William Furlsbury Carter, Sr.

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William Furlsbury Carter, Sr.

Birthplace: Newry, Oxford County, Maine, United States
Death: October 11, 1888 (77)
Santaquin, Utah County, Utah, United States
Place of Burial: Santaquin, Utah County, Utah, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John C. Carter and Hannah Knight Carter (Libby)
Husband of Sarah Y. Carter; Roxena Carter; Mary Elizabeth Howard; Hannah Cordelia Carter and Sally Ann Mecham
Father of Peter York Carter; Abiah Russell Carter; William Furisbury J Carter; Hannah Libby Robbins; Martha York Carter and 34 others
Brother of Dominicus Carter; Hannah York; John Harrison Carter, Jr.; Eliza Ann Snow; Richard Harrison Carter and 9 others

Occupation: Preacher, missionary, blacksmith, wagon-maker, mechanic and carpenter
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Furlsbury Carter, Sr.

William Furlsbury Carter BIRTH 1 May 1811 Newry, Oxford County, Maine, USA DEATH 11 Oct 1888 (aged 77) Santaquin, Utah County, Utah, USA BURIAL Santaquin City Cemetery Santaquin, Utah County, Utah


Biographical Summary:

William Furlsbury Carter (1 May 1811 – 11 October 1888) born on the 1st of May 1811 at Newry, Oxford County, Maine. He was the second son and fourth child of the John and Hannah Knight Libby Carter family. He had ten brothers and sisters.

About 1831, at twenty years of age, he married his first wife Sarah York. While living in Oxford County, Maine, three children were born to them:

It was on the 17th of November 1834, that William Furlsbury Carter was baptized by Elder Daniel Bean and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His mother had joined four months earlier, as had his older brother Dominicus and younger brothers John “H” and Richard Carter and sister Eliza Ann.

By the year 1836, William had left Maine and traveled to the Ohio Valley. On 6 October 1837, while traveling from Kirtland, Ohio to Far West, Missouri, one of the oxen in his team died and he was forced to adjust the harness of the remaining animal to pull the entire load as a mate could not be purchased. He carried a letter of recommendation from chairman Joseph Smith and J.G. Williams, clerk of the Ohio Conference.

On the 9th of April 1838, William Furlsbury Carter was ordained a Seventy at Far West, Missouri. On the 26th of May 1839 at Quincy, Illinois, he was appointed one of the Seventy Messengers to the Nations by Joseph Young, Chairman of the Council of Seventies. In 1842, he was recommended to preach the Gospel in Hancock County, Illinois, particularly in Nauvoo, Lima or Morleyville, and other places.

William Furlsbury Carter was a member of the Nauvoo Legion, serving as drum major in the 3rd Regiment Second Cohort under the leadership of Colonel Jonathan H. Hale. He was ordained President of the 20th Quorum of Seventies on the 30th of September 1845.

William Furlsbury Carter received a Patriarchal blessing at the home of Isaac Morley on 24 February 1845. Among the many blessings promised his descendants recall the words “…The Lord has blessed thee Brother William with the bounties of nature… Thy genius shall be blessed and released in ornamenting and decorating the building of the Temple of the Lord… Though hast naturally the gift to work in ore and in fine steel and thou shalt yet have the blessing to work in silver and fine gold… Thou shall have the gift by nature to proclaim the Gospel…”

It is believed by his posterity that his life proved a fulfillment of these blessings for he was a blacksmith, wagon-smith, horse-shoer, mechanic and a carpenter. He repaired musical instruments, guns, watches, clocks, he forged knives and tools of all kinds, made hobbies, chins and parts for broken equipment. He was a musician and more than all else a missionary who traveled around the earth on one such trip.

“On 17 November 1846, he and his wife Sarah York Carter received their endowments at the Nauvoo Temple at about the same time as other Carter family members did. Shortly after he became an exile when the mob forced the Saints to leave their homes in Illinois and seek new ones in the wilderness,” recalls the Carter family historian.

William Furlsbury Carter then built a home and blacksmith shop at Kanesville, Iowa, where two children were born and where he accepted and lived the doctrine of plural marriage. Before his new shop was burned by another mob, he had so much business from California bound gold seekers that he frequently had to empty the coins from his pockets as they burdened him at his smithing and forging.

