|The Carter Mansion was built at Oakwood Farm in 1930|
Its builder was significant. Luke B. Carter (1876-1940) was the younger son of the four Carter children who survived infancy. His father, John J. Carter (1842-1917) was as a Medal of Honor winner in the Civil War. He lived the typical Horatio Alger story: his parents died in Ireland, leaving him a penniless orphan, his sister brought him to the United States, but could not afford to support him; but he established a successful haberdashery in Titusville in the 1870's, and invested his profits in the oil business. His Carter Oil Company was a spectacular success, and became a part of Standard Oil.
Oakwood Farm Origins
|Col. John J. Carter - Medal of Honor Winner|
After his father's death, Luke Carter gave up a career with the oil company, bought out the other heirs, and became a dairy farmer at Oakwood. He raised blooded Jersey cattle, and in 1921, improved his herd with a world-famous bull, “Blonde's Golden Oxford,” purchased from the B. H. Bull & Son farm in Brampton, Ontario. Carter built new brick barns to house his cattle and dairy, spent the rest of his career building his “Blonde” herd, and gave young bulls to the Pennsylvania State College experimental station, as well as missions in India and China.
Luke Carter was also involved in community work. He was chairman of the Titusville Red Cross during World War I, a founder of the Titusville Chamber of Commerce in 1917, a stockholder and director of the Titusville Trust Company, and president of the board of the Titusville Hospital. He was a founder of the Titusville Rotary Club, one of the early advocates of good roads, a director of the American Jersey Cattle Club, and an avid golfer.
Building the Mansion
|Luke B. Carter - Passport Photo|
The Carter mansion was completed late in 1930, and Luke hosted his in-laws there during the Christmas holidays, though the construction superintendent was on duty for another month. The Carters then hosted tours of their farm during a two-day farmer's institute which was held in Titusville in February, 1931. The house was mortgaged for $150,000 to the Titusville Trust Company, but it was assumed by Carter's son, John J. Carter, 2nd and his wife, Beth McCafferty of Bradford, whom he had married on 13 May 1934. The house must have been full in 1940, since it was the home of Luke and Beatrice Carter, John J. and Beth Carter, and their two children, Charla and John J., III. Luke Carter had been in failing health for several years when he died at Oakwood Farm on 6 July 1940. Though Beatrice Carter was the sole heir and co-executor of his estate, along with the Second National Bank, she left Titusville for good, to make her home in New York City, on 22 Oct. 1940. The Jersey cattle were sold at one sale on 14 Oct. 1940, and 3 horses, the farm machinery and equipment, office and household furniture were auctioned 30-31 Oct. 1940, sold “regardless of price.”
Changing OwnersJohn and Beth Carter divorced. For a time, it appeared Oakwood Farm would be saved by Eric and Greta Heckett, Dutch millionaires who had immigrated to the United States in 1939, and who owned a patent for reclaiming steel scrap, which they managed from offices in Cleveland, OH, and Butler, PA. They bought 300 acres of the Carter property, and took a long lease on Oakwood Farm, the barns and the mansion. There they raised blooded Aberdeen Angus beef cattle, and operated “the farm on a scale as large or larger than Mr. Carter ever did.” The Hecketts had hoped to buy the farm, but were “unable to negotiate a purchase,” so they sold their 300 acres, moved out of the mansion, and relocated to southern Butler County in 1944.
|Skyline Industries, Makers of the Hula Hoop at Oakwood Farm|
Mansion's Architectural Style
|Westover Plantation, an example of the James River houses|
The architect, [Walter] Prentice Sanger, was born on 14 Aug. 1881, in Newport, RI, the son of Maj. Gen. Joseph Prentice Sanger and his wife, Frances Kent. He attended Groton School, and graduated from Harvard College in 1905, remaining for an additional two years studying landscape architecture. In 1907, he entered the office of a landscape architect in New York City, then opened his own firm in 1908. He did some city planning for San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1910, and designed worker's housing in Akron, OH, in 1917. He characterized his work as consisting entirely of private houses and estates, some of which were projects costing $500,000, though he said his largest project in the decade 1930-40 was $75,000. Lists of his buildings are harder to come by. He designed a country house for the Bolton family in Lyndhurst, OH, in 1914, and did some work at their Florida vacation home. He also enlarged a country house for the Hay family in Newbury, NH the next year. Obviously he had a suave mastery of the colonial style, adapting it to 20th century comforts.
See a photo gallery of the Carter Mansion prior to the fire.
