E. J. CARR PLANT CENTER 1984 Biography Slides

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: BIOGRAPHY – Donors
Biography Slides
Ellwood Jerome Carr (1909-1984)
Powerpoint Presentation 1984
By Amy V. McIntosh


E.J. Carr Herbary Brochure, c. 1976. Ellwood J. Carr, Naturalist (1909-2005). [carr_e_j_001.jpg]

TAGS: Ellwood J. Carr, E. J. Carr Plant Center, botanical specimens, herbaria collections, environmental education, auto-didact botanists, Kentucky plant collections, medicinal plants, edible plants, Henderson Settlement, Carr’s Store, Ms. Amy McIntosh, Mrs. Clyde Buckley, Pine Mountain State Resort Park, Clyde E. Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary, ginseng, Carr’s Cabin Crafts, Gourdcraft, Ray Harm, phenology, Emily Lancaster (Moose), Amy V. McIntosh, Mary Dresser

E. J. CARR PLANT CENTER 1984 Biography Slides


This Powerpoint presentation depicts the life of botanist Ellwood J. Carr, who donated his extensive collections to the Pine Mountain Settlement School in 1984. It was prepared for the School’s Environmental Education Program by Amy V. McIntosh, a student at Eastern Kentucky University.



Slide 1—Intro slide

Ellwood Jerome Carr, often called Bud, was a self-trained amateur botanist and naturalist. Carr contributed a great deal to Kentucky botany and was an devoted educator, lecturing at any event that he could.

I was introduced to Carr’s collection for the first time this summer. I had the pleasure of inventorying his notebooks and researching his life.

The inventory of the collection is not quite complete, and Carr is such an intriguing figure that one could spend many years researching his life. However, tonight I would like to share with you a brief biography of Bud Carr. In addition, I will present an example of one of his slide presentations to give you a taste of his work.

Please feel free to ask questions at any time during the slide presentation!

Slide 2—Ruth and Bud

E.J. Carr was born November 11, 1909 in Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. He also lived in Indiana prior to moving to California.

He married Ruth Sexton. They farmed 2000 acres of commercial crops along the Sacramento River, Ca. [Sacramento Delta] and raised four children: Donald, Richard, Kenneth and Dianne.

Even at a young age, Carr showed an interest in photography. It is likely his shadow which is discernible in this early image of his wife. His photography improved with practice, however.

The Carrs seem to have always been interested in volunteering to assist poor neighbors. Anecdotes involving Carr’s empathy for poor immigrant farmers in California, and later for unemployed miners in Kentucky, have been preserved in his notes.

Carr wrote at one point that he and Ruth considered themselves “lay missionaries,” and their lives show a repeating pattern of enabling people in need to find ways to help themselves.

Slide 3—Maps of Kentucky and California

In 1954, at age 45, Bud accepted the position of farm manager of Henderson Settlement Mission in Bell County, KY.

Slide 4—Family at time of move

Although it is unclear if their oldest son, Donald, then 19, made the trip with them, Richard was 13, Kenneth was 11, and Dianne was 4 when the family traveled to their new home.

Slide 5—California dessert

Imagine moving a family of five and all their possessions over 2,500 miles in a moving van like this one!

Slide 6—Kentucky? With moving van

Slide 7—Carr at Settlement

The Henderson Settlement was under the new leadership of Tex Evans at the time. Evans revived the agricultural program with Carr’s help and created a craft store for locals to market their skills. The craft store concept evidently made an impression on the Carrs—they would start a similar business a few years later.

After 3 years at the Settlement, the Carrs decided to leave for the nearby town of Chenoa. Carr stated that they felt too isolated from the surrounding community at the Settlement.

Slide 8—Chenoa store

In 1957 the Carrs purchased a country store in Chenoa

Ruth and Carr managed the store together at first.

The family shared a living area over the store consisting of four small rooms.

The situation in Eastern KY was starting to decline at this time. Many deep mines were closed and there was high unemployment and no government support.

Slide 9—Older image of store

The family showed their determination to contribute to their community by building an extension to the store for a community center. Here is a much later image of the improved property.

Slide 10—Carr at the store

When the store opened, Carr was offered bloodroot and ginseng in exchange for groceries and other necessities. He had no knowledge of the woodland herbs, but was aware of the dire situation of his neighbors and decided to research these offerings.

Slide 10b—Ginseng Hunter

Local harvesters, such as this ginseng hunter, can be thanked for Carr’s initial interest in wild plants. Carr had no education in botany. However, he educated himself by borrowing a copy of the American botanical bible, Britton and Brown’s Illustrated Flora from Union College.

Slide 11—Britton and Brown

Carr’s early attempts to identify plants in Britton and Brown consisted of holding the plant in one hand and comparing it, page by page, to the illustrations provided in his guide.

