Carter, William A. (William Alexander), 1818-1881

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William A. Carter (1818-1881) was born in Virginia, and moved to Fort Bridger in 1857 to become the storekeeper. He was a businessman and a probate judge while doing other various jobs.

From the description of William A. Carter papers, 1863-1929. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 365128365

Born in Prince William County, Va.; enlisted in the army on 1 July 1836 at the age of 18 at Warrenton, Va.; enlisted in the Second Seminole Indian War and assigned to Company A, 2nd US Dragoon; discharged 12 Aug. 1837 at St. Augustine as sergeant with reason given as disability; after discharge he was a sutler for the US military.

From the description of W. A. Carter papers, 1835-1946 bulk 1835-1842. (Library of Congress / Nucmc). WorldCat record id: 430827433

William Alexander Carter was Probate Judge of Uinta County, Wyoming, and ex officio Justice of the Peace.

From the description of Documents from Uinta County, Wyoming, 1869-1875. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702138584

William A. Carter, born in Virginia, a soldier and sutler in Florida during the Seminole wars, later a Missouri settler and an 1850 overland emigrant to California, came to Fort Bridger in 1857 with the Utah Expedition, remaining the rest of his life as sutler and post trader. At Fort Bridger, in addition to his business as a trader provisioning emigrants traveling overland, Carter was active in mining, lumbering, and ranching. He also served in a number of public offices, including that of Probate Judge, and unsuccessfully solicited an appointment as Wyoming Territory's first governor. After his death in 1881, and until 1890, the business was carried on by his widow, Mary E. Carter, and their children.

From the description of William Alexander Carter papers, 1837-1975 (bulk 1860-1869). (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 49687856

Sutler at Fort Bridger, Wyo. from 1857. Also served as postmaster, pony express agent, probate judge and justice of the peace until 1881.

From the description of Papers, 1858-1884. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 13280254

William Alexander Carter (1820-1881) came with Capt. Philip St. George Cooke to Fort Bridger in 1857 as sutler and post trader. Later he became postmaster and probate judge. He built a store and warehouse, established a sawmill, and carried on a prosperous trading business until his death.

From the description of Fort Bridger account book, 1865-1869. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702127563

W. A. Carter was a sutler and probate judge at Fort Bridger from 1859 until his death in 1881. Carter, a Virginian, came to Fort Bridger with Johnston's army in 1857 during the so-called Utah War. Since goods and people traveling west passed through Fort Bridger, Carter was at the center of economic activities on the frontier. Making the most of his situation, Carter opened a general store. He carried on a brisk trade with soldiers, scientific expeditions, miners and mountaineers, Indians, and emigrants on the Overland Trail.

From the description of William Alexander Carter, account ledger, 1858-1860. (Utah State University). WorldCat record id: 71297125

William A. Carter was born April 15, 1818 in Virginia. Around 1857 to 1858 William A. Carter came with Johnston's Army as a sutler or storekeeper to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. Carter and his wife, Mary E. Carter, had six children: Ada, Anna, Lulie, Roberta, William A. and Edgar. He stayed at Fort Bridger with his family rebuilding and restocking the fort. One of the region's early businessmen, Carter was involved in mining, oil, logging, and cattle ranching, and he also operated a sawmill. He raised hay and grain on the land surrounding the Fort to fill contracts with the government. Carter was soon known as Mr. Fort Bridger, and became Wyoming's first millionaire. In addition to his business activities Carter was justice of the peace and probate judge for Green River County.

From the guide to the William A. Carter papers, 1863-1925, (L. Tom Perry Special Collections)

Carter was an early settler of Wyoming, arriving in 1857. He was appointed judge in 1858, and served for 14 years. He was instrumental in establishing the boundaries of Wyoming, and he erected the first oil refinery in the region and operated one of the first sawmills in southwestern Wyoming. From 1858 to 1881 Carter served as post trader at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, a fort used by the military from 1857 to 1890. Mary E. Carter served as post trader from 1881 to 1883.

