The Journals of an 19th century Tallahassee Reverend

We recently added a small new set of materials to the digital collection for theSt. John’s Episcopal Church Records. Two items detail the history of the Church further. The other three are journals kept by the Reverend Doctor W.H. Carter. They document his travels and ministry in New York, Florida, and places in-between from 1855-1907. Dr. Carter was born in Brooklyn, New York, and studied at Yale University. Before his time in Tallahassee, Carter was rector of Episcopal congregations in Warwick, New York, and Daytona Beach. After some time spent traveling as a missionary, Carter was installed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Tallahassee in June 1879. In his journal entry from June 9th, Carter noted: “wonder how I will like it.” He apparently liked it well enough, as he remained in Tallahassee until his death in 1907.

Page from Journal of W.H. Carter, 1874-1897
The page from Rev. Carter’s Journal where he notes his move to Tallahassee in 1879. [See Original Item]
During his time in Tallahassee, Carter oversaw the construction of a new church building in 1880 and continued to take his clerical work on the road to worshippers in many small towns in North Florida, asylums, and the Leon County Jail. In the 1880s he was instrumental in establishing a church building and school for the black congregation of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Tallahassee, often performing services there. Carter’s work and demeanor left a significant impression on the congregation of St. John’s; his obituary notes that “Doctor Carter’s life was an object lesson of cheerful and patient serenity. In 1950 the church annex was extensively renovated and renamed the Carter Chapel in his honor. You may see all the journals here in the digital collection as well as the other materials digitized from the St. John’s Episcopal Church Records collection.

St. John’s is the mother church of the Diocese of Florida. It was founded as a mission parish in 1829, and the church’s first building was erected in 1837. The Diocese was organized at St. John’s in 1838 and Francis Huger Rutledge, who became rector of St. John’s in 1845, was consecrated the first Bishop of Florida in 1851. The original church burned in 1879; a new church was built on the same site and consecrated in 1888, and it is still the parish’s principal place of worship.

The physical collection includes administrative records; member registries; meeting minutes of the Vestry and church circles; Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, hymnals, and other liturgical works; documentation of the history of St. John’s Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Florida; service bulletins and other periodicals; sermon transcripts; photographs; and motion pictures.

For more information about the collection, visit its finding aid.

Sources:
W.H. Carter Journal, 1874-1897, St. John’s Episcopal Church Records, Special Collections and Archives, Florida State University Libraries, Tallahassee, Florida. http://purl.fcla.edu/fsu/MSS_2016-006
Stauffer, Carl. (1984). God willing: A history of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1829-1979. Tallahassee, FL. http://fsu.catalog.fcla.edu/permalink.jsp?23FS021651363

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