Recap of John Carr Family
Per documents from National Archives, Washington, D.C.
And Other Sources
Mary Ann Comer Hartsell 2008
John Carr was in the Mexican War for several months and actually fought and was wounded in Mexico.
According to the website, Descendants of Mexican War Veterans, "more than 100,000 men served in the army during the United States' War with Mexico (1846-1848). Most volunteers and regulars served in the infantry. The average soldier was a young man in his late teens or early twenties. In all likelihood he grew up on a farm and was unable to read or write. Probably, he was native-born. He joined the army for adventure and glory. What he got, in most cases, was boredom, tedium, and misery. Nearly 10,000 men were given disability discharges before their terms of enlistment expired." (This is the case with our John Carr.)
Company C, 3rd Regiment of Tennessee Infantry mustered in at Nashville October 1, 1847 and mustered out at Memphis July 22, 1848. Among the muster roll was John Carr, Giles County. List of volunteers in the War shows: Carr, John - Pvt./Co. C, 3rd Inf. Rendezvous 10/4/1847 at Cornersville. Age 20 - discharged 3/3/1848 at Molino Del Rey on Surgical Certificate. The 3rd Infantry Company C was from Cornersville, Tennessee.1 (Note: prior to 1870, Cornersville was a part of Giles County. County boundaries changed in 1870.)
1Volunteers in the War With Mexico Volumes I & II by Reid & Thomas O. Brock and Tony Hays 1986
"Immediately upon discharge, Mexican War veterans were eligible for a federal bounty land warrant, redeemable for 160 acres of land anywhere in the United States. These warrants were also redeemable for $100 in script. Many veterans were swindled out of their warrants by unscrupulous land speculators. Many veterans sold their land for $50."
(Mary Ann Hartsell's note: "This statement is not exactly true. No federal land grants have ever been given in the thirteen original colonies plus Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia. This means that any land grants awarded for service during the Mexican War could not be in one of these states. So, John Carr would not be able to get a grant for land in his home state of Tennessee.")
By Warrant No. 14922 issued in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 30, 1848, John Carr personally appeared to apply for the Bounty Land. He was granted 160 acres May 8, 1848. But where this land was located has not been determined. A search for a deed to the first land purchased by John Carr in Giles County has not been found. Since the Giles County Courthouse has burned several times, it is not surprising there is no record of his first land purchase.
Upon requesting and receiving John Carr's Mexican War Pension file, I have discovered the following facts. These facts were given not only by John Carr in his original application, but also by numerous relatives and neighbors when John and later his widow applied for pension increases. John gives the names and death dates of his first two wives, but not the marriage dates. In 1902, he also lists the names of his living children and their birthdates. Information about burial sites, approximate marriage dates, etc. were supplied by some of the Griggs' family.
John Carr's first wife was Betty Griggs. Nicholas Griggs, a nephew of Betty and Debbie Griggs, in his deposition says she died about six months after marrying John. She died in 1853 on Richland Creek near Brick Church, Giles County, Tennessee according to the nephew.
John Carr's second wife, Debbie Jane Griggs was a sister of Betty. Another Griggs nephew, Wiley Griggs, says John married Debbie about a year after Betty's death. This nephew said Debbie Jane died in 1889-1890. An obituary in the July 17, 1890 Pulaski Citizen reports the death of Mrs. John Carr of the Merritt community. She evidently had a lingering illness, as one witness states that "the wife of Abram Campbell of Pleasant Ridge helped wait on Debby Jane." Wiley Griggs, Jane's nephew, states that she died at John Carr's farm, 3-4 miles from Good Springs. Wiley Griggs also mentions John Carr's brother, Alfred Carr. This is the first we had known of this connection. Strangely enough, Alfred Carr is listed in the 1870 Census of Giles County, but no record has been found of John Carr in 1870.
Among the several Post Office addresses shown in the National Archives documents is the community of Merritt. A 1914 map of Giles County shows this community between Shores and Minor Hill. This would be about where the Carr Lane is today near the Pleasant Ridge Community. During the years of these pension documents, the Post Offices vary between Merritt, Shores and Good Spring.
The 1850 Census of Giles County, District 16, lists John Carr, age-28 and wife, Betsy-age 31.
