Joseph Carper, Sr.

Carper, Joseph 1802 to 1880


CARPER, Joseph – A native of Monroe County, Carper moved to Paint Creek about 1848, later selling his farm to Archibald Sweeney in 1855 and moving to Grandview. His sons, A. J., George W., William D. and James P., were Confederate soldiers. He was a celebrated gunsmith and “The Carper Gun” was noted for its finish as well as its accuracy.

Joseph was born December 27th, 1802 to Isaac and Susannah (Sovain) Carper in Botetourt, Virginia.  After Joseph was born his parents went to Peterstown in Monroe County. After Joseph married Virginia “Jane” Shumate, they moved to Cashmere, where at 22 years of age he embarked on farming, operating a tannery and making rifles.

His guns were hard to beat. Whenever there were guns to be shown, Carper rifles were to be seen. Far and near, before the Buick slogan became known, it was commonly believed that “When better mountain rifles are made Joseph Carper will make them.” Samuel Carper succeeded his father as gunsmith. While he was a chip off the old block he never measured up to his old man when it came to making rifles. Tools were few and far between in Joseph Carper’s day, so he made his own tools. These homemade gun tools stood the wear and tear of time and were as sturdy as the rugged Teutonic hands that manufactured them.

Guns made by Joseph Carper sold for around $25 each and were worth every penny of it. Carper bought barrels for these guns in Pennsylvania but made much of the other parts of the guns himself. Somewhere it was even said that he made a few gun barrels.

One distinguishing mark of a gun turned out by Joseph Carper was its full stock. On the stock of each rifle he made a face rest. Stocks were commonly made of curly maple just like those produced by James Honaker. Carper also liked chestnut because it worked up well. His guns were a thing of beauty and hence a joy to its owner. Sights on the Carper guns were as good as skill could make them. Few smiths excelled Joseph Carper in making and putting on gun sights. He engraved his name in steel on the butt of the barrel. The barrel was forty inches on a full stock of curly maple and had rich brass ornamented equipment. It had .36 caliber.

The year 1849 found him at Sweeneyburg in Raleigh County where he lived six years. By 1855 he had 1,100 acres of land.

He was one of the twelve magistrates who incorporated Raleigh County. In 1855 the Carpers moved again, to a place to which he named Grandview. There he operated a tannery and engaged in gun making until Feb. 9, 1880 when he died in Raleigh County, West Virginia. His wife Virginia died Dec. 18, 1891 in Raleigh County. Both are buried in Grandview Cemetery, Raleigh County.

(I did not write this and I don’t know who did in order to give them credit.  It was too good to not use here. So thank you so very much to whomever wrote this great piece and gave us an understanding of who Joseph was!)


Carper, Joseph Headstone - Grandview Cemetery West Virginia
“Early Deaths of Raleigh County, vol 2 1876-1895” by Pauline Haga:

Joseph Carper, Sr., 77 years, 2 months, died Feb 9 (1880) of papalysis. Born in Botetourt County Va., son of Isaac and Susannah Carper. Death reported by Joseph Carper Jr., son.
Carper was a noted gunsmith….. His grave is clearly marked by a metal frame surrounding the stone. The frame was ordered and shipped to Prince. It came during bad weather and was taken across New River in a boat. While crossing, the boat either shifted or capsized and the frame slipped off. It stayed in the river all winter. When summer arrived it was found and taken up the mountain, where it has remained for 105 years. Carper’s name is clearly engraved in the metal frame.
(Nov 1985)

Carper, Joseph, Jane, Harden Headstones - West Virginia


Carper, Joseph Newspaper article

Have you ever seen or heard of a Carper Rifle?  I would so love to know!

Here is a picture of one I found in my search ~

Carper Rifle

It’s sold for $2,351 – Click here to read more about it. And here to find another with some more information.


(Joseph Carper, Sr. is my 4th great-grandfather. )

Carper, Joseph Sr. Line

Eliza Ann Carper Sannar


Eliza Ann “Julie” (Carper) Sannar, taken April 15th, 1944 on her 90th birthday.

Eliza was born April 15th, 1854 in Raleigh, West Virginia to George and Delilah Carper.  On January 21st, 1872, when she was 17 years old,  she married Willaim Isaac Sannar right there in her hometown of Raleigh.  In the next 25 years, they had 13 children.  In 1886, they lost one little girl, Rose Lee, when she was just an infant, and then a son, George Washington, in 1892 when he was only 2 years old. In 1896, their 7 year old daughter, Bertha Elizabeth passed away.  What a lot of heartbreak this woman endured.   By 1898, the family had headed west and settled in Promise, Oregon in the Wallowa Mountains.  In 1913, the Sannar’s lost another son, William Orval, at the age of 20 years.  Orval drowned in the Grande Ronde River but that is a story for another day.


