Human and Animal Rights Advocate, Cheshire County NH Deputy Sheriff Jennie Belle (Carter) Powers (1864-1936)

Photo of Mrs. Jennie Powers from a 1917 Boston Post newspaper. Colorized by J.W. Brown.

The Boston Sunday Globe newspaper called her “a fearless woman.”  At her death the National Humane review said of her: “For in all the state there was no one like Jennie Belle Powers. Mrs. Powers was humane agent for the Cheshire County Humane Society. A unique personality, no other woman was better qualified for the duties of an active humane officer. She had an unusual background and an amazing career.”

Despite her tough job you rarely saw criticism of her though she was frequently in the news. She devoted much of her life to insuring that both man (mostly women and children) and beast were protected from cruelty in all its forms.  Her personal life was touched by tragedy as both of her children died as infants. Perhaps it was that sense of loss, that became part of her drive to protect the young and mothers.

The Boston Sunday Globe of July 2, 1905 on page 94 printed a lengthy article about Mrs. Jennie Powers as follows: “A FEARLESS WOMAN. Mrs. Jennie B. Powers, Agent of Humane Society for New Hampshire and Vermont–Shoots Condemned Animals and Cares for Children–Once Jumped from Window in Brattleboro and Stopped the Beating of Horses. The action of Mrs. Jennie B. Powers, an agent of the Humane society for New Hampshire and Vermont, in seizing a cow in the last stages of tuberculosis and shooting it has aroused fresh interest in the work of that fearless woman.

Armed with the powers of a deputy sheriff, she is the personification of law when she puts her hand upon an animals. The daughter of Capt E. W. Carter of the 4th Vermont volunteers, who fought through the civil war, Mrs. Powers possesses the spirit to work in defense of dumb beasts, and the children. Fifteen years ago she jumped from a window in her Brattleboro home and stopped a man from beating his horses. The local Human society was reorganized and her career as agent commenced.

For seven years, two of which have been spent in Cheshire county, New Hampshire, with

Mrs. Jennie Powers shown here with one of the horses she saved, from a Boston Globe newspaper. Colorized by J.W. Brown.

an 9occational trip beyond, her entire time has been given to such work. At the freight yards she has watched the leading of cattle, inspecting them on the cars. The stories she tells and the pictures she shows of tasks performed cause one to look in wonder at the frail woman who has remained all night in a wood chopper’s hut that she might put a crippled beast out of pain when the mourning dawned, who has entered homes where he life has been threatened, and taken the children to better quarters.

She is a determined person as was shown in the prosecution of a man charged with starving his horse. Mrs. Powers fought the case through three terms of court at her own expense and at last won out. It is only during the last two years that she has taken to shooting condemned animals herself. In that time, however, she has ended the careers of 100 horses, cows, sheep, dogs and pigs. In shooting she uses a hammer-less five-shot revolver made to order with a barrel six inches in length and has had to fire a second shot but once in her experience, and that was caused by darkness.

Mrs. Powers is a veterinary of no mean ability. She is a taxidermist and has taken a course of entomology at Amherst College. She has the finest exhibition of bones taken from deceased animals in the country.

Boston Sunday Globe newspaper photo of Jennie Powers published on 2 July 1905. Colorized by J.W. Brown.

Many people in the State of New Hampshire felt a sense of loss when Jennie died.  The Portsmouth Herald Newspaper of 4 April 1936 reprinted a memorial that had been published in a national magazine, and I repeat it here.  “A Maker of Humane History.
It seems that right here in New Hampshire we have lost in the death of Jennie Powers of Keene on March 67 last, a maker of humane history. With the approach of Humane Week, April 19-25, it is fitting that we pay a tribute to Jennie Powers and no more fitting triumph can be found than the article published this week in the National Humane Review, which we re-print herewith with full credit to that publication.–

“Jennie Powers is dead. March 6, when her life came to its close, the news was passed from one to another in Keene, carried to other towns and hamlets in New Hampshire, told with reverent awe. For in all the state there was no one like Jennie Belle Powers. Mrs. Powers was humane agent for the Cheshire County Humane Society. A unique personality, no other woman was better qualified for the duties of an active humane officer. She had an unusual background and an amazing career. Born in Brattleboro, VT in 1864, part of her early life was spent at St. Catharines, Ontario, where her parents lived until she was 13. At 14 she developed a love for hunting, became an expert shot was soon engaged in taxidermy in which she became an expert. From hunting, she became a naturalist.

“She married, had two children, both of whom died soon after birth. On the loss of her first child she wrote in her notebook: “In the memory of the dearest little child that ever came into our lives, I shall always do my best for the children. How Mrs. Powers kept that pledge is known to all her friends and the public at large.

Newspaper sketch of Mrs. Jennie Powers.

“From 1893 to 1896 she took a course in zoology, entomology and ornithology with the Massachusetts Agricultural College. She became a humane agent at Brattleboro in 1898 and in 1903 was hired as agent at Keene. Her remuneration was then fixed at $1.25 per day with expenses! The society was a small affair but Mrs. Powers made it known far and wide. No woman ever had more courage than Mrs. Powers. If duty called she went, and she carried through whatever she undertook. She made investigations with meticulous care, and she never was long in making up her mind. So capable was she that other organizations and community groups turned over to her their most difficult cases. She had ways of learning of evil conditions, especially affecting children.

