This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Sep 19, 2012

Nose Flute Pioneers : William G. Carter - Part III

With the "Nose Flute Pioneers" series, enters a little cycle of research. I hope it won't be too arid for a blog, but I really think that the facts I found have to be published. The sources : Google patents, US Census and an access to newspaper archives. But also, depending on the topic, correspondence by e-mail with descendants. Let's better say : internet searching tools available for a Frenchie not able to access US real paper archives.


Nose Flute Pioneers : William Carter - Part III

William Carter : Last years and descent

[sequel of Part I and Part II]

In 1909, the Carters move to Rochester, NY, in the S-W part of the city, near the Genesee river. Rochester is a big city, just 35 miles East from Albion and with 220.000 inhabitants.

Rochester downtown :

They rent a flat at 101 Bartlett street. Elizabeth is still milliner (does she also rent the shop just below?) and William, on his side, has (finally!) a workshop. It is located... exactly across the street. Both are noted as "Emp." on the 1915 census sheet.
In 1915, James Adelbert (20) is "shipping clerk" at the "Gerenal Ry Signal Co.", Mary Louise (17) is "billing clerk" and Mabel Elizabeth (15) is still at school.

1915 census :

On the other side of the street, the workshop has been skimmed over since...

In 1917, Adelbert (22 yrs old) is called to serve the USA for their participation in the WWI. Was he sent to Europe?

So, we learn that Adelbert is short and stout, has got blue eyes and black hair.

The 1918 city directory is quite informative : The carters have moved to 8 Day place (half of the house shown below, if it dates from that time). James A. is still serving the USA, but the girls have disappeared (Mabel is freshly married but not Louise...) Is William retired? We know he should have been already sick... Whatever the answer, he has no workshop anymore.

Indeed, in the 1919 city directory, we can read that William died March 10, 1919., at the age of 72 or 73.

According to Richard O'Brien, who's probably a descendant of Elizabeth's family and who let this notice about Carter, William died of a « Cirrhosis (explanation was influenza ». Besides the wrong year of his death, and after asking some specialist, influenza cannot be the cause of a cirrhosis.

However, besides alcoholism, a cirrhosis can find its origin in a viral hepatitis or a metabolic syndrom, or even some other toxic causes, for instance heavy metals... (for a tinsmith, spending his time welding, this could be imaginable).


In 1923, the Carters have moved from #8 to #27, Day place, and in 1924 are located at 97, Chamberlain. They rent a room to a bookbinder, Winslow Russel.

In 1927, Mabel married Leo John McGahan. They live in Springfield, MA., and
have one son the same year, John Joseph (Feb.5, 1927).

Elizabeth, James A. and M. Louise moved to 1 Salina St.

The same year, James Adelbert married Rena B. (born in 1895 in Nova Scotia). They first move to 23 Delmar St., then to Syracuse, 1803 Colvin St. They will have 2 twin children, James Blair and Nancy Jane.

In 1929 or 30, it's the turn of Mary Louise to marry, and Elizabeth, probably feeling alone, begins a work as social worker, and moves to 4 Porthsmouth terrace.
Also, the McGahans have a daughter, Mary C.

In 1931, a new daughter is born in James & Rena's home, Shirley Elizabeth. Before 1935, Elizabeth has stopped to work and has moved to 7 Thorndale terrace: she is hosted by James and Rena.

In the 1940 census sheet we learn that in 1935, James Adelbert Carter had moved to Buffalo, NY. Leo and Mabel lives in Grand Island, NY. But later in the 30s, they are back to Rochester. Leo John is "sales and head manager in Heating", and has earned $1400 in 1939) and in 1940, they host Elizabeth:

In 1940, James A. and his family are back to Rochester too., 248 Sherwood ave. James Adelbert has become "machinery salesman" and earned $3900 (in 1939).

In 1947, the McGahans and Elizabeth M., moved to 122 Warwick ave.

1949 is the last apparition of Elizabeth M. in the city directory, and she doesn't appear in the 1950 census sheet. It is quite obvious she had passed away, at the age of 87.


- I have lost the trace of James  Adelbert Carter, and don't know when he died [William's son].
- Mary Louise died in 1969 [William's daughter].
- Mabel Elizabeth passed away in 1984. [William's daughter]

- I lost the trace of James Blair from 1940 [William's grandson, who might have inherited of William's papers].
- John Joseph McGahan died Nov. 3, 1993. [William's grandson]

- Mary C. (born McGahan) is still alive (she's 83) [William's granddaughter]
- John Joseph had 1 daughter and 3 sons (names unknown), and they are all alive [William's great-grand-children].

William G. Carter is elected, with no discussion, to The Nose Flute Hall of Fame, as with Honorary degree!


On the same topic :

- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: William G. Carter - Part III
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest W. Davis - Part I
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Ernest W. Davis - Part II
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Nelson Ronsheim
- Nose Flute Pioneers: Garrett J. Couchois



  1. The "Nose Flute Pioneers" series has been fantastic.

    Such great research, so much work. Thank you!.

    I think that you can call this blog "the online nose flute museum".


  2. Thank you Luis! Well, I would like the blog to be partly a museum, partly a lab, partly a news support ...

  3. So this is it. I am so happy this was done. I know how much this must have taken: all credits to you! This blog is the ultimate nose flute source of information and is thankfully continually expanding. Give it some time, and I reckon there will even be a concrete nose flute museum as well.

    Some of the pictures actually make me want to go to those very places. You created several great impressions, such as the spot of Carter's former workshop, that now is nothing but a grassy area on the side of the street. Real Americana...

    I feel that somewhere there still are some artefacts, documents, pictures and models waiting to be uncovered. Wouldn't it be great if William Carter's descendants got in touch? I wonder who kept or keeps his archives, as you yourself mentioned. Interesting could be his son fighting in the War, possibly bringing some nose flutes with him....?

    The more people get to know this blog, the bigger the network becomes and the more input can be channelled towards a defined history of the instrument. Keep up the great work!!!!

  4. Thanks a lot for your encouragements, Maikel! Yes, this 3-parts article took me a bit of time :) and some nerves too.

    I got no answer from the town of Albion. I think they should "mark" somewhere their place was the place of the invention of the nose flute. I hope they are not too snobbish for that. Just a plate at the entry of the village ...

    Yes, I tried to get in touch with Carter's descendants : all my tracks ended in the 1990. If someone is ready to call all the McGahans around the New York State and Canada ...

  5. These articles in this series are a breakthrough in creating a serious backdrop to the instrument and its history. It was undoubtedly worth all the effort, as it has been done: congrats! You actually created something that didn't exist, something that would not have been created by anybody else, I'm sure.

    Surely, the town of Albion could be and actually should be proud of its modern piece of history. Perhaps a link to your blog and these specific articles would make the council see this?

    I find it fascinating and disturbing at the same time that, despite all modern technology and communication tools, finding the right person and the correct information remains
    ever so hard. If anybody who reads this has got a clue about the Carter family, please act upon it and let us know!!!


  6. Oh, I surely sent the links to the Town of Albion!