From the description of Papers, 1857-1882. (University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center). WorldCat record id: 27183224

W.A. Carter, born in Virginia, a soldier and sutler in Florida during the Seminole wars, later a Missouri settler and an 1850 overland emigrant to California, came to Fort Bridger in 1857 with the Utah Expedition, remaining the rest of his life as sutler and post trader. After his death, and until 1890, the business was carried on by his widow, Mary E. Carter, and their children.

From the description of William Alexander Carter letterbooks, 1860-1884. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 215380331

Biography

William A. Carter of Virginia began his army service in the Seminole War and became a sutler or purveyor after his discharge. Later, as a Missouri settler and an 1850 overland emigrant to California, Carter came to Fort Bridger with Albert Johnston's Utah Expedition in 1857 and spent the rest of his life there as a sutler and post trader. In addition to his business provisioning emigrants traveling overland, Carter was active in mining, lumbering, and ranching. He was his own bookkeeper, a custodian of government funds, and served in a number of public offices, including those of probate judge, justice of the peace, and notary public. He was known as a friend of the Shoshone and Ute Indians. Carter unsuccessfully solicited an appointment as Wyoming Territory's first governor, and was a public relations man for Fort Bridger and the area, giving enthusiastic accounts during his regular trips to Virginia and Washington D.C. After his death in 1881 until 1890, his widow, Mary E. Carter, and their children carried on business at Fort Bridger.

Fort Bridger was a trading post in Utah Territory at Black's Fork on the Green River, in what is now Uinta County, Wyoming. It was established by mountain man, Jim Bridger, with Louis Vasquez, as an emigrant supply stop on the Oregon Trail in 1843, and was purchased by the Mormons in 1853. Burned during the Mormon conflicts in 1857, the fort was rebuilt in 1858 for use by the army and was run by Carter. Although the army leased the fort from Bridger, both Bridger and Brigham Young believed they owned the fort. Fort Bridger was an important supply station for emigrants traveling overland, and served as one of the main hubs of westward expansion used by mountain men, Indians, emigrants, Mormon pioneers, the U.S. Army, and the Pony Express. As Carter's residence, it also served as a social, cultural, and political center in the region, drawing guests from the East and those with business in the area. Carter's family continued to live at the fort until 1928, when it was sold to the Wyoming Historical Landmark Commission for preservation. Today Fort Bridger is a Wyoming State Park.

From the guide to the William Alexander Carter papers, 1837-1975, bulk 1860-1869, (The Bancroft Library)

W. A. Carter was a sutler and probate judge at Fort Bridger from 1859 until his death in 1881. After his death Carter's widow, Mary Elizabeth (Hamilton) Carter, took her husband's place as post trader until 1890.

William Alexander Carter known as "Mr. Fort Bridger" was the most important individual at Fort Bridger, Wyoming and a key player in the economic development of the intermountain west. Carter's personality and the Fort were so intimately connected that to many contemporaries Fort Bridger was "Carter's Fort."

Carter, a Virginian, came to Fort Bridger with Johnston's army in 1857 during the so-called Utah War. Since goods and people traveling west passed through Fort Bridger, Carter was at the center of economic activities on the frontier. Making the most of his situation, Carter opened a general store. He carried on a brisk trade with soldiers, scientific expeditions, miners and mountaineers, Indians, and emigrants on the Overland Trail.

Of particular interest is Carter's business with Mormons. Aware of the market opportunity presented by Mormons, Carter opened a second store at Heber, Utah. In order to make things go more smoothly, Carter recruited Mormon Bishop Abram Hatch as a partner. Nevertheless, the Heber store closed in the face of the Mormon policy of not trading with "gentiles."

One of the region's early businessmen, Carter was involved in mining, oil, logging, and cattle ranching, and he also operated a sawmill. He raised hay and grain on the land surrounding the Fort to fill contracts with the government. In addition to his business activities Carter was justice of the peace and probate judge for Green River County. Originally, Fort Bridger was in Utah Territory; but it became a part of the newly created Wyoming Territory on July 25, 1868. (The official date for the organization of the Wyoming Territory was May 19, 1869.)

