Farish Carter

Farish Carter

Born: November 24, 1780, Abbeville District, South Carolina
Died: July 2, 1861, Milledgeville, Georgia
Buried: in Memory Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville, Georgia

  • Prominent Georgia businessman and farmer in the early 1800’s.
  • Owned over 45,000 acres throughout Georgia
  • Cartersville was named for Carter during the 1830’s

While numerous historians recount Farish Carter’s attempts to have a town named in his honor, Carter’s very serious business acumen suggests a more deliberate pursuit of lasting remembrance in Georgia. Farish Carter made frequent stage coach trips between his plantations in both north and south Georgia, passing frequently through the little hamlet of Birmingham, on the Etowah River, just south of present day Cartersville, Georgia. Nathaniel Deery Lewis, an early settler of Birmingham, was quoted in a 1903 newspaper that Carter had once approached him about renaming Birmingham for Carter, but rejected the notion stating that Birmingham already had a name and suggested he visit the the town growing up a half mile north. The town Lewis referred to was a small community of settlers that at the time was preparing for a station in anticipation of the railroad coming through following passage of a bill in 1836 creating the Western & Atlantic Railroad. The town would become Cartersville and over time the community of Birmingham ceased to exist. Not only did Carter have the town named for him, he partnered in land speculation with Col. Stephen H. Long, the chief engineer in charge of determining the route of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, and profited from several land acquisitions they had jointly purchased there.

Farish Carter began his business career as a merchant in Sandersville, Georgia. During the War of 1812 he profited quite well selling arms and military supplies to the Georgia Militia as United States Army Contractor for Georgia. With the resulting profits, he bought a plantation at Scottsboro, Georgia south of Milledgeville, and another he called Bonavista on the Oconee River. By 1845, he would own over 30,000 acres in Baldwin County, Georgia alone. His appetite for wealth caused him to further speculate in land acquisitions and investments such as banking, gold mining and railroads. As the future of the Cherokee in North Georgia was being debated around 1832, Carter purchased 15,000 acres on the Coosawattee River from Judge John Martin, treasurer of the Cherokee Nation. He gave it the name Carter’s Quarters and established a plantation there in what would become Murray County. All his plantations were both self supportive and profitable producing a broad array of goods such as tobacco, wool, livestock, grains, timber and cotton. Carter also controlled a Louisiana sugar plantation during the early 1830’s.

With many partners, companies and investments over his lifetime, Carter had amassed business interests in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana and Illinois. Included were mills, quarries, factories, toll bridges and ferries throughout Georgia plus steamboats on the Ocmulgee, Oconee, Altamaha, Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers. Whatever his motivations, fame or fortune, Carter’s economic diversity played an important role in Georgia’s pre war economy. And while that might not have secured him an influential place in history, it led to at least one northwest Georgia community’s remembrance of him as their town’s namesake. Farish Carter died in Milledgeville, Georgia on July 2, 1861, less than a month after the South had declared war.

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