cousins had a copy of this affidavit, so I have ordered the file from the National Archives to see what additional information it may contain about John Carter and his family.
  2. I have located what I believe is his census record for 1820 in Wayne County. A couple of other Carter families also lived in the sparsely populated county. A Wayne County history written in 1900 includes a Carter family tree with the names of these early settlers on it. According to the county history, they were all related to one another and from Virginia, not Tennessee. John Carter is not named on this tree. Was he not included because he moved away after a few years? Was he an unrelated Carter?
  3. A Greene County, TN marriage record exists for John Carter and Polly Templeton. The record has no identifying information or names of family members.
  4. Online family trees include him, but they place him in different families. One even has him being born to a 10-year-old mother. These trees may offer a bit of a roadmap, but no one seems to have proven his true origin.

Adding to the confusion is the claim that John’s wife, Polly, also descended from the Carters through her mother. Several researchers claim that John and Polly had a common ancestor in the Revolutionary War soldier, Levi Carter, Sr.

I would love to prove this claim for either John or Polly, if not both. The search for relevant documents in Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee continues.

NARA Has Me Locked Out

War of 1812 records are not available online and must be ordered from the National Archives. This week I tried to order my ancestor John Carter’s Bounty Land Warrant Application without success. I could not place an order on their website.

This tale has a backstory.

Years ago, maybe 10, when online ordering was new, I did request several files for the National Archives. I must have been required to set up an account at that time.

Neophyte as I was to computer transactions, I did not keep a good record of how to log in to their website.

When I tried again this week, I may or may not have had the correct username and password. Ordinarily this would not be too much of a problem, because they will email new ones if you forget yours.

The bigger problem was the security question. Did they even have a security question when I first registered for an account? After such a long time, I have no memory of it.

When the site asked for the question and answer this week, I was stumped. They denied access and offered no way to retrieve this information.

Because I was blocked from logging in with my old credentials, I attempted to set up a new account. The site would not let me do this, saying I already had one.

What can I do? Without a viable account, I cannot order anything from NARA. There is no way to log in to the account I already have, and they will not let me set up a new one unless I use an alias. I am not about to start lying to the federal government.

I cannot understand why I need to answer security questions to place an order for a 200-year-old record. No one’s privacy is at stake. I shop online all the time, and other merchants to do bother with this extra step. By imposing this, the Archives has prohibited me from buying anything from them.

The workaround? My husband/tech advisor kindly set up an account of his own and ordered the record for me. We used a joint email address so I will receive my document without him having to act as a go-between.

NARA, clean up your act. Put the records online or make your site more user friendly.

The Carter Project

Last year I wrote about my pioneer ancestors Thomas Reed and Anne Kirkham. This year I will tackle their contemporaries John Carter (abt. 1790-1841) and Mary (Polly) Templeton (1792-1857). Both couples were original settlers in Coles County, Illinois in 1830.

They had all migrated from Kentucky, and their children Caleb Reed and Jane Carter eventually married.

Although these people had lived in the Bluegrass State for a time, they did not reside near one another. Thomas and Anne lived in Spencer County, and he born in Pennsylvania.

John and Mary had traveled to Wayne County, Kentucky from Tennessee after their marriage. Prior to that, he had served in the War of 1812

This week I dug into my cousins’ research yet again to see what they collected about the Carters. They had half a dozen Carter genealogies written by various people. I found photocopied pages from county histories and Mary’s application for a war widow’s pension. There were several issues of a family newsletter for Mary’s people called The Templeton Times.

This will give me a good start on the research into this couple. I anticipate a challenging year. I know nothing about doing Tennessee research and will face a learning curve there.

The Carters were a large family with a common name, and it will be difficult to keep all the family lines straight. Online trees attribute several different sets of parents to John and Mary. Will I be able to make a good case for their true parentage?

The research begins this week with a review of the original sources—the widow’s pension application, and the family Bible pages as reproduced in the Reed family history.

Changing Projects for 2024

In this final week of the year, I am setting aside the old research project and preparing to begin the new. The Reeds belonged in 2023. The Carters will take center stage in 2024. Again, I will work on my third great-grandparents.

Just as Anne and Thomas Reed did, Mary and John Carter migrated to Coles County, Illinois about 1830. The Carters traveled from Tennessee.

For the Reed research, I had a tremendous amount of paperwork collected by many family members. It covered several generations of Reeds from my own grandfather to Thomas’ grandfather. I have sought to organize it and discard duplicates, focusing on Thomas and Anne first.

I sorted it into piles by generation. Now, at the end of the year, I have eliminated Thomas’ and his son Caleb’s stacks. Three others remain. They will have to wait until the Reeds come up again in my research rotation. Again, the Reed bin will be full and look unmanageable.

In comparison, I have little material on my Carter family. My family did not retain much information about them. They seem to pose a more difficult line to follow with lots of family members and scarce records.

