ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
Originally the property of the Treasurer of the Cherokee Nation, Judge John Martin, the house was built around 1800. Bowing to the inevitable, Judge Martin, his two wives and their children, emigrated to the West in 1836. Records are unclear as to how many of their 80 slaves they took with them. By going when they did, the Martins were spared the horrors of the forced removal of the Cherokees remaining in present-day Murray County in 1838.
Original House Built Around 1800 by Judge John Martin
In the 1832 Land Lottery the Martin property (Lot Number 45) was awarded to Sarah Bosworth; she in turn sold it to Farish Carter the following year. Within a decade Carter had bought some 15,000 acres of land in north Georgia. His property in Murray County was the largest single unit, requiring hundreds of slaves to raise wheat, rye, oats, corn, tobacco, peas, beans, potatoes, rice and cotton. The Martin home became the summer residence for the Carter Family.
In 1850 Farish Carter reported to the U.S. Census that he owned 403 slaves involved with the operation of his Murray County property, by then called "Carter's Quarter." Later that year he turned the operation of this plantation over to his son James, who became the first of the family to live year-round in Murray County. The plantation continued to thrive under James and, even with the near-certainty that a war was about to start, the 1860 Census of Slaves indicates that 355 slaves remained at Carter's Quarter.
As a youth, Carter had run away from home, made himself a huge fortune, and was engaged in managing his numerous enterprises involving farms, steamboats, banks, ferries, factories, mills, and marble quarries spread across the southeastern United States and into the midwest.
Because Murray County was not in General Sherman's path, the plantation was spared. The family continued to manage the plantation employing most of the former slaves to work as paid laborers.
The Carters made several additions to the original Martin house. In 1935 they undertook a major renovation that involved removing the many additions, then building a duplicate of the original Martin house. The twins became wings flanking a new two-story section. The following year they installed electricity and indoor plumbing.
Carter's Quarter After Renovation of 1935
Fort Gilmer, Ga.
The house's 12 rooms feature plaster and pine-paneled walls with wainscoting. The original portion retains its original doors, ornate window casings and hand-carved mantels. Door hardware was wrought iron created on the premises. There is also a cantilevered staircase.
With exterior walls built of pine siding, accented by scalloped cornices, white columns, and gabled roofs, the renovated house is classified as "plain plantation" style. Somehow it's difficult to think of such a beautiful house as being "plain."
Nearby stand several outbuildings of by-gone eras. The old detached kitchen, a building for storing trunks of long-time visitors, the plantation office, and a slave cabin are all thought to date from about 1840. A dairy keeper's house, a barn, and a kettle house used for rendering lard were built in the early 1900s.
Reflecting the plantation's early association with the Cherokees, the various fields still carry the names used by the Martins in the early 1800s: Wood Fork Field, originally cultivated by Indians using tools that looked like wooden forks; the Race Field, so called because Indians ran races there; Six Toe Field was named for an Indian who had six toes;The Bell Field was named in honor of another wealthy Cherokee; and the Big Martin Field was named in honor of the builder of the original house on the site, Judge Martin. Other fields have less interesting names: the Town Field, Katherine Field, the Coniston Pasture, etc.
The Carter name has been applied to the town of Cartersville, Georgia as well as to the area immediately surrounding their Murray County plantation, which is now called Carters.
The family of Nancy Carter Bland currently owns the plantation and uses it for special family occasions.
A document in the National Archives in Washington, DC, regarding a debt owed to Colonel Farish Carter has been transcribed here:
July 6, 1838
I certify on honor that on or about the 1st of June 1838 Major M. Venable of the 2nd Regiment of Ga. Infantry who was at that time in command of this post issued an order that the cattle and ponies of captured Indians who were prisoners at this post, should be turned upon a field of oats containing ten acres more or less which was owned by Col. Farish Carter of this state.
W. J. Howard
I further certify that in obedience to said order that the stock of the said Indians above specified were turned upon the said field of oats and that they entirely consumed and destroyed all the oats growing upon said field before they were removed therefrom.
I also certify that Col. Farish Carter has received no compensation or renumeration from me as Qmaster of this post for the said field of oats.
A. A. 2 (illegible) Ga vols
Scholars interested in the business dealings of Farish Carter might want to consult his private papers, which were donated in 1940 to the University of North Carolina.
Univ of North Carolina has Carter papers described below:
Carter, Farish, 1780-1861. Farish Carter papers.
Finding aid available online: http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/c/Carter,Farish
Manuscripts Department Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION #2230 FARISH CARTER PAPERS Inventory
Primarily business papers, 1830-1860, and some family correspondence. Most papers relate to Carter's buying, selling, and renting land in Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee; his financial interest in New Hope, a sugar plantation in Louisiana; his part ownership of the Coweta Falls Manufacturing Company, a textile mill in Columbus, Georgia; his buying, selling, and hiring out slaves; his investments in railroads, banks, gold mining, steamboats, toll bridges, ferries, mills, and other ventures; and his and his sons' operations of plantations in Georgia and Alabama.
Size: About 2800 items (2.5 linear feet). Provenance: Gift of Mrs. John L. Smith in 1940. Access: No restrictions. Copyright: Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
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