This family photo was taken about 1930 in Promise, Oregon.  There are Sannars, Carpers, and Lively’s in this one.

The United States entered WWI when Eliza was 62, and women got the right to vote when she was 65!


Eliza became a widow in 1930 when Isaac passed away at the age of 78.  They had been married for 58 years.  Eliza lived until the day before her 96th birthday and passed away in April of 1950.


William Isaac and Eliza Jane Sannar headstone – Promise, Oregon Cemetery

The following is from her obituary in the Elgin Recorder:

Eliza Ann “Julia” (Carper) Sannar Obituary
The Elgin Recorder Newspaper
Elgin, Union County, Oregon
Thursday, April 20, 1950
(from the Wallowa Record)
Funeral services were held Sunday morning at 11:30 at the Wallowa Christian Church for Eliza Ann Sannar, 96-year-old great grandmother who remembered the Civil War and President Lincoln very well. Death came to Mrs. Sannar at a hospital in La Grande April 14, one day before her 96th birthday.
The Rev. O.W. Jones of the Wallowa Christian church conducted the services. A quartet composed of Mrs. Vera Mason, Mrs. Oscar Maxwell, Bill Dougherty and Crawford Oveson, sang “Beyond the Sunset” and “In the Land Where You Never Grow Old’. The second selection had been a request of Mrs. Sannar. They were accompanied on the piano by Mrs. Warren Berry. Pallbearers were Arthur Miller, Burton Miller, Joe Rounsavell, Spencer Trump, Roy Carper and Frank Lindsey. Mrs. Sannar was buried in the family plot in the Promise cemetery. A church filled with flowers showed the esteem in which she was held b members of the community.
Eliza Ann Sannar was born in Raleigh County, West Virginia, near Beckley, known as Raleigh County Court House, on April 15, 1854. She was born the daughter of George Washington and Delilah Carper, the third of 13 children. She lived to be the sole survivor of the family.
Her father was a soldier in the Union army, and suffered wounds on the battle field. Her mother and older sisters helped in a field hospital near Raleigh County Court House. She herself carried water to wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
In 1873 the family came west to Oregon, settling in the Promise neighborhood. The years since were spent in this community, in Wallowa county and Union county.
She was a devoted Christian, her membership being with the old Church of Christ or Christian church of Promise. A great service was rendered by Mrs. Sannar, affectionatelhy known as Aunt Juie, in the various sickness that befell freinds in the old neighborhood. She was a competent mid-wife and officiated at many births in the Promise area. Whether it was a feverish child, an injured limb or an expectant mother, Aunt Julie was there, nursing the sick one back to health.
Her life touched a period that was perhaps the time of greatest developments in science, art and industry that the world has ever known. It was her pleasure to remember having seen President Lincoln many times.
She is survived by three daughters, Mrs. E.W (Pearl) Lively, Mrs. Boyd (Letha) Carper of Wallowa and Mrs. Fred (Lula) Trump of La Grande; and two sons Charles C. Sannar of Gridley, Calif., and Frank Sannar of Milton. Thirty-seven grandchildren, 96 great-grandchildren, one for every year of her life, and 18 great great-grandchildren also survive.
Mr. Sannar preceded his wife in death in 1930 as did seven of her children: Bertha (died at the age of 7 in West Virginia), George Orville, John, Joe, and Sally Lyons. One daughter (Rosie Lee) died in infancy in West Virginia.
Those coming from out of town for the service were Mrs. Oakey Trump and Mr. and Mrs. Everett Trump, Mr. and Mrs. Elvis Trump, Mr. and Mrs. Ray Trump and Lacey Trump, all of Elgin. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Trump, Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Riggle, Mr. and Mrs. Orval Trump, Mr and Mrs. Oliver Fleshman, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Carper, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene (illegible), and Bob Lively, all of La Grande; Mr. and Mrs. Albert (illegible) and Mrs. Eva Whitmore of Milton; Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Sannar of Mt. Emily; Jack Lively of Springfield, Mr. and Mrs. (illegible from this point to end.)

She sounds like an amazing lady and I would have loved to have known her.  Does anyone remember “Aunt Julie”?  Can you share any personal stories?

(Eliza is my 2nd great-grandmother.  She is the mother of James Franklin Sannar.)