The son of John and Sarah Wiley Carter, John A. Carter was born in Oakhill, Pennsylvania, on September 29, 1833, moving to Oskaloosa, Iowa in 1850. He grew up there and became a teacher before he transferred to medical school, earning his degree in Keokuk, Iowa. He was one of the first doctors in Carthage, just after the Civil War ended and the only one there for a time. He was known for always filling his own prescriptions. He married Olivia Seaman here in Carthage, and they had a son, also named John.
During the war years, he was both a Union soldier and a physician.
During his nearly fifty years in Carthage, he became the largest landowner in Jasper County, owning 3,000 acres of land. Much of his land was given away, such as Carter Park, Carter Spring, and Oak Hill Cemetery, named after his birthplace. Due to his civic involvement, he asked that the city place the new electric lighting plant on the north end of the land given for Carter Park. He was very interested in the electric and water plant proposed for Carthage.
Carter Park was a large park, complete with rail access and the spring. It had earlier been the site of a portion of the Battle of Carthage on July 5, 1861. Many events were held there and Dr. Carter was known to have brought in bears for the enjoyment of the crowd.
He was one of the founders and a director of the First National Bank in 1892. He belonged to the Masons and attended the Methodist church.
From 1893 to 1896 he constructed the beautiful brick home that reigns over Carter Park and, under the guidance of Ruth Kolpin Rubison, it has been restored to its former glory. The laboratory used by Dr. Carter is still intact in the basement of the home.
Dr. Carter passed from this life on March 7, 1913 at the age of 79, from an accumulation of ailments after being bedfast for 10 days. Dr. Carter’s funeral was held at his home and he was laid to rest in Oak Hill Cemetery.