Among the men who built up Providence no name stands out clearer for strict integrity and honorable, upright honesty than does that of Pulaski Carter. He came of a family of New Englanders who prided themselves on the fact that for generations their word had been as good as their bond, and he inherited all the stern, unbending honesty of his race. He was born at Westminster, Conn., June 23, 1813. His mother was of a gentle nature, possessing many lovely and lovable traits of character. Her health was never firm, and she died when Pulaski was nine months old. His father was an honest, upright, but very austere man, of a strong will and very strict in his family discipline, a devout Christian of the Congregational faith, rigid to a fault in exacting observance of religious forms and ceremonies. It was said that after his wife’s death he was scarcely ever known to smile. He was in good circumstances, and desired that Pulaski should become a physician, but the young man had inherited his father’s strong will, and he had decide to be a business man. With this end in view he went to Brooklyn, Conn., and learned the blacksmith’s trade. While here he had the free use of the library of Rev. Samuel J. May, the Unitarian clergyman, who afterward became so well known as a leader with Garrison, Phillips and others in the anti-slavery conflict. Mr. Carter’s memory was so retentive that in after life he was able to recite whole pages of the works read in those years. When he finished learning the blacksmith’s trade at Brooklyn, he went to Winsted, Conn., and entered the shop of Capt. Wheelock Thayer to learn scythe making. He was determined to know his business from the bottom up, and when he sold a man a scythe or an axe to know that it was good all the way through. While there he formed the acquaintance of Henry Harrison Crane, and the two young men formed a friendship that lasted through life.
August 5, 1839, Mr. Carter married Susan Sophia Spaulding, of Abington, Conn., being then twenty-six years old. Having now learned his trade and being ready to go into business on his own account, he started out the next year on a prospecting tour to find a place where he could locate and commence his life’s work. He visited several places, but finally decided that he would settle at Providence, Pa. He returned to Connecticut, and the next year, 1841, brought his wife to her new home. In October, 1841, a little one came to brighten the home, but the mother died in November. The next July the daughter followed, and Mr. Carter was left alone. On his arrival in Providence he rented shop room of Jacob Sager and Larned White, and entered upon the business of making scythes. In June, 1842, in company with Jerison White, he purchased the axe factory of Sager & White, and commenced the manufacture of axes and scythes. This was the first manufactory of the kind in the state. In a little while Jerison White sold his interest to Larned White, and April 25, 1843, Mr. Carter purchased Mr. White’s interest and associated Mr. Crane with him in the business.
August 7, 1843, Mr. Carter married again, his wife being Olive Ingalls, of Canterbury, Conn. She was a double cousin of the first wife, and they were said to be strikingly alike in form and feature. Mr. Crane, disliking the care and responsibility the business entailed upon him, disposed of his interest, though still remaining with the concern. After this Mr. Carter associated Artemus Miller with him for a time, but soon after purchased all the outstanding interests and conducted the business alone. Prior to this some thirty acres of land were purchased, on which were erected the shops, buildings, etc., of the growing establishment, for there was a vast wilder-ness all around them in those early days, and vigorous workmen were slaughtering the giants of the forest right and left, and “Carter’s axes” were know to be reliable and were in great demand. For many years Mr. Carter remained sole owner of the “Capouse Works,” named from the old Indian chief of the Monceys, from who also the Capouse Meadows received their name.
In 1847 a great controversy arose over the question of “pay schools” or “free schools.” Full of his New England ideas on education, Mr. Carter, then a young man of thirty-four, threw himself into the struggle heart and soul. Up and down the valley he went preaching the gospel of free schools. When the day came he had his forces well in hand and marshalled for the fray. The cause of free schools so ably championed by the young New Englander won by a decided majority, and this when Scranton was only just getting ready to grow. In 1850 the first public school building in Providence was erected on land given by Mr. Carter as long as it should be used for school purposes. In 1857 the first graded school building in the city was erected on the hill in Providence, and in the celebration of that event Mr. Carter received ample praise for his labors in behalf of free schools. He had made his mark and could have any office in the gift of the people. In the early days of the city he was urged to run for mayor, but his was a retiring nature, not caring for the bustle and excitement of politics, and he modestly but firmly put these offers by, and contented himself with seeing his business grow from year to year. However, he was treasurer of the Providence school board for twenty-eight years.
In 1864 his factory burned down. It was only insured for $10,000, and the loss was a heavy one, but as soon as his customers and friends heard of his loss, offers of help began to flow in. They knew the man, knew his uprightness and integrity, and this one and that one wrote him that they had ten, fifteen or twenty thousand dollars which he was welcome to, if he could find a place for it in his business, but again he put the tempting offer aside and rebuilt himself, without borrowing a dollar and preserved the independence he loved so well. [In 1864 Pulaski Carter incorporated under a new name with partners and the ability to sell stock. Perhaps Amelia was not informed of this.]
