Thursday, July 10, 2014

JULY 10, 1814

200 years ago today in Washington County, Indiana Territory, Thomas Carr was marking the third year of receiving title to his land from the Federal government. Thomas Carr obtained his land patent for the northeast quarter of Section 13, T2N, R4E on July 10, 1811.  This tract was 2 ½ miles due east of Royse’s Lick on the north tributary to the Harristown Branch of Royse’s Fork of Blue River. Carr would purchase 3 other land patents in Washington Township, Harrison and then Washington County between the years of 1812 through 1815.  Thomas Carr was a land speculator as he never lived in Washington County outside of Clark County, Indiana where he had settled in 1804.

Thomas Carr was of Irish descent with the family name having been Kerr.  He was born in Washington County, Maryland in 1755.  His family soon moved to Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania in the watershed of the Monongahela River.  Thomas Carr served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He married Hannah Coombs in Westmoreland County, Pa in 1784. They lived in Fayette County Pa for 13 years before moving their family to Kentucky.   As did hundreds of Kentuckians, they crossed the Ohio River and moved to the frontier of the recently established Indiana Territory.  They settled in Clark County, Indiana in 1804.  His brother and sister in law, Elisha and Nancy Coombs Carr, had settled in Clark County, Indiana in 1801. Thomas and Hannah soon became a part of the Silver Creek Baptist Church which had been established as the first Protestant congregation in the Indiana Territory on November 22, 1798.  His brother, Elisha, was a deacon of this congregation from 1802 to 1822.

Thomas Carr soon became active in the public life of Clark County, Indiana Territory.  After the US Congress passed the statehood enabling act for Indiana, Carr was one of the 43 members of the Indiana Constitutional Convention.  This convention debated much of the summer of 1816 over many issues including whether slavery should be allowed. Since the State Capitol was a hot and cramped building, the convention delegates often gathered in the shade of a large elm tree to stretch their legs and cool down. Slavery was not allowed in the final document and the right to vote was extended to all white males over the age of 21.  After the adoption of its constitution and an election, Indiana officially became the 19th state of the Union on December 11, 1816.  Carr served in the state legislature until 1818. Thomas Carr died on October 26, 1822 at the age of 67. He is buried in the Silver Creek Cemetery where his brother, Elisha, had donated the land for the church and the cemetery.

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