Born a Slave –
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
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
She later worked for Lily Bruce
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,
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
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
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,
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.
photos courtesy of David Holubec
Gayle Watkins, Jr. & Jo Sutton
Karen Yeamans, speaker
Wilma Holt & Jo Sutton, Matagorda Hist. Soc. Pres.
Rev. T. R. Richardson
Plaque & Marker
Bay City Sentinel, March 3, 2016