The 1860 Census of Giles County, Lynnville Post Office, lists the following:
Carr, John age 41 Jane age 27 Betty A. age 5 G.N. (male) age 2
The 1880 Census of Giles County, District 16, lists the following:
Carr, John age 56
Jane age 54 B. A. (female) age 25 P.E. (female) age 15 M.M.B. (female) age 13
The G. N. Carr (male) listed on the 1860 Census would be 22 years old and was possibly living elsewhere or simply was missed. George's marriage to Tennie Dotson is recorded in Giles County records as occurring September 3, 1882. George Carr died in 1898; therefore, he was not in the record of John Carr's living children as given below.
John Carr in 1902 lists his living children as:
Elizabeth Carr, born May 19, 1857
Parthenia Carr, born January 9, 1862
Mary Malinda Bird Carr, born 1867
George N. Carr purchased two tracts of land totaling almost 122 acres from W. H. McCallum on December 7, 1882 as recorded in Giles County Deed Book OO, page 246.
John and Debbie Jane Carr (Kerr) had to have owned land. The first record of a deed I have found for John Carr is dated September 22, 1883 between "Jno. Kerr and wife Debbie Jane Kerr and trustees of a Methodist Church house….said John Kerr and wife Debbie Jane, in consideration of a gift, do give and donate….a certain lot or parcel of land, lying in the 15th Civil District of Giles County on the Powell Road…." This was land for Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church, where John Carr and his third wife, Mollie Jane Carr, are buried. Oddly enough, Debbie Jane's obituary says she was buried in Chestnut Grove Methodist Church, as does one of her nephews. Chestnut Grove and Pleasant Ridge Methodist Churches are still in existence as of 2008.
After Debbie Jane's death, John married for a third time to Mary (Mollie) Jane Moyers on April 15, 1891. Other County records list a date of April 5, 1891. They were married by M. P. Prince, Justice of the Peace, at Bethel, Giles County, Tennessee, per affidavit of Mollie Jane Moyers and M. P. Prince. In several documents, Mollie stated she preferred "Mollie" to "Mary."
A 1895 deed recorded in Giles County Deed Book 66, page 453, shows John Carr and his third wife, Mollie, purchased 109 acres of land from Q. T. Parker and wife, Marietta Parker. Is this is the land on which John Carr had been living, but which he stated in one of his applications for a pension was deeded to a daughter? It is the land that remained in the family until sold in the 1970's.
John Carr applied numerous times for a medical disability pension, but such was the lingering bitterness of the Civil War (or War of Rebellion as the documents noted), that it was evidently extremely difficult for men of the South to obtain a pension for wars they fought for the United States prior to the Civil War. A notice dated January 22, 1884 from the Adjutant General's Office in Washington, D.C. has the cryptic note: "Absent enlisted man not accounted for by name. No Company or Regiment books on file. No evidence of disability as alleged." John was originally denied a pension in a tersely written note dated March 26, 1885 from Memphis, Tennessee:
March 26, 1885
To General John C. Black, Commissioner of Pensions, Washington, D.C.
I have undertaken to review herewith the papers and a report on this claim for pension of John Carr, whose present P.O. address is Shores P.O., Giles County, Tennessee.
This claim was referred to me to determine claimants identify and loyalty. I gave the claimant due ---- of the examination, a copy of which is herewith returned. He was personally present, as also was his attorney, Mr. J. H. Morris.
Inasumch as the claimant himself stated that volunteered in the rebel army in the Fall of 1861 and served some months, I did not consider it necessary to further examine his case and recommend it be rejected on the grounds of such service."
Very Respectfully, F. W. Galbraith, Special Examiner
John Carr had to have several witnesses testify as to his loyalty to the U.S. before receiving a pension for the Mexican War. In a General Affidavit July 16, 1892, Hardaway Tucker, a fellow soldier, offers support to the cause.Hardaway Tucker, aged 66 years, whose P.O is Bunker Hill, County of Giles, State of Tennessee, who being duly sown, states in relation to said claim as follows to wit: "That I am personally acquainted with John Carr; that I was a private in Company C, 3rd Regiment of Tennessee, and that said John Carr was a private in the same company and regiment with me, and while we were at Vera Cruz, the said John Carr was sent with a detail from said company to unload supplies from a vessel, and while engaged in said duty he received a fall in which he broke the rim bone of his belly, which produced a puncture of the bowels. He then went with his command to the City of Mexico and was there discharged from the Army on account of the rupture of the bowels caused by the fall on the vessel at Vera Cruz. I have frequently seen John Carr since we were in the Army in Mexico, and he is still laboring under a rupture of his bowels, which was caused while he was in the service of the United States."
