This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Oct 28, 2017

Much more about William Carter - Part II

In 2012, we published all what was available to us about the nose flute inventor William Carter's life from his arrival in Lockport (NY) at the age of 5, to his death in Rochester (NY) in 1919 (here, there and there). We also made a replica of his « Nasalette » (see here, there and there).

We have nothing to retract from those pages, except one mistake: Carter's settling year in Albion (NY). Deceived by a homonym in a census sheet, we stated that William Carter made a step in Lewinston (NY) and settled in Albion around 1880. Wrong! We have discovered that Carter went to Albion as soon as 1871 or 1872. But we also have discovered much, much, much more about him.

Indeed, on one hand we found a new source of newspapers – the impressive Jim Fulton's archives – and notably the copies of
The Orleans Republican, daily newspaper published in Albion, in which many details were found. On the other one, we had the great luck to received the generous and enthousiastic help of Mr. Matthew Ballard, Historian of the Orleans County Department of History. All our warmest gratitude and kind regards go to him.


Much more about William Carter

Part II: William Carter in Albion

As said earlier, we have nothing to change or add to the William Carter's biography before and after his life in Albion, NY, except that he never lived in Lewinston, but went directly from Lockport to Albion in the Orleans county, in 1871 or 1872.

In a few words (for more details please check here): William Carter was born in Ireland in 1846 and immigrated to the USA in 1851 with his mother Catlaine. They first settled in Lockport, where William learned tinsmithing (very likely with/from his brother James). In 1871 or 1872, William departed from Albion, while Catlaine left for Rochester. James stayed in Lockport to build his career.


1. - Settling in Albion

After the American Civil War (1861-1865), Albion is a ±3,000 inhabitants city, in full expansion (the population grew of 50% between 1850 and 1870) and it is not surprising that the city is very attractive for immigrants. There is already a nice Irish and Polish community (both catholics).

We know by the census sheet that William Carter is still living in Lockport in 1870. He lives alone in a boarding house and is mentioned as a tinsmith:

But in 1872, he appears as a « young man of Albion », favoring the ticket Greeley/Brown (Liberal-Republicans unsuccessful candidates at 1872 US Presidency elections).

The Orleans Republican, July 24, 1872:

So, William Carter installed in Albion in 1871 or 1872. I don't know where he was living then, but in 1875 is boarder at Mrs Gordinier, at 35 East Bank st.

Cornelius Gordinier is a grocer, and his wife is the tenant of a boarding house, where agents (more or less cockeyed) make demonstration and sales.

Here is the house on the 1875 map (with a typo: "Cerdinier" instead of "Gordinier"):

2. - Tinsmith.

The first mention of William Carter's as a tinsmith in Albion doesn't include his name...

The Orleans Republican, Sep. 4, 1878:

But he is tinsmith for real, as specified in the 1880 census Sheet:

At this time, as we can read in the census, William is boarder at Luke Taylor's hotel. This hotel was the Orleans House, a beautiful and large building located East Bank, at the southwest corner of East Bank and Platt streets, facing the Village Hall (where is located the Fire Dept, as we'll see later).

Pictures below, by courtesy of Mr. M. Ballard, and the Orleans County Department of History

Inside, in 1920:
In 1884, William is appointed Town Scaler, and this make us think of his brother who was nominated at the same charge in 1867. This also means that William is recognized as a truthful and liable citizen.

The Orleans Republican, Jan. 23, 1884:

In April, William won a pair of roller skates (!) at the saloon of the Hotel McMann. Does it mean that he moved from Orleans House after Luke Taylor's death in 1883 ? I don't know, but probably not and was only a consumer, as the Orleans House was still open.

The Orleans Republican, Apr. 16, 1884:

More interesting is the long article published the same month about George Waterman hardware business (at 48-50 Main st.), in which « the jolly tinkers » William Carter and Frank Shears are employed. I don't know when William began to work at Geo. Waterman but he stayed there for a long time.

Excerpt and full article of The Orleans Republican, Apr. 30, 1884:

We learn here that Carter works on tin roofs as well as for general hardware, together with Frank Shears. Indeed, in 1885, William is mentioned for his craftsmanship on the shaping of an iron tank:

The Orleans Republican, May 27, 1884:

3. - Other activities

Another activity that probably helped William Carter to normalize in the Albion society was his membership at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The I.O.O.F was (still is) a fraternal order assembled in lodges, who aims to « improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice ».

The first trace of William as member of the I.O.O.F. dates of 1882, and relates to a dedication ceremony. Carter is in the reception committee. Six years later, William is part of the band, and this is the first notice of him we know as a musician. The next year, he has been promoted 1st W(arden ?).

The Orleans Republican, May 2, 1888 and Jan. 30, 1889:

The Albion I.O.O.F. lodge around 1910 (The Carters had left for Rochester in 1909):

4. - Young America Hook & Ladder Co.

The same year, William is appointed member of the Hook and Ladder Company, showing his will of integration in the local community (remember also that James, his brother, was member of the Protective Hook and Ladder Co. in Lockport).

The Young America Hook and Ladder Company No.1 was founded in Albion in 1842. Equipped with a hand-drawn truck carrying ladders and hooks, the men — the hooks or laddies – are in charge of rescuing people in case of fire. And it is not just a hobby, as the fires are frequent in the wooden barns and houses.

The Orleans Republican, May 19, 1875 and a Hook & Ladder truck:

Reliable and ambitious, William will get more and more responsabilities in the YAH&L Co.

In 1877, he participates the organization of the firemen Thanksgiving party…

The Orleans Republican, Sept. 12 and Oct. 10, 1877:

… and at the end of the year, he's elected Assistant Foreman and treats the company with the customary oyster supper. The following years, William becomes First Assistant:

The Orleans Republican, Dec. 12, 1877 and Sep. 4, 1878:

And it is the same in the next years, commitment and recognition.

