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The Carter Family

This article is reprinted from “Tales from a Churchyard” with the kind permission of the author, Linda Emery 

Benjamin CARTER


When Bishop Broughton baptised three children on the day he laid the foundation stone for the new church in Sutton Forest in January 1837, one of then was John Carter, ‘the child of a humble settler’.  The humble settler referred to was Benjamin Carter.  He and his wife Ann, with their three children had arrived in the colony as free settlers on the Indiana in 1833.  Born in Attenborough, Nottinghamshire in 1787, he came from a family of Sherwood Forest Farmers.

            By July, 1834, Benjamin was working in the Sutton Forest area as an overseer for John Nicholson of Newbury and later settled at Emu Creek to the west of Berrima where he built a substantial stone house on the property he named Sherwood.  The ruins of the house still stand in the beautiful and peaceful valley in the area now known as Canyonleigh.  The family prospered and soon added to the original holdings until they could be counted amongst the largest landholders in the district.

            Ann was also born in Attenborough c.1798, the daughter of John and Ann Holmes.  She married Benjamin Carter at St. Mary’s, Nottingham on 27 February 1820.  Three children were baptised in Nottingham, Jane in 1822, Edward in 1824 and Sarah in 1826.  In NSW, she had two more children, John in 1837 and Charles in 1840.  The Carters died within seven months of each other, Benjamin on 18 July, 1857 and Ann in 24 February, 1858.  The decision to come to Australia relatively late in their lives proved a wise one, with their family continuing to build on the foundations they had laid in their farming and grazing activities.



Mary Ann Rebekah CARTER

            As the eldest son of Benjamin and Ann Carter, Edward took over the management of the family properties after the death of his father in 1858.  He is generally credited with the discovery of the shale oil deposit at Joadja Creek, although the aboriginal people had long known the properties of the ‘fire stone’.  There is some controversy over who was the first European to recognise its potential, but Edward Carter was the first to register a claim in 1873, which although disputed, was eventually proved in his favour.  He worked the claim for a short while, but sold to the Australian Kerosene Oil and Minerals Co. in 1878.

            His forte was farming and grazing and by the 1880s his holdings included the properties Nandi, The Gap, Tugalong, Bangadilly, Evandale and Lake Edward at Crookwell.  He had purchased Golden Valley, the 100 acre property of Thomas Wilmot at the foot of Mt. Gingenbullen and there in 1870 he built Golden Vale, the large two-storey sandstone residence so fitting for a family who had risen from ‘humble settlers’ to district leaders.  At Nandi, the annual kangaroo hunt became a keenly anticipated event, with horsemen coming from far and wide to join the three-day event.  In 1871, the hunt left from Horam’s Royal Hotel to Sutton Forest, the old hotel adjacent to the present building, with 32 horsemen, 48 horses and 47 kangaroo dogs.

            Born in Nottingham in 1824, Edward Carter had married Mary Ann Rebekah Hanslow in 1856 and together they had six children.  He died on 8 March, 1903.  In the same grave is his eldest son Benjamin Holmes Carter who died 4 May, 1890 aged 32.  Just two weeks later, on 19 June 1890, Edward’s wife Mary Ann died aged 58.