However, Carr began to learn and eventually master the dense jargon of botanical morphology and was able to utilize the keys provided in the guide to more quickly identify subjects.

Carr began to collect and identify specimens for displays at the Community Center. Collecting, pressing and identifying specimens became a passion for Carr.

Slide 12—Gourd order form

In the early 1960s, the Carrs turned the Community Center into a craft business. Carr’s Cabin Crafts was envisioned as a means to help the locals develop a sellable product.

Gourdcraft became a focus for the business, and Carr attempted to locate seeds for all available varieties of gourds. This handwritten list shows 24 gourd varieties that he ordered from a single seed company.

In 1963 he planted nearly 5 acres of these gourds. With Gourdcraft, the business became a member of the esteemed KY Guild of Artists and Craftsmen.

Slide 13—General garden diagram

In less than nine years, Carr’s knowledge of Kentucky’s flora had grown so much that he was hired, in 1966, by Pine Mt. State Park to create and care for a wildflower garden. This was only part of his job with the park, which included tasks of park naturalist, business manager, desk clerk and auditor.

The garden was a huge undertaking which included plans for inclusion of 168 families of plants. The plants were largely organized by type, with areas devoted to mints, goldenrods, shade plants, and many other groups.

The red circle here indicates the location of the mint garden segment.

Slide 14—Mint shade diagram

For each segment of the garden, Carr drew a map of shaded regions of the garden, complete with percent shade indicated. He used these to plan the location of each native plant.

Slide 15–Mint planting guide

This diagram represents the planting plan for the mints.

His plans for the gardens also included a surveyor’s map on which he drew plans for an irrigation system. Unfortunately, the park rejected the irrigation system due to expense. The garden was not well maintained after Carr’s departure, and the garden no longer exists.

 Slide 16—Mrs. Buckley, Carr and Ray Harm

In early 1967, Carr was approached by Mrs. Clyde Buckley, who wanted to memorialize her late husband with a wildlife sanctuary. She asked Carr to work as director and naturalist at the sanctuary, which consisted of 235 acres near Frankfort, KY.

In addition, she wanted to exhibit the work of artist Ray Harm there. Carr, Mrs. Buckley and Harm are shown here during a meeting on the sanctuary grounds.

Slide 17—Carr in front of building in uniform

Carr quickly transformed the abandoned farm into a site that became the first sanctuary in KY to win the official recognition of the National Audubon Society. The Clyde E. Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary received its charter from the National Audubon Society less than two years after Carr’s hire.

Carr proudly wore the National Audubon Society uniform, here, in front of a building on the grounds. A home was built for Budd and Ruth in 1970 at the Sanctuary.

Slide 18—Carr with camera

Carr’s interest in plants was well documented by his photography. From the late 60s until the early 80s, Carr amassed a collection of over 23,000 photographic images. Most of these were color slides which he utilized for lectures and to accompany published articles.

He meticulously numbered and labeled all of his slides. In addition, he kept numerical and subject lists of all of the slides within his collection. Such copious record keeping was evident in his plant collections, lecture notes, and other endeavors. He was an obsessively organized man.

Slide 19—Carr at wild food workshop

While at the Buckley sanctuary, Carr began to host wild food workshops, complete with tasting parties. I will share one of his narrated slide presentations, likely given at such an event, with you after we conclude his biography.

Slide 20—Medicinal collection

In addition, he created a collection of native plants used for herbal medicine which served as a teaching collection. In 1973 he started a medicinal plant workshop series.

In every workshop or lecture Carr presented, he was cautious to warn participants against using wild plants without a solid knowledge of plant identification.

Slide 21—Poem

I found this original poem written in longhand in Carr’s notes, which indicates his respect for native poisonous plants.

Upon reaching the National Audubon’s mandatory retirement age in 1975, Carr returned to his home in Chenoa. He was undeterred by his increasing age and remained extremely active in botanical pursuits.

Carr continued wild food and medicinal plant workshops long after his retirement from the Sanctuary at the age of 65.

Slide 22—Wharton Book

The 1970s were a time of extreme productivity for him. Carr lectured widely on wild foods, medicinal plants and Kentucky wildlife, giving presentations to young school groups, UK and Transy [Transylvania University] students, various clubs, state agencies, and other groups.

In 1971, three of Carr’s photographs appeared in Mary Wharton’s classic guide to the wildflowers and ferns of Kentucky

He began to give workshops at the Pine Mountain Settlement School. For nine years the school hosted his Medicinal Plants workshops, and for at least 5 years, a Wild Plant Foods workshop was held here as well.

At the 4th annual wild plant foods workshop 250 people attended and Carr offered 60 plant food dishes in ten different categories as a complete dinner in courses.