Next week I will begin the quest to learn more about John Carter (1790-1841) and Mary Templeton (1792-1857). Again, I will pull out the notes and documents my cousins collected. I will look at online trees to see if I can verify what if find there.

The new year awaits.



Revolutionary War Soldiers

As Independence Day approaches, my thoughts turn to those family members who served in the Revolutionary War:

  1. Gershom Hall (1760-1844). This Harwich man served a 90-day stint guarding the Massachusetts coast to prevent a British invasion. I joined the DAR based on his service record.
  2. Robert Kirkham. This Virginian served at Boonesborough. He took part in a raid across the Ohio River to attack a Shawnee village, preventing them from aiding the British. I have a supplemental DAR application based on his service pending at the DAR.
  3. John Day. Another Virginian, he served in the militia. I have not compiled an application based on his service yet. I am not sure I can find the documentation necessary to link up all the generations between him and me.

I have several other ancestors whose lineage and service I have yet to document:

  1. Levi Carter (b. 1737) and Caleb Carter (1758-1811). This father and son probably served from North Carolina or Tennessee. We do not yet have enough information on this lineage or service to submit a DAR application.
  2. Caleb Reed (1756-abt. 1832). The Reeds lived in Fayette Co., PA during the War. Caleb’s brother Joshua Reed served in the Virginia militia. Although Caleb was the right age to serve, we have found no proof that he did. I have this lineage proven, so I could submit a DAR application if I could find evidence that he supported the war effort in some other way.
  3. Robert Templeton. He was of the Revolutionary War generation and lived in Tennessee, but I know nothing more about him. I have done no research on the Templetons although my dad’s cousins did. Their papers remain in a file drawer awaiting review.

At the DAR, we can order an engraved pin with our ancestor’s name and service once the application is approved. So far, I have one pin and one pending application. It would be nice to make the case for more and preserve their lineage and service information.

A Visit to the South

Now that it is spring, I find myself planning another genealogy road trip. We will go south this time to visit historic sites, cemeteries, and perhaps a library or two.

Our sight-seeing loop will include places I always have hoped to see:

  1. Chalmette National Cemetery in Louisiana. My second great-grandfather, Daniel Ryan, was re-interred here when it was built for Union Civil War dead.
  2. Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. Another great-grandfather’s cousin, George Boyd, fought and died here during the Civil War.
  3. St. Augustine, Florida. We will tour this oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the United States.
  4. Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The American Civil War began with the battle here.
  5. Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina. I do not know whether any of my Carter relatives participated in the Revolutionary War battle at Cowpens, but we will take a look at the area as we pass through.
  6. Fort Boonesborough State Park in Madison County, Kentucky. Several ancestors lived in this county. One, Robert Kirkham, served here during the Revolutionary War.
  7. Lindsborg, Kansas. We will stop here to check out the biennial Swedish Festival. We are not Swedish, but we are part Scandinavian. The food and entertainment should be good.

We have completed most of the planning for this trip. The only detail left to determine is whether to stop at the municipal libraries in the Louisville, Kentucky area.

I need to search their online catalogs to see what they may have that is not available digitally. Family Search has a rich store of records for Shelby and Spencer counties where my Reed ancestors resided. To find anything more than that might require an archival visit. That would be beyond the scope of the trip we envision.


Success With Cousin Bait

Genealogists use the term “cousin bait”. We post family information on websites and blogs hoping to attract the attention of distant, unknown cousins. We are interested in exchanging family information.

I have met several family historians this way. Earlier this week, a posting on this blog caught the interest of another collateral relative. He would like to work together to fill in a branch of our shared family tree.

We do not have a common ancestor, but one of his Boyd relatives married one of my Carter relatives. Robert Boyd (b. abt. 1817) married Nancy Carter (1818-1901) in Coles County, Illinois in 1840. Their two oldest sons, George and James, both died in the Civil War.

The man who contacted me has posted his information on the WikiTree website, which I also use. I will go there to see what additional information he has on the Robert Boyd family.

In turn, my online tree cites another cousin’s scrapbook containing a page with information about the Boyds. I will scan the page and forward it to the man who contacted me.

There is a possibility that the two us are related in a way other than the in-law relationship with the Carters. I have a Boyd ancestor in an earlier generation.

My 4th great-grandmother was named Jane Boyd. I know little about her and have never done any research on this Boyd line. I wonder whether they were connected to the other Boyd family. I plan to ask my new contact about this possibility.

This interesting message from someone with a shared interest in a surname reinforces my commitment to keep posting “cousin bait”. You never know when new family information will turn up.

Ancestors, Community, and the Vote

After this week’s tumultuous election, I began to reflect on why I may have voted the way I did. I hope I objectively examined the issues and voted for those candidates who would best represent my views. Yet I cannot help but think that my upbringing and surroundings played a part in influencing my opinions.

