Written and Compiled by Ron Bryan, Seattle, WA and Peggy Chesteen, Andalusia, Alabama, great grand-son, and grand-daughter of Jesse Man Carter.
On June 18, 1878 Jesse Emmanuel, Man, Carter was born in Alabama, son of Lanier Carter and Elvie Peoples Carter (daughter of William Peoples). His Carter and Peoples grandparents were listed as farmers in the 1870 Census for Covington County. His mother died while he was an infant. In 1900 he was a 21 year old man living on his fathers farm, with his father and older brother, Wesley.
By 1903, he married into another pioneer family, to Tempe Lavinia, Lula, Odom, born 1882. The Odoms appear in the Covington County census as early as 1860. The familys oral history is that he was a hard-working young man, who saved his money until he had enough to start a sawmill on the old Coon Tail Road.
Between 1904 and 1923, Lula Carter bore 13 children, but, sadly, four were to die before the age of 2. Man and Lula took many trips by wagon to Montgomery in an effort to save the babies, but to no avail. Still, nine children survived and grew into a lively household. In 1923, they built a house which was to become a gathering place for the Harmony Community for years. These were happy times for the Carters. There were candy pulls, peanut shelling parties, and evenings of music, singing and storytelling. Man played fiddle, as did his four,sons, Raymond, Hub, Emmet, and Cliff. He would host fiddle conventions at the home, and also played at dances around the county. His fiddle still hangs in the home of ,Randy Feitz, Mans Great Grand-Son, Lula played an old pump organ, Cliff would tapdance, and other family and friends sang harmony under the stars. The Carter daughters Agnes, Trudy, Cora Lee, Macie and Faye recalled fondly how the house lights would be turned off during the singing and story-telling out on the porch. One night, the singers harmonized so beautifully, that Lula Carter was moved to drop to her knees in reverence.
The Carters attended the Harmony Baptist Church, and after Sunday services, Man would come home and cook up a mountain of flapjacks for his family. He was known to be a hard worker, and prosperous, at one time owning lots of property in the Harmony Community. At various times he, and his sons, ran a sawmill, meal grinder, grocery store, restaurant, shoe shop and barbershop. He was one of the first in town to own an automobile. Man was also known for his soft heart. After firing an employee for stealing, he learned that the mans family was hungry. He went to the smokehouse and got some smoked meat, went to the pantry for some canned goods, meal, flour, sugar and a can of lard. These he took to the man in a croker sack, and gave him his job back. During the depression, he was known to feed people from the grocery store, even when they couldnt pay.
Man Carter enjoyed card gambling, and once joined a game on payday with his own millworkers and won all their money, which he immediately returned, and wouldnt play with them after that. His children remember him coming home with winnings and letting them play with the money for awhile, even though Lula disapproved of the whole business.
One of his dreams was to have all of his children grow and prosper around him and raise their own families in the community. As it turned out, most of them moved away one by one, settling in other towns, and leaving the old family home behind. One of the saddest stories told of Man Carter, involved the funeral of his oldest son, Raymond. Because he was too ill to rise from his own deathbed, the casket was taken to the family home, so that Man Carter could say goodbye to his 33 year old son before he was taken to his final resting place in February 1939. Four months later Man died on his own 61st birthday.
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