The Orleans Republican, May 21, 1879:

The Orleans Republican, May 11, 1881:

In January 1882, a great fire destroyed a whole block in north Main street (check Matt Ballard's article on the topic). Many buildings and goods where destroyed (including Geo. Waterman's store), and firemen wounded. There is no doubt Carter was at work then, but is not quoted among the wounded men.

The Orleans Republican, Jan 18, 1882:

Photos by courtesy of Mr. M. Ballard, and the Orleans County Department of History

I don't know exactly how long the Waterman's store was closed, but there is already advertisement for it in the newspaper at the end of March. Was William Carter already working for Geo. Waterman at the time of the fire ?

Anyway, Mr. Waterman launched the construction of a new building in 1883:

The new Waterman's building is one of the two places possible where the nose flute has been invented. The building burnt again in the 1980 and there had been a little "Waterman Park" in Albion then. I found also a picture of the 1950's, on which the building is still visible.

The Waterman store. Photo by courtesy of Mr. M. Ballard, and the Orleans County Department of History

What time does this photo date of ? It should be after 1890, since we can distinguish electric lines in the reflections of the windows and insulators on the wall. (1890 was the year of the electric city light installation). We can also see some tin hardware in the store windows.

Electric ware:

Tin ware:

The building in the 1950's (just in the middle of the photo), and the current square:


The most thrilling documents Mr. M. Ballard sent us are two pictures of fire departments...

Matt Ballard wrote : « I have two photographs of fire departments, one of the Young America Hook & Ladder which likely has Carter in the image (unfortunately the names are not listed). I also have a smaller image of a fire company that lists “Billy Carter” as one of the men. I found a typed list of names from a photograph of Warner Chemical Company No. 4 with William Carter listed, unfortunately I have not been able to locate the image as of now. »

In a later mail, with the pictures in attachment: « The photo (…) shows 21 men and two boys, but contains the names of 20 men. Unfortunately all of the men I can confirm are standing on the left and nothing to confirm Bill Carter's placement in the photograph. I am going to say that the man second from the right is marked as "Billy Carter" as the man to the far right is not visible enough and the person who labeled the photograph skipped the two boys standing with the banner (Carter is labeled as #20 but there are 21 men standing). »

The Firemen, East Bank St. By courtesy of the Orleans County Department of History

This last hypothesis by Mr. Ballard is very logical and I agree with it. So, we may have here the first known picture of William Carter (the photo was taken in front of the store of the jeweler J. D. Daniels, at the corner of Main and East Bank streets)

The picture is probably earlier than the second one. Carter was a musician, and had been very early elected Assistant Foreman or First Assistant. He has some responsabilities in the company, and the fireman of the photgraph holds a bugle, filled with flowers. The bugles were used to send signals to the company or to open the way when drawing the truck. The men used to fill them with flower for ceremonies or special occasions. So, this bugle fits well with Carter 1st Assistant. The man looks rather young, but it's very difficult to say an age. But there is more...

The other picture shows the Young America Hook and Ladder Co., at an uncertain date.

The Y.A.H.& L.Co. By courtesy of Mr. M. Ballard, and the Orleans County Department of History

Matt Ballard wrote: « The other fire department photo is the Hook & Ladder company. Based on when the photograph was taken, I think Will Carter is in the photograph. The photo of the fire department standing on E. Bank Street near N. Main Street shows William Carter with a bugle, so I'd say that the man sitting in the front third from the right looks similar to the man in the other photo, but I cannot be certain. »

Bingo! Indeed, the man sitting 3rd from right is one of the two holding a bugle. The center one is undoubtedly the Foreman/President. The two firemen behind him have placed a hand on his shoulders, as a sign of confidence and subordination. The man on the right has also one hand on the shoulder. He is rather self confident, showing some « man spreading », with the legs opened and the right foot thrown forward. He is the First Assistant, with no doubt.

We can be almost sure that we have here a beautiful picture of William Carter, inventor of our beloved instrument! This is a great day for NoseFlute.Org, a great achievement, thanks to Matt Ballard!

Still any doubts? Just take a look at the ressemblance of the two brothers, William and his big bro James:

Now, Is it possible to date this picture? The picture has been taken on the "Platt street side" of the Village Hall, at the NW corner of East Bank (formely Canal street) and Platt st (just facing the Orleans House where Carter was boarder). The building has been inaugurated in 1874 and still exists, without its tower however.

William Carter became Assistant Foreman in 1877, and 1st Assistant (same job?) in 1878. So, it fits with the dates of the building. More, the man on the picture looks around 35 years old. Carter was this age in 1880-81. I guess the picture was taken around those years, more or less 1880-82.

The livery might have helped us a bit more, since this model of fireman's hat was patented in 1882. But it was filed no less that 10 years before, in 1862, and we know that products were put on the market from their filing date, with the mention "Patent pending".

Regarding the hat topic, please notice that whether almost all men have a helmet with the initials AFD on the forehead (Albion Fire Department, I guess), only five among them – including Bill Carter – show another mention. I'm not able to formally indentify the writing, but it might allude to Canal street, where was located the Fire Dept. It looks like « CANAL C… ». Could it mean Canal Company or Canal Commandment ? What would it mean ?

>> Access Part III



On the same topic :

- Much more about William Carter - Part I
- Much more about William Carter - Part II
- Much more about William Carter - Part III

- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part III

- Historic Nose Flutes - The Nasalette: Template
- Historic Nose Flutes - The Nasalette: Building
- Historic Nose Flutes - The Nasalette: Review