The Fitzhugh Carter Family


Fitzhugh Carter was born on December 29, 1907. He was the third of six children born to Stephen Dallas and Eliza Isabella (Gainer) Carter.

Fitzhugh attended the Greenhead School that was destroyed during the forties. He graduated from Vernon High School. He obtained his teaching certificate at an early age and immediately began teaching at Vernon. During the 1930's he was paid with promissory notes. When he applied at Bob Jones College in Lynn Haven to renew his teaching certificate, the IOUs were not accepted. Consequently, he enrolled at Florida State College for Women which was open to men only during the summer money. He and Rex Yates, also of Washington County, are recognized as the first men to attend the Tallahassee college.

Each summer while school was not in session, Fitzhugh attended classes at FSCW. In July 1939 he received a Normal Diploma from FSCW which in those days certified the recipient had achieved the norm for an instructor at the high school level. 

On December 25, 1938 Fitzhugh married Rea Cox who grew up in Wausau. Rea's family are long time residents of Washington County. We believe Rea to be a descendent of the Cox family that accompanied Fitzhugh's great great grandparents from Sumter County, Georgia to northwest Florida in 1857. She kept the books for the Cox General Store that was located in Wausau. She was a hard worker and known to be an excellent cook. The couple was known to be thrifty.

The couple brought their first 200 acres of land in 1941 at the Internal Improvement Fund Auction. The las was mostly water and considered worthless. They paid $25 for all 200 acres. Over years Rea and Fitzhugh accumulated land. Rea's inheritance was helpful and Fitzhugh borrowed money from his father and mother to purchase land. The couple supplements Fitzhugh's teaching salary with income from three rental housed in Panama City that were built for them by his father Dallas. In 1951, he inherited 400 acres from his parents and later obtained additional acreage from his sister, Barbara. By 1954, Fitzhugh and Rea had acquired 2,300 acres of property. More that 1,200 acres of which was water.

In 1957 Fitzhugh retired from teaching so he could devote full attention to his fishing hobby and further development of the Carter Fishing Ranch in Greenhead.

Tragically, in 1969, Rea drown in the Deep Edge Pond located on the couple's property. Fitzhugh never fully recovered from the loss. The couple had no children.

On the evening of January 16, 1971 Fitzhugh married Essie Douglas at the Washington County Courthouse. As Fitzhugh grew older and his health and eyesight began to fail, he often asked other to drive him around his pasture. His nephews, Philip and Hulan Carter and Moe Gerths, as well as neighbors like Jim Cleckly and Henry Johnson, happily obliged him in this request. He ones told members of his family that he would be watching over the property even after he died. The remaining land that had belonged to Fitzhugh and Rea now belongs to the Northwest Florida Water Management District.

In 1999 when his wife could no longer care for Fitzhugh, he moved to the nursing home in Chipley. His second wife died January 19, 2003. Fitzhugh died on December 8, 2003. He was 95 years old. Fitzhugh requested that he be buried near his parents at the cemetery at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

This article originally appeared on Washington County News: The Fitzhugh Carter Family


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