The Wisconsin Cartters - Chapter Seventeen
David Kellogg Cartter, son of James and Isadora, was 29 years of age when he married Adella H. Willard on Sept. 29, 1886 in Farmington, La Crosse County, Wis. Della, as she was always called, was the fifth child of John H. and Charlotte (Greer) Willard, early residents of Burr Oak in La Crosse County. Della was born at Farmington, Wis. Sept 23, 1861, had become a teacher in the Jackson County schools, and taught school at the Disco Corners.
THE WILLARD FAMILY
John H, Willard was born at Pike, in Allegheny County, N. Y. and Charlotte Greer in Hampton, Washington County, Vermont. Their marriage had occurred Nov. 17, 1841 in Venergo, Erie Co., Penn. Their children were as follows:
1. Clifford R. b. 11-3-1843 in Greenfield, Erie Co., Penn. d. 2-23-1854 in Michigan City, Laport Co., Indiana
2. Joseph F. b. 7-23-1846 Hillsdale, Spicio Co., Mich. d. _____
3. T. J. no dates – married 1-3-1866 to Josie L. Roberts in Farmington, La Crosse Co., Wis.
4. Mary J. b. 3-3-1856 Farmington, Wis. d. 8-13-1922 – Melrose, Wis. married 2-8-1877 in Melrose, Wis. to Charles Newland (d. 12-30-1926)
5. Adella H. b. 9-23-1861 – Farmington, Wis. married David K. Cartter 9-29-1886 d. 5-24-1892 Black River Falls, Wis.
6. Edith G. b. 12-14-1871 – Melrose, Wis. d. 10-29-1928 Sparta, Wis. married 11-14-1894 in Irving, Wis. to Carl F. Rhyme (b. 8-3-1866 d. 5-4-1924)
To date the ancestry of John Willard has not been determined by the author. (Can someone help?)
After their wedding David and Della took an extended honeymoon trip. Part of this trip took them to the Dakota Territory for a visit with the Swift brothers. If David had ever entertained any desire to move west that idea was dispelled on this trip. A letter written home from Aberdeen included this statement.
“We are of the common opinion that we do not like Dakota as a place to live.”
By this time David had shouldered the responsibility of managing the home farm. New buildings had to be built including additions to the original house. Added lands were cleared and more fences built. His interest in community affairs and local government was being whetted by his own reading and by his father’s keen interest and knowledge of history as well as government.
It was in 1881 that David had his first taste of local office, being appointed as school treasurer to fill an unexpired term of a neighbor. His interest and contributions won for him successive elections as school clerk the next six years plus periodic service thereafter including the organization of a graded school district at Disco Corners in 1902.
In 1883 he was elected to the Albion town board where his keen interest in public matters and his ability to work with people won him in 1886 and 87 he position of Town Chairman and member of the County Board of Supervisors.
This was quite a challenge as the Town of Albion at that time still contained the present town of Brockway which covered a large area. Town Chairman was a position in which he served periodically for several years, also taking his turn as assessor in 1892. His greatest satisfaction came from the effort he put in to improve “farm to market” roads and bridges that would better withstand the periodic spring floods. Living, as he did, ten miles from Black River Falls, he knew the problems of transporting livestock and crops to market and returning with building supplies and materials.
Many of the roads in those days were very sandy. Gravel as a road-building material was not available in many parts of the county. The author remembers well, in later years, his father’s great satisfaction when shale, as a road building material, was discovered in the area. The deep and sandy ruts were replaced with this hard surface material. Shale with its hardening qualities served the purpose of concrete on secondary roads.
Six years spanned the married life of David and Della Cartter, for Della died May 24, 1892 after an extended illness diagnosed as “Lagrippi.” One child, Irene had been born October 9, 1889. She was only two and one-half years old when her mother died and was buried in the family lot at the Melrose Cemetery. During her limited life at Disco Della was accepted as a most valued member of the community. In her obituary is found this statement.
“The halo of influence that moved with her through life was an uplift to all her associates.”
For nine years Isadora took the responsibility of both grandmother and mother for Irene. Her adaptability was to be admired and many were the hours that James Bruce too entertained or played with “his little girl.” These were days to be happily remembered by Irene, sister of the author, in future years.
David tried bravely to overcome his grief by turning his attention to the welfare of his daughter and by intensifying his farm and community effort.
The health of James Bruce remained about the same through these years. Careful attention to eating habits and Isadora’s loving care for his needs seemed to have brought to both a deep satisfaction and a happy realization of their early desire for a home of their won with family around them. Louise Curran in her reminiscing says “Grandmother’s everyday life on the farm had few incidents which I recall. She was efficient in running her home and in providing food. She always had help in the house so there was no rush ever. No one was cross, scolded, or yelled at. I can’t remember her ever waiting on grandfather, or his demanding to be waited on.”
