William Thomas “Uncle Tom” Carter lived to be 91 years old and never used a razor. He was a lover of nature who always took a walk after lunch, often with his grandchildren, to whom he explained the beauty of flowers and animals.
Born July 7, 1842, Tom’s mother died when he was quite small. He was raised by his grandmother and an African-American servant.
Uncle Tom Carter is listed in the 1850 Murray County census with his father, Charles N.B. Carter, 30, farmer, born in Georgia with land valued at $3,000. His mother was Eugina M Carter, 29, born in Georgia. Siblings are Georgia G., 10, Eugenia A., 8, William T., 7 and Cate L., 2. Whitfield County was formed from Murray County in December of 1851.
William Thomas is listed in the 1860 Whitfield County Census as being 18 years old, living in the household of a Junius J. Jones and is listed as a farm laborer.
As a teenager he ran off to join the Confederate Army, serving in Phillip’s Georgia Legion Infantry Battalion, Company B, Dalton Guards, from Whitfield County. He was detached for service with the Signal Corps of McLaw’s Division on Oct. 13, 1862.
Carter earned a Southern Cross of Honor, which he proudly wore. He served throughout the war without receiving a scratch.
Upon his return home, he was welcomed by all, they serving him what they had in the house; cornbread, cabbage and pot likker.
“This is the best food I have eaten in a long time,” he said.
Carter was well educated and had excellent penmanship. He became a school teacher. In 1869, he left Georgia to go to Texas and at Wylie he met Elizabeth Cunningham (born 1852). He was 27 years of age and she was only 17. Elizabeth was an orphan whose father, M.D.L. Cunningham, 32nd Mississippi Infantry, Company C, never returned from the Civil War. Her young mother, Mary Ann (Hughes) Cunningham, died from overwork and exposure.
Tom and Elizabeth were wed Aug/ 23, 1876, in Wylie, Texas. They had nine children with two sons dying in infancy. The others were Mary Eugenia (Granny Wells), Georgia, May, Lula, Gussie, Jim and John. Tom and Elizabeth are buried in Kendrick Cemetery, Denton Valley near Clyde, Texas.
This article is part of a series of stories about Dalton and life in Dalton during the Civil War. The stories run on Sunday and are provided by the Dalton-Whitfield 150th Civil War Commission. To find out more about the commission, go to www.dalton150th.com. If you have material that you would like to contribute for a future article contact Robert Jenkins at (706) 259-4626 or robert.jenkins@ robertdjenkins.com.