Back to Home

Carr Family History

Carr history begins with the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.  The surname is originally spelled Karre and  spreads across northern England and Scotland.  The spelling finally became Carr in England and Karr/Kerr in Scotland.

The first Carr in America are prominent members of the Rhode Island ruling class in the 1600’s.

Neal Ekengren - 2018

Carr in Rhode Island

Benjamin Carr


1592 – Benjamin Carr is born London, England.  

Alleged parents William Carr Esq. and Ursula Brandling have no proof.  This is often used to send the heritage back to 1400’s.

1613 - Benjamin marries Martha Hardington.  They have 4 children.

1620 - Brother George Carr migrates to Plymouth Colony on the ship “Fortune”.  

George’s wife is one of the unfortunate forty-one who died that first winter.  A few years later he moves to Salisbury, Massachusetts where he was granted an island in the river.  The island was called Carr’s Island and was home of the Carrs for a number of generations.

It gave the family the monopoly of the ferrying business across the river in ye olden times.  

Did the Carr family emigrate because of chaos in England during these years?

1620-1643 - Puritan Great Migration

The busiest years were during “The Eleven Year Tyranny” (1629–1640) during which Charles I (married to a Roman Catholic) tried to rule without calling the traditionally conservative Puritan-dominated parliament. Once the King was forced to call Parliament in 1640 and the Puritan revolution began, immigration to New England came to a near-complete halt.

Puritan dictator – Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland would come to power.

1620 - Brother William Carr ALSO migrates to Plymouth Colony on the ship “Fortune”.  

William moves to Narragansett Bay area Rhode Island which is utter wilderness at this time.

The destination was Mount Hope Bay [part of the larger Narragansett Bay], near Bristol, Rhode Island”.

Diary of William Carr’s wife………………...

“On June 1 ,1622; husband started south-west for a warmer climate, with a pocket compass and an Indian guide. Brother George went two days journey with us , and then returned home. I carried my son George in my arms and on my back through a dense forest settled only with wild beasts and Indians , but we met with few of the former and none of the latter.  After being forty-eight days on our journey, July 18, husband
concluded to stop and build a log cabin and to settle for life.  In four days, husband, the Indian and myself, finished our log cabin, covering it with poles and peeled bark. My journey through the forest and the hard labor I had done in helping
build our cabin, had its effect on me, I felt nearly worn out.”

1672 - Age 79 - Benjamin dies in London, England.

Governor Caleb Carr Sr.


1616 - Caleb Carr is born in London, England.

1635 - Mother Martha Carr dies.  The two oldest boys, Robert and Caleb are sent to Plymouth Colony on the ship 'Elizabeth Anne' to live with their Uncle William Carr in Rhode Island.

1636 - Newport, Rhode Island

The first settlement in Rhode Island on land purchased from the Narragansett Indians.

1638 - Brother Robert is a resident of Pocasset (now Portsmouth) Rhode Island on Mount Hope Bay.  Robert is involved in the purchase of sheep grazing rights on Conanicut Island (now Jamestown) in Narragansett Bay from the Indians.

“We had fine times hunting with the Indians , they were very friendly to us. Our bedding and clothing were nearly all skins and furs like the Indians.

Jamestown, Rhode Island

English colonists made arrangements to use Conanicut Island for grazing sheep in 1638.

1654 - 1675 - Caleb marries Mercy Vaughn??.  They have at least 7 children including our Caleb Carr Jr. ancestor.

1658 - A company of 101 men purchases Jamestown Island.  Only Caleb Carr and Benedict Arnold developed the island.  They leased to tenants and also probated land to children.

Caleb establishes the first ferry service to Jamestown Island.

Caleb Carr Signature on Jamestown Purchase Agreement.

1661 - Caleb is general treasurer for Newport, Rhode Island.

1675 - Mercy dies.  She is buried in Governor Carr Lot see below.

Was Mercy killed by King Philip’s War which started in exactly the Mount Hope area where the family lived?  How was Caleb involved in King Philip’s War?