“Always alert, a hint was enough to start her on a quest. Wherever she found suffering animals, especially in out of the way places, she looked for suffering children, and often found them.  It was her terrific determination that carried her through. She faced the toughest situations without a quiver. Many times she went into homes where brutal, vicious men cowed wives and little ones into abject fear, where black eyes and bruised limbs, pinched faces, starved bodies, ragged clothing, and squalor proved the stories she had heard.

“Threats of grievous bodily harm never caused her to back one step because she always carried weapon with which to defend herself and those cowardly brutes, deep down in their hearts, feare3d her and feared she would use it if they went too far. She became to their kind a “terror to evildoers.” Scores, hundreds of children were rescued, their homes made happier. Many men she prosecuted and she had them jailed when she knew that only radical methods could end the suffering of children and mother.

“In her services for animals, Mrs. Powers was aided by her educational background. Often she had to put out of their misery, suffering horses and cattle, and being an expert shot, she preferred to do that herself so that there might be no accident.

“In failing health for the last few years she entrusted much of her work to Deputy Sheriff Henry A. Frechette; he will now carry on. But, as the New Hampshire Sentinel stated editorially, “Much time will pass and much history be made before Keene, Cheshire County or the state of New Hampshire will be able to fill, if ever, the place left vacant by the death of Jennie B. Powers.”

=====PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF JENNIE BELLE (CARTER) POWERS=====

Francis Carter was b abt 1811 in England. He died 17 April 1878 Kings NY. He is buried in East Cemetery, Meriden CT. In 1850 he and his family were living in Northbridge, Worcester Co MA. He m. Ellen Lydia Powers, daughter of William & Elizabeth Powers. She was b 1812 in London England, baptized St. Giles Cripplegate London, England and died 12 Sep 1886 in Manhattan NY. Also buried East Cemetery Meriden CT.  Francis Carter immigrated aboard the ship President from London England to New York City arriving on 1 Nov 1832.  Francis Carter was an artist by trade.
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1850 US Census > Massachusetts > WOrcester > Northbridge
Francis Carter 39
Ellen Carter 38
Francis J Carter 15
Margaret E Carter 14
Edward W Carter 10** (b abt 1840 New York)
Albert A Carter 8 (b abt 1842 Rhode Island)
Frederick Howard 3
Henry Kendall 34
Delia Fay 18
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1860 US Census > CT > New Haven > Meriden
Francis Carter 48
Ellen L Carter 46
Silas D Carter 28
Margaretta Carter 24
Fredk H Carter 13
Thomas Carter 26
Annette Carter 14
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1870 US Census > CT > New Haven > Meriden
Francis Carter b abt 1811 England Artist
Ellen Carter b abt 1814 England
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Children of Francis & Ellen (Powers) Carter:
1. Silas D. Carter b abt 1832 NY. In 1860 living in Meriden CT. Possibly a Private in Ohio. who nlisted in Company C, Ohio 91st Infantry Regiment on 07 Sep 1862. Name: Silas D Carter, Residence: Washington, Scioto, Ohio, Congressional District: 11th, Class: 3.
2. Francis J. “Frank” Carter b abt 1835 NY, died 14 Apr 1914 Chicago IL, buried Walnut Grove, Meriden CT. Interior Decorator, widowed.. Sgt in Civil War/ He married Mary Louise Warren. Had children: Walker F., George E. and Caroline.
3. Margaretta E. “Margaret” Carter, b abt 1836 New York, died 27 June 1907 in East Rutherford NJ; She m. John Bevins and was living in New York City at the time of her mother’s death, mentioned in will. John Bevins was b. June 1847 in NY. Living in Manhattan in 1900, an engineer. Daughter Lillie Maud Bevins who m1) 11 Apr 1899 in Manhattan NY to Joseph L. Roberts. Lillie m2d) She m2d) 1915-1916 in Passaic NJ St. George’s Church to John Westdyke. She had a son Joseph Roberts by her 1st husband. John Westdyke had m1) Jessie MacDowell.
4. +Edward W. Carter, b abt 1840 New York.
5. Albert A. Carter, b abt 1842 Rhode Island, died 23 March 1899 in St. Louis MO. Buried Jefferson Barracks, Section 65 Grave No 11780, Corporal Co. D 4th VT Infantry. He married Mary –.
6. Frederick Howard “Fred” Carter b May 1847 Rhode Island; d. 18 Jan 104 in CT; buried Meriden CT; He served in Co A 15th CT Reg Vols in Civil War. He married Sophia –. She was b. Nov 1850 in England. He was an artist.

—–NEXT GENERATION—–

Photo of Capt. Edward W. Powers, from the Library of Congress.

