Thursday, December 29, 2011

William Furlsbury Carter

William Furlsbury Carter

William Furlsbury Carter was born 1 May 1811 at Newry, Oxford, Maine. He was the second son and fourth child of John Carter and Hannah Knight Libby. William Carter was a expert blacksmith. His father John trained his sons well in the art and skill of blacksmithing. Hannah, his mother, was a very refined and cultured woman beloved by her family and all who knew her.

William was born with musical talents which were passed on to many of his descendants. He made a fife out of brass when he was 14 years old. He could play most musical instruments and made and repaired them. His favorite was the violin and he had an old Steiner that he treasured. 

Sarah York

William married Sarah York in 1831 in Bethel, Oxford, Maine. They were the parents of the following children:
  1. Peter York 1832
  2. Abiah Russell 1834
  3. Lyman White 1836
  4. William Furlsbury 1838
  5. Hannah Libby 1841
  6. Martha York 1843
  7. Sarah Melissa 1846
  8. William Aaron 1848
  9. Edwin Lavan 1851
  10. Charlotte York 1856
 In 1832 John F. Boynton and Daniel Bean, missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brought the gospel to the Carter family in Maine. Part of the family were baptized in June of 1834. John Carter, William's father never did join the Church.

William F. and his wife Sarah were baptized on 17 November 1834. William's history states that he was in Kirtland in 1836. His sister Eliza Ann records, "Responding to the spirit of gathering which rested upon us, we left Maine in 1836 and traveled all the way to Kirtland, Ohio, then headquarters of the Church. We attended the temple and took part in the wonderful meetings, and joined the saint in singing the songs of Zion."

Because of persecution, early in the year 1838, William and Sarah and their children relocated to Missouri. This journey was a sign of the Carter's great faith and dedication to the Gospel. All along the way numerous men had taken up arms to join the mob militia to drive the Mormons from Missouri or exterminate them. 

In February of 1839, the Saints were driven from Missouri. The Carter family traveled with Isaac Morley into Lima, Illinois. Soon this area became the prosperous Morleyville.

William held numerous Church offices while living in the Nauvoo, Illinois area. All the while, mob violence was increasing. In five years, fertile farms had been developed in Morleyville and had much industry. On 15 June 1844 a mob of 2000 men came upon the saints in Morleyville and told them they had three choices:  join their mob against Joseph Smith, give up their arms and become neutral or abandon their homes and go to Nauvoo. They chose the latter.

The prophet, Joseph Smith, was martyred in Carthage, Illinois on 27 June 1844. The Carter family were among those who viewed his body and mourned his loss. In the months that followed the prophet's death, their situation became more peaceful and the Saints returned to Morleyville for a short time.

William's talents proved valuable to those in his community. He was a master blacksmith, wagonsmith, mechanic, carpenter, farmer and furniture maker. He made and repaired musical instruments, repaired guns, watches, clocks and forged knives. 

In September of 1845, mob violence again began in Morleyville. For eight days and nights, the mobs fired upon the settlers, burned  70-80 homes, all of their hay and grain stacks, shops and other buildings. Brigham Young advised them to abandon Morleyville and return to Nauvoo.

William and Sarah were able to attend the completed Nauvoo temple on 20 January 1846 and were sealed together on 21 January 1846 by Brigham Young.

All of the Carter family had stayed close together from Maine to Kirtland to Far West to Morleysville, now Nauvoo again. Father John and brother Philllip and sister Mary Jane never joined the Church. Each of the latter chose to stay in Nauvoo while the rest of the family left Nauvoo for Council Bluffs, Iowa.

William and his family chose to stay in Parley's Springs [later named Carterville] near Council Bluffs and set up a blacksmith shop. He busied himself repairing wagons and equipment for the Saints as they passed through to Winter Quarters.

It was here in Carterville on 31 January 1847 that William took a second wife, Hannah Cordelia Mecham --17 years old.

Two months later he married a relation of Hannah, Roxena Mecham on  13 March 1847. Roxena's history states that she had lived in Carterville for two years and had become well acquainted with William F. She said he was respected and well-liked.

Roxena Mecham

William's second wife, Hannah Cordelia, died on 3 April 1847.

When the first company of saints were preparing to leave for the west, both William F. and his brother Dominicus were asked to stay behind and make sure the wagons were equipped and in shape for the long journey.

William F. moved his family to Kainesville [Council Bluff] where he set up a big blacksmith shop and houses for his two wives. While here he helped prepare the saints for their journey. He made hobbles, horse shoes, garden tools, chains, etc. William also helped many California-bound gold seekers. He claimed he was kept so busy that he frequently emptied his pockets full of coins. 

In January of 1849 mobs came again and burned his new shop and the home of his wife Sarah. She, with a three week old baby, sat on a goods box and watched the fire burn her home.

William took his family across the plains in early 1850 and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley a few months later. In Salt Lake, he purchased two homes for his wives. Roxena claimed that they lived in Salt Lake for only 14 months before moving to Provo, Utah where other members of the Carter family had gone. William's mother Hannah, brothers Dominicus and John and sisters Hannah and Eliza Ann were among those.