1675 - King Philip's War – Great Swamp Fight -- Narragansett Expedition

King Philip, Sachem of the Wampanoga Tribe, was ruling the last Indian villages in southeast Massachusetts around Mount Hope [Bristol,RI]. He had been terrorizing English for the last year because of encroachment on tribal hunting grounds. 113 [about 50% of all] English towns were totally decimated; 1200 dwellings burned, 800 cattle slaughtered, 600 settlers massacred, and 3,000 Indians perished. This had broken the 50 year old peace treaty with the founding Pilgrims. Some colonists were killed at Swansea, Massachusetts just across Mount Hope bay.

The United Colonies of New England declared war. They sent 1,000 men to attack the Narraugansetts in Rhode Island because they were supposedly harboring members of the Wampanoga. On their path they destroyed 150 wigwams and destroyed the swamp palisade fort in what is The Great Swamp Fight.

This war was a great calamity. 10% of men available for military service were killed during this time. Only 40% of the Wampanoga survived and most of those remaining were sold into slavery. Sachem's head was placed on a pole in Plymouth square until the year 1700. Sachem's hand was passed from village to village throughout New England.

1675 - 1682 - Caleb marries Sarah Clarke.  They have 4 children.  Sarah is sister of Gov. Walter Clarke.

1687 - Caleb is justice of the General Quarterly Session and Inferior Court of Common Pleas

1695 - Caleb is governor of Rhode Island and now part of the family governor dynasty.

Caleb buys some land from Benedict Arnold, the great grandfather of our more famous revolutionary war Benedict.

Caleb belongs to the Society of Friends which is a Quaker organization.

1695 - Age 79 - Caleb Carr dies from drowning 7 months after becoming governor.  He was loading rum onto one of his ferries at the time.  He is buried in a small family burial ground and later moved to Governor Carr Lot.

His will and testament is extensive and lists many relatives and much property to be distributed.  See page 21 The Carr family records. 1894.

Governor Carr Lot

The original cemetery is in Newport, Rhode Island.  The 12 remaining stones were moved in 1900 to another lot in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

Caleb Carr Jr.


1657 - Caleb Carr Jr. is born in Newport, Rhode Island.  He is the first of four generations of Carr born in this area of Rhode Island

1681 - 1700 - Caleb marries Deborah Sayles.  They have 10 children including our Sayles Carr ancestor.  

Deborah is granddaughter of Roger Williams who founded the  Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

1700 - Age 43 - Caleb Carr Jr. dies.  His probate inventory includes Negroes.

Sayles Carr Sr.


1696 - Sayles Carr Sr. is born in Jamestown, Rhode Island.  He is named after his mother’s surname.  He is 4 years old when his father dies.

Both my Sayles Sr. and Sayles Jr. have obscure backgrounds that I can’t quite figure out.

1740  - Sayles marries Martha Childs in Warwick.  They have 2 children.  At age 43 this is certainly a very late start for Sayles.  Not sure what Sayles was doing for the first 40 years.

1744 - Age 48 - Sayles Carr Sr. dies.  He doesn’t live long enough to have a large family.

Sayles Carr Jr.


1742 - Sayles Carr Jr. is born in Warwick, Rhode Island.

1776 - Nicholas Carr is Sayles cousin and is involved in the American Revolution on Jamestown Island by resisting with propaganda and belligerence.  He was imprisoned for 3 days on a British Ship [often a death sentence].

1775 - 1779 - Jamestown Island is demolished by the British and Hessian soldiers in the American Revolution.  Any Carr property would have been destroyed.

1789  - Sayles marries Mary Hatch in Warwick.  They have 8 children.  At age 47 this is certainly a very late start for another Sayles.  The American Revolution may have had something to do with this.

Mary is only 21 years old.  Not sure what Sayles was doing for the first 50 years.

1805 - Sayles last child is born and they are still in Warwick.

I have very little documentation on Sayles Jr.  I am not able to even determine his position in the 1790/1800/1810 census records.

Sayles and all the children end up in New York and then Michigan along the same migration path.

  1. Cortland County, New York
  2. Kent County, Michigan

1816 - Sayles has moved to Homer, Cortland County, New York.  