Judge Carter was known for his hospitality. He tried to lead the life of a gentleman, had an excellent library, and a Steinway piano. He was a Republican and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

W. A. and Mary E. Carter had six children: Ada, who married army surgeon J. K. Corson, Anna (Mrs. James Van Allen Carter), Lulie (Mrs. Maurice Groshon), Roberta (Mrs. W. H. Camp), William A. and Edgar. James Van Allen Carter was not related to Judge Carter but was a son-in-law.

For additional studies of Carter see:

W. N. Davis, Jr., "The Sutler at Fort Bridger," Western Historical Quarterly January 1971 : 37-54.

Robert S. Ellison, Fort Bridger Wyoming; A Brief History Casper: The Historical Landmark Commission of Wyoming, 1931;

Fred R. Gowans and Eugene E. Campbell, Fort Bridger Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1875.

"Diary of Judge William A. Carter" Annals of Wyoming April 1939.

Merrill J. Mattes, Platte River Road Narratives, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988, entry 1588,

Dale L. Morgan and George P. Hammond, eds., A Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the Bancroft Library, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963, pp. 244-245.

See also A. R. Standing, "Through the Uintas: History of the Carter Road," Utah Historical Quarterly, Summer 1967: 256.

"Western Justice: The Court at Fort Bridger Utah Territory," Utah Historical Quarterly, April 1955): 99.

