JESSE D. CARR
In the settlement of the Northwestern Territory, at the close of the American Revolution, which included the States of Kentucky and Tennessee, there was developed a distinctive feature in American character that has given the heroes of that time a national reputation. The subject of our sketch was the son of an honored pioneer, John Carr, who was a prominent member of the Methodist Church for 66 years, and was an important factor in establishing the moral and religious sentiment of that community. The history of Mr. Carr has been one of adventure; and the push, indomitable perseverance, bravery and generosity exhibited in his successful and romantic career form a chapter for character study, and are typical of his honored and distinctive American ancestry. He was born in Tennessee, June 10, 1814, and now at the age of 75 years has a vim in his eye and an elasticity in his step that presage many years in the active duties of life as a promoter and counselor in great business enterprises and official civic duties. His boyhood and early youth were spent on a farm, his limited opportunities of education being availed of during the intervals of farm labor. At 16 years of age he commenced the great battle of life he has fought so well as a clerk in a store in Cairo, which business he continued until his 23d year, when he took to himself a wife and with $1,000, which he had saved, removed to Memphis, and with a former employer, Larkin Wood, went into commercial business. Business failures involved the firm with an indebtedness of $20,000. Within two years they paid off this debt and during the next three years they wound up their business and Mr. Carr opened a general commission and brokerage business at New Orleans, with a capital of $40,000. Business reverses overtook him again, and to retrieve his losses he entered into the business of a sutler during the Mexican war. The train conveying his goods was captured and his outfit confiscated. But this misfortune to Mr. Carr was good fortune to our army and, as Gen. Taylor afterwards acknowledged, saved the day at the battle of Buena Vista. With that tenacity that is characteristic of him he stayed with the army until the close of the war and returned to New Orleans with $15,000. He went to Washington and from there embarked for California, arriving in San Francisco in August 1849, and immediately assumed the duties as Collector of the Port. He was elected to the first California Legislature and was one of the most influential members of that noted body.
Mr. Carr has been a miner, rancher, stock-raiser (some of the best strains of blood having been imported into this State by him) mail contractor and banker. He served two years as President of the Monterey District Agricultural Association. He organized the Salinas Bank and has been continuously President. At the earnest solicitation of his first wife (he having been married twice) he joined the I. O. O. F. and is now a member of Alisal Lodge, No. 163, Salinas city, and though he never sought official honors, he has endowed the Odd Fellows’ Library of this place with the munificent gift of $5,000, and the Pacific Methodist College of Santa Rosa, Sonoma county, of which he is one of the Trustees, with $5,000 also.
He is a man of but few words, frank, outspoken and positive. The cares and trials of an eventful life have not lessened his activity and it should be our pride as a nation that we have developed a distinctive national character and the venerable subject of this sketch is a fit representative of the brave and restless American pioneer.
Transcribed By: Cecelia M. Setty.
Source: “Illustrated Fraternal Directory Including Educational Institutions on the Pacific Coast, Page 168, Publ. Bancroft Co., San Francisco. Cal. 1889.
© 2012 Cecelia M. Setty.