(This history was written in 1992)




     The history of the Carman family starts in Graves County, Kentucky.  My maternal Great Great Grandparents, William and Melvina Carman, were both born as slaves in Tennessee, and were brought as slaves with their family to Graves County, Kentucky during the mid 1800s.  It is believed that William was born in 1829.  Melvina is listed in the 1900 Census of Graves County with a date of birth of January 1825.

     William and Melvina had eight children; all were born in Tennessee, except for the last child, Marshall, who was born in Kentucky.  The U.S. Census of 1880 also confirmed this.


               Henry Carman           Jan. 1843

               Archibald Carman     Apr. 1845   

               John Isaac Carman           1850

               William Carman                1852

               Andrew Carman                1856

               Marshall Carman     May 1859


               Martha Carman

               Hannah Carman


     The two girls were not listed with the name of Carman.  Therefore, I was unable to obtain their dates of birth from the Census records.





     Little information is available about the family during slavery; therefore, a reliance on U.S. Census records and family interviews became necessary to develop a history of the family while in Kentucky.

     I owe a great deal of thanks to several Carman family members:  Martha Singleton of Shaker Heights, Ohio; Leza Gooden of Chicago, Illinois; Luby Carman of Southfield, Michigan; and Emily Roberts of Chicago, Illinois.  All were extremely helpful in my search for the Carman family history.

     I got my first leads on the family from Martha Singleton.  She provided me with a Carman Family Tree that was first put together by her mother, Nannie Smothers Carman, in August 1910 when she visited her in-laws.  The family tree starts with William and Melvina Carman, and their eight children.  Martha also informed me that the family originated in Graves County, Kentucky,  -  near Mayfield, Kentucky.  From further research and interviews with family members, I was able to determine that this original family tree was, for the most part, quite accurate.





     In the 1870 Census, (the U.S. Census in which I first found Blacks listed), I found only a few members of the Carman family.  However, the 1880 Census is where I found all of the family listed, except William Carman Sr., my Great Great Grandfather.  I assume that William Sr. had died prior to this date.  Melvina was shown living in the home of her youngest child, Marshall.  She is listed as “Vinie”, age 56.  I also found Melvina living with Marshall in the 1900 Census of Graves County. 

     The Census indicates all of the children of William and Melvina were born in Tennessee, except for the last child, Marshall.  The 1880 Census states that Marshall was born in Kentucky.  It would be reasonable to believe that the family arrived in Kentucky sometime between the birth of Andrew in 1856 and the birth of Marshall in 1859.





     In the 1880 Census I found several other Black families with the name Carman.  As an example, I found a John Carman, age 50, a wife Otha, and eight children ranging in age from 2 to 21.  I also found this same John Carman in the 1870 Census.

     What is interesting about John Carman’s family is that his one child, age 15 in 1870, was born in Kentucky and the child, age 16, is shown as being born in Tennessee.  This would place this family’s arrival in the county between 1855-1856, about the same time as William and Melvina.

     John Carman could have been a brother of William Carman or possibly another slave on the same plantation who took the Carman name following slavery.

     Leza Gooden from Chicago, Illinois sent me a newspaper clipping from Mayfield, Kentucky.  The article was a history of an Andrew Carman.  Andrew, at age 88, died in Mayfield, Kentucky in 1983.  This Andrew Carman was a descendent of the John Carman that I was unable to identify with the family.  John had a son named Thomas Carman, born September 1875.  Thomas married Lizzie and they had two children listed in the 1900 Census; Andrew, born March 1896, and Clarence, born August 1898.  A copy of the newspaper article is available at the end of this chapter.



I recently received an E-Mail from Anna Laura Carman Walker of Louisville, KY.  She stated she recently come across our website and had information to share with us on Andrew Carman.


     "My name is Anna Laura Carman Walker.  I live in Louisville, KY.   My daughter found your website while searching internet.  After looking at the links I recognized most of the names, for my Father spoke of his Family and his heritage often while I was growing up.  My Father, Andrew Carman was the son of Tom (Thomas) Carman and was the Grandson of John Carman.  One of the pictures and article on Leza Gooden's website is of my Father and I have the original picture and article.  I was very excited when I actually saw the picture because it shows the home place of where I grew up. 

