The Story of Ora and Antonia as I know it, in the process!
Ora Carpenter was to wear many hats in his 84 years on this earth. His life in the small unincorporated town of Osteen did not give a clue that his life was filled with experiences of being a woodsman, explorer, tavern keeper, lighthouse keeper, farmer, orange grower, protector of the lands of Florida, Justice of the Peace, Post Master, husband, and father. He and his children married into and were progenitors of many Florida Pioneer families.
Both Ora’s father Colonel Chester Carpenter and grand-father Johnathan Carpenter blazed their own trail in the new lands to become known as America. In the 1700’s they supported colonial resistance to British rule, created a life in the wilds of Vermont, supported education and allowed Ora to see a life that exemplified the life of true visionaries. They set a pathway for the man who explored the wilds of Florida, made friends with frontiersmen, survived the shelling of his home, married a Menorcan descendant and fathered 11 children.
Ora Carpenter was the third child born to Chester and Hannah Carpenter, in the town of Derby, Orleans County, Vermont. Derby, Vermont is a small town that borders Canada and was home to the family of Patriot Colonel Chester Carpenter. Ora Carpenter was born when Vermont was a young state of five years in the newly formed United States of America.
Ora Carpenter’s grandfather, Jonathan Carpenter, Jr. was a Revolutionary War (1775-1783) soldier who had taken up arms and was then imprisoned by the British. After the American Revolutionists won the war, the British lost their financial, and land strangle- hold on the colonies. The new Americans were free to trade with whoever offered the best price. Many of the people that were supporters or Loyalists of Britain fled to Canada or returned home to Britain (England). Also, the 1783 Treaty of Paris established the border between Canada and the United States, and this was set as the northern boundary of Derby, Vermont.
In school history, we learned of the 13 original colonies. But do we remember that Vermont joined the newly formed Union in 1791? It took a while to be accepted as a state because Vermonters had broken away from New York and New Hampshire, and then had to pay the State of New York for their land before becoming the 14th state. Another interesting fact about Vermonters is their claim of being the first of the former British colonies to banish slavery. Even though there were apparent loopholes in the laws, they set the stage for future emancipation in the United States of America.
In 1812, Great Britain was locked in a long and bitter conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte's France. In an attempt to cut off supplies from reaching the enemy, both sides attempted to block the United States from trading with the other. One of the strongest impetuses for declaring war against Great Britain was the impressment of American seamen into the Royal Navy. Americans considered this a violation of their sovereignty at sea. This was not uncommon act among navies at the time but one that incensed Americans, such as the family of Johnathan Carpenter.
It is reported that Chester Carpenter was the first "Derby” man to enlist in the War of 1812. Even though it is called the War of 1812, the war lasted 32 months. Ora Carpenter was not born until after the War. His brother Marshall Carpenter would have been born the year when the “British soldiers from Quebec raided the town of Derby, destroyed some public store-houses and extensive barracks, for the accommodation of 1200 men, which had been erected at Derby.” (LaFayette Wilbur, in Volume three of his Early History of Vermont (1902)
The Derby Academy opened its doors in 1840, under the name of “The Literary and Theological Institute”, and according to the 1840 census records, Ora was still living in his father's house.
As a young man in Derby, Vermont under the tutelage of his parents, Ora Carpenter learned the skills that would prove useful to him in the wilds of the Florida frontier.
To be continued....
To be continued....