REV. THOMAS WRIGHT CARPENTER. This earnest and effective worker in the cause of Christianity is a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, but is none the less a successful and enterprising farmer of Howell Valley, Howell County, Missouri He was born in Scott County, Missouri, in 1824.
A son of Cyrus and Nancy (Davis) Carpenter, natives of Virginia and Tennessee, respectively, but who came to southeast Missouri in 1811, when young, and there experienced the earthquake shock of that period. They married in what is now Scott County, where they spent the rest of their lives, the father dying in 1834 and the mother in 1870. They united with the Methodist Church at the time the first sermons of that doctrine were preached in south-east Missouri and remained connected with it until their deaths. Cyrus Carpenter was a cripple and as a means of livelihood followed shoe making and carpentering, but remained a poor man all his life, owing to his physical infirmities. His father, Conrad Carpenter, was one of the first settlers of south-east Missouri and died in New Madrid County. He was of French origin, and at the time of the Revolutionary War was a small boy. The maternal grandfather, Caleb Davis, was also one of the pioneers of southeast Missouri and worked at the blacksmith’s trade. The immediate subject of this sketch was one of the following named children: Catherine, Benjamin, Harrison, Charles, Martha, Thomas W., John, William, James and Mary.
The educational advantages which Thomas Wright Carpenter received in his youth were extremely limited, but he had a wise and excellent mother, to whose training and influence he owes all that he is. He had such a thirst for a knowledge of the Scriptures that he would carry his Bible to the field with him and read it every spare moment. Early in life he united with the Methodist Episcopal Church and from that time on was an earnest worker for the cause of religion and soon became a leader in all church matters of his neighborhood. For many years he was an exhorter and no matter what the weather might be it did not prevent him from filling his appointments. He and his wife would often walk seven and eight miles across the swamps, carry their children, in order to attend some meeting on which they had set their hearts. They labored this way a long time and accomplished much good. After the war Mr. Carpenter was ordained by the St. Louis Conference and thereafter preached all over southeast Missouri, from Howell County to the Mississippi River, and at one time he was acquainted with nearly everybody in this whole region of country. He has preached more funeral sermons and married more people than perhaps any other minister in the section and is still called forty and fifty miles to officiate on those occasions. Perhaps no man in Missouri has organized more churches, revived more abandoned churches or done more effective work in the saving of souls than he, for he is possessed of considerable magnetism, is forcible, convincing and often an eloquent speaker, wielding great influence over his hearers. He had a circuit for six years in Howell and Scott Counties, and, after working hard on his farm all the week, would on Saturday night or Sunday ride thirty or forty miles to some of his appointments, probably preach two sermons, and Monday morning would find him at his plow.
When twenty years old he married Louisa, daughter of Samuel and Nancy Darby, who died in Oregon and Scott Counties, respectively having come to Missouri from Alabama. Mrs. Carpenter was born in that State and died in 1847, the mother of six children: Martha, who died in infancy; John Wesley, deceased; James M., deceased; George Washington; Mary, wife of Amos W. Blatchen, of Smithville, Arkansas; and Nancy, wife of John T. Pool. For his second wife Mr. Carpenter took Mrs. Minerva Stanley, who died soon after their marriage, and Mrs. Angeline Allen became his third wife, with whom he lived about twenty-seven years and had four children: Sarah A.; Emily, wife of Wright Carpenter; Catherine, deceased; and Thomas Wright, deceased. Mr. Carpenter’s fourth wife was Mrs. Sarah I. Hughs, a native of Kentucky. After making a number of changes of residence Mr. Carpenter located in Howell County for about nine years, and here he has since made his home. He has one of the finest and best improved farms in the county. In his efforts for the good of humanity he has been a tireless worker, and when his long and useful career will have closed it can with truth be said of him, ” Well done thou good and faithful servant.”