Biography of Carmel C. Carpenter

One whose faith in the magnificent agricultural possibilities of Idaho was such as to lead him to become identified with this great basic industry is Carmel C. Carpenter, who is one of the prominent and representative farmers of Latah county. Results have amply justified his confidence, and he today maintains his residence on his fine farm, which is located seven and one-half miles south of the thriving town of Moscow. Mr. Carpenter is a native of the state of Iowa, having been born in Dubuque County, on the 27th of April 1845. His lineage traces back to stanch old English stock, the first American representatives of the family having been numbered among the early settlers in Vermont, from which state the great-grandfather of our subject went forth to valiant service for the cause of independence in the war of the Revolution.

Cephas Carpenter, grandfather of Carmel C, was born in Vermont, and, as a colonel in the militia of that state, saw active service in the war of 1812, participating in the battle of Plattsburg Heights. He attained remarkable longevity, being ninety-six years of age at the time of his death and being active and in full possession of his faculties even to the day of his demise. It is a matter of record that he walked a distance of seven miles the day before he passed away, an honored patriarch, in whom there was no guile.

He was by profession a lawyer, was a man of high intellectual gifts and sterling integrity, and that as a prototype his influence on heredity has been altogether beneficial may be inferred from the fact that one of his grandsons was Matt. H. Carpenter, the celebrated lawyer of Wisconsin and for many years a representative of that state in the United States senate.

Alfred Carpenter, the father of the subject of this review, was born in the state of Vermont, his birth having occurred in Washington County, in the year 1812. He was a farmer by occupation, and his efforts were attended with a due measure of success. He married Miss Mary K. Cheney, a native of Milford, Massachusetts, and they became the parents of thirteen children, all of whom reached mature years and of whom only two are deceased at the present time. The father lived to attain the age of seventy years, and his widow has now reached the venerable age of seventy-seven years.

In this large family of children, who grew up under the invigorating influences of the old Green Mountain state, Carmel C. Carpenter, of this sketch, was the third in order of birth and is the eldest of the survivors. He was reared on the parental farmstead, early becoming familiar with the duties incidental to its cultivation, while in the winter seasons he was accorded the advantages afforded by the district schools. Mr. Carpenter was a youth of seventeen years when the dark cloud of civil war cast its pall over the national horizon, and his patriotic ardor was quickened to the point of action. In response to President Lincoln’s second call for volunteers, he enlisted in Company G, Twenty-third Missouri Volunteer Infantry, with which he served in the Army of the Tennessee and later in the Army of the Cumberland. He participated in many of the important conflicts which marked the progress of the great war of the Rebellion, among the number being those of Shiloh, Peach Tree Creek, New Hope Church and Jonesboro, Georgia, while he also was an active participant in the almost continuous fighting of the Atlanta campaign, including the taking of the city. His regiment accompanied General Sherman on the ever memorable “march to the sea,” and he took part in the battles at Louisville, Georgia, and Waynesboro. Mr. Carpenter was too young to secure promotion, but his military record was one of splendid order and one in which he may justly take pride. It is worthy of note in this connection that the youthful soldier did not receive a wound during the entire course of his service, nor was he ill for even a day, his sturdy vigor and his intrepid bravery making him a valuable addition to the ranks of “boys in blue” who perpetuated the integrity of our nation. Mr. Carpenter received an honorable discharge at Savannah, Georgia, on the 24th of January 1865, a youthful veteran who had rendered to his country the valiant service of a loyal son of the republic.

His army service thus ended and victory having crowned the Union arms, Mr. Carpenter returned to his far-distant home, where he forth with resumed the vocation of farming. In 1869 was consummated his marriage to Miss Amy M. Randall, who was born in Iowa, the daughter of Almeron Randall.

In the year 1880 Mr. Carpenter disposed of his farm in Missouri and turned his face toward the “shining mountains” of Idaho, the Gem state of the Union. Upon arriving here he located three hundred and twenty acres of rich farming land in Latah county, where he has since maintained his home and where success has crowned his indefatigable and well directed efforts. He has given his attention to the improvement and cultivation of his property, bringing to bear the most approved methods and carrying on operations according to scientific principles. His success, as taken in connection with the natural benefices which soil and climate afford, has been a natural result, and he is to be numbered among those who have done much to advance the agricultural interests of a state whose prestige is ever increasing. Wisely interpreting the possibilities for successful production, Mr. Carpenter has devoted his attention principally to the raising of wheat, having secured a yield of as high as forty bushels per acre, as an average for the entire crop. Of barley he has raised seventy-eight bushels per acre, the entire crop being sold at the rate of one cent a pound and returning to him twenty-five dollars per acre. Upon his place Mr. Carpenter has also a fine fruit orchard, the products of which are principally retained for home use.

To our subject and his wife seven children have been born, and of this number five are living. The eldest daughter, Nellie, is the wife of Ralph L. Hall, of Coeur d’Alene; and the younger children are Jessie, Arthur, Jennie and Leona.

In his political adherency Mr. Carpenter is stanchly arrayed in support of the Republican Party and its principles. For two years he has been chairman of the board of trustees of Latah county, and for the long period of eighteen years he has served as one of the trustees of his school district, while for three years he was a member of the board of trustees of the Soldiers’ Home, at Boise, having been appointed to this position by Governor McConnell. He keeps alive the associations and memories of his military life by retaining membership in the Grand Army of the Republic, and in addition to this valued fraternal connection, he is also identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Mr. Carpenter is recognized as one of the representative citizens of the county, being a man of marked intellectuality and inflexible integrity and holding the respect and confidence of all who come in contact with him. He and his family enjoy a wide acquaintanceship and distinct popularity in Latah County, where they have resided for so many years, and they merit consideration in any work which has to do with the history of the fair state of Idaho.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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