Located at the cross roads of State Route 302 and the Yellow Creek-Texas Grove roads, just northeast of Old Washington and south of Highway 68 was the community called Carp. According to research, a Mr. Thomas H. McPherson lived on the Old Stage Road leading from Washington to Rhea Springs (now State Route 302). Mr. McPherson would not have been historically significant except for the introduction of a new business in the early 1800’s.
This business was fish; not just any fish, but a fish called by the name of Carp. Mr. McPherson had learned that the United States Fish Commission was importing the Carp fish from Asia for distribution throughout the United States. He then asked United States Senator John R. Neal of Rhea Springs to get some of these government fish for him to raise. McPherson was told that the Carp were considered to be a delicacy in Asia, and they could grow quite large in farm ponds.
As this venture was becoming a reality, McPherson succeeded in getting his ponds dug, and Mr. Neal obtained the fish for him. Thus, a new and novel business was begun. Then, around 1882, Mr. McPherson was appointed as Postmaster of a post office which he operated in his home; he named the post office “Carp” because of the fish he was raising. The mail was carried between Carp and Rhea Springs, but in 1883 the Smith’s Ferry post office was moved to Carp.
Then in 1907, the Carp post office was moved to a point below the Yellow Creek Church; then was discontinued and moved to Rhea Springs in 1912. Other Postmasters serving at Carp included the following: John A. Porter, Sr. (June 3, 1889), Jefferson D. Cowan (December 14, 1893), William G. Taylor (April 22, 1897) and Merrill S. Fugate (February 9, 1901).
Before the turn of the century, a three-room school was built across the road from the Fish Ponds. This school was also named Carp. A favorite pastime of the school children during the winter was skating on the fish ponds! In addition, there was a voting precinct called Carp.
McPherson’s fish ponds were unique; however, the use of Carp for food never really succeeded, so the ponds were eventually drained and the business ended. Mr. McPherson served as Postmaster in 1882, and the office closed in 1912. All of this is remembered and historically significant because of a fish! This shows us how significant it is to research historical events, because those events help us to understand our past history. Therefore, it is important to remember to study the past in order to live in the present and prepare for the future.
Pat Guffey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org