While living in Provo, William organized the Provo Marshall band. They played and performed for the Black Hawk camps and the Ute Stampede programs.

A mission call to India came to William at a conference held in Salt Lake City on 28 August 1852. William prepared his family for his departure as well as he could and bade his family farewell on 22 October 1852.

William claimed his health was tolerably good until he arrived in the city of Chunar. But the temperature was between 110 and 120 degrees in the shade and this proved to be very hard on him. William was released from his service in India. He gave his farewell sermon in Calcutta and departed on 9 July 1853.

William was the second elder to go around the world as a latter-day saint missionary and the first missionary to carry the Book of Mormon the full distance.

On 11 November 1853, William reached America. He traveled to Scarborough, Maine to visit family left behind there and then on to Quincy, Illinois to the homes of his brother Phillip and sister Mary Jane Dooley. He learned that his father had died over a year previous and that his wife Roxena had given birth to a baby boy. This surprised him as he did not know she was pregnant.

William F. was still a very sick man and with winter coming on, he decided it was impossible to continue missionary work. His brother and sister put him to bed and cared for him during the winter months.

By the spring of 1854, he had gained most of his strength and was ready to resume his missionary work. On 1 April 1854, the Church gave him the responsibility of arranging transportation, equipment and provisions for the large handcart companies of immigrants waiting to start their trek to Utah. William was appointed to be president of one company. The captain of the company was not happy to have William along as he had lost a lot of weight and had a poor physical appearance.

He met Elizabeth Howard also a member of his company. Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, William and Elizabeth were married on 9 October 1854 then they continued on to Provo.

Elizabeth Howard

William claimed of his missionary journey,

"I have suffered ill health, change in climate and rough weather in crossing the ocean. I bore my testimony to every person that I possibly could meet, both by sea and land, and I verily believe that I sowed seed in good ground that will grow, and I shall see the fruits thereof. I baptized a man and his wife in Kansas, who will be shortly in the valley. I have only one regret that my health was such that it prevented my staying to finish my mission, but my conscience fully acquits me of having done my best duty as far as I was able and knew how, and that the Lord has blessed me for I am convinced of his special care over me in permitting me to return to my home and family. That my simple faith endeavors me to be abundantly blessed in drawing out the honest in heart to join the Gospel that I have bore testimony to around the world, is my prayer, in the name of Christ, Amen."

William was soon at work for the Perpetual Immigration Company, making and repairing wagons and pursuing his blacksmithing trade.

Early in 1857, Roxena's parents asked William F. if he would take another daughter Sally Ann for a wife--she was only 15 years old.

Sally Ann Mecham

In 1862 William moved his families to Willow Creek [Mona], Juab county, Utah. He did blacksmithing and farming. Then they moved to Goshen in Utah county for a year. The Carters then moved to Santaquin in Utah county. During these years of moving place to place, William alternately operated a store, a blacksmith shop, a farm and a threshing machine, which he manufactured himself out of parts made in his own shop.

The story has been told of William riding up to his houses to find two wives quarreling over the washboard. He very quietly turned his horse around and drove away unnoticed, returning later to find peace and quiet.

William had his last child with wife Sally Ann when he was 71 years old. His eye sight was failing and he was becoming too old and weak to do much work. He was true to the gospel to the end.

He died at the age of 77 on 11 October 1888 at the home of his and Roxena's daughter Arletta Chatwin of Santaquin, Utah. His death was caused by general decline because of age and hardship. He is buried in the Santaquin cemetery.

William and his four wives left 36 children.


  1. Cindy, this is fabulous! As I am a Robbins, I'm curious how the Isaac Rogers Robbins family came in contact with William's daughters and how they both ended up marrying Robbins. Any insight in this regard?

  2. Tod,

    William F. Carter and his family were neighbors of Isaac Rogers Robbins and for a time rented property from him. With Isaac being a widower it probably was convenient for him to marry the daughters of the Carters.

  3. Thank you. I am a descendent of William F. Carter and roxena mecham. I was looking for a picture of her. This is one I haven't seen before so thank you for it.

    1. I am also a descendent from William and Roxena. Which child are you through?

    2. I descend from William F. and Sarah York Carter through their daughter Hannah Libby Carter Robbins.

  4. Cindy,
    Thank you for posting this blog. I am a descendent Of William F Carter and Roxena Mecham- Marybah R. Carter - Katie Clemons - Melvin Bingham - Beverly Bingham. I have enjoyed reading your work and can't wait to share it with my family.

  5. Cindy, I am so grateful to find this. I am also a descendant of William but through Sally Ann Mecham. I appreciate the stories I am finding!

  6. Thank you. I descend from William F. and Sarah York as well through Hannah Libby. I am loving all the bio's I am finding online. Thank you for this one!
    Suzie Kelley
    Dana Point, Ca.

  7. Excellent biography: Please see my blog on John and Hannah Knight Libby Carter Family Organization. I am presently giving the life of John in installments. We will be having a Carter family reunion in Provo in the Summer of 2017.

  8. My goodness, 33 children, 260+ grandchildren. I am a descendant through he and Roxena Mecham. Thanks for this story.
    Sheila Wall, Lethbridge Alberta