The Carpenters of Carpenter’s Station (extended)

My father-in-law recently asked me if his Carpenter ancestor was related to the same family who founded Carpenter’s Station, Kentucky.  So, my next genealogy question is, was Mary M Carpenter, wife of Woodson Ellis, descended from the three Carpenter brothers who founded Carpenter’s Station?

There is frustratingly few records available for this timeframe in Kentucky. The Carpenter family is very large, and is heavily researched to the point of confusion and mix-ups with no new sources uploaded, located at court houses, or shared from family hoards. So I have very few sources to review directly and will only just analyze what is easily available to me.

I think my father-in-law’s question was formed after he read a genealogical publication titled The Ellis Connection, by Elmer G. Coffman (compiler).  Woodson Ellis is entry #72 on page 28.  Mr. Coffman does not annotate his narrative with any source citations, but his introduction states he based his information partially from records and partially from family lore submitted to him by other Ellis branches.  This is the only published source that names Mary as Mary Margaret Carpenter.  All other records use Mary M. Ellis, Mary Carpenter, or Mary M. Carpenter.

Notes for Mary Margaret Carpenter:
Mary’s line is hard to follow and it is believed she was illegitimate.  Her death certificate states her father as being John Carpenter and says she was raised as an orphan.  Her mother is said to have been a Lane.  There are two John Carpenters listed in the time frame of Mary’s birth and either could have possibly have been the correct John.  Some family sources state that Mary’s father was called “Red Face” but says his first name was definitely John.  The only “Red Face” Carpenter I can find in doing research is George Carpenter and was called “Red Face” due to a birth mark.  He was later known as Major due to him being a Major in the Kentucky Malita (sic).  I cannot prove which of the three was the father of Mary but they all tie back into the same George (Zimmerman) Carpenter line. It is said that a lady named Sylvania Hafley raised Mary.  I have found in some old research papers that state Fred Hafley was the alleged father, but this would seem highly unlikely since Mary Margaret carried the name of Carpenter.

James Henry Carpenter who married Anna Ellis and born 2 Feb 1852; died 6 June 1911 is said to be a cousin of Mary.  Mary’s Casey County Death Certificate is number 6912.

(One other interesting point is that some of the records, including her death certificate states she was born in 1842 but the monument at her grave says her birth date was April 15, 1832.)

Elmer G. Coffman, The Ellis Connection

Clue #1: Her father’s name was John Carpenter

Starting with her death certificate, her father’s name is indeed recorded as John Carpenter, but it appears as though the informant had some difficulty deciding his name, as there are letters underneath the darker name of John.  Her mother’s name is recorded as “Don’t Know” and the birthplace of her mother is “Raised an orphan”.  This can be interpreted two ways; Mary was raised as an orphan and that is why her mother’s information is unknown, OR it is Mary’s mother who was raised as an orphan as far as the family knew.  We must also keep in mind that sometimes the term “orphan” could refer to the loss of just one parent.  Her exact date of birth is also recorded as “don’t know, 1842”.  “Steven” Ellis of Ellisburg, Casey County, Kentucky was the informant.  This is assumed to be her son, Stephen Adam Ellis, and an S.A. Ellis was the Administrator of her estate.  So her son is the likely source used to state her father’s name was John Carpenter.

As Mr. Coffman stated, there were only two men named John Carpenter recorded in the 1850 Census for Casey County who were old enough to be Mary’s father.  Just for fun, I looked in other counties in Kentucky and there are four more Johns who are the right age and have presumed daughters named Mary in their household.  Two of these other Marys are too old to be Mary M. The other two are either associated with a marriage and family or were found in a county of no known connection and have seemingly disappeared (without more in-depth searching).

The first John Carpenter lived in District 1 with his presumed daughter, Mary F.  Mary F is not quite the right age, in fact, she is six years older than Mary M, yet this is the family that is most often attributed to Mary M, probably because of the absence of a mother in the household.  The full list of household members is captured in the table below.  This family lived nearer to Liberty, the county seat of Casey County, and appears to remain there through 1860.

The second John Carpenter lived in District 2 and also has a Mary in his household (no middle initial recorded).  This is the same district where Woodson Ellis and his parents are found.  Since the Ellis family generally lived in Ellisburg, I am assuming District 2 included this town.  If this is true, then Mary and her father probably lived in or near Ellisburg in 1850. 

District 2 John is living with his second wife, America Reed, and presumed children from a first marriage (his marriage to America occurred after the birth of these children).  These children are also listed in the table below.  The birth year of District 2 John has conflicts which I will go over shortly.  For the household with America he is enumerated as 60 years old, his marriage to America does not provide an age.  

