Stalwart Home Front

Witness on the Homefront: Katherine Whiting Powell Carter

Katherine Whiting Powell Carter became the second mistress of Oatlands on her marriage to George Carter II in October 1863. The daughter of a prominent Middleburg family, Kate was coming of age when the Civil War began. A diary she kept between 1861 and 1863 describes her reaction to rioting in Baltimore, the loss of friends in early battles of the war, and enemy troops in one of her family’s homes. Following the war Kate worked hard to make Oatlands, no longer a productive farm, pay enough to keep her house in repair and her family clothed. She ran the old mansion as a boarding school for girls and as a summer bed and breakfast. In addition, droves of displaced family members, some of whom had lost everything in the war, descended on Oatlands, and Kate Carter took them in. A niece wrote of Kate that she “lived like a chapter in the New Testament… compelled to go the one mile, bearing the burden of the stranger… [she] voluntarily went the other mile, doing always more than was asked of her…loving others always better than she ever loved herself.”