Baldwin County (Georgia) Cemeteries

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Thomas Petters (Peter) Carnes

1762 - May 5, 1822

Cemetery: Memory Hill
West Side, Section D, Lot 14, Grave 5
-- See section's Lot Layout map on Memory Hill website. (Map will open in a new window.)

Inscription and Notes:

Stone reads middle name of Peter, but real name is Petters, his mother's maiden name.
See below.
Government Service.
Military Service: American Revolution
Marker mistakenly says Private, Ga. Troops; should be Colonel Maryland Line. Georgia legislator, Congressman and judge.

Thomas Petters Carnes[1a] served as a colonel in the Maryland Line and later received several thousand acres of bounty land in Franklin County, Georgia. In 1786, he served Franklin County in the Executive Council, mainly as a representative in the Georgia Legislature, and represented Franklin County again in 1787, 1789, 1807, and 1808. Carnes was a member of Congress from March 4, 1793 to March 3, 1795. According to one source, he was an "up-country leader" participating in large land grants during the Yazoo Fraud of 1795.[1b]

Carnes married, first, Elizabeth Bostwick, daughter of Chesley Bostwick [Bostic], Revolutionary soldier of Georgia on  November 21, 1795,[2] and second, Susan (King) Screws of Milledgeville (sometimes shown as Susannah Crews), February 21, 1808.[3]

In 1809, Carnes lived on Shoal Creek, near Carnesville, which was named after him. He was involved in settling the boundary dispute between Georgia and North Carolina in 1806. He was judge of the first Superior Court to meet in Clarke County (in the Western Circuit) in 1807 and 1810.[4]

In an address which was later published in newspapers, Carnes expounded on the principles of justice and the philosophies of government. In his first address he paid tribute to Elijah Clarke, the Revolutionary hero, for whom Clarke County, Georgia was named. In later orations, he commented upon the Indians, saying "this spot where we now appear and in which the command of the Laws of our Country is the distribution of speedy & impartial Justice was a waste and howling wild where the Savages exulted in the war songs and tortures of some of our relations & friends and when the Tomahawk & scalping knives were lifted and directed with success against innocent captive women & children. I say that these things are unnecessary to be repeated, as every man who has had the experience of twelve or fourteen years on the frontiers will sufficiently bring to mind such dolefull scenes..."

Carnes's will was written in 1816 and was probated in Athens, Clarke County, Georgia. It reads:

In the name of the Triune God, I, Thomas Petters Carnes of the village of Athens, Clarke County, State aforesaid;

Being of sound and disposing mind and memory and not knowing when it may be the will of Divine Providence to deprive me of the existence which He hath been pleased to allow me in sublunary world do hereby make and establish this instrument of writing to be my last will and testament.

IMPRIMIS: I recommend my soul to the Almighty God who gave it to me, relying on His justice, mercy and goodness and that He will make such a disposition of this immortal part as may suit.  His divine purposes, and accord with His general plan of Salvation."

The will then specifies in article two that all the slaves are to be divided among his two sons, William Walker Carnes and Robert Watkins Carnes, and in article three that all his possessions in Franklin County be sold and placed in secured places at legal interest for the benefit of his son Robert and his younger children. Article four requires all debts be paid.  Article five requires a sum of money that would be due five years later be distributed between his wife and all his children when of age. Articles six and seven deal with the property in and around the city of Athens, and specifies how they should divide the different properties. The last article nominates and appoints his wife Susan Carnes, to be the sole executrix of his will.

The obituary of Colonel Thomas P. Carnes, as published in the Georgia Journal, (Milledgeville) May 7, 1822, reads:

DIED - In this place on Sunday morning last, the 5th of May, Colonel Thomas P. Carnes, in the 60th year of his age. The deceased was born and educated in Maryland. Having obtained a correct knowledge of the Laws of his Country, and being honorably admitted into that profession, with nothing but the treasure of his own mind, he sought his fortune in Georgia. His correct deportment, amiable disposition, firm principles, and acknowledged talents, gave him an elevated stand at the Bar, which he supported with honor and dignity, until the infirmities of age came upon him. The State admitted and promoted his advancement, by conferring on him the appointment of Solicitor and Attorney General. The manner in which he discharged the trust reposed, and the satisfaction he gave for several terms in succession, raised him to a still more dignified and responsible sphere, the office of Judge of the Superior Court, in which he presided with much dignity for a number of years. While the Legislature reported this special confidence, the people at large were not passive spectators of his worth; they made him their choice to represent them successively in both branches of the state Legislature. His election as a member of Congress, evidence the confidence which he enjoyed in thee state. At the Bar he was considered an accomplished speaker, on the bench an able and upright Judge, and in the state and national Legislatures, as enlightened and distinguished representative.

The evening of his life was as dark as its meridian had been serene. It seemed as if misfortune had marked him for her own - Communicated.

Thomas Petter Carnes was originally buried in the "Old Cemetery" near Milledgeville.[5] His body was later moved to Memory Hill Cemetery.

[1a] Carnes' name is sometimes mistakenly spelled Peters. Petters was his mother's maiden name.

[1b]. Coulter, E. Merton. "Birth of a University, a Town, and a County." The Georgia Historical Quarterly, Volume 18, No. 3, September, 1934, p.223.

[2]. Huxford, Folks. Marriages and Obituaries from Early Georgia Newspapers, Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1989 p. 424.

[3]. History of Baldwin County, Marriage Book "A" Baldwin County Court House

[4]. "Life Sketch of Thomas P. Carnes"

[5]. Georgia Revolutionary Soldiers Graves, compiled by H. Ross Arnold and H. Clifton Burnham, Georgia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, 1993. The location of this cemetery is currently (2000) unknown.

See others in this cemetery lot.