NameJohn Carpenter, b. 1803John Carpenter, b. 1790Mary M. Ellis
Marriage To America Reed in 1847 at
Mercer County
To Woodson Ellis in 1858
at Casey County
1850 CensusAge 47 (b. 1803)
District 1, Casey County
(Probably Liberty – the
county seat)
Age 60 (b. 1790)
District 2, Casey County
Woodson Ellis is in District 2
SpouseNone namedAmerica Carpenter 
Jacob (17, b. 1836)
Mary F (14, b. 1836)
Henry C (13, b. 1837)
William (10, b. 1840)
Nancy (7, b. 1843)
Litha (18, b. 1835)
Amanda (16, b. 1834)
Marthey (14, b. 1836)
Mary (10, b. 1840)
Emaline (3, b. 1847)
1860 CensusDistrict 4 (Liberty post office)Not enumerated in Casey,
Lincoln, or Mercer County
District 5 Casey County
(Hustonville post office –
Lincoln County)
SpouseNone named Woodson Ellis
 Amanda Bell Ellis
Marshall, etc.
1850 and 1860 Households – compared to Mary’s 1860 household

Clue #2: Mary may have been an orphan raised by Sylvania Hafley

Both John Carpenters lost their first wives. District 1 John did not appear to remarry before 1860. District 2 John disappears after 1850.  If District 2 John died before 1860, then this suggests that he is the most likely candidate for Mary M’s father as his death would leave Mary and her siblings true and full orphans.

There are no orphaned Carpenter children in any non-Carpenter-headed household in 1850 Casey County, and no Sylvania Hafley.  There is a Sylvania Hafley/Haifley who married A.T. Power before 1850 in Casey County.

If Mary’s father was District 2 John, and District 2 John died in 1851, then it is plausible that Mary lived with Sylvania Hafley Power in the years between her father’s death in 1851 and her marriage to Woodson in 1858.  The greater Carpenter family also intermarried with various Powers’.

Clue #3: The names of Mary’s children include Amanda, Stephen A. (S.A.), Lieu or Lou, Marshall, Johnson, and James

From signatures applied to letters of administration for her probate, we know the names of her five surviving children who were present near the time of her death; Johnson Ellis (a surety for S.A.’s appointment as Administrator), James Ellis, Lieu (Lou) Ellis, Marshall Ellis, and Amanda Johnson (formerly Reed).

Here are some correlations of note:

Mary M. Carpenter Ellis named her first daughter Amanda Bell. District 2 John’s household with America Reed also has an Amanda.  Amanda Ellis’ first husband was also a Reed. 

America Reed’s associations pose more interesting correlations than John Carpenter.  America may be Rebecca America Reed, daughter of David M. Reed and Patsy (probably Martha) Ellis.  If this is the right woman and family origins, she would be the inroads for Mary M. to marry an Ellis and Amanda Bell to marry a Reed.  Though this could mean nothing as the Reeds, Ellis’, and Carpenters were all very large families who intermarried extensively in Casey County.

Mary M. does not name any of her known children using the names of the children in District 1 John’s household; John (Jr), Jacob, Henry, William, or Nancy.

But who were these two Johns?

Validating which John was born and died in a specific year is difficult.  There are a ton of records naming John Carpenter, and there are a LOT of different John Carpenters who lived in this period.  Most records do not give enough information to sort one John from another, not even ages or years of birth.  But here is a simplified analysis from what is available.

Other researchers claim District 2 John was actually born in 1803 instead of 1790, the same year as District 1 John. These public trees do not cite any birth or death records for either John Carpenters and digitally available vital records/indexes do not contain entries for either of these men.  The conflicting year of birth and unrecorded date of death appears to be solely based on the published genealogy The Carpenters of Carpenter’s Station, compiled by Virginia Tyler Carpenter (1918-2004) and published online by her daughter, Kathleen Carpenter.  Ms. Virginia’s sources were a collection of family papers (legal documents, correspondence, family bible, etc.) inherited by her husband.  The original owner (compiler) of this collection of ephemera was Adam Wilson Carpenter (1852-1928) of Danville, KY who was a direct descendant of Adam Carpenter, one of the three brothers who founded Carpenter’s Station.

Ms. Virginia is the only modern researcher who offers the assertion that the John Carpenter who was born in 1803 died on 10-11-1851 (is this October 11 or November 10?) “killed by persons unknown”.  Unfortunately, we do not know which specific paper in the family collection contained these details.  This date of death continues to provide conflict as Find-A-Grave volunteers attribute this exact death date to John’s brother, David, based on cemetery records.  A burial or record of death has not been found for John to support Ms. Virginia’s assertion, and a headstone for David is not included on his Find-A-Grave profile as it was derived from some other record that is not “uber” easily available.