     We lived in Graves County Kentucky on the farm 5 miles from Mayfield, KY.  I know exactly where the Carman Family gravesite is located in Mayfield, KY.  My Father and Mother are both buried there along with Tom Carman and other family members on both sides of my Father and Mother's families.  My Father was an outstanding farmer and businessman with the Graves County community.  He told me that his Grandfather John Carman was a slave back in the 1800's.  His father Tom Carman was also a slave, but later in life became a sharecropper.  After my father was born and grew up he became a farmer for this is how they made their living.  My father was also in World War I where he was stationed in France.  After many years, he was awarded the Purple Heart for his service to country.  I do not have the Purple Heart.  It was buried with him when he passed in 1983.  However, I have pictures of him searing the Purple Heart and the final picture of the The Purple Heart while he was in the casket.  My mother insisted that he be buried with it since he waited to long to receive the Purple Heart. "






     I have been in contact with Leroy Carman of Mayfield, Kentucky.  He is listed in our Carman Family Tree as the son of Herbert Carman and the Grandson of Archibald Carman.  Leroy said the Carman Cemetery is located in a rural area outside of the city limits of Mayfield, Kentucky.  It is locate on the farm once owned by Marshall Carman, the brother of his Grandfather Archibald.  Leroy stated that he last remembered a burial in the cemetery in the early 1900’s, and he tried unsuccessfully to locate the cemetery a few years back.  The cemetery has since grown over with trees and brush.  He believes many family members were buried there, but few stones were placed to mark the graves.

     I also spoke to Emily Roberts of Chicago, Illinois.  Emily would be my Great Aunt, the youngest sister of my Granfather Lee Carman.  Aunt Emily stated that her father, William Carman Jr., died in 1915 while in Chicago, Illinois and was taken back to Mayfield, Kentucky to be buried in the Carman Family Cemetery.  She was only 15 then but does recall the cemetery being in the country and that it was in the same cemetery where Melvina Carman was buried.  Since she had not seen the cemetery since 1915, she could not remember exactly where it was located.

     I later contacted a genealogist in Mayfield, Kentucky who sent me an extract from a book listing cemeteries in the Mayfield, Kentucky area.  On page 118 it lists a Black Cemetery known as the Carman Cemetery or the Carman Grove Cemetery.  It states that the cemetery was located in a field “to the left of the new Graves County School”.  It goes on to state that no stones are in the cemetery to mark the graves and only a brick Mausoleum with no names on it now exists.

     From my interviews with family members it appears that I have located the cemetery of my ancestors in Mayfield, Kentucky.  Stones to mark the graves have either been destroyed or have sunken into the ground.





     A genealogy group from Mayfield, Kentucky has put together a book of newspaper articles, which includes obituaries from the late 1800s to the early 1900s.  From this book I received copies of obituaries of deceased Carman Family members. 


                    Fri., 6/5/1908

                    Minnie Carman, wife of the late Henry Carman, colored,

                    died thurs. morning at 11AM at her home two miles N.W.

                    of Mayfield.  She was one of the oldest negro colored

                    settlers of the county and probably better known than

                    any other colored person.  She is survived by two sons,

                    Jack Carman of Mayfield and Herbert Carman of

                    Columbus, Ind.  She was over 70 years old.  Burial at the

                    family burying ground.



Recently, I received an E-Mail from Gale Carman Spencer of Chicago, IL.  Gale stated she recently discovered our family website and that she had been researching the Carman Family history "off and on" for several years.  She stated, "Today I found your website and want to introduce myself".  She is a direct descendant of HENRY CARMAN.  Henry is her great grandfather.  She indicated her belief that the above obituary is possibly incorrect.  It states "Herbert Carman of Columbus, Ind."  Her belief is that it may not be Columbus, Ind.  The "Herbert Carman" mentioned in the obituary is her Grandfather.  Her father, also named Herbert, was born in Columbus, Ohio just three (3) years after Minnie Carman's death.  


                    Sat., 1/17/1903

                    Annie Carman, the widow of Arch Carman, colored, died

                    friday afternoon at 5PM at her home 1 ½ miles north of

                    the city of consumption.  The remains were buried today

                    at the old Carman Graveyard 3 miles N.W. of the city. 

                    Annie was one of the Negroes of the old school and was

                    well thought of by all of neighbors, both white and



                    Fri., 10/18/1912

                    Lottie Carman, colored, who has been teaching school in

                    the colored school district in South Mayfield, died Wed. of

                    typhoid fever.  She was 38 years old and a daughter of

                    Marshall Carman.  Burial in the Carman Graveyard N.W.

                    of the city.


     The newspaper extracts provide us with additional information about the early Carman Family of Mayfield, Kentucky.  We now know the names of the spouses of two children of William and Melvina Carman, plus the daughter of a third.  We not only know who they are, but also a little bit about their personalities.





     William Henry Carman Jr., Martha Singleton’s Grandfather, is also my Great Grandfather.

     Martha sent me a copy of the obituary of her father, Clarence Artievelt Carman.  Clarence Artievelt would be my Great Uncle.  His obituary provided me with the greatest amount of information about our mutual Grandparents;  it indicated Martha’s father was born in Graves County on September 18, 1886.  It also indicated that his mother, Josephine Talley Carman, died while Clarence was a young man.  His father, William, remarried and the family moved to Cairo, Illinois.  There were four daughters and three sons born to William and Josephine, of which Clarence was the youngest son.

     I first found William Carman Jr., age 28, and wife Josie (Josephine), age 23, with only one child, Melvina, age 1, in the 1880 Census of Graves County, Kentucky.

