A.A. Sargent promoted his law practice and was involved with running for office.
Frequent articles complained about the Chinese, Indian, and Negro.
Childhood deaths were frequently published in death notices.
The Many Names of Jennie Carter
A challenge of piecing together details from Jennie’s life is the various names she went by through two marriages and the variety of pen names she used as a writer.
Possible given name
Mary Jane (no known maiden name)
Mary Jane Correll | Mrs. Correll
Jennie Carter | Mrs. D.D. Carter
Ann J. Trask
Below are samples of newspaper articles that Jennie may have read while she was living in Grass Valley and Nevada City.
The Nevada Democrat
Saturday, October 19, 1861
Grass Valley Daily Union
In the aftermath of the Civil War, much political and public churn was happening.
At one point in Nevada County, it was decided that southern supporters would not be allowed to vote in upcoming elections.
“Elder L. J. Correll” (Jennie’s first husband) is listed in regular advertisements in the Grass Valley Daily Union
The Christian Church the Corrells belonged to was built on “the east side of Church Street,
between Neal and Walsh Streets in 1859 (for $3,000). It was destroyed by fire in 1869.” – History of Nevada County 1880
March 14th, 1865 – Mrs. Correll (Jennie) is elected Vice President to the Grass Valley Christian Commission.
According to Byrne’s Directory of Grass Valley Township, the Corrells lived on School Street.
Also in the March 14th, 1865 Grass Valley Daily Union issue:
What is To Be Done With The Negro?
Our enemies say it will be a woful day for the negros when emancipation is “forced upon them.” Why is it not for the Indians, also? Can we not as safely and judiciously establish Negro Agencies as we can Indian Agencies? Yes, and with vastly more benefit to all concerned, because of the negro’s docility.
Is not the negro as justly entitled to his liberty as the Indian? And are they not as much entitled to our protection as the Indians? Why, then, become alarmed about the fate of the negro? What is the cause of this morbid sympathy? Simply this: to invent some pretext to prey upon the minds of the ignorant and credulous, and prejudice them against the progressive steps taken by our Government to eradicate this war, and secure a more perfect establishment of equal rights to the people who constitute the Government.
What shall be done for the free negroes? We answer let them work and maintain themselves, let them cultivate the rice fields, after the manner prescribed already by Gen. Sherman, and, if necessary, let agencies be established for giving proper direction to their labors.
A newspaper archive search (1965) motivated by a desire to find the cause of death of Jennie’s first husband did not yield definitive results. However; the following article was published on August 16th, the day before his last appearance in the paper. It may never be known if the two are related.
August 16, 1865
August 17th, 1865 is the final newspaper advertisement showing Elder Correll officiating.
Jennie Carter Poem published in The Elevator (1867)
The Lonely Grave
Why did they lay him to rest
Where human feet seldom tread?
Wild flowers bloom over his breast,
Too gaudy, alas, for the dead.
Tall pines sighing over the dust
Of one once loved and caressed.
The wild beasts are treading above
The heart a mother has pressed.
Birds singing and flying around
With notes all attuned for joy.
Little they heed him sleeping here,
Some mother’s own darling boy.
Oh! ’tis a weird lonely spot,
Away from all human strife;
The sleeper he heedeth not,
Nor careth for things of life.
August 29, 1866
Jennie’s marriage to Dennis Drummond Carter
Eric Gardner, editor of the Jennie Carter book, believes the connection between Jennie and The Elevator (San Francisco) came about through a relationship between Dennis and Phillip Bell, its publisher.
Click here to view Jennie’s work published in The Elevator 1867-1874.
The Daily Transcript (Nevada City)
Friday, August 12, 1881
“When I die, I hope no one will eulogize me, but simply say Mrs. Trask has gone to sleep. That will be the truth.”
– Jennie Carter writing under the pen name Ann J. Trask, December 1867
“A good laugh is better than drugs from apothecaries.” – Jennie Carter, 1867
Jennie Carter was a free black woman who moved from New Orleans to Grass Valley around 1860.
Between 1867 to 1874 she wrote essays, from her Nevada City home, that were published in The Elevator, a San Francisco black newspaper.
When Carter first began writing for The Elevator, her intention was to publish material for young readers. “Children, you hear a great deal said about color by those around you, see attention given white persons by your friends that is wholly unmerited, while those of darker skin are treated with cool neglect. Such are wrong, and that you may avoid like mistakes I write this for you to read. Let your motto be, civility to all, servility to none. Those reminders of bondage we must get out of the way as soon as possible; and while we would treat all with respect, we should not talk about color, light and dark, black and white.”
