Joseph Carter

Joseph “Dode” Carter proved to be one of Vancouver’s most durable businessmen.

He started as a Western Union telegrapher and operator of a tobacco and billiards business. Later he was a jeweler, and spent more than half a century in business here.

Carter was the son of Louisa Carter, one of the first Americans born in the Vancouver area. Her father, Thomas Bier, had arrived at Vancouver in 1849 with some of the first troops to serve here. The daughter was born in November 1849.

The 1870 census showed Louisa Bier in “domestic service” in Clark County; three years later she married William Carter, who died in the 1880s.

In 1889 or earlier, Carter started as a telegrapher on Main Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. National and international news arrived by telegraph in those days, and the Carter office was an special focus of interest when results of national elections were coming in.

Carter’s cigar business also was well-established in the ’90s. Local residents would gather on a long bench in front in the warmer months, or around the fire inside during cold weather.

In 1907, Carter went into the jewelry business with M.L. Coovert at 506 Main St. Later he owned his own jewelry business at 712 Main St. He sold out about 1941, and Milton Arnstein was operating the business shortly after World War II.

Carter’s mother died in July 1913. She was survived by two daughters and two sons. Her brother was Fred Bier, Vancouver postmaster from 1889 to 1894.

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