JESSE HOUSTON CARPENTER. Among those of Wise county’s rural citizens who are successful tillers of the soil and one whose personal worth is everywhere admitted and acknowledged is Jesse Houston Carpenter, whose name introduces this article. Two years in Parker county and twenty years in Wise mark the limit of his citizenship in the state, and his passage from mendicancy to a position of financial independence tells the story, briefly, of the achievements his labors have wrought.
Born in Gilmer county, Georgia, August 1, 1854, Mr. Carpenter is descended from a family of Revolutionary patriots of North Carolina, Joseph Carpenter, his German ancestor and great-grandfather, having served in the Patriot army under General Green and having been shot through the body with a British ball. The latter lived in both Lincoln and Rutherford counties, but passed away in Rutherford, the father of several children, among them being Joseph, Peter and Morton. Morton Carpenter, our subject’s grandfather, passed through life a successful farmer, trader and slave owner and died about 1891, at ninety-five years of age. His wife was Sallie Wood, and four of their eight children were: Emanuel, Samuel, Byron and Morton.
Emanuel Carpenter was born in Rutherford county, North Carolina, in 1820, and died in Wise county, Texas, April 12, 1893. Like his father he succeeded as a farmer and trader and accumulated much property prior to the rebellion, but the Union sentiments which he entertained made him an enemy to the Confederacy and he was forced to refugee behind the Federal lines. During the period of civil strife he practically gave away his farm and remained poor and dependent in a way from the then to his death. For his wife he married Lizzie Wikle, born May 19, 1816, a lady of German antecedents and a daughter of Henry Wilke, a farmer. Mrs. Carpenter accompanied her husband to Texas in 1890 and survived him several years, dying at the home of her son in Wise county, January 22, 1901. By the union of Emanuel and Lizzie Carpenter there were born: Henry, of Greer county, Oklahoma; J. Houston, of this notice, and Crate G., who died in Wise county, Texas, leaving a family.
It is said of the father that he left home without his parents’ consent as a boy of fourteen and made his own way and built himself up to a position of worth and independence in his Georgia home single-handed and alone. Save for the period of the Civil war his life was a quiet and peaceful one, unmarred by untoward events. Naturally he dropped into the Republican party, and except when he voted for Hancock, he always cast his ballot for its presidential candidate. The Confederates forced him into escape for fourteen months, but when he finally succeeded he hurriedly disposed of his property and sought the Federal lines.
In the county where he was born and brought up J. Houston Carpenter, our subject, acquired his limited knowledge of books. The most valuable period of his school experience was at the age of twenty-four when he spent ten months as a pupil, and this term’s work really fitted him for the battle of life. He was past twenty-six when he left his father to carve out a career for himself and shortly afterward he came to Texas, reaching here with nineteen dollars in cash and a modest wardrobe. He stopped first at Springtown, in Parker county, and took up the carpenter trade. When he came to Wise county he contracted for two hundred and two acres of wild land southeast of Chico and set about its primitive improvement at once. As time passed he prospered as a farmer and bought additional land, owning now four hundred acres in two separate farms.
Mr. Carpenter had no terrors for bachelorhood and did not take a wife until he was well able to provide for her in a good comfortable home. September 22, 1889, he married Miss Alice, a daughter of Jesse and Harriet (Hart) Franklin, a Parker county farmer and a Mexican war veteran of Texas. Mr. Franklin settled in Parker county in 1 854, settling first in Collin county from the state of Tennessee. His children were: H. Franklin, who lives in Oklahoma; “Sis,” wife of John Rowe, of Jessie; Mrs. Carpenter, John, Benjamin, Benton and Clarissa, wife of Franklin Shown. Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter’s children are: Jesse, Annie, Morton, Lillie W., Alice and Sam Houston.
In his political career Mr. Carpenter has supported the candidate more than the party and he voted for Garfield, Weaver, William J. Bryan, McKinley and Roosevelt. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the Methodist church.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, Vol. II (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), p. 327.