Not permitted to cross the plains to Zion in the tops of the mountain valleys with the first wagon trains to cross in 1847, 1848 or 1849, as he was needed to prepare the wagons and horses and equipment of other emigrants, William Furlsbury Carter was happy to arrive in Utah in 1850 with his two wives and children, in time to be included in the Census of the Great Salt Lake County (on page 53)

William Furlsbury gave his age as 39 and birthplace as Maine in response to the census takers questions; Sara said she was born in Main 38 years ago, Roxena said Pennsylvania 20 years ago and Peter, Abiah, Lyman were reported born in Maine 18, 16, 14 years ago respectively. Martha age four months completed the enumeration as reported in the book “First Families of Utah” by Annie Walker burns and J. Emerson Miller.

When Dominicus settled in Provo, Utah, William Furlsbury followed them in the spring of 1852. He then, as he held his religion in a sacred trust, felt he must answer the call to serve as a missionary to India. He left Provo on October 22, 1852, in company with a group of other Elders taking the southern route to California.

Some of the entries he made in a diary are still preserved and serve to recall some of the problems of travel experienced over one hundred years ago before we had transcontinental railroads and airplane passenger service to practically all points of the globe. The microfilm at the Salt Lake Archives is somewhat blurred on the first few pages but after about three weeks of illegible travel entries we can read it quite readily.


Monday Nov. 15, Traveled 18 miles today. Heavy sandy road. Crossed the Rio Virgin 8 times today. Fine weather, Poor feed. 10 Indians camped with us.

Tuesday Nov. 16, Traveled nineteen miles over a mountain that took from 10-24 men with ropes to help the horses pull our wagons up. We traveled from the Rio Virgin to Muddy Creek. Bad road, fair weather.

Wednesday, Nov. 17, Traveled up the Muddy 4 miles stopped until 12 o’clock. Filled kegs and cans with water and started onto the desert. Traveled until ten in the evening and camped for the night. Good feed, good road, fine weather.

Thursday Nov. 18, Traveled to Las Vegas 52 miles from the Muddy. Rainy Friday night.

Saturday Nov. 20, To Cottonwood springs 17 miles, rough road, camped in 4 inches of snow, frosty night.

Tuesday Nov. 23, We came in sight of Brother Sherwood’s Company… camped at 7 miles spring with Amassa Lyman Company bound for the Great Salt Lake City. Bros Murdock, Rich and Gerraud were with them returning from their mission to the Society Islands. We layed by today (Wednesday) and had a meeting with good instructions.

Saturday Nov. 27, Left Bitter Springs. Middling good road. Traveled 33 miles to Mahobby [Mojave] River.

Thursday Dec. 2, Reached the summit of the Sierra Nevada mountains and went down the Cajun Pass 8 miles. Camped for the night. Friday traveled to San Bernardino. Fine weather, good road. Cool and frosty night stayed with Brother Hide. This is a beautiful valley the most fertile I have ever seen. Sunday preaching by the missionaries. Good will prevails amongst the Saints. Traveled to the Warm Springs and took a bath.

Thursday Dec. 9, Very warm and beautiful weather. The brethren are busy sewing wheat. I saw beets that weighed 3 pounds and onions that weighted a pound or more, young peach trees were 9 feet tall. Sixty Saints were re-baptized.

Saturday Dec. 18, At San Gabriel traveled to Pueblo [LA].

Tuesday Dec. 18, Traveled to the coast three miles from the landing secured a room from a Spaniard named Diego Sepulvedo at $10.00 a day. Grapes, oranges, peaches and figs are raised here [LA] in abundance. This is a beautiful country with large herds of cattle, horses and sheep. Paid 15 cents for a meal at San Pedro. Stormy weather spent the day reading. Brother Pratt and family arrived here from the Islands.

I saw a big whale today playing and spouting. There was an interesting exhibition today as the Spaniards with their oxen yoked by the horns 3 yoke to the cart were drawing goods to the Pueblo of the Angels. It took seven men to drive them. From the landing up the hill they used goads and whips and much shouting and hollering.

San Pedro has no harbor. Vessels anchor a mile from the shore. There are only five buildings and they are owned by the government.

Wednesday Dec. 29, I shipped on board the Brig Fremont-Capat and next day at ten o’clock weighed anchor and sailed from San Francisco. Light breeze and foggy in the morning, calm in the evening. Stiff breeze through the night. The brethren are all seasick but one.

San Francisco is literally alive with people. They pay no regard to the Sabbath. Trading, drinking, gambling and all manner of wickedness is carried on. A large ship went ashore on Stony Point at the entrance of San Francisco Harbor a few minutes after we passed her. I saw her when she went on the rocks. She buckled and sank the next day.

1853 Wednesday Jan. 12, The missionaries met at 10 a.m. to make arrangements for collecting means for to take them to their places of destination. Bro. West and myself went aboard the ship Wilson going to Sacramento City where we stayed all night at a tavern… good fare. Traveled 16 miles to Salmon Falls where we were received kindly and treated first rate.

