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Lena B. Rees & James L. Carter Family Papers - MS 964

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


The Lena B. Rees and James L. Carter Family Papers were donated to the Center for Archival Collections by their grandchildren, through Jill Carter Knuth, on May 30, 2002, with additional material transferred on August 15, 2007, and September 5, 2013. The collection consists of 3 feet of personal papers, genealogical notes, correspondence, photographs, and printed material related to multiple generations of a family living in the Fostoria, Risingsun, and Bradner, Ohio areas.

The collection was processed and finding aid prepared by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts in August 2002, with revisions made in September 2013.

 Biographical Sketch

The multiple generations of the families associated with this collection center around the family of Lena B. Rees and James L. Carter and include the Rees, James, Showalter, Carter, and Stubbs lines.

The Rees family material focuses on descendants of two apparently unrelated men named Theophilus Rees, who each came to the U.S. from Wales. Theophilus Thomas Rees, originally from Meidrim, Carmarthenshire, came to the U.S. in 1795 and settled for eight years in the Beulah Colony, Cambria Co, Pennsylvania. He then lived for the remainder of his life in the north-east quarter of Granville Township, Licking County, Ohio. Descendants migrated to Morrow County, and then to Wood County, Ohio.

The Rev. Theophilus Rees, emigrating in 1796, was from Llandyssul, Cardiganshire. He and two of his four children died of yellow fever in Baltimore, Maryland, a few months after arriving from Wales. His widow remarried and the family followed a similar migratory path from Pennsylvania to Licking County, and Morrow County, Ohio. The daughter of Rev. Theophilus Rees married the son of Theophilus Thomas Rees, and in the following generation there was a first-cousin marriage. The included charts trace the complex relationships of the Rees families.

Several members of a later generation of the family from Morrow County and Wood County served in the U.S. Civil War with Company D of the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Evan Rees was discharged early on certificate of disability and died at home a short time later. His brother-in-law, John Rees died in New York of privation suffered in a Southern prison, and John's brother, Morris Rees was honorably discharged at the end of the war, having acheived the rank of Captain.

The core family of this collection follows the line descending from Evan Rees, through his son Alfred and his wife Ida James, to Lena Bernice Rees, born in 1882.

The Carter Family documented in this material deals with more recent generations, particularly James Llewellyn Carter, born in 1880, son of Benjamin Franklin Carter and Mary Elizabeth Stubbs. Before coming to Wood County, James L. Carter taught school in Belmont County, Ohio. In Risingsun, he worked as a telegraph operator for the Hocking Valley Railroad, and operated a combination jewelry business and ice cream parlor. In 1914, he opened an optometric practice in Fostoria where he was active locally in fraternal groups such as the Masons, was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and served on the Fostoria Board of Education. He died in 1935 at the relatively young age of 54 from a ruptured appendix, leaving a family that included his wife Lena, and children Elizabeth, James, Dorothae, Juanita, Anna Belle, and Robert.

After the death of her husband, James, Lena was the mainstay of her family and managed to put all six children through school. Active with such groups as the Order of the Eastern Star, the Methodist Church in Fostoria, the Gold Star Mothers, and the WCTU, in 1958 she was named Mother of the Year by the Fostoria Women's Club. She died in 1974.

Extensive material related to Robert Allen Carter, the youngest child of James L. and Lena Carter, is included with the collection. Born in 1922, he was involved in such activities as competition target shooting and music. After graduation from Fostoria High School in 1940, he worked at Western Union until 1942 when he joined the U.S. Navy during World War II. His correspondence home from several bases details the period of his training as a torpedoman for the submarine service. He was declared missing in action when his ship, the U.S.S. Herring, disappeared in 1944 in the North Pacific, and he was officially declared dead in 1946.

 Scope and Content

The material that makes up this collection can be useful both for genealogical research for the families involved and as a source for primary history into aspects of 19th and 20th century life.

Although there are only a few letters surviving as photocopies or transcripts, the correspondence to Theophilus Thomas Rees written from Wales between 1796 and 1809 provides insight into the immediate concerns of families separated by immigration, brings news from the old home and neighbors, asks questions about the new country, and airs political concerns during the era of the Napoleonic Wars.

The letters of the Rees brothers, John and Morris, serving in Co.D of the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, were written from March through November of 1863 when that regiment was engaged in the Western Theater (Evan having already been discharged). Although the letters primarily cover family concerns, religious life, daily duty, and news about friends and neighbors, the letter of April 17, 1863 deals with aspects of the siege of Vicksburg, particularly with the use of artillery and the river blockade of the city.