But it was as a temperance man that he was best known. He preached temperance and he practiced it. He was always active in the cause. Many a man he helped reclaim from a life of degradation and shame. He was an active, zealous worker, and the saloon keepers dreaded him. He fought licenses persistently. He was always ready to contribute of his time and means to aid the cause of temperance. That sounds as though he might have been fanatical, but he was not. He was an unostentatious man, but his great heart was easily moved to pity, his ear was ever open to the cry of distress, his hand and his purse every ready to help the unfortunate and the down-fallen.
In November, 1876, he met with a fearful accident. Two men, reckless from drink, were racing their teams. Their wagons crushed in on each side of Mr. Carter’s carriage, wrecking it and most seriously injuring him; for days his life was despaired of, but a good constitution and the abstemious life he had always led prolong his days. He never recovered from the effects of this accident, and died October 13, 1884, aged seventy-one years. He left surviving him his widow and three children, the former still residing at the old homestead. The children, Pulaski P., Marvin P. and Amelia M., married to William De Witt Kennedy, still carry on the business he left, maintaining the high reputation he had built up. Mrs. Kennedy has always been interested in church and charitable work, and was for thirteen years secretary of the Home for the Friendless, until she was elected vice-president.
JAMES S. KENNEDY [Pages 926 to 927] was the grandson of John Kennedy, who came to this country from Bangor, Ireland, in 1763, and settled at Kingston, N. Y. He visited Wyoming, Pa., in 1778, just after the massacre, and finding things in a very unsettled condition he went back to Kingston, but returned to Wyoming in 1780 to reside permanently. His son, Thomas, married Elizabeth Schofield, a descendant of the Pinckneys, of South Carolina, and in many ways a remarkable woman. She died at the home of the subject of this sketch, April 12, 1880, aged ninety-six years. James S. Kennedy was born in Wilkesbarre, January 28, 1808. He married Pauline [spelled Paulina in some works] Jayne, September 26, 1833. She was a granddaughter of Elizabeth De Witt.
James was brought up on a farm, but later learned the carpenter’s trade, which he followed till about 1847. He built houses, principally in Tunkhannock, Nicholson and vicinity, employing a number of men. He purchased a farm in Lackawanna Township (now Taylor), and was justice of the peace from 1843 to 1845. From about 1845 to 1850, in connection with his farm, he bought grain and had it ground into flour for sale. In those days, before railroads were built, his grain came to the head of slack water navigation by means of the canal at Pittston. The merchants of the valley bought most of their goods in New York, and these came to Kingston, N. Y., on the Hudson by boat, thence to Honesdale by canal and Carbondale by gravity railroad. So Mr. Kennedy had his grain ground at the mill at Slocum Hollow or the one in Providence, principally the latter, it being considerably larger. The flour he sold at wholesale all along the valley from Carbondale to Pittston, then if there was any freight at Carbondale his teams would bring it down to the merchants along the valley. He sold his farm in Taylor just before coal was found and moved to Hyde Park, still continuing in the flour business. In connection with his brother John, he bought out and operated a four-horse stage route from Carbondale to Wilkes-Barre.
In 1850 Mr. Kennedy moved to Providence, and opened a store in the old “Arcade” Building, on North Main Avenue, where the office of the Providence Gas and Water Company now stands. Later he carried on business on Providence Square, being a partner in the firm of Kennedy & Ostenhout. While the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad was being built, from 1854 to 1856, he had a contract to build a section of the road. He was an active man in public affairs, serving on the borough council and also on the school board. In 1865 he sold out his interest in his store to his son, William De Witt Kennedy, and retired from active business. He died March 7, 1885. His widow still survives him. He had thirteen children, eight girls and five boys. Among these are Catherine H., married to Rev. Dr. L. C. Floyd; Julia A., married to Rev. George Forsyth, and William De Witt. He was born in what is now the borough of Taylor, September 24, 1842. After leaving school he took a course in Eastman’s Business College at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1860-61.
He entered his father’s store on his return from Poughkeepsie. He served in the army during a part of the war, in the Thirteenth Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers. In 1865 he purchased the interest of his father, and went into business for himself. February 11, 1868, he married Amelia M. Carter, daughter of Pulaski Carter, of the Capouse works. In 1869 he entered the business of Mr. Carter at Capouse, in which he is now engaged as one of the firm. He was one of the assignees of the Providence Bank. He is a director in the Scranton Savings Bank, and a director in the Lackawanna Institute of History and Science. For some years he was a trustee in the Providence Presbyterian Church. He resides in a handsome house he has lately erected on North Washington Avenue. He has four children: William Pulaski, clerk in the Third National Bank, married and residing near home; Lucius Carter, who is studying medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Harold Sherman, and Kathrine M., still at home with their parents.
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