How did my ancestors think, and what did I hear discussed at home as I grew up? Over years of genealogical research, I have assembled some information about the political leanings of my forbears:

  1. Caleb Reed (1818-1903), an Illinois farmer. According to the history of Coles County, he was a strong Whig although he never sought political office. The conservative Whig party (1833-1854) was organized by the politician Henry Clay in opposition to the Jacksonian Democrats, and they derided Jackson as “King Andrew”. Appealing to large landowners, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the President and favored economic protectionism. They opposed Jackson’s Indian removal policies. Many Whigs gravitated to the Republican Party after the demise of the Whig Party. I wonder whether Caleb voted for Republican Abraham Lincoln, a fellow resident of Illinois, in 1860 and 1864. Lincoln’s parents lived near Caleb in Coles County.
  2. John Carter (1790-1841), another Illinois farmer and neighbor of Caleb Reed. Originally from Tennessee, John had served in the War of 1812 under Andrew Jackson. I do not know how he felt about Jackson and his policies. Was John a Jackson Democrat?
  3. Bjarne Bentsen (1906-1986), a policeman, later an electrician, who grew up in Montana and lived in several western and Midwestern states. He professed strong support of the Democratic Party.
  4. Grace Riddle (1896-1976) and Martha Mattila (1906-1977). I find it amazing that when these women, my grandmothers, were born, women did not have the right to vote. That did not come until 1920. Even so, neither of them talked about politics, and I do not know if or how they voted.
  5. Joyce Bentsen (1929-2000), a schoolteacher from Minnesota. She never disclosed how she voted, but over the years she expressed admiration for Minnesota Democratic native sons Walter Mondale and Hubert “The Happy Warrior” Humphrey.
  6. My Dad, a petroleum landman. During my lifetime, he usually has expressed conservative views and leaned Republican, not surprising for an oilman. Yet he proudly cast his first vote in a Presidential election for Harry Truman in 1948. He told me that his mother kept a photograph of Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in their home.

These family members obviously did not agree about politics, so I received mixed messages at home. What about the influence of my community?

  1. I grew up in Wyoming, a politically conservative state. This week nearly 70% of their electorate voted for Donald Trump. Although Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote, they did not do so for progressive reasons. Without women counted as citizens, Wyoming could not reach the requisite number of voters to qualify for statehood in 1890.
  2. Today I live in the purple state of Colorado where I have been for over 30 years. I reside between very-conservative Colorado Springs, and very-liberal Boulder (referred to by the locals as “The People’s Republic of Boulder”). Ironically, the Libertarian Party was founded in Boulder, so we have that influence as well.

These conflicting views around me all contribute to my political views. I hope I did a good job synthesizing them before I cast my vote this year.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks no. 34—Mary (Polly) Templeton (1792-1857)

My family does not have much information (yet!) about our ancestor Polly Templeton Carter. For all I know, data on her may be just a few steps away in my office. A couple of years ago I inherited the genealogical work of my dad’s cousin, and perhaps she documented some of Polly’s life. If so, the information still sits in notebooks and file drawers I have not yet had a chance to review.

For my own part, I have not done any work on the Templeton family.

Mary Templeton, known to us as Polly, was born in 1792 in eastern Tennessee. I do not know the identity of her parents.

Polly grew up in Tennessee, and there she married John Carter on the ninth of February, 1815. After their first child, Susan, was born later that year, they moved on to Wayne County, Kentucky. Between 1816 and 1829, they had seven more children, including my second great-grandmother, Jane.

We do not know how Polly and John learned that new lands had come available for settlement in southeastern Illinois. We do not know why they decided to uproot their large family and make the move. We just know that they became “Pioneers of 1830” who settled near Ashmore, Coles County, Illinois.

Their last child, Catharine, was born there in 1832.

The family settled into pioneer life, and all went along well until John became ill. He passed away in 1841, and Polly was widowed at age 49. She never remarried.

She seemed to have moved around some after that. In 1855, she lived alone in Edgar County (next to Coles County), and she kept $180 worth of livestock.

Over the next couple of years, she performed acts that left the only records we have of her life. She presented an inscribed Bible to her daughter Jane in 1856. In 1857, she executed a Bounty Land Claim for her husband’s long-ago service in the War of 1812.

Polly passed away on 11 November 1857 in Coles County at the age of sixty-four. She was buried next to John in the Ashmore, Illinois cemetery.

Polly died intestate, but she did leave an estate that needed to be administered. Her son Joseph was named Administrator in 1858. Her monies were distributed to her heirs with $39.57 going to each:

  1. Susan Austin (daughter)
  2. Catharine Young (daughter)
  3. Solomon Collins (son of deceased daughter Thena)
  4. Nancy Boyd (daughter)
  5. Shelton Carter (son)
  6. Jane Reed (daughter)
  7. Joseph Carter (son)
  8. John Carter, minor (son of deceased son Bailey)