Ms. Virginia further records John’s heritage as follows:  [John (1803-1851)] was a son of Jacob I, who was the son of George II, who was the son of George Zimmerman Carpenter, immigrant.”  As the oldest of the immigrant’s sons, George II remained in Virginia where he inherited his father’s estate.  He, in turn, left it to his oldest son and his youngest son, Jacob I came to Kentucky in 1800.  George II’s full brother, John, and two half-brothers, Adam and Conrod, were the three Carpenter brothers who founded Carpenter’s Station.

If we accept Ms. Virginia’s information (still working on independent validation) that John was born on 21 March 1803 and died on 11 October 1851 (I’m going with this date format), and District 1 John was still living in 1860, I assert that District 2 John is the son of Jacob (I) Carpenter.  

If Mary M. is the orphaned daughter of District 2 John, then she is also the sister of Jacob (Jake) Young Carpenter who was not living in his father’s household in 1850, but is found in an 1860 District associated with Hustonville (as are Mary and Woodson Ellis).  Jacob moved his family to Texas in 1880.

This leaves District 1 John.  He could not be the John who was “killed by person’s unknown” in 1851 because he is still alive in 1860 near Liberty with his two youngest children, William and Nancy.  Another John Carpenter died in 1865 and his probate Administrator and bondsmen signing for the Administrator were Owen S. Carpenter (Administrator), George S. Carpenter, William A. Carpenter, and Winsten Bauman/Bowman.  I propose this to be District 1 John since he was still living by the time the 1860 Census occurred.  Because Jacob Y. Carpenter did not sign the probate papers, and is older than Owen S. Carpenter, suggests he is not a son of the John who died in 1865.

So who is left in 1860? 

There are only five remaining families totaling 21 Carpenters in Casey County.  These families are headed by 

  1. Jacob Carpenter b. 1807 (District 1, Hustonville and Middleburg post offices). Not yet sure how this one fits into the mix, but this is not Jacob (1) who arrived in Kentucky in 1800 to marry Leah Frye, perhaps he is their son (brother of John, Uncle of Mary and Jacob Y).
  2. Jacob Y Carpenter b. 1834  (District 1, Hustonville and Middleburg post offices).  This is probably Jacob Young Carpenter, proposed brother of Mary M.  District 1 (Hustonville and Middleburg post offices)
  3. George S. Carpenter b. 1825 (District 1, Hustonville and Middleburg post offices).  This is probably the signatory on the probate of John who died in 1865.
  4. John Carpenter b. 1803 (District 4, Liberty post office). This is the family of the (1850) District 1 John who had Mary F in the household.  William and Nancy are still in his household. He is probably the John who died in 1865.
  5. Owen S. Carpenter b. 1825 (District 3, Liberty post office) with children Owen S. Jr and toddler John.  He is probably the Administrator of the John who died in 1865.
Map showing locations of Liberty, Middleburg, Ellisburg, and Hustonville. Note that Hustonville is in Lincoln County and was the nearest post office to Ellisburg. The 1860 District 1 was apparently somewhere between Middleburg and Hustonville. District 5 was between Ellisburg and Hustonville, and District 4 was closer to Liberty. The county line did not change between 1850 and today, just the district numbers/boundaries.

Woodson Ellis and Mary M are in District 5, which presumably contains Ellisburg.  District 5 is identified as Hustonville post office, but the town of Hustonville is actually in Lincoln County. 

So…to wrap things up (I think this post is long enough).  Was Mary M Carpenter, wife of Woodson Ellis, descended from the three Carpenter men who founded Carpenter’s Station? Not directly, but I think we can safely assume that Mary is related to the Carpenters who founded Carpenter’s Station, regardless of which John is Mary’s father.  Personally, I believe Mary is the daughter of District 2 John who died in 1851 or thereabouts.  Her grandfather, Jacob (I), was a nephew of the three brothers who came to Kentucky in the 1770s and established Carpenter’s Station.

If, instead, Mary is the daughter of District 1 John, I think there is still a connection, though I did not really document his lineage in this post.  Maybe another time.  

Someone is probably thinking…what about Clue # 4: Mary’s mother was probably a Lane.  This addresses a different genealogy question.  There were Lane families in Casey County and they did intermarry with the Reeds (for starters), but for the purpose of this post, I could not find easily available records directly tying Carpenters to Lanes.