A Hospital Statement (undated) provided by John Carr states, "I had to stay in our tent for we had no hospital at Molino Del Rey."
In 1893, the doctor's report of his examination of John Carr states that John was 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighed 144 pounds. John continually complained of stomach problems in his applications, which could account for his weight.
In another General Affidavit dated June 30, 1893, John Carr states: "The farm upon which I live assessed value is fifty dollars and the farm is assessed to Parthena Carr. This tract is all the land my daughter owns."
His persistence paid off, as he eventually did begin receiving a pension of $8.00 per month. In June 1893, the Record and Pension Office of the War Department has this notation on file: "John Carr….was discharged March 3, 1848 on S.C.D. (Surgeon's Certificate of Disability) at El Molino Del Rey, Mexico. During above period the rolls do not show him absent."
In later years, John asked for an increase in the pension he was receiving. Several "pitiful" reports were made by John. Again, neighbors were also called to give testimony and they all gave an account of the family's poverty. In a General Affidavit dated April 10, 1894 titled In the matter of Mexican War Increase Claim, certificate No. 809, John gives the following statement:
"John Carr, aged 72 years , a resident of Merritt in the County of Giles and State of Tennessee, ….declares in aforesaid case that he does not own a foot of land that he and family lives on-an old worn-out farm belonging to his daughter and she has to have a support off of it. At best, it will not yield on an average over six or seven bushels of corn per acre. That there are fifty acres in the tract; some twenty under fence. Probably it could be cashed for two dollars per acre. That he has a stepson that cultivates it for him. He supposes the value of the yearly produce to be some $50 or $60. All the open land is never cultivated the same year. That he has three plows and gear worth $4; a sow and seven pigs worth $15; an old farm wagon worth $10; household and kitchen furniture worth about $100; also, three colts and two cows and a yearling worth $130 - all under mortgage for last year's provisions of which he had to buy about the amount of his present pension to say nothing of medical bills, clothes, etc.; that he is now buying all his provisions; that he has three in family besides his said daughter. Therefore, he claims his present rate of pension insufficient - his income included."
Mary Jane Moyers Carr had a son, John W. Moyers who died in 1895, when he was 20 years old. He is mentioned in several documents. It is evident he lived with John and Mary Jane after their marriage until his death in 1895.
The Post Office at Shores, Giles County, Tennessee burned in March 1902. Again, John Carr had to navigate bureaucratic red tape to receive a duplicate check. The National Archives files contain a letter from the Postmaster stating the destruction of the Post Office, a personal letter from John Carr requesting a duplicate check, and a affirmation from a Notary Public. Permission was finally granted for a duplicate check in August 1902…"Permit issued for payment of reissue of check. Claimant alleges the destruction of his Certificate by fire in March 1902." (underline mine) The permit was signed in October 1902 - seven months after the original check was destroyed.
Parthenia Carr had a child out of wedlock, Veda Mai Carr, born January 26, 1898. The 1900 Census for Giles County District 18 lists:
Carr, John age 73 head of household married 9 years Molly J. age 67 wife married 9 years Parthenia age 35 daughter single Veda age 2 granddaughter single
John Carr's will dated April 13, 1903 leaves his farm of 109 acres and his personal property to his granddaughter Veda Carr with the stipulation that he and wife Molly Carr could live there during their lifetime.
When John Carr died, he was receiving a pension of $12 per month. He died September 3, 1903 and the burial date was September 4, 1903 according to John Childers and A. G. Wells. These two men stated they attended his funeral.
After John's death, his widow, Mary (Mollie) Jane Moyers Carr, had to definitely prove her right as widow of a Mexican War Veteran to receive a pension. Evidently, Mollie Moyers had led a colorful life, to say the least. About one-half of the information contained in the Archives' information concerns her past marriages and liaisons. But these affidavits also provide clues to John Carr's family as well.
One such affidavit by Justice of the Peace and neighbor M. P. Prince, states:"My name is M. P. Prince, I am 60 years old, I reside at Minor Hill, Giles County, Tennessee- my post office. I am personally acquainted with Mary J. Carr who was the wife and is now the widow of John Carr. I am Secretary of the Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church, and as such, have the custody of Register of the said church which contains the following entry: 'Jane Carr, wife of John Carr, died June 19th, 1890.'
Said John Carr and Jane Carr were both members of said church. I am not related to Mollie J. or Mary J. Carr and have no interest in her claim for pension, nor am I connected directly or indirectly in its prosecution."