Slide 23—Strolling Check

In 1972 Carr began a weekly article in the Herald-Leader, which focused on the life history of a different plant each week. His text for Strolling through the Woods appeared with original photographs.

His first check must have been quite an affirmation of his botanical progress, since he took a slide of the check with his first two articles.

Slide 24—Living Arts and Science Center

Less than a year after his retirement, Carr was named the Science Director of the Living Arts and Science Center in Lexington. He is shown here preparing for a workshop at the Center.

Slide 25—Naturalist Award

In 1976 Carr was named Kentucky Naturalist of the Year by KY Natural History Society. This prestigious honor was bestowed merely 19 years after the 1st ginseng hunters brought their roots in for trade at the country store.

Slide 26—“The Naturalist”

Upon Carr’s retirement from the Living Arts and Science Center, his collection was showcased in a month long exhibit at the center entitled “The Naturalist”

Slide 27—Country store

Once again, the Carrs returned to their home in Chenoa and Ruth continued to manage the country store while Carr began a new project, and continued to collect plants.

Slide 28–Herbary

Carr’s “Herbary”, consisted of a concrete 20 x 20’ building adjacent to the store.

At this location, Carr offered weeklong workshops on medicinal plants and actively collected, bought and resold native herbs.

A price list from 1980 includes a list of 80 herbs he sold in ½ oz. and 2 oz. amounts.

Carr bought plants from locals. However, to ensure that he was offering a fair price for the work involved, Carr harvested and prepared each herb himself initially.

Slide 28b—Milkweed Calculations

He kept detailed records regarding time investment. He also calculated green weight to dry weight of each herb so that the collector would not have to wait for the herbs to dry before selling them to Carr. Carr calculated fair prices for each of the 80 herbs he resold. Here is an example of such a worksheet of calculations for milkweed stalks.

Slide 29–Phenology

In addition to collecting, Carr kept phenology records on flowering plants in Bell and Harlan Counties from 1972-1981. These records indicated the date of the first bloom for each species. This page of his records lists the species within the buttercup family.

By 1979, Carr had amassed two major collections of plants from Bell and Woodford Counties. His collections included over 5000 pressed herbarium specimens. His plan was to publish flora for the two counties. However, this work was not completed.

During his collecting, he found 6 species previously unknown for KY.

Duplicates of some of his collection are now housed at the UK herbarium.

Slide 30—Herbal Pathfinders

In 1980, his weekly column, Strolling through the Woods ended with issue of his 401st article.

However, in 1983, Carr was chosen as 1 of 27 herbalists of US to be included in Herbal Pathfinders: Voices of the Herbal Renaissance

Slide 31—Living quarters in Chenoa

In 1983, Carr was still very active, and served as president of the KY Methodist Historical Society. In September 1984 Carr was chosen as the featured speaker at the annual conference of the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education (KAEE).

However, in the mid-1980s, the Carrs both experienced declining health. On April 12, 1984 the E. J. Carr Plant Studies Center was incorporated as separate non-profit entity at PMSS.

These late images of the Carrs’ living quarters above the Country Store in Chenoa show Carr’s library, photographic equipment, and awards. His entire botanical collection, equipment, slides and library were donated to the Plant Studies Center. At the time of the donation, over 20 years ago, the collection was estimated to be worth over $44,000.

Even with declining health, Carr wrote that he planned to spend about “half of my time at the Settlement organizing the facilities presently allotted for this program and creating program activities and study opportunities, and hopefully get a couple books off my mind.”

Bette Anderson was hired as coordinator of the Plant Center.

The last record of a public presentation by Carr that I found was a Winter Botany Seminar at PMSS that he led in Feb. 1985.

In October 1985 Carr requested that the Board of the Plant Studies Center donate the entire collection to PMSS for educational uses and the corporation was dissolved. 

Slide 32—Budd and Ruth

It is unclear what happened for the next twenty years of Carr’s life. We do know that Ruth preceded him in death, and Ellwood J. Carr died this past spring on March 26.

Slide 33—Appalachian Trail

I’ll end with an image that, to me, represents Carr’s determined spirit and his desire to face new challenges at any age. His contribution to Kentucky was incredible. Even though he was a transplant to Kentucky at the age of 45, he continued to learn and actively contribute for thirty years, until his mid seventies.

Slide 34—Acknowledgements

On behalf of the Pine Mountain Settlement School, I would like to thank the Kentucky Humanities Council for the grant that helped to spearhead the inventory of the Carr collection.

I would also like to mention the contributions of Emily Lancaster, UNCA Intern, and Mary Dresser PMSS staff, who have been organizing and data-basing the enormous slide collection.

See Also:
E. J. CARR PLANT CENTER About the Donor

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