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SOME NOTES IN THE LIFE OF V. REV. CHARLES
IGNATIUS HAMILTON CARTER, V.-G.
CONVERT, PRIEST, VICAR-GENERAL AND ADMINISTRATOR ad interim OF THE DIOCESE OF PHILADELPHIA,
BY FRANCIS X. REUSS.
Col. Charles Carter, the father of the subject on this sketch, was of English birth and an officer in the continental army during the Revolutionary War, and at the time of the birth of Father Carter, September 23, 1803, he was living in Lincoln County, Kentucky.* The place of birth is always given as “at Lebanon, Marion County Kentucky.”
Col. Carter had six children, Charles, Peter, Jessie, Caroline, Parmelia and Kittie. The former is the subject of the present memoir. Of the other two boys I have no trace. Caroline married Raphael, son of John Lancaster, and Catherine Miles. † Parmelia married Colonel Miegs. Kittie married Joseph McCormick.
It is also stated that Father Carter was in his youth an Episcopalian. I have it from one of the family that he was not a member of any religious denomination, though some of his brothers and sisters were communicants in the Episcopal church. His sister Caroline became a convert to the Catholic Faith after her marriage, which took place while Charles was quite young. As a boy he visited his sister's home and spent weeks at a time with her.
* Mr. Charles Carter Spalding in a letter to the writer says: great uncle and was born in Lincoln County
† "Catholicity in Kentucky.” Webb.
Mr. Lancaster, who was a strict Catholic, required every person under his roof, making no exception of visitors and even welcoming the slaves of the plantation, to join in the night prayers, which were said in common. Young Charles who was a participant in these devotions was highly edified by the example of this excellent family.
The powerful influence of their Catholic piety made him examine the teachings of the Catholic Church. He read Catholic books of instruction, sought instruction with the result that he entered the faith of his sister and, it is said, was baptized in his nineteenth year. He afterwards studied at St. Mary's College, in Marion County, Kentucky.
· It is impossible to learn anything of his entrance into this college, his stay there or his departing, because there are no records or catalogues which date back to the foundation in 1821. It is supposed that he entered in that year and left before the full course of the graduating class of 1828 was completed. The list of graduates from 1821 to 1830 show that he did not graduate from St. Mary's.
After leavipg St. Mary's College he turned his attention to mercantile pursuits and accepted a position as clerk in a dry goods store in Danville, Kentucky. He remained there some time.
In his twenty-fourth year he entered St. Joseph's seminary at Bardstown, Bishop David's seminary.
Before going to the Seminary he spent a few weeks with his sister, Caroline.
Rev. Dr. Kenrick sent him to St. Joseph's for the purpose of making his course in preparation for the priesthood.
It is even thought that he was baptized at the seminary, though a diligent search has not brought to light any record of such a baptism. The date of his conversion was about 1822, when he was in his twentieth year, and as he was in his twenty-fourth year at the time of his entrance into Bardstown seminary, it is not likely that he was baptized there.
There are also various statements as to the one wlio baptized him. Some say Bishop Flaget, others Dr. Kenrick. The latter visited Danville while young Carter was employed
there. It is evident that Dr. Kenrick knew him, because it was through Dr. Kenrick that he abandoned his mercantile pursuits and entered Bardstown seminary about the year 1827.
He remained at Bardstown a little more than a year and then went to Mount St. Mary's, Emmittsburg, Md. Here again we must deplore the lack of records.
Mr. Webb alone in his “Catholicity in Kentucky,” gives the name of Charles Carter as a student who had been ordaine a priest.
A letter from an aged religious informs the writer that on account of some misunderstanding with Bishop Flaget, he left St. Joseph's seminary, intending to go to Mt. St. Mary's, at Emmittsburg, Md. The notification to Dr. Kenrick that he was elected to the see of “ Arath” and to serve as coadjutor and administrator of the troubled diocese of Philadelphia, decided him to enter that diocese, although the bishop gave him an introduction to that institution and to the special care of the Rev. John B. Purcell.
The mountain air at Enimittsburg was too trying on his naturally delicate constitution, and in the year 1830 he went to the Sulpician seminary at Baltimore, and remained there until his ordination.
December 16, 1830, Bishop Kenrick wrote to Rev. John B. Purcell, at Mt. St. Mary's College, Emmittsburg, Md., "Mr. Carter is ex animo a Pennsylvanian, but I dare not interfere with the rights of other bishops. I hope he gives you complete satisfaction. Remember me to him.''* This would seem to show him as a student there during that year, yet he is recorded in that year as having entered the Seminary at Baltimore, his name being on the list.