Robert A. Carter's World War II letters are the most extensive segment of the collection and they provide a very detailed look into the military experience typical of many young men who served during the war, starting with his basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois, continued training to be a torpedoman at Norfolk, Virginia, then finally submarine school at New Haven, Connecticut. Through it all Robert describes the daily routine, special events such as USO shows and instances where the casts of Broadway shows performed at New Haven, the food, the barracks, fellow servicemen, and features of his training, particularly once he is getting intensive introduction into the workings of the submarine service. Letters written once he began active duty on the U.S.S. Herring are more sporadic due to periods when the ship was on station and out of contact. Because of wartime censorship these later letters do not contain many details of service action.

Those printed items that didn't pertain directly to the family, including those associated with Wesley United Methodist Church in Fostoria, have been transferred out of the collection to be cataloged separately and are listed at the end of the inventory.

 Series Description


1982-2002, n.d.
Folder of loose sheets, charts, maps, and minor correspondence related to general genealogical research on various Carter, Rees, Porter, and Stubbs family lines

1796-1976, n.d.
Research material on individuals and family groups, primarily photographs, with some clippings, charts, and inquiry correspondence. Includes a few transcripts and original letters related to different generations of the Rees family in the 18th century and during the Civil War

Arranged chronologically
Small memo books detailing personal activities, visitors, and family events. Two financial diaries cover primarily household expenses and receipts/expenditures associated with a rental property

Arranged chronologically
Travel diaries of Ray and Anna Rees Townsend (daughter of Theophilus Rees and Mary Showalter), relatives of Lena Rees Carter, describing trips around the Great Lakes region


Arranged chronologically
Letters written to mother Lena Carter while in Navy basic training at Great Lakes Naval Base, at Norfolk, Virginia, and in submarine school at New Haven, Connecticut. Includes related photographs, certificates, and documents associated with his life and military service


Copies of news clippings, obituaries, marriage records, military documents, and other legal papers related to the James family


Printed material related to the submarine service and the U.S.S. Herring, which was sunk with all hands lost during World War II. Also copies of the Fostoria High School yearbook, the Red and Black, belonging to Dorothae, Juanita, and Robert Carter


Circa 1860-1880s
Carte-de-Visite albums and individual cased images of members of the Rees, Showalter, and James families

Album with carte-de-visite and tintype images of members of the James family of Bradner, Ohio and other individuals associated with his Civil War service.  Includes original album (wrapped), CD of digital scans, printed reference prints, and background sheet


Box 1


  1. Family trees (Carter, Rees, Porter, Stubbs lines), n.d.
  2. Family trees, compiled by Jill Carter Knuth, 2002
  3. Stubbs Family (Notes, reunion photos, and clippings), c.1915-1935
  4. Benjamin F. Carter/Mary Elizabeth Stubbs Family (Notes, photos), c.1880-1976
  5. Joseph Allen Carter Family (Photographs), c.1900-1953
  6. Jesse Benjamin Carter Family (Juanita Carter Haygood family photos), 1963-1971
  7. John Julian Carter Family (Photographs), c.1900-1953
  8. Morris Rees Family (Photographs), c.1885-1940
  9. Evan and Sarah Rees Family (Letter, photographs), 1861-1900?
  10. Alfred and Ida James Rees Family (Documents, photos), 1886-1927
  11. Theophilus and Mary Showalter Rees Family (Photographs), c.1887-1927
  12. James, Harris, McCreary, Freeman Families (Photographs), c.1885-1954

Box 2


  1. James Family Papers and Clippings, 1864-1971
  2. James, McCreary Papers and Notes, 1901-1972
  3. Rees Family Clippings, Genealogical Notes, 1890-1978
  4. Rees Family Letters and Transcripts, 1796-1863
  5. Autograph books (Ida E. James Rees & Lena Rees), 1884-1900
  6. Lena Rees Carter Photographs, 1882-1961
  7. Lena Rees Carter Clippings (Mother of the Year, etc.), 1907-1972
  8. Lena Rees Carter Clippings (Church, misc.), n.d., 1960-1971
  9. James L. Carter Photographs, c.1895-1932
  10. Miscellaneous and unidentified photographs (Jackson, etc.), 1942, n.d.