On March 15, 1905, Mary Jane Carr gives a 16-page Deposition. In this Deposition she states:"I have not remarried since the death of my late husband John Carr. Two years before his death my husband John Carr drew up a paper before Squire Prince, who lives one mile south of Pleasant Ridge; said paper giving me the use of all his real and personal property during my lifetime and at my death giving it to Vada (sic) Carr, his granddaughter.
"The real estate consists of one hundred nine (109) acres with about fifty acres of it cleared."
The 1910- Census of Giles County District 18 shows:
Carr, Mary J. age 67 head Pathenia age 48 step-daughter Veda age 12 step-granddaughter
(These people never seemed to know their exact age or when they were born, as evident from the discrepancies in ages between censuses.)
Veda Mai Carr married Isaac Ozro Stephenson on June 6, 1915. Ozro Stephenson had one son, Willie Lee Stephenson, who was born January 23, 1900 and died June 4, 1929 in Loveland, Colorado. Ozro's first wife and mother of Willie was Etta Jones. She died in 1912. Ozro's first child by Veda Carr Stephenson was Mollie Lou Etta Stephenson.
Mary Jane Carr sent a letter to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington, D.C. on October 12, 1916 stating, "I am a Mexican War widow pensioner at the rate of $12 per month and my pension Certificate is No. 14370 and my Post Office is Good Spring, Tennessee, Route 2, and I am 74 years old." Probably this was written because of the changes in Post Office names.
The 1920 Census of Giles County District 18 shows the following in this household:
Stephenson, Ozro age 44 head Veda age 22 wife Mollie age 3 daughter John age 1 son Stephenson, John age 79 father Carr, Mary J. age 76 boarder Carr, Parthenia age 51 boarder
This must have been a strange household in which to live, with Mary J. and Parthenia Carr, Veda's step-mother and mother listed as boarders instead of showing their real relation to the household. Later, Parthenia's obituary would reflect this same detachment by Veda and Ozro Stephenson.
On December 1, 1921 the Postmaster at Good Spring wrote that he was returning the pension check because Mary Jane Carr died on April 21, 1921.
Evidently John and Mollie Carr owed taxes or had some other lien on their property. Upon Mollie's death, Veda Carr Stephenson had to go to court to prevent her land from being taken by her cousin, Will Carr. Veda Carr Stephenson paid the outstanding debts and on September 26, 1922 received title to the 109 acres.
Parthenia Carr died in 1927. An obituary appeared in the Pulaski Citizen on January 26, 1927:
Pleasant Ridge Community: "The death angel has again visited our community and claimed for its victim Miss Parthena Carr. She has been confined to her bed since September. If she had lived until July, she would have been sixty-seven years of age. At the time of her death she was living with Ozro Stevenson (sic) and family. She was a member of the Methodist Church at Pleasant Ridge, but on account of ill health, could not attend the services. After funeral services the body was laid to rest in Pleasant Ridge Cemetery."
Bennet-May and Company Funeral Home Record of Caskets 1924-1993 shows that T. M. Rutherford of Goodspring purchased Parthenia's casket.
Veda Mai Carr and Isaac Ozro Stephenson had three children. Mollie Lou Etta Stephenson was born September 16, 1916; John Carr Stephenson was born September 19, 1918; and Edna Earl Stephenson was born September 18, 1920.
Ozro Stephenson died on February 6, 1947 at his home. Veda later married Dixie W. Phillips.
Obituary dated July 17, 1974 inPulaski Citizen
"Funeral services for Mrs. Veda Mai Phillips, 76 of Cornersville were conducted Wednesday, July 17 at 1:00 p.m. at Carr and Erwin Chapel by the Rev. Mack Pinkelton. Burial was in Pleasant Ridge Cemetery. Mrs. Phillips died Monday in Community Hospital in Lewisburg. A native of Giles County, she was married to the late D. W. Phillips. Survivors include a daughter, Mrs. Merlie Defoe of Cornersville; 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren."
DISCREPANCIES IN "OFFICIAL" MATERIAL
Date of birth for Parthenia Carr does not agree in different records:
1880 Census lists her as 15 years old (born in 1865)
1900 Census lists her as 35 years old (born in 1865)
1910 Census lists her as 48 years old (born in 1862)
1920 Census lists her as 51 years old (born in 1869)
1927 obituary says she was 66 years old "would have been 67 in July" (born in 1861)
Her tombstone says she was born in 1878 !!
Submitted by Mary Ann Hartsell