1825 - Age 83 - Sayles Carr dies.  He is buried in a Glenwood Cemetery, Homer, New York.

Glenwood Cemetery

There are quite a few Carr relatives buried here.

Carr in New York

Caleb Carr


1791 - Caleb Carr is born in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.  Caleb is our first wandering Carr.  He is constantly on the move.

About 1813  - Caleb marries Elizabeth ????.  They have 2 children.  The origins and fate of Elizabeth is not known.

1816 - Caleb moves to Homer, Cortland County, New York.  

Caleb marries Sarah Ransford.  They have 9 children here including our Edwin Vernon Carr ancestor.

Cortland County, New York

The first settlements were in 1791.  A flood of settlers started arriving in Cortland County in 1808.

1835 - Caleb moves to the newly formed Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.  

Caleb and Sarah have 1 more child here.

Kent County, Michigan

The first trading post was in 1826.  Grand Rapids was the first incorporated village in 1838.

1836 - Caleb gets land patents in nearby Ingham Township Section 1, 2, and 23, Ingham County, Michigan.  

His son Edwin Vernon also gets a land patent in nearby Delhi Township Section 33.

His brother William also gets a land patent in Ingham Township Section 12.

These men also had land patents in nearby Wheatfield Township and White Oak Township.

Ingham County, Michigan

County government was established in 1838.

1837 - The first town meeting for the Ingham Township is held at the house of Caleb.  The first marriage is held at the house of Caleb.

1840 - Caleb is Ingham County commissioner.

At one point he is a superintendent of the poor.

About 1850 - Caleb moves back to a different part of New York.  The youngest children are still with the family.

Caleb is listed as a farmer.  Presumably he is getting jobs as caretaker farmer on various farms in the USA.

About 1860 - Caleb moves back to a different part of Michigan.  The children are all gone by now.

1870 - Age 79 - Caleb apparently dies in Henan, China.  I don’t know the story behind this and will need more details.  

Was Caleb on a missionary mission to China?

1870 - The Tientsin Massacre

The Tientsin Incident marked an end to relative cooperation between foreign powers and the Chinese court.  The Chinese, French, and Americans were disputing the rules for Western Missionaries.  A kidnapping occurred in China which created an international incident.

Edwin Vernon Carr


1817 - Edwin Carr is born in Cortland County, New York.  He is our second wandering Carr.  I think his travels are probably the most convoluted I have discovered with my ancestors.

1835 - Edwin Carr moves with the family to Michigan.

1838  - Edwin marries Annabella Stevens.  They have 4 children in Michigan including our Martha Ann Carr ancestor.

Edwin works in the Michigan maple sugar camps.

1840 - Carr Road

Carr Road is built through Ingham County.

1846  - Edwin moves to Aux Sable, Illinois.  They have 4 more children in Illinois.

Edwin is working as a lock tender on the Illinois and Michigan Canal.

1848 - Illinois and Michigan Canal

The Illinois and Michigan Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico in 1848. The canal established Chicago as the transportation hub of the United States, before the railroad era.

1857  - Edwin moves to the newly formed Jack County, Texas.  They have 1 more child in Texas.

The family traveled by boat to New Orleans. Edwin worked the river so he was familiar with this transportation.

The family traveled by Ox team in a covered wagon from New Orleans to Jack County, Texas.

Edwin farmed here but had little success and many hardships.

Jack County, Texas

County government was established in 1857.

1860  - Edwin starts the move to Kansas.  They winter in Weston [Kansas City], Missouri.  In Spring they move to the newly formed Concord Township, Ottawa County, Kansas [near Abilene and Salina].

Ottawa County, Kansas

County government was established in 1860.

1875 - Age 57 - Edwin Carr dies.  He is buried in a Greenville Cemetery, Niles, Kansas.

Greenville Cemetery

There are many Carr relatives buried here.

Martha Ann Carr


1841 - Martha Ann Carr is born in Milford, Michigan.

Martha Ann moves with the family through Illinois, Texas, and finally Ottawa County, Kansas.

1863 - Martha marries John Wilson Lamb and they have 11 children.

The Lamb Family History begins after this