William Moore, Esq., is an attorney, local historian, and member of the board of directors of the Crawford County Historical Society. He has an affinity for architectural history, historic preservation, and genealogy, and he co-authored the Images of America book, Meadville. He currently resides in Meadville, Pennsylvania.
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 Crawford County History.
 Titusville Herald, 4 July 1901. Anne Carter died at Warren, PA, on 16 Sept. 1968. [Warren Times-Mirror & Observer, 17 Sept. 1968; Titusville Herald, 21 Sept. 1968]
 Titusville Herald, 13 Dec. 1902. He bought the lot from his father in 1902 [Crawford County Deed Book 162, p. 290] and received another lot at Main & Petroleum Sts. from Jecal, Inc., the family corporation, in 1911. [Book 191, p. 468.]
 PA Death Certif. 1914-110577; Titusville Herald, 6 Nov. 1914.
 Crawford Co. Deed Book 208, p. 364. Emerson had assembled the parcel between 1889 and 1911.
 Crawford Co. Deed Book 210, pp. 477, 480; DB 215, p. 81.
 Titusville Herald, 18 Apr. 1945.
 Titusville Herald, 8, 9 July 1940.
 She was the daughter of Frederick H. & Louise (Candee) Stevens of Bridgeport, CT [see 1900 U.S. census, 4th Wd., Bridgeport, Fairfield Co., CT, #293/241; 1249 Fairfield Ave.] and the widow of Charles Francis Emerson, Jr., (1898-1927) of Titusville and New Haven, CT. [see Titusville Herald, 14 Feb. 1927] He was a grandson of E. O. Emerson, the original owner of Oakwood Farm.
 Titusville Herald, 28 May 1930.
 Titusville Herald, 27 May 1930.
 Mrs. Phillips was Alma Sherman of Titusville.
 Titusville Herald, 30 Dec. 1930
 Titusville Herald, 30 Jan. 1931.
 Titusville Herald, 2 Feb. 1931.
 Bradford Era, 14 May 1934. The report of the debt indicated the mortgage was assumed by the younger Carters on 2 Oct. 1931, but that cannot be true since they were not yet married. [Titusville Herald, 31 Aug. 1946] DB 316, p. 415 said 1927, which is also wrong. Possibly 1937?
 1940 U.S. census, Oil Creek Twp., Crawford Co., PA, #163, Spring St.
 PA Death Certif. #1940-64836
 Will of Luke B. Carter, 23 Nov. 1937, Crawford Co. Will Book Z, p. 162. He said he had amply provided for his son in a separate trust.
 Titusville Herald, 23 Oct. 1940. Beatrice Carter died in Milford, CT, on 19 May. 1966. [Titusville Herald, 23 May 1966]
 Titusville Herald, 30 Oct. 1940.
 Titusville Herald, 13 Mar. 1942.
 Titusville Herald, 15 May 1944. Mrs. Heckett died in 1976 and her art collection was auctioned by Sotheby's. [Titusville Herald, 11 Oct. 1977] The estate probably could not sell the property for less than was owed on Beth's mortgage, so that may be why it ended up selling it to Beth, who then sold it for $60,000.
 Titusville Herald, 19 Dec. 1944.
 Crawford County Deed Book 316, pp. 415, 419. The last family member involved with Oakwood, John J. Carter, 2nd, died 19 July 1997 in Warren, PA. [SSDI]
 Titusville Herald, 31 Aug. 1946; Crawford County Deed Book 333, p. 158. Saukline sold it back to Beth the next year, who sold it the same day to the Titusville Trust Company, Trustee of Noel J. Poux. [Crawford County Deed Book 338, pp. 279, 282.] Beth (McCafferty) Carter Putnam died in Beverly Hills, CA, in 1973. [Bradford Era, 16 Aug. 1973]
 Skyline also made plastic tubing used in making hula hoops. See David L. Weber, “Hula Hoops Put a New Spin on Titusville,” in Stella Ruggiero, ed., The Streets that Call Your Name: The Fifties in Titusville, Titusville, PA: 2012, pp. 8-10.
 Titusville Herald, 11 Oct. 1977.
 Crawford County Deed Book 521, p. 939; Crawford County Record Book 29, p. 84, Book 87, p. 298; Book 418, p. 970. Hasbrouck Sand & Gravel transferred the title to Hasbrouck Land Co. in 1998.
 Crawford County assessment record.
 The AIA Historical Directory of American Architects, wiki pages, ahd1039123; membership application in online American Institute of Architects Archives; American Architects Directory, 2nd ed., 1962, p. 612; The Grotonian, Vol. 24, p. 275 (1907); Harvard College Class of 1905, Fourth Report, Norwood, MA: 1920, pp. 277-278.