Wayne County Biographies

Part of the Indiana Biographies Project

Walter T. Carpenter

In a brief sketch of any living citizen it is difficult to do him exact and impartial justice,—not so much, however, from lack of space or words to set forth the familiar and passing events of his personal history, as for want of the perfect and rounded conception of his whole life, which grows, develops and ripens, like fruit, to disclose its true and best flavor only when it is mellowed by time. Daily contact with the man so familiarizes us with his many virtues that we ordinarily overlook them and commonly underestimate their possessor. Nevertheless, while the man passes away, his deeds of virtue live on, and will in due time bear fruit and do him the justice which our pen fails to record. There are, however, some elements in the life record of Mr. Carpenter that even now serve as examples well worthy of emulation, and his fellow townsmen are not unappreciative of these. He is one of the most highly esteemed citizens of Richmond, and his name will ever be associated with Earlham College during the period of its greatest prosperity.

Born on the ist of January, 1811, at Duanesburg, near Albany, New York, he is a son of Isaac and Mercy (Frost) Carpenter. The family is of Welsh lineage and the ancestry can be traced back in direct line to Ezra Carpenter, who was born in Wilkshire, Wales, in 1570, and had two sons, Richard and William. The latter never married, and died in 1701, leaving an estate estimated at three million pounds sterling. Richard Carpenter had two sons, Ephraim and Timothy, who emigrated to the United States in 1678, and located in Hempstead, Long Island. The latter was born December 19, 1665, and had three sons, John, Runyan and Timothy. The first named, John Carpenter, of Oyster Bay, was born June 13, 1690, and had two sons, John and Abel. The former was born January 7, 1714, was a hatter by trade, and in 1736 removed to New Castle, Westchester county, New York.

Of his three sons, Abraham became the grandfather of our subject. He was born in Westchester county, December 27, 1728, and spent his entire life there, carrying on agricultural pursuits. He married Lydia Potter and had a family of ten children, including Isaac Carpenter, father of Richmond's well known citizen. He was born in Westchester county. New York, in 1779, and after his marriage to Mercy Frost removed to Duanesburg, that state, where he lived for ten years. In 1815 he became a resident of Clinton county, Ohio, where he spent his remaining days, his death occurring in 1836. He was a farmer by occupation, and followed that pursuit throughout his entire life.

Walter T. Carpenter was the youngest son in a family of six children, three sons and three daughters, and with his parents removed to Clinton county, Ohio, when four years of age. He attended the common schools for a time, then spent one year as a student in a boarding school in Mount Pleasant, and one year in John Griscom's private school, in New York city. Returning then to his father's farm in Clinton county, Ohio, he there remained until his marriage, when, in 1834, he removed to Cincinnati and engaged in the milk business for two years. On the expiration of that period he again went to Clinton county, and embarked in the dry-goods business, which he carried on for ten years, when he returned to Cincinnati and joined his brother Calvin in the pork and commission business, under the firm name of C. Carpenter & Brother. This connection was continued two years, when the brother died, and our subject then removed to Warren county, Ohio, where he carried on agricultural pursuits for ten years. At the end of that time he came to Richmond, in 1858, and located on a farm, but in a few months he went to the Friends' Boarding School, now Earlham College, as superintendent, a position which he filled most acceptably for fifteen years. After two years' connection therewith the name was changed to Earlham College. He made the institution one of the leading educational features in this section of the state, and under his management its enrollment was increased from seventy pupils to more than two hundred. In the upbuilding and success of the school he was largely instrumental, having charge of the farm, the finances and the government of the students, in fact, virtually filling the office of president in connection with that of superintendent. His connection therewith covered the most prosperous era in its history, for it became a strong educational representative of the Society of Friends, and was entirely self-supporting, which it had not been before, nor has it been since. On his retirement from the school, in 1875, Mr. Carpenter engaged in farming for three years, on a farm three miles north of Richmond, Indiana, but his health failed and he removed to West Richmond, near the college, and has since made his home there, resting in the enjoyment of a well earned retirement from labor.

In 1834 Mr. Carpenter was united in marriage to Miss Susan Mabie, of Westchester county. New York, and they now have three living children and have lost one. Charles G., the eldest, is superintendent of the Richmond Roller Mills; Albert F. died in infancy; Caroline is the wife of Henry C. Wright, of Argus, Indiana; and Elizabeth is the wife of Daniel W. Mormon, of Indianapolis, a member of the firm of the Nordyke & Mormon Company and of the Light, Heat & Power Company.

Mr. Carpenter was reared in the political faith of the Whig party, and first gave his support to its men and measures, but on its dissolution he joined the ranks of the Republican party and has since been one of its stalwart advocates. He is interested in all that will promote good government and is a progressive, public-spirited citizen. Like his family for generations, he is connected with the Society of Friends and has lived a conscientious Christian life, characterized by many good deeds. Devotion to his family and friends, fidelity to every trust reposed in him, and advocacy of all that tends to benefit mankind,—these are the salient characteristics of Walter T. Carpenter.

Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties, Indiana, Volume 1, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1899

Walter T. Carpenter, Trustee of Earlham College, and retired farmer, West Richmond, Ind., is of Welsh descent. His paternal ancestor, seven generations back, Ezra Carpenter, was born in Wiltshire, Wales, in 1550. His two sons were — Richard, born May 15, 1593, and William, born Aug. 28, 1601. The latter never married, became very wealthy and died in England in 1701. The former emigrated to America when a young man and died June 11, 1669. To him were born two sons — Ephraim, in 1623, and John, in 1627. The eldest of these sons was the father of Ephraim, who was born March 4, 1653, about the time of the conversion of the family, under the preaching of George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends. His fourth child, Timothy Carpenter, was born Dec. 19, 1665, and was the father of John, of Oysterberry, who was born June 13, 1690. The latter's eldest son, John, the hatter, was born Jan. 7, 1714, and lived and died in New York. His second child was Abram, born in Westchester County, N. Y., Dec. 27, 1738. The tenth of Abram's children, Isaac, was born in Westchester County, N. Y., Oct. 10, 1779, and in maturer years settled in Clinton County, Ohio, where he died Feb. 5. 1836. His wife was Mercy frost, born in Westchester County, N. Y., in 1781, and died in Ohio in 1816. Of their six children, Walter T. is the fifth, and was born in Albany, N. Y., Jan. 1, 1811. He was reared on a farm in Clinton County, Ohio, and afterward was engaged in merchandising in Wilmington, Ohio, and subsequently in Cincinnati. From 1847 to 1857 he was farming in Warren County, Ohio, and in the latter year moved to Richmond, where he soon after became Superintendent of Earlham College, then a boarding school. He filled the position fifteen years and at the same time was one of a committee of twelve who had charge of the college. In 1880 the management of the college was changed, and control of its affairs vested in twenty-four trustees, Mr. Carpenter being one of the number. Since his appointment as Superintendent of the college, he has lived rather retired on his farm near Richmond. He married Susan Mabie fifty years ago, who was born in New York Dec. 27, 1811. Of their four children, but three are living — Charles G., of Richmond; Caroline, wife of H. C. Wright, and Elizabeth, wife of Daniel W. Marmon; both daughters reside in Indianapolis.

History of Wayne County, Indiana. Chicago: Inter-State Publishing Co. 1884. Volume 2. Pages 160 and 161.