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Carpenter-Wright Family Papers

Identifier: FMS-51

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of correspondence, diaries, and other papers of the family of Walter T. and Susan (Mabie) Carpenter, their daughter Caroline Mabie (Carpenter) Wright, and her husband Henry C. Wright, important Indiana Quakers and benefactors of Earlham College. The Carpenter-Wright Family Papers consist mainly of family correspondence between Walter and Susan Carpenter and Henry and Caroline Wright, with comments on Quaker affairs, life in Richmond, events relating to the response of midwestern Quakers to the Civil War, and a reminiscence by Walter T. Carpenter of his travels in the South in 1863. The Wright portion of the collection is rich in material on life at Earlham between 1858 and 1865: diaries, autograph books, compositions, and letters.


  • 1834-1910

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be protected by copyright. Permission to reproduce and to publish for commercial purposes must be requested from the Archivist.

Biographical or Historical Information

Walter Totton Carpenter was born in Duanesburg, Dutchess County, New York, Jan. 1, 1811, the son of Isaac and Mercy (Frost) Carpenter. In 1815 his family moved to Clinton County, Ohio, settling near Wilmington. He was educated in local Quaker schools and in the friends school at Mount Pleasant, Ohio. On September 24, 1834, he was married in Centre Friends Meetinghouse near Wilmington to Susan B. Mabie. She was born at Peekskill, New York, Dec. 27, 1811, the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Avery) Mabie. She moved to Ohio in 1833. After their marriage, the Carpenters moved to Cincinnati, where Walter Carpenter engaged in porkpacking and in the drygoods business. After a few years, they returned to Clinton County, where they purchased a farm near Clarksville and where Walter Carpenter was in business in Wilmington. In 1857 the Carpenters moved to Richmond, Indiana, in order to give their children the benefit of the Quaker schools in the city. In 1858 Walter T. Carpenter was appointed the superintendent, and Susan M. Carpenter the matron, of Friends Boarding School, which in 1859 became Earlham College. They served until 1863, were reappointed for the years 1864-1866, and again for 1868-1872. Walter T. Carpenter played a leading role in the school's transformation into a college. In 1863-1864 he traveled in the South as the agent of the Freedmen's Committee of Indiana Yearly Meeting, overseeing Quaker relief and educational work among former slaves. After resigning as superintendent, Walter T. Carpenter gave most of his attention to his farm northwest of Richmond. He continued to serve as an Earlham Trustee until 1893, however, giving special attention to the campus and to planting trees. Walter and Susan Carpenter spent their last years in what is now known as the Marmon house on National Road. There Susan M. Carpenter died Sept. 30, 1908, and Walter T. Carpenter, August 31, 1910. Both are buried in Earlham Cemetery. Caroline Mabie Carpenter, daughter of Walter T. and Susan (Mabie) Carpenter, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 22, 1846. She was a student in Friends Boarding School and Earlham College from 1858 to 1866. On Jan. 28, 1868, Caroline M. Carpenter was married in Richmond to Henry C. Wright. He was born in Belmont County, Ohio, Oct. 4, 1844, the son of Parvin and Ellen (Stroud) Wright. Parvin Wright (1817-1899) was a Gurneyite Friend, born in Berks County, Pennsylvania. In 1839 he married Ellen Stroud (?-1861) of Clinton County, Ohio, daughter of Jacob and Ann Stroud. In 1869 he married her sister Mary B. Stroud (1825-1909). A year later they moved to Richmond. From 1872 to 1880 they served as the superintendent and matron of Earlham. They moved to Indianapolis in 1882, where both lived until their deaths. They were buried in Earlham Cemetery. Henry C. Wright entered Earlham in 1860, and graduated in 1865. In 1867-1868 he traveled in Europe with Calvin W. Pearson, a classmate. After their marriage, Henry C. Wright was in business in Richmond. In 1877 he moved his family to Indianapolis, where he and his brother Morris P. Wright manufactured machinery. After the destruction of the Wright factory by fire in 1896, Henry C. and Caroline Wright moved to Kokomo, Indiana. They lived there until 1915, when the family returned to Richmond. There Henry and Caroline Wright lived until their deaths. In their last years, they devoted most of their attention to the affairs of Earlham and the West Richmond Friends Meeting. Both had served as Earlham trustees, Henry C. Wright 1886-1888 and Caroline M. Wright 1896-1911. They are buried in Earlham Cemetery.

Note written by


2.00 Boxes

Language of Materials


Source of Acquisition

Collection acquired before 1975.

Related Materials

Other letters to Walter T. Carpenter from the 1860s have apparently been placed in the College Archives in the Superintendent' Papers and Student Letters series.

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Repository Details

Part of the Friends Collection and Earlham College Archives Repository