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Hannah Carr

Born a Slave – Date Unknown

Died December 9, 1917

"Aunt Hannah" is highly esteemed by old and young, and few there are who do not know her personally, for she has lived here about three-quarters of a century, in fact has been a member of the Methodist Church here nearly that long.


These words of respect written in 1912 were used to describe a beloved resident of Matagorda.


The actual date of Hannah Carr’s birth was unknown. It is possible that she herself did not know when she was born. At her death, her Matagorda friends were sure she was at least 100, but census records indicate she was probably closer to 90.


Her age recorded in the 1880 census was 48, which would have made 1932 her birth year. The 1900 census gave her age as 75 and said she was born in February, 1925. If Hannah herself answered the questions, it may have been the most accurate birth date. Her age at her death would have been 92 if the 1925 date was correct.


One of the questions always asked on the census was place of birth. In 1880 Hannah’s entry said she was born in Mississippi, but the 1900 census entry was Georgia. The census also indicated she had been married 50 years.


Regardless of where she was born, at some point, Hannah moved to Matagorda and worked for the Robert H. Williams family.


According to the Matagorda County Tribune, November, 1912, Dr. Christopher Harris “Kit” Williams was visiting in Matagorda. One purpose of the trip was to visit Hannah as she had been his mammy when he was young. Dr. Williams was born in 1838, therefore, Hannah would have been a young woman when she cared for Dr. Williams.


The article went on to say of Hannah-- During slavery times, as was the custom, her name with other Negro slave Methodists was on the roll with the white folks. Hers is the only name of her race on it today, and there as an honest, faithful and respectful member and a consistent Christian, she is respected by all, yea, by many, loved--an impressive lesson… Until recently when blindness overcame her the care of the church was her especial pride and pleasure. Aunt Hannah lives alone in her own nice little house just across the street from the Culver home and with her chickens and household work passes away the time.

Matagorda County Tribune, November 1, 1912


The Official Membership and Church Records of the Methodist Church of Matagorda recorded Hannah’s baptism and vows in 1891.


Hannah also worked for the family of Galen and Amelia Hodges, owners of the Colorado House hotel.
She was a devoted servant and an excellent seamstress for the family. 


She later worked for Lily Bruce Culver.


At some point, Hannah was married as she was widowed by 1880.
Records also disagree on how many children she had, but her granddaughter, Annie Brown, age 11, was living with her in 1880.


1880 Federal Census of Matagorda, Texas



In her later years, as a freedwoman, she owned her home, which had been built for
her across the street to the west from the Culver house on Wightman Street.


1900 Federal Census of Matagorda, Texas

1910 Federal Census of Matagorda, Texas


Another demonstration of the town’s love and respect for Hannah was a prayer meeting held at her home in 1913.


The Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church gave Aunt Hannah [Carr] quite a treat and surprise last Monday when they went to her house in a party and held prayer meeting with her. After the devotional program was over Mesdames Burke, Bedford and Culver slipped away to the Culver home and brought over trays of hot chocolate and cake and passed to Aunt Hannah and her guests. This indeed proved a treat to this poor blind Christian, Aunt Hannah is well known in Matagorda by all, young and old, and up until the past year has always been a faithful attendant to all church affairs up to the time she lost her sight, which has kept her from enjoying this part of her life. She is a member of the white church, and has been since the slavery days. Those who showed Aunt Hannah this pleasant afternoon were Mesdames D. S. Burke, Will Burke, Culver, Hawkins, Baker, Bedford, Baxter, Will McNabb, W. H. Smith, Rugeley and Salley. 
The Matagorda County News and Midcoast Farmer, Friday, February 14, 1913 

At Hannah’s death she left her house and money to the Matagorda Methodist Church. The church later sold it to Ned Culver. Ned and his wife, Audrey. They remodeled the house and it was used for several generations. The house is still used as a residence in 2016.

Her grave was unmarked until Houston Troy “Jack” Taylor purchased a beautiful gray granite tombstone to mark her lasting resting place. Mr. “Jack” had worked at the train depot until it closed. His mother was a great friend of Hannah Carr’s and even though he moved from Matagorda to Houston, he fulfilled his promise to place a proper headstone on Hannah’s grave.

Just a few years later, Hannah died and was lovingly buried in Section A of Matagorda Cemetery by her many friends.

Hannah Carr

Hannah Carr--colored--an old land mark, was found dead Sunday morning by Mr. G. B. Culver whose home is just across the street. She had evidently been dead for several hours and the general supposition is that she froze to death. She was Mr. Kit Williams', deceased, old black mammy and old residents here say she was 100 years old if she was a day. She was a strict and faithful member of the white Methodist Church having been brought up in that denomination by her "white mistress." For years she kept the interior of the church in perfect order and was a familiar figure at services, always taking her seat down by the door. The Methodists took charge of the remains and took the casket to the church she loved so well and Rev. T. S. Williford conducted the funeral services Monday morning at 10 o'clock. She left all her property and cash to the church. God "hath no respect of persons" and we feel certain this aged darkey whose life of usefulness here is over and has gone to a rich reward.

Matagorda County Tribune, December 14, 1917 




A memorial window in the steeple tower of the Matagorda United Methodist Church was dedicated to this remarkable woman.

Recreation of the Hannah Carr window

 It is a companion window to the Christ window which was dedicated to another church member.


Plaque Dedication


Dedication photos courtesy of David Holubec

Gayle Watkins, Jr. & Jo Sutton
Dedication Participants
Karen Yeamans, speaker
Wilma Holt & Jo Sutton, Matagorda Hist. Soc. Pres.
Rev. T. R. Richardson
Plaque & Marker






Bay City Sentinel, March 3, 2016


Copyright 2006 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Dec. 27, 2006
Mar. 3, 2016