Skip to main content

Carter, Era Gillis, 1941-2010

 Person

Bio

Born May 1, 1941 in Coffee County, GA, Gillis Carter spent the earliest years of his life as young boy whose father, Era Carter, was on the verge of becoming successful in the turpentine business. By the time Gillis was five years old, he lived in a home just a short walk from his current home on the outskirts of Willacoochee, GA, and his father had begun hiring a fair number of African American turpentine hands to work the timber on land he leased from others. Under their father, Carter and his four brothers grew up working turpentine, and the only break Gillis would take from the line of work was the four years he spent acquiring his B. S. in Chemistry at the University of Georgia. He worked turpentine and hired countless others to work for him until 1978, when his father rightfully recognized that turpentine would no longer turn the profits it once had.

Carter’s past, though full of success in the turpentine industry, is also littered with hardship. As an adult, Carter has suffered two heart attacks, and he battles diabetes every day, a disease that cost him to lose half of his left foot to surgery. In addition to his health concerns, his four brothers have all passed away - one from cancer, another from a heart attack, and yet another from drowning - and his mother died in a house fire years ago. He makes it clear that, through all of this, he has grown very close to Jesus Christ. A warm, Christian man, Carter lives happily now with his wife and his mother-in-law, and his children and “grandbabies” live on the property adjacent to his.

Though the turpentine industry has vanished from the country, and though his primary human link to it - his father - has passed away, Carter remains more actively involved in the memory of the work than perhaps anyone in the United States. He continues to work four trees and six faces in his front yard, and one of his barns houses an elaborate collection of turpentine tools and artifacts. His goal is to remind those who may have forgotten about the industry and to educate the younger generation that may not otherwise ever learn to appreciate the livelihood of its forebears.

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

ADS-1002-06: Gillis Carter, November 2, 2003

 File — Box: 1, Folder: 6
Collection number: Folder 6
Scope and Contents Group or Organization Name:County of Residence:AtkinsonOccupation:retiredNotes:Interview took place in the carport of Mr. Carter's home in Willacoochee, GA. Part of Faces of Piney Woods Project. Note: Gillis also videotaped at a later time for website. Truly a wonderful recording of a wonderful interview. The recording, though, Keywords:Genres (Controlled Vocabulary):Turpentine, personal experience narrative,...
Dates: November 2, 2003

CAS-1002.09.1 Gillis Carter, November 2, 2003

 File — Box: 1, Folder: 33
Collection number: Folder 33
Scope and Contents Equipment Used:Timothy C. Prizer Informant Name:Timothy C. PrizerFieldworker:The carport of Mr. Gillis Carter's home at Route 2, Box 4320 in Willacoochee, GA.Engineer:Original tape number 03.6Location:Original tape number 03.6Content Summary:This recording is excellent in sound quality. Though recorded outdoors with the sound of the occasional passing automobile, the recording is surprisingly quiet and crisp. Mr. Carter's voice is nearly...
Dates: November 2, 2003

CAS-1002.09.2 Gillis Carter, November 2, 2003

 File — Box: 1, Folder: 34
Collection number: Folder 34
Scope and Contents Equipment Used:Timothy C. PrizerInformant Name:Timothy C. PrizerFieldworker:The carport of Mr. Gillis Carter's home at Route 2, Box 4320 in Willacoochee, GA.Engineer:Original tape number 03.7Location:Original tape number 03.7Content Summary:This recording is excellent in sound quality. Though recorded outdoors with the sound of the occasional passing automobile, the recording is surprisingly quiet and crisp. Mr. Carter's voice is nearly...
Dates: November 2, 2003

DAT-1002.7.1 Gillis Carter Stills for Tools Video

 File — Box: 2, Folder: 5
Collection number: Folder 5
Scope and Contents

Equipment Used:

Informant Name:

Fieldworker:

Engineer:

Location:

Content Summary:

Notes:

Technical Summary:Genre:

Places:

People:

Groups:

Keywords:

Dates: 1996 - 2006

Interview with Era Gillis Carter, November 2, 2003

 File — Bag: \folklife\prj1014\, Folder: 060_carter-gillis
Collection number: PRJ1014-060
Scope and Contents Oral history interview with Era Gillis Carter, November 2, 2003. Willacoochee (Ga.). Fieldworker: Tim Prizer. Audio file digitized from 2 cassette tapes. Part of the Turpentine Series: South Georgia Folklife Project at Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections. Includes transcript and photographs. Topics include the turpentine trade and industry.Fieldworker notes: Interview took place in the carport of Mr. Carter's home in Willacoochee, GA. Part of Faces of Piney...
Dates: November 2, 2003

Additional filters:

Subject
Audiocassettes 2
Atkinson County (Ga.) 1
Coffee County (Ga.) 1
Electronic records 1
Naval Stores Industry 1