From the guide to the William Alexander Carter, account ledger, 1858-1860, (Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Foote, William H., 1778-1846. William H. Foote letters to W.A. Carter and related papers, 1834-1884 (bulk 1834-1846) UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn William Alexander and Mary E. Carter papers, 1859-1890 Utah State University. Merrill-Cazier Library. Special Collections and ArchivesManuscript Collection
creatorOf William Alexander Carter papers, 1837-1975, bulk 1860-1869 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Carter, William Alexander, 1818-1881. Papers, 1858-1884. Denver Public Library, Central Library
creatorOf Pacific Telegraph Company. Pacific Telegraph Company accounts, 1865-1866. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Carter, William A. (William Alexander), 1818-1881. William A. Carter papers, 1835-1925 (bulk 1880). UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Carter, William Alexander, 1820-1881. Fort Bridger miscellany. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Carter, William A. (William Alexander), 1818-1881. Fort Bridger account book, 1865-1869. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf William A. Carter papers, 1863-1925 L. Tom Perry Special Collections19th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts
creatorOf Carter, William Alexander, 1818-1881. William Alexander Carter, account ledger, 1858-1860. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
creatorOf Carter, William Alexander, 1820-1881. William Alexander Carter papers, 1837-1975 (bulk 1860-1869). UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Carter, William A. (William Alexander), 1818-1881. Documents from Uinta County, Wyoming, 1869-1875. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Ols, James T. Deposition, 1858 Jun 26. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Connor, P. E. (Patrick Edward), 1820-1891. William Alexander and Mary E. Carter papers, 1859-1890. Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library
creatorOf Carter, William A. (William Alexander), 1818-1881. William A. Carter papers, 1863-1929. Harold B. Lee Library
creatorOf Carter, William A., 1818-1881. Papers, 1857-1882. Univerisity of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
referencedIn Carter, Edgar N. Edgar N. Carter papers, 1856-1954. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf William Alexander Carter, account ledger, 1858-1860 Utah State University. Merrill-Cazier Library. Special Collections and ArchivesManuscript Collection
creatorOf MS 24502, Ashworth, Brent Ferrin 1949-. Brent F. Ashworth collection 1817-1993 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Church History Library
creatorOf Carter, William A. (William Alexander), 1818-1881. W. A. Carter papers, 1835-1946 bulk 1835-1842. Library of Congress / NUCMC, National Union Catalog of Manuscripts Collections
creatorOf Martin, Michael, d. 1860. Michael Martin papers, 1859-1864. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Livingston, Kinkead & Company. Livingston, Kinkead & Company records, 1857-1862. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Carter, James Van Allen, 1838-1896. James Van Allen Carter overland diary, 1866. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Corson Family. Corson family correspondence, 1858-1893. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Carter, William A. (William Alexander), 1818-1881. Documents from Uinta County, Wyoming, 1869-1875. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf United States. Army. Papers relating to Fort Bridger, 1865-1875. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Carter, William Alexander, 1820-1881. William Alexander Carter letterbooks, 1860-1884. UC Berkeley Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ashworth, Brent Ferrin 1949- person
associatedWith Auerbach, Herbert S. (Herbert Samuel), 1882-1945. person
associatedWith Bridger, Jim, 1804-1881. person
associatedWith Burke, Martin Captain. person
associatedWith Carter, Edgar N. person
associatedWith Carter family. family
associatedWith Carter, James Van Allen, 1838-1896. person
associatedWith Carter, Mary E. person
associatedWith Carter, Mary E., 1830-1904. person
associatedWith Carter, Moore F. (Moore Fauntleroy), b. 1842? person
associatedWith Carter, William A., b. 1863. person
associatedWith Carter, William Alexander, 1820-1881. person
associatedWith Connor, P. E. (Patrick Edward), 1820-1891 person
associatedWith Corson Family. family
associatedWith Crook, George, 1829-1890. person
correspondedWith Daly, Mr. person
associatedWith Daughters of the American Revolution. Wyoming State Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Ellison, Robert Spurrier person
associatedWith Foote, William H., 1778-1846. person
associatedWith Groshen, Maurice. person
associatedWith Harkness, Edith C. (Edith Calhoun), 1880-1951. person
associatedWith Harney, William S. (William Selby), 1800-1889. person
correspondedWith Henry, London Carter person
associatedWith Hoyt, John Wesley, 1831-1912 person
associatedWith Livingston, Kinkead & Company. corporateBody
correspondedWith Mahan, J. B. person
associatedWith Mann, Luther, Jr. person
associatedWith Martin, Michael, d. 1860. person
associatedWith McClellan, Ellen Marcy, 1838-1907. person
associatedWith Miller, Private. person
associatedWith Ols, James T. person
associatedWith Online Archive of California. corporateBody
associatedWith Overland Stage Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pacific Telegraph Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Ridgely, Randolph. person
associatedWith Scott Eddy and Company (Wyo.) corporateBody
associatedWith Sherman, Lieutenant. person
associatedWith United States. Army corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. Regiment of Dragoons, 2nd. corporateBody
associatedWith Utah Expedition (1857-1858) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Miami River (Fla.)
Wyoming
West (U.S.)
West (U.S.)
Uinta County (Wyo.)
Fort Lauderdale (Fla.)
Saint Augustine (Fla.)
Carter (Wyo.)
Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Tennessee
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Wyoming
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
West (U.S.)
Placerville (Calif.)
Wyoming--Uinta County
Wyoming--Fort Bridger
Key Biscayne (Fla.)
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Utah--Green River County
Fort Hanson Fla.)
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Utah
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Wyoming
West (U.S.)
United States
Wyoming
Uinta County (Wyo.)
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Florida
Fort Bridger (Wyo.)
Fort Russell (Fla.)
Fort Peyton (Fla.)
United States
Subject
Petroleum industry and trade
Military supplies
Material Types
Probate court
Courts
Immigration and American Expansion
Maps
Frontier and pioneer life
Indians of North America
Real property
Fur traders
Indians--Warfare
Plantations
Overland Journey to the Western United States
Land tenure
Judges
Correspondence
Sutlers
Seminole War, 2nd, 1835-1842
Pioneers--Correspondence
Mines and Mineral Resources
Utah Expedition, 1857-1858
Occupation
Judges
Sutlers--Wyoming
Sutlers--Florida
Sutlers
Soldiers--United States
Merchants
Activity

Person

Birth 1818-04-15

Death 1881

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