In spite of his health problems, largely stemming from a dyspeptic stomach, James outlived his parents, his four brothers and his one sister. It was in April 1887 that he received word of the death of Justice David Kellogg Cartter in Washington D. C. This was followed eight months later by word of his only sister’s death, Mrs. Elizabeth Millicent McCarthy of Syracuse, N. Y.
Each member of this original David Kellogg Cartter family had made his or her particular contributions during times of much stress and strain in a rapidly growing and expanding country. They had borne their own share or tribulations and awards as had James and Isadora and now James, the last, was to depart.
On October 30, 1897 at the age of 82 years 9 months and 17 days, James Bruce departed this life, having by most human measures lived it to the full. He and his life’s partner had seen their dream of a new home in a new country come true. Each had made their particular contributions to the stream of life that flowed from and by that home. Contributions which in many ways had made others’ lives easier and more fruitful. They had been blessed during his lifetime with two children, four grandchildren, and with the promise more to come.
James was leaving behind in the hearts and minds of others a clearer sense of values, a humanness of purpose, and a faith in mankind.
Isadora, nineteen years his junior, was to live nine years after James’ death, years in which she continued to make her contributions to the family. During those years she also found a greater freedom to travel.
In order that the reader may have a clearer picture of James Bruce as others saw him, the following excerpts are taken from a eulogy printed at the time of his death. Unfortunately neither the name of the writer or of the paper in which it appeared is known, but it was found as a newspaper clipping in grandmother’s scrapbook.
“Mr. Cartter was a grand specimen of manhood both in body and mind. Standing erect six feet two inches, with clear-cut features, and a massive forehead resting over expressive eyes, he was a man whose personal presence would inspire the beholder with his superiority of wisdom. These impressions were greatly strengthened by a close acquaintance with him. The better he was known the more highly he was respected.
“He possessed in a marked degree an unswerving honesty of purpose and a fixed determination to do right. He was a great reader, a profound thinker and the possessor of a broad and varied source of information and knowledge. He had wonderful conversational powers. He was calm and industrious in his investigations and deliberations but when he had once reached a conclusion he was firm and steadfast in his conviction. He never censured without cause or condemned without a hearing. The freedom of speech and belief which he claimed for himself he freely accorded to others. As a neighbor and friend he endeared himself to his associates by his many acts of kindness, his wise counsels and his tender sympathies; as a Mason he was beloved by all his brethren, and his presence in the lodge room was the sure harbinger of harmony and good will. As a husband and father he was kind, generous and just. He loved without ostentation, reproved without wounding and admonished without bitterness. - - -
- - - He was a charter member of Black River Lodge of Masons, No. 74 and continued a valued and devoted member until his death. A goodly number of brethren under the direction of the Black River Lodge, attended his funeral, and prepared the last sad rites of an honored and esteemed brother, in the presence of a large concourse of sympathizing friends and neighbors. He was a universalist in his religious convictions. He believed in the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, and the ultimate salvation of mankind. But he had great respect for the Presbyterian Church on account of it having been the chosen church of his mother.”
In the book Fathers of Wisconsin written by H. A. Tenney and David Atwood this review of his life is given:
“James Bruce Cartter was born in Rochester, N. Y. January 13, 1815. His father David K. Cartter and mother Elizabeth were both from Massachusetts. He had a common school education and his general occupation has been that of a farmer. He was married July 7, 1855 to Isadora F. Swift. He settled in Racine County in February 1843 and many years since removed to Black River Falls, Jackson County, where he now resides having during all this time persistently avoided holding any office, public life seeming to have no attraction for him.
As Mr. Cartter did not take his seat in the 1st Constitutional Convention until two weeks after it had organized (due to illness) no conspicuous part in its work was assigned to him. His career as a pioneer citizen, however, has been one eminently worthy and useful to the communities in which he has resided, and his neighbors and old friends unitedly bear testimony to his sterling worth, integrity, and valuable services as a frontier citizen.”
Col. Carl C. Pope of Black River Falls, friend of James Bruce since 1856 says in his eulogy:
“James B. Cartter was a man of broad information and genial character, but he was content to live in comfort and independence on his farm. He was of that sturdy pioneer class to whom Wisconsin owes so much - - “
James was buried in the Sechlerville rural cemetery, located on the crest of a hill overlooking what has come to be known as the Trempeleau Valley. Nestled in a small clearing, surrounded by a combination of pine and hardwood trees it is a fitting spot for one like him who chose the pioneer rural life to that of crowded urban living. He was later to be joined here, in this quiet cemetery, by Isadora and by David’s third wife Edith (David) Cartter with her two infant children. This too is the Adams family cemetery