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Our Grandparents

Ellen Smith Carr



Ellen Smith was born July 4, 1883. She was blessed with three older brothers and two younger sisters. She was born and reared in Verrett, Louisiana.


As a child, she was baptized at First African Baptist Church of St. Bernard Parish.  She served in various capacities in First Baptist Church under the leadership of both her father and husband.  She was a dedicated deaconess at Second Baptist Church in Highland, Louisiana She was the mother of fourteen children; ten of which lived to maturity.


She was affectionately known as “Tootsie.”  She delighted in her peppermint candy, Lucky Strike cigarettes and considered herself not completely dressed without her stockings.  Grandma was blessed with the gift of candy making. Her favorite recipes included Pecan and Coconut candies. Recipes for both candies are still in use today as they were passed down through the family.


She loved sharing stories of her childhood with the children of the family, and took pleasure in creating memories with them. She often spoke of traveling with her husband as he visited the sick and shut-in, offered prayers and served communion.  She accepted the mission of intercessor for the children of the family, and served as Deaconess at Second Baptist Church. Even today, “many of us are still living on the prayers grandma prayed for us.”


After Grandpa's death in 1951, at the request of her son-in-law, Venus Gordon, she was invited into their home to live out her remaining years. There she resided with them until her death Wednesday,  May 3, 1961. She is buried with her husband in Verrett Cemetery. Her voice is hushed, but her spirit is very much alive in her descendents. 

Rev. William Henry Carr



William Henry Carr was born June 20, 1880 in Verrett, Louisiana to Elizabeth Baptiste and David Carr. He was blessed with one sister, Elizabeth Carr who died as a young child.


He was converted May 6, 1898 and was baptized September 5, 1898 with ten others. In 1900 he was elected as a deacon and began his service with other heads of the church.


He was married May 24, 1902 to Ellen Smith. It has been noted on many occasions that this union yielded fifteen children. According to records found in his bible and written by his hand, there were actually fourteen live births whose names, birth and deaths were recorded.


On September 21, 1902 he received his license to preach the gospel. June 2, 1907 he was elected church secretary and served in this capacity from 1907 until 1909. In 1910 he was appointed Superintendent of the Sunday School by Pastor Sam Smith. June 23, 1910 he introduced the first Sunday School literature with the personal efforts of Dr. R.H. Boyd.


On February 12, 1920 he was ordained and appointed to the position of Senior Deacon. He held this position until February 12, 1922 when he was ordained and appointed Assistant Pastor by the Southern District Baptist Association.  After the death of Rev. Sam Smith in 1928, Rev. William Henry Carr was installed as Pastor of First African Baptist Church of St. Bernard Parish on May 19, 1929 by the First District Baptist Association under the leadership of Rev. George Henry John Devoe. 


He was blessed with the gift of music and was the first African American to play the pipe organ in the parish of St. Bernard. Under his direction the church began to grow. He organized two choirs; June 28, 1936 saw the dawning of the first BYPU; August 26, 1936 was the installation of electric lights in the church and September 9, 1936 initiated the 1st. Baptist Church Home Mission.


Being a strong believer in independence and an advocate for higher education; on December 15, 1939 he petitioned the parish superintendent for Mr. Amedee to teach the residents in the village of Verrett; but was rejected.  Being a person of perseverance, he did not give up; but instead personally met with Mr. J. F. Gauthier; Superintendent of St. Bernard Parish Schools, in Arabi, Louisiana. With determination to help his people he turned rejection into recognition and reached an agreement that began classes twice a week in order to teach his constituents reading and writing.  It was his desire that every living person in Verrett would finally be able to read and sign their own name. March 1, 1943 Rev. Carr was appointed Red Cross Representative of St. Bernard Parish by Sheriff C. F. Rowley and received two letters of commendation signed by representatives of St. Bernard Parish.


In spite of his effective leadership abilities, his personal life came into conflict with the opinions of some members of First Baptist Church and non members as well.  Rev. Carr regretfully yet graciously vacated the leadership of First Baptist Church on August 16, 1944 with his dignity intact and his head held high.


Rev. William Carr was soon approached by Mr. Peter Miles at the request of Mr. Angelo Caluda in an effort to establish a proper place of worship for the newly formed and ever growing African American subdivision in Highland. With the help of several persons within the community, Second Baptist Church was organized and Rev. William Henry Carr became the founding pastor. 


November 20, 1949 Second Baptist Church held its first baptism. The candidates included:  James Lawrence, James Richard, Jr., Phillip Watson, Ethel Lawrence, Louise Moore, Helen Douglas, Dorothy Brown, Antoinette Richard and Elenora Carr. The introductory sermon was delivered by Rev. Randolph Ballard and the baptismal sermon was delivered by Rev. Ed Johnson. 


Not only was he the shepherd of the flock but he also served as carpenter, musician, Sunday School teacher and worked in various other capacities.  He visited the sick and shut-in, blessed babies, united couples in marriage and buried the dead. He was an advocate of literacy and he valued truth and honesty. He believed children were gifts from God. He was a kind hearted, and deeply devoted family man who loved God, his family his home and his church.


In spite of contentious interpretations of events, he refused to harbor animosity for those who were instrumental in an attempt to tarnish his legacy. Much like his forefathers: an activist, minister and teacher, whose ethical and religious views were misconstrue; his ministry did not perish. It continued

to grow in an attempt to educate the “flat minds” he so often spoke of.


On a beautiful Sunday morning, November 18, 1951 He passed away peacefully at his home. He will forever hold a place in our hearts and will long be remembered as one of the greatest men we were blessed to know. God bless his memory.


(Information obtained from the history and church records of First Baptist Church as previously compiled and read by Mrs. Birdie Palmer and Ms Dorothy Blaise.) 

(Information for Second Baptist Church obtained from the original church history, church records and personal journal of Rev. William Henry Carr)


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