CARTER, William Chauncy, (deceased), pioneer farmer of Morgan County, was born in New Canaan, Conn., April 2, 1820, and died in Jacksonville, Ill., December 9, 1896. He was a son of Ebenezer and Eliza (Weed) Carter. His father, also a native of New Canaan, was descended from an English immigrant, Samuel Carter, whose father was of the same name. The founder of the family in America was born in London, England, about 1665. Having been enticed from home by the captain of a vessel coming to this country, he came to America about 1677, and landed in Boston. In 1668 he settled in Deerfield, Mass., and afterward resided in Norwalk, Conn. His son, Samuel, lost his entire family of eight persons at the sacking and burning of Deerfield by the French and Indians from Canada, February 29, 1703 or 1704. Some of the members of the family were massacred and others were taken captive and carried to Canada. Ebenezer Carter was the only child who returned to the colony. He was one of the pioneers from Norwalk to Canaan Parish, now New Canaan, Conn. Various representatives of the family have become conspicuous in public affairs and in professional life, in several States of the Union.
At the age of thirteen years William Chauncy Carter was brought by his parents to Illinois, and with them spent the winter of 1833-34 at Winchester. The following spring they located on a farm about four miles south of Jacksonville, where Ebenezer Carter had purchased a claim of 80 acres of prairie land, and entered some timber land. The elder man spent the rest of his life on this place and died there in May, 1860. After his death his widow removed to Jacksonville, where she died. They reared a family of one son and two daughters - William Chauncy; Mary Elizabeth, who married Dr. James Woodward (now deceased), and who is living in Olathe, Kans., and Hannah Benedict, who married James C. Fairbank. Both Mr. and Mrs. Fairbank are deceased.
Mr. Carter enjoyed exceptional educational advantages for his day. After completing his preparatory course he entered Illinois College, from which he graduated in 1845. Renting land near his father's farm, he devoted the summer months to its cultivation, and taught school during the winter for four years, two years teaching in his own neighborhood, and two years at Franklin. He then purchased a tract of land situated below his father's farm, and an additional small body of land from his father, and devoted the remainder of his active life to agriculture. In October, 1873, he removed to Jacksonville, retiring from business. During his residence in that city he served for eight years as a member of the City Council, taking an active and unselfish interest in the advancement of various projects for the improvement of the city. He was generally regarded as the father of the present system of pavements in Jacksonville. When the Council had before it an ordinance providing for the construction of a plank pavement from the public square to the Chicago and Alton depot, he was the only member whose vote was recorded in opposition to the project. He favored the paving of all streets with brick and offered strong arguments in behalf of such improvement, even after the Council had adopted the ordinance providing for the plank road. He finally persuaded the late Marshall P. Ayers to pave the section of street in front of his bank with vitrified brick, so that the people might see a section of roadway in operation. As soon as the superior advantages of this form of pavement were seen, the Council unanimously rescinded the original act and voted to pave East State Street with brick. From that time forward the success of the brick pavement was assured, and many miles of it were constructed within a few years following the passage of the original ordinance.
Mr. Carter was an active supporter of the Union during the Civil War. He was a member of the Union League, and his barn was one of the "Underground Railway stations: which marked the progress of the escaping slaves in their path to freedom. Both father and son were deeply interested in the welfare of the school system, and after the organization of the public school system of the State, W. C. Carter served for a long period as School Director. In religion he was a devoted member of the Congregational Church. Though a man of strong convictions, he was modest and retiring in his disposition, and prone to give to others the credit for advancing public enterprises which really should have been given to him. He never vacillated between right and wrong, but firmly adhered to those principles of honesty and justice which constituted the guide of his forefathers.
On November 19, 1846, Mr. Carter was united in marriage with Julia Ann Wolcott, daughter of Elihu Wolcott, one of the representative citizens of Jacksonville during its early days. Mr. Wolcott was born in Windsor, Conn., and came to Morgan County with his family in 1830, arriving in the county on November 5th of that year. He surveyed the route of the old Sangamon & Morgan Railroad, and was identified with various other enterprises of importance in Morgan County. Mrs. Carter was born in Windsor, Conn., June 20, 1826, and was graduated from the Jacksonville Female Academy in the class of 1845, her sole classmate being Miss Kate Murdock. She bore her husband the following named children: Samuel Wolcott, a farmer residing on Joy Prairie; William Chauncy and Edwin, who died in infancy; William Wallace, who resides on the homestead; Ella Marion, who died at the age of twenty-eight; Walter Lee, residing on the homestead; Prof. Truman P. Carter of Jacksonville; and Helen Hooker and Herbert, twins. Of the latter Helen H. died in infancy. Herbert was graduated from Illinois College in 1892, and from Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia in the class of 1895; engaged in the drug business in Jacksonville for two or three years; returned to Philadelphia to take a special course on diseases of the nose and throat, and died there in 1899. Mr. Carter and his wife gave to all their children excellent educational advantages, and they have honored the family name by their upright and useful lives.