Box 3


  1. James L. Carter Family Photographs, incl. stereoviews, c.1900-1959
  2. James L. Carter Family Clippings, Cards, Documents, & Misc., 1880-1935
  3. James L. Carter, Optometrist - Clippings, Documents, Photos, etc., 1919?-1935
  4. Lena Rees Carter Diary, 1950-1954
  5. Lena Rees Carter Diaries (6), 1955-1966
  6. Lena Rees Carter Diaries (3), 1966-1972
  7. Lena Carter Financial Account Booklets (3), 1946-1972

Box 4


  1. Townsend Family travel diary, 1945
  2. Townsend Family travel diary, 1946
  3. Townsend Family travel diary, 1947
  4. Townsend Family travel/postcard diary, 1947

Box 5


(Transcriptions are selected items)
  1. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Nov 16, 19, 23, 29, 1942
  2. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Dec 3, 6-8, 10, 15, 19-20, 23, 27, 29-31, 1942
  3. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Jan 2, 3, 9(?), 13, 23, 1943
  4. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Feb 3, 9, 12-13, 18, 21, 27, 1943
  5. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Mar 3, 5, 12, 14, 18, 20, 21, 24, 29, 31, 1943
  6. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, April 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13-14, 16, 19, 20, 23, 26, 29, 1943
  7. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, May 4, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 20, 23, 27, 30, 1943
  8. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, June 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 11, 15, 17, 24, 27, 29, 1943
  9. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, July 1, 4, 8-13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 27, 28, 29, 1943
  10. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Aug 2, 4, 5, 8, 1943
  11. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Sept 3, 15 (torn), 21, 25, 29, 1943
  12. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Oct 5, 10, 17, 22, 26, 1943
  13. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Nov 4, 9-10, 14, 1943
  14. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Jan 10-11, 16, 19, 23, 24, 30, 1944
  15. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, Feb 4, 9, 1944
  16. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, April 9, 21, 23, 26, 28, 1944
  17. Robert A. Carter Correspondence, May 2, 3, 4, 10, 11, 14, 19, 1944

Box 6


  1. Robert A. Carter Photographs - Youth, c.1925-1942
  2. Robert A. Carter Photographs - Navy, 1942-1944
  3. Robert A. Carter Photographs - Misc., 1942-1944
  4. Robert A. Carter Posthumous Purple Heart Citation, 1946
  5. Robert A. Carter Clippings, 1940-1946
  6. Robert A. Carter Civilian Papers (Baptism, Birth Certif., Cards), 1922-1943
  7. Robert A. Carter Navy Papers (Service, Death, Memorials, etc.), 1943-1946
  8. Robert A. Carter/Lena Carter Veterans' Administration Papers, 1942-1967
  9. U.S.S. Herring Memorial (Mobile, AL) Photo and Postcard, 1977
  10. U.S. Submarine Losses, World War II, 1949
  11. How Sleep the Brave, 1944
  12. Robert Carter's 8th Grade History Scrapbook, 1936
  13. Carter Family General Scrapbook, 1916-1964

Box 7


  1. James Family documents and clippings, 1864-1982
  2. Red and Black (Fostoria High School Yearbook - Dorothae Carter), 1932
  3. Red and Black (Fostoria High School Yearbook - Juanita Carter), 1934
  4. Red and Black (Fostoria High School Yearbook- Robert Carter), 1940
  5. Book: Felsen, Henry G. Submarine Sailor, 1943

Box 8


  1. Mr. & Mrs. Ingram (Ambrotype - broken case), circa 1860
  2. Philena Harris James & Ebenezer James (Daguerreotype), circa 1860
  3. Evan Rees & sons Theophilus, Alfred & Morgan (Two separate tintypes facing in a single case), circa 1860
  4. Sarah Rees Rees (Tintype), circa 1860
  5. Evan Rees (Daguerreotype), circa 1862
  6. Rees-Showalter Album (Tintypes & CDVs - probably belonged to Theophilus Rees and Mary Showalter of Bradner, Ohio), circa 1860s-1880s

Box 9


  1. Eli A. James album scans on CD
  2. Eli A. James album reference prints and background
  3. James Family loose photos
  4. Eli A. James album (original - wrapped)

Oversized Photograph

  1. 50th Wedding Anniversary group of Joseph A. Carter and Clara Lewis Carter, 1953

Material Removed to be Separately Cataloged

  1. Fostoria Methodist Children's Church scrapbooks (2), 1948-1950
  2. United Methodist Church. Findlay District. Newsletters, 1970-1973
  3. Wesley United Methodist Church, Fostoria Ohio. Programs, booklets, histories, etc. 1952-1980
  4. Wesley United Methodist Church, Fostoria, Ohio. Directories, 2002, 2004
  5. American Guild of Organists. Toledo Chapter. Roster of members, 1969
  6. Fostoria High School. Class of 1930. Reunion materials, 1960-1995 (scattered)
  7. Fostoria City Schools. Directories & Rosters, 1967-1982 (scattered)
  8. Fostoria, Ohio - Image of Christ on soy bean tank - clippings, etc., 1986

MS 964 - Carter Family Papers List of Transcripts
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