It wasn’t long before her writing was composed for a general audience. Carter’s essays provide a detailed and lively peek into Nevada County life—after the Civil War—when black men were working to establish voting rights, (white) women’s suffrage was in its infancy, the Central Pacific Railroad was under construction, and resentment against Chinese immigrants was building.
Since Carter wrote under several pen names—Ann J. Trask and Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)—her body of work was lost until 2007, when a historical researcher discovered their connection and put the pieces together.
“She was a skilled cultural critic and as such her observations about race and racism, discrimination, and a host of social issues have important ramifications for today,” comments Eric Gardner, editor of Jennie Carter, A Black Journalist of the Early West.
The Jennie Carter book should be on recommended reading lists for every nineteenth-century history class in Nevada County (California).
FDC Editor Notes:
I discovered this book in a reference on a Wiki page. Exciting! Connecting with Jennie’s words, I felt a sense of admiration and deep respect for this intelligent, spiritual woman who bravely spoke universal truths that would go unrecognized for at least a century or more.
As I read, my ears were tuned for the echos of Jennie’s voice. When she described drinking water out of Deer Creek, Carter’s inclusion in the Deer Creek Project went from vague imaginings to composing detailed plans for a script, actress, locations, and props.
Equally engaging are Gardner’s footnotes and commentary. It’s like a book within a book that includes a code-breaker for every reference and antiquated expression. The research, alone, requires its own focused read.
How fortunate we (as readers and history buffs) are to have this thoughtful and carefully composed work available in one volume!
“Oh, that we might awake to the importance of a thorough, universal education.” – Jennie Carter, 1867
To learn more about Jennie Carter, check out these posts;
Jennie Carter was an esteemed Nevada City essayist who wrote and published articles in a San Francisco newspaper between 1867-1874.
She was a free black woman born in 1830 (or 1831). *Free people of color first arrived on the North American continent in the French territories and with the Spanish and Portuguese. They were highly educated and successful in business.
To gain a deeper understanding of Jennie’s opinions and writing, it’s important to know where she was living before moving to Nevada County and to understand what might have triggered her relocation.
In Jennie’s lifetime, the following events occurred;
1846 Mexican American War
Westward Expansion – Manifest Destiny
1849 California Gold Rush
1850 Fugitive Slave Laws were passed to provide the return of escaped slaves (a danger for free blacks – they could be captured/kidnapped and entered into slavery)
Tensions mount between Northern and Southern states
1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States
** Historians suggest this is when Jennie and her first husband, Reverand Correll, a Campbellite minister, relocated to Grass Valley, California from New Orleans, Louisiana. [Jennie married Dennis Carter in Nevada City after Reverand Correll’s death.]
January 1861 Louisiana votes to secede from the Union
March 1861 Louisiana vows allegiance to the Confederate States of America
April 12th, 1861 Civil War begins
January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring “that all persons held as slaves within the rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free”
April 1865 Civil War ends — one week later Abraham Lincoln is assassinated
December 1865 Congress ratifies the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery
1867 Congress passes the 14th Amendment granting citizenship and civil liberties to freed slaves
1869 Congress passes the 15th Amendment granting African American men the right to vote
1870 African American men in California gain voting rights when 2/3 of the states ratify the 15th Amendment
Social movements taking place;
Abolition (eliminating slavery), temperance (sobriety), and sufferage (voting rights for black men and white women)
Human rights and individual betterment
Prior to Jennie’s move, New Orleans hosted the largest population of free black people in the United States.
Mid-Nineteenth Century American Attitudes
History and Happenings in New Orleans in the early 1860s
A time of extraordinary hope and political progress followed by a terrorist backlash.
If you liked this post, learn more about Jennie Carter in these posts;
Project Gutenberg | downloadable public domain books in multiple formats
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1863) was a Harvard Educated American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor. His goal was to put an end to white supremacy.
While reading Eric Gardner’s book—Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West—in the spring of 2019, Deer Creek Project Coordinator, Lisa Redfern day-dreamed about highlighting Jennie Carter in a historical video. Upon reaching Carter’s temperance segment (page 25, 1868) describing drinking water out of Deer Creek, Redfern found the connection she needed to go-for-it.
Video production took the entire summer to execute;
pieces of Carter’s writing were selected
Katrina Thompson was asked to portray and voice act for Jennie Carter’s part
filming location permission, costumes, and props were secured
scene planning was mapped and detailed
a delightful evening was spent at Randco Studios recording Jennie’s writing
filming took place on one long day (July 5th) starting early in Colfax and following the light to the Pine Grove Cemetery in Nevada City