In 1830 Bishop Kenrick was consecrated for the diocese of Philadelphia. On his way to his see, he visited Mt. St. Mary's and St. Mary's, Baltimore, and met at the latter institution Mr. Carter, whom he had known as a young convert and student at St. Joseph's seminary, Bardstown.
At that time he very likely invited the aspirant to the priesthood to enter the Philadelphia diocese. There is a record at the seminary in Baltimore, written in French, and dated July 5, 1831, which tells us that there was this day held a convention for examination of all the subjects to be presented for ordination-an examination held before the retreat in the month of September, that H. Myer (Henry Meyers) was to receive the priesthood, C. Carter, the minor orders, and Williamson and Doyle, the tonsure. This is signed by the examiners, viz. : F. (Louis R.) Deluol, Supr., F. Tessier, F. Toubert, F. (John J.) Chanhe, F. Wheeler, F. (John) Randanne, F. (Alexius J.) Elder, F. (Samuel) Eccleston, F. (Augustin) Verot, F. (Francis) L'Homme, Secretary.
* Researches (Griffin's) for October, 1895, p. 152.
On March 13, 1832, there is another entry on the record.
Mr. C. Carter proposed for the sub-diaconate is unanimously rejected, being lacking in theology."
This entry is signed as above, yet I have found that he was ordained sub-deacon and deacon in St. Mary's church, Philadelphia on August the 4th and 5th, 1832, by Bishop Kenrick, Bishop Purcell preaching.*
He left St. Mary's seminary at the close of the scholastic year (June ?) 1832 and came to Philadelphia. I beg here to refer to the first orders (minor) and state that he received the minor orders on September 3, 1831, and a record gives it “Mr. Carter of the diocese of Philadelphia received minor orders under the administration of Archbishop James Whitfield in the chapel of the seminary.” There are no other records at the seminary mentioning him after the one noting his failure for the diaconate.
Bishop Kenrick had in the meantime arranged with Bishop Flaget for his transfer to Philadelphia and ordained him in St. Mary's church of that city, together with Rev. Francis D. Mulholland.
After his ordination he remained at St. Mary's as an assistant. His stay was but a little while, as a search of the registers of that church shows no entry in the familiar and unique writing.
It is very probable that within a month he was sent to Manayunk. The Herald (Phila., 1832,) states that Father
• Researches (Griffin's) July, 1896, p. 140.
Carter went to St. John's, Manayunk, Philadelphia, at Christmas time, 1832. In the personal note-book of Bishop Neumann (in the writer's possession until it was sent to Rome) there is a record under the heading, “St. John's, Manayunk, C. Carter sent August 22nd, 1832."
In 1834 Father Carter renovated the interior of St. John's at a cost of about twenty-two hundred dollars. On December 14th it was reopened with appropriate ceremonies.
Rev. Stephen L. Dubuisson sang the Mass with Rev. Thomas Tolentine De Silva and Father Carter being deacon and sub-deacon.
Bishop Kenrick preached the sermon.
On August 21, 1836, Bishop Kenrick dedicated St. Bernard's church, Easton, which had been erected by Rev. Henry Herzog. Father Carter and Father Herzog assisted at the ceremony.
In September, 1836, his health being poor, Bishop Kenrick removed him from Manayunk to St. Mary's, Philadelphia, to be an assistant.
In the minutes of the Board of Trustees there is no mention of any salary paid him or even that he was an assistant. It is not until 1837 that any information of this kind is to be found.
The first entry made by him on the registers (in the Marriage Register) is dated September 17, 1836.
His health continuing to be very delicate Bishop Kenrick gave him permission to take a trip abroad.
He left for Europe in January, 1837, taking with him a letter of introduction to Very Rev. Paul Cullen, rector of the Irish College at Rome, of which we give a copy.
Letter of Bishop F. P. Kenrick to Dr. Paul Cullen at the Irish College, Rome.
Records " American Catholic Historical Society. Vol. vii, p. 292, “ Roman Archives.”
“ PHILA., Jan. 31, 1837. I take the liberty of presenting to you the bearer, Rev. Chas. I. Carter, a native of Kentucky and a convert to the Catholic Faith whom I ordained about four years ago. He is the same individual for whom I obtained a place in the Urban College about ten