Thursday, March 1, 2012

Carlton Kent

Working on my mother's grandmother's family, the Kents has been challenging to say the least. After working with my father's Italians I became accustomed to be able to trace family utilizing an abundance of records. Not so with the Kents. There are very few records available for Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania in part because the Kents were the first settlers there before anyone thought to record births and deaths. To make matters worse, many of the records were lost in a big flood in the area so I have been left to seek alternative sources for information. I have written a little about the life of my great grandmother Etta Kent Dewey here previously. This post is about her grandfather Carlton Kent. The family of Carlton has been the most difficult to learn anything about. His father and grandfather were among the earliest settlers in the area so even though few records exist for them, there was much information found about them in books and newspapers. I had to dig deeper and really scrutinize the information and records I did have for Carlton. I am so glad I did. What I found was an amazing man of great moral fortitude and a strong sense of family and responsibility. It seems Carlton did not have an easy life, although he did live longer than his father Abel, Jr. who died at 44 and his son Abel who died at 52. Carlton was born in 1791 in New Ashford, Massachusetts to Abel and Diadema (Horton) Kent. In 1792 his family moved to a remote area of Susquehanna County that was just beginning to be settled. Several of Carlton's aunt, uncles and their families as well as some neighbors in New Ashford followed soon after. Carlton undoubtedly helped his father on the farm and grew up learning how to be a farmer. Carlton married Sally Griggs around the same time his father died. His father, Abel Kent, Jr. died in February, 1813 when Carlton was 20 years old. Abel's passing left his wife Diadema a widow with a baby and several young children to care for alone. Although only 20 when his father died he and his mother were executors of his estate. In this remote township of Clifford (now Herrick), Carlton could not leave his mother alone with a new baby and so many small children so Carlton brought his mother and all his young siblings into his home with his young bride. Carlton and Sally began having children of their own and by 1820 Carlton was living in Gibson with his wife, his 3 young children Mary, Abel and Orpha as well as his mother and siblings John, Rufus, Harlie Ann, Eliza, Harriet, plus 3 other sisters who may have been named Mary, Mehitable and Sally (I have found no solid proof these names are correct although Carlton did have 3 sisters besides those proven). Carlton was supporting a family of 12 before the age of 28! He supported his younger sisters who lived with them until they married and he supported and provided a home for his handicapped sister Harriet until her death. In 1847 at the age of 56 Carlton and Sarah's daughter Orpha Amelia became a widow after her husband Elisha died. Carlton took his daughter and grandson William Harris Harding into his home after the death of her husband Elisha Harding. Carlton was an administrator of his will and took care of his estate by selling his property and taking care of all the legalities. In 1853 Carlton, living in Herrick now built a Methodist Church with his friends and neighbors Walter and Wheeler Lyon, and Andrew Giddings. The church structure still exists today. The church records showed the family remained close even after Carlton's children married and had families of their own. They continued to attend church together at the same time. On February 4, 1855 Carlton's wife died suddenly. By 1860 Carlton, aged 68, was living with his son Abel and Abel's family. Although it is unknown when he died, he died before 1870. I am very proud of Carlton, a man who clearly took very good care of his family, and was not only a good son, brother, father, husband and provider but a good man as well. Congratulations, Carlton, on a life well led and a good example of how I should lead my own life.
The granddaughter of Carlton Kent, Etta Kent Dewey. This photograph was taken in Herrick on Etta's last trip back home shortly before her death.


  1. Hi Cathy,
    What a nice post about Carlton! My GGG, was Teresa Jo Kent (married Almon Bishop), also a grandaughter of Carlton. She had a sister named Marietta -- your GG Etta? The Kent name has been passed down as a middle name in my family for many generations since! I still have family in the area (just over the border in NY).

    Thanks for sharing your story -- I love your blog!
    Joan Lockhart (Boston)

    1. Sorry Joan! I just now saw this comment. I had given up all hope of finding any descendants of Etta Kent's siblings and here you are! WOO HOO! :) I look forward to hearing from you so we can swap info and perhaps I can send some pictures and records your way. LMK When Almon Bishop died and I can see if he left a will or probate records.