Edward Livingston Wells Carter , son of Francis & Ellen (Powers) Carter was b in 1840 at New York City, NY.  During the Civil War he served in Co 5 4th VT Infantry, U.S. Army, being mustered out a Captain. He died 5 April 1900 in St. Louise MO. Buried Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri section 63 grave No 11835.
He married 1st)  20 Sep 1861 in Brattleboro VT to Isabel Wheaton Bigelow, dau of David & Susan (Gray) Bigelow.  She was born abt 1843 in Brattleboro VT, and died 14 Jan 1910 in the Methodist Hospital, Omaha Nebraska.  Edward and Isabel separated/divorced about 1874.    Isabel m2d) 3 Oct 1883 in Brattleboro VT to Chauncey Borland, son of James & Elizabeth Gray) Borland. He was b. in Manchester VT but living in Iowa.  Edward Carter married 2nd by 1888 to Catherine Sarah Annette Adela “Katie” Shaw. She was b. 18 March 1855 Barton, Wentworth, Ontario Canada). His occupation: painter.
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Enlisted in Company F, Vermont 4th Infantry Regiment on 21 Sep 1861. Promoted to Full 2nd Lieutenant on 16 Jun 1862.Promoted to Full 1st Lieutenant on 14 Dec 1862.Promoted to Full Captain on 25 Jun 1864.Mustered out on 13 Sep 1864. Roster of Vermont Volunteers During the War of the Rebellion 1861-66. Photo courtesy of Ed Italo. The Medical and Surgical History of the Civil War
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First Lieutenant Edward W. Carter, Co. G, 4th Vermont, age 33, suffered a gunshot wound in the abdominal wall. After being moved 11(!) times from where he was wounded, according to Dr. George F. Stevens, Surgeon of the 77th New York, he was finally admitted to Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D.C., on 25 May. He was furloughed on 13 June, readmitted on 6 August, transferred to the Volunteer Officers’ Hospital on 10 August and was returned to duty two days later, but resigned due to poor health on 14 September.30
—-
1860 US Census > Vermont > Windham Co. > Brattleboro
Nathan Howe 66 M Gardener VT
Clarissa Howe 58 F NH
Adeline Howe 22 VT
Victoria Hose 18 VT
John Howe 15 VT
Albert A. Carter 18 M CT Painter [b abt 1842 CT]
Edward Carter 20 M CT Painter
—–
Children of Edward & Isabelle (Bigelow) Carter:
1. +Jennie Belle Carter b. 5 Jan 1864 in Brattleboro, Windham, Vermont
2. Ernest Thompson Carter b 29 Sep 1865 Brattleboro VT. He married Neva North. Chauffeur, auto truck, He died 18 May 1936 at Billings, Yellowstone, Montana. They had a daughter Fern Carter b 1895 d 1919 who m. James Newton Dillavou.
3. Edward Carter, b abt 1869 St. Catherines, Canada. He m 26 May 1892 in Omaha, Nebraska to Nellie A. Reed. She was born in Essex Iowa, dau of Wilson & Mattie (Norman) Reed.
4. William J. Carter, b abt 1871 St. Catherine’s Canada, died 8 May 1936 in Manhattan NY.
5. David Dufferin Carter, b 27 May 1873 St Catherines, Ontario Canada. He married Guelia Foster Walker, born Council Cliff Iowa dau of Thomas A. & Mary C. (Williams) Walker on 1 March 1899 at Douglas Co. Nebraska. They had a child, Marion Brownie Carter, b. 25 June 1913 at Council Bluffs, Iowa. She married Edward Alton Wenstrand and is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Iowa
Children of Edward W. & Catherine S.A. (Shaw) Carter:
6. Mabel F. Carter, b 4 Nov 1875 Canada; m. Robert Sinclair O’Brien. Died Aug 1963 Missouri
7. Georgine Elizabeth Catharine Carter, b 1876
8. Dorothy Edna Ellen Carter, b 8 Feb 1888.

—–NEXT GENERATION—–

Jennie Belle Carter daughter of Capt. Edward W. & Isabella W. (Biegelow) Carter was born 5 Jan 1864 in Brattleboro, Windham, Vermont.   She married 28 Feb 1881 in Brattleboro VT to Frank Arthur Powers. They divorced.   In 1880 she was living in Brattleboro VT in her grandmother’s house with mother Isabel and siblings Edward (11), William (9) and David (7).  In 1910 living in Keene NH Deputy Sheriff, Humane Society. Frank Arthur Powers was the son of Joseph & Hannah (Stark) Powers and was b in East Corinth VT on 20 Sep 1859 (one of seven children). He was employed at the Estey Organ plant. He m3d) 20 Oct 1926 in Brattleboro VT to Grace Ann Carpenter. He was born in Topsham VT and was an organ maker by trade. He died in April of 1943. Jennie Belle Carter) Powers died 6 March 1936 in Keene, Cheshire Co. NH and is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Brattleboro VT. [This story is about her, see article at top of page]

*****ADDITIONAL READING****

Historical Society of Cheshire County: Jennie B Powers Mural

Jennie B. Powers Legacy Society at the Monadnock Humane Society

Speaker Jenna Carroll: Jennie Powers–The Woman Who Dares

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1 Response to Human and Animal Rights Advocate, Cheshire County NH Deputy Sheriff Jennie Belle (Carter) Powers (1864-1936)

  1. Amy says:

    An animal lover—my kind of person!

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