1853 Saturday Jan. 15, Went to Mormon Island and saw Bro. Brown wash out some gold which he gave me to remember him by… about 25 dollars. I saw a great many pore men in the diggings. Sacramento has been destroyed by fire and inundated by water… both purifying elements. Paid 3 dollars for supper, bed and breakfast. Flour is 50 cents a pound, beef 40 cents. Several of the brethren gave us money for our trip to our missions.

On 29 January 1853, William Furlsbury Cater and his companions were aboard the American clipper ship “Monsoon” and sailing westward away from the California coastline. They had managed to solicit $200 need for fare from the generous miners in the Sacramento Valley. Finally, after a long and tedious voyage they arrived at Calcutta, India on the 26th of April 1853… a three month voyage. The Gospel had been preached to passengers and crew alike on the westward journey across the Pacific.

“William Furlsbury Carter was appointed to work with William fotheringham at Dinnapore, India. The heat was so intense and the climate caused poor health so that Furlsbury could not travel, he actually could hardly walk. None of the Elders could have success in their labors as the people were divided into classes and if they joined the L.D.S. Church, they would lose their caste and become outcasts with no means of likelihood,” the Carter historian records.

“Benares was their Holy City, a beautiful place with over 40 temple buildings. People tried to go there to die as they thought that would insure a quick passage to their heaven. The few who at first accepted the Gospel lived on weeds and roots and tried to beg food as no one would let them work to earn a living. They had peculiar customs and beliefs.

Most of the people in Calcutta, India stayed in their houses during the daytime because of the heat. It was often 120 degrees even in the coolest part of your cabin William Furlsbury told his family in later years. A white man could not stay out in the sun for very long at a time; the people of India cheat and treat Americans with contempt. But the poor people would act as virtual slaves for a few pennies a day; money was a rare ting among the poorer classes. They lived on curry and rice.

William Furlsbury reported seeing many strange sights in India. After a few weeks in Singapore he and a companion returned to Calcutta where it was decided by the authorities that he should return home while he was still able to do so as his health condition was steadily worsening. Dr. Haffnagle, the American Consul at Calcutta, paid his fare on the ship “John Gilpin” bound for Boston, Massachusetts, via Africa’s Cape of Good Hope and the Atlantic Ocean.

After some days they reached a cooler climate and William F.’s fever abated. His despair of ever reaching America alive diminished notwithstanding many delays for repairs as the ship leaked badly. William wrote in his journal on October 22, 1853, just one year after leaving his family and friends at Provo, Utah:

“I have had many dark and lonesome hours and days since I left my home and no one can realize unless they pass these same circumstances, which will be rare if ever, I have not heard from home since I left, while crossing the different seas I have witnessed heavy gales, wind, thunders, storms and squalls… almost without number… the ship has twice sprung a dangerous leak in heavy seas.

“I have traveled through lands where the cholera has swept off thousands between morning and evening and dead bodies floating in the streams bespoke the great mortality of the inhabitants of that land. I feel it in my heart to praise my Heavenly Father for the preserving care he had over me the past year and the blessings he has bestowed upon me.”

Health much improved by the cooler climate of the North Atlantic, William Furlsbury docked at Boston on the 11th of November 1853. It was with happiness and thanksgiving that he journeyed to his birthplace in nearby Maine to visit relatives. He soon returned to Boston and purchased a ticket to Cincinnati, Ohio as that was as far as his funds would take him. There he sold his extra change of clothes and bag to get fare to Hancock County, Illinois, where his brother and sister lived.

On arriving at Lima, Illinois, he learned his father had been dead for over a year. There were recent letters from Utah though that brought word of his family’s good health in Utah. He rejoiced at this first news of his family in over 14 months. A son Edward M. Carter had been born during his absence. He arranged to cross the plains with the first group of emigrants leaving in the spring of 1854.

The captain of the wagon train had objected at first to his joining them, thinking no doubt that Furlsbury’s recent illness and age 43 [apparently his illness had caused much loss of weight and a poor physical appearance] would cause him to be a burden. Possibly it was the intercession of a 27 year old English convert Elizabeth Howard that gained him a place in the company. She is reported to have asked, “Why can’t we take that old man along with us?”

The woman was from a well-to-do family and when asked why she always wore silk dresses on the trail she replied they were the only kind she had. A friendship developed between these two Saints and William F. was able to repair several wagons and shoe the horses on the journey to the satisfaction of all involved. At Echo Canyon the company divided, Captain Kearns taking part and leaving Furlsbury to bring the rest in by another route which proved to be the faster road.

Captain Kearnes on arriving at Salt Lake is said to have asked Miss Howard for an extra two hundred dollars for her transportation to Utah. William Furlsbury interceded with President Brigham Young on the matter.

The solution was soon seen. William Furlsbury and Elizabeth were married at the Salt Lake Temple on 10 September 1854 and preceded on to Provo to join Sarah York Carter and Roxena Mecham Carter and the children he had not seen for almost two years. He was soon at work for the Perpetual Immigration Company, making and repairing wagons and pursuing his blacksmithing trade. Early in 1855, while working at a lathe, turning parts for chairs, tables and other household furniture, he nearly lost his life when struck in the head by a piece of wood that flew out of the lathe. He credits his recovery to faith in prayer.

William Furlsbury Carter left Provo about 1862 and spent the next two dozen years between Mona, Juan County and Santaquin, Goshen and Benjamin, Utah, where he alternately operated a store, a blacksmith shop, farms and a threshing machine which he manufactured out of parts made in his own blacksmith shop.

The Cater family biographer writes “… he lived true and faithful to the Gospel to the end of his days testifying to his great faith in Jesus Christ. He was particularly pleased to learn that he was the second L.D.S. missionary to circle the earth and the first one to carry the Book of Mormon around the world.

He departed this life on Wednesday, October 11, 1888, at 11:00 a.m. at the residence of a daughter Mrs. Arletta Cater Chatwin of Santaquin, Utah. Funeral services were conducted by Bishop George Holliday, Counselor Openshaw, and Elders Levi Openshaw and William Chatwin. Burial was at the Santaquin Cemetery. Death resulted from a general decline in health due to age and hardships endured throughout his life..."


  1. Sara York, 1831; (2) Roxena Mecham, 12 March 1846
  2. Cordelia Hanna Mecham, 31 January 1847
  3. Elizabeth Howard, 9 October 1854
  4. Sally Ann Mecham, 2 December 1856.

It would appear that Cordelia died soon after her marriage. There is no record of a child born to this marriage.

The index card in the Early Church Information File at the Salt Lake City Archives Room spells his name as “Foulsberry”. It gives his baptism date as November 1835 by Daniel Bean. It shows he was ordained a High Priest on 1 December 1860 by D. Carter. Other spellings as Firlsbury, etc. are all apparently in error as family descendants who should know verify the correct spelling as Furlsbury, but no one knows what the name means or how it originated.

One unidentified progeny hazarded the guess that it was a contraction of an early day New England expression having to do with the unfurling of the flag at the burial grounds. Another claims it is derived from the sea-coast custom of watching departing ships go over the horizon until their furl (flag or sails) sinks (or is buried) beneath the horizon.

Carter Pioneers of Provo, Utah, compiled by Arthur D. Coleman, pub. By J. Grant Stevenson, 260 East 2100 North, Provo, Utah 84601.

Submitted to the Nauvoo Visitor’s Center, 1 August 1996 by Helen R. Cole, Box 781, Thatcher, Arizona, Ph. 520-428-5149. William Furlsbury Carter (1811-1888) – Published Biography May 21, 2010; Transcribed by Brad McCall

Transcriber's Notes

"...William F. Carter was my 3rd Great Grandfather with his second wife Roxena Meacham Carter (1830-1919) through their daughter Junietta Carter (1865-1937) who married John Henry Wall (1861-1881) in 1881.

William had quite a rich history and an interesting life. I’ve run across many biographies, journal entries, stories and other tales of his life’s adventures both online and in family records passed down. The following is one of the biographies written of his life that I’ve found in a PDF located in several places online. I made the effort of typing it so it was more easily consumed than the large PDF file. I believe it is properly sourced at the end of the file. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did..."

SOURCE: Obtained online at http://igenealogy.org/2010/05/21/william-furlsbury-carter-1811-1888-published-biography/ April 22/2011.

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William Furlsbury Carter, Sr.'s Timeline

May 1, 1811
Newry, Oxford County, Maine, United States
July 5, 1832
Newry, Oxford, Maine
August 21, 1834
Bethel, Oxford County, Maine, United States
November 17, 1834
Age 23
Oxford County, Maine, United States

See Bio on Sources tab. Baptized by Elder Daniel Bean and joined the Church of Latter Day Saints.

November 17, 1834
Age 23
Newry, Oxford, Maine
November 17, 1834
Age 23
Newry, Oxford, Maine
December 6, 1836
Oxford, Oxford County, Maine, United States