     In the 1900 Census I found William Carman again with his new wife, Mary, and seven children in Cairo, Illinois. 

     Now this is where things get a little confusing.  The 1900 Census lists a son named Crawford Carman, born June 1881.  However, the Family Tree provided to me did not list Crawford, but did list a Cornelia.  Are they one and the same person, or are they indeed two different people?  I initially assumed that the Census Clerk of 1900 had made an error and that in fact the Crawford listed was indeed Cornelia, until I received a letter from Emily Roberts.  In her letter Aunt Emily listed her brothers and sisters.  Crawford is on her list as a brother, but she did not list Cornelia as a sister.  I immediately telephoned her and she stated that she wasn’t aware of Cornelia, but emphasized that following the death of her mother, she was separated from her older brothers and sisters.  She was only at the age of two and knew very little about them until she became much older.

     In the 1900 Census from Graves County, Kentucky there is a Cora Carman listed without family, born in April 1878.  Could this be the missing Cornelia?

     When Melvina died she willed money to her sisters and brothers.  I received a copy of a letter which was written by a lawyer to each recipient.  In the letter a sister named Cora is listed.  Unfortunately, Crawford is not listed.  Possibly, Crawford had already died when this letter was written in 1961.

     From all evidence available to me I believe Cornelia and Crawford are two different people.  Cornelia was born after the 1880 Census and had left home before the next available Census of 1900.


                             1.    Melvina              8/1877

2.       Cornelia 

3.       William

4.       Crawford           6/1881

5.       Lee                     7/1883

6.       Clarence             9/1886

7.       Elizabeth (Mittie)        9/1887

8.       Mary                   5/1891

9.       Josie                    6/1898

10.   Emily                   9/1900


     The Census indicates Josie was born in Kentucky in June 1898.  This would mean the family moved to Cairo, Illinois sometime between 1898-1900.

     Emily, born on September 30, 1900, is the youngest, and when this history was written in 1995, she was the only surviving child of William Carman Jr.  She informed me that only two children were born to the marriage between her father and her mother, Mary.  Her mother died at the age of 24, in 1903, from complications of childbirth. – the baby also died.

     Following Mary’s death, William sent Josie and Emily to live with Emily Hayes in Wickliffe, Kentucky, a relative of their deceased mother.

     The boys were old enough to live on their own and Melvina and Elizabeth (Mittie) wanted to go to Chicago, Illinois to learn the business of tailoring.

     Aunt Emily remembers her father’s death in 1915 while he resided in Chicago, Illinois.  I was unsuccessful in my attempt to locate a copy of his death certificate to verify the date of death and place of burial.





     Elizabeth (Mittie Carman) Taylor learned the art of tailoring when her father brought her to Chicago with her sister Melvina.  Mittie owned and operated the Taylor’s Trade School in Chicago, Illinois for over 35 years.

     Mittie had only one child, Richard Taylor.  Richard died at the age of 50 in 1970.  I spoke to Richard’s widow, Helen Taylor of Columbus, Ohio.  She told me that Mittie died the following year in 1971.

     Helen Taylor also indicated that Mittie’s sister, Mary (Carman) Roland, died childless.  She was not sure when she died.  I was provided a newspaper clipping of Mary’s death, but the clipping was not dated.

     As I mentioned previously, I received a copy of a letter to family members from the lawyer of the deceased Melvina Jackson.  Melvina, the oldest child of William and Josephine Carman, died in early 1961 leaving her estate to her brothers and sisters, - Josie, Cora, Elizabeth, Mary, Lee, and Artie. The letter is significant in that it tells us the children of William Carman Jr. who were still living.  However, it is unexplained why Emily (Carman) Roberts is not listed in the letter.



LEE (a.k.a. Leo) CARMAN:


     I was unable to obtain any information about the early life of my Grandfather, Lee Carman.  From my various interviews, some believe he lived in Chicago for a while, others believe he lived a short time in Gary, Indiana; I could not confirm either.  He did, however, live for many years in St. Louis, Missouri.

     Lee Carman was my mother’s (Berthen Ellen) father.  He left Cairo before she was born in 1903 and never returned.  Shortly after my mother’s birth, my Grandmother (Mary Rivers) married Henry Spurlock and my mother was given his name of Berthen Ellen Spurlock.

     My mother told us that she did not learn that Lee Carman was her father until after she was married in 1918.

     In the early 1940s Lee and my mother began to correspond.  In his initial letter he told her that a friend had kept him informed of her.  From that time until his death they had a meaningful relationship.  She visited him on several occasions, and one or more of his grandchildren visited him during the summer.

     The Grandchildren called him Grandpa Carman, but my mother always referred to him as my father or Mr. Carman.

     Since I never had the opportunity to meet him, I can only rely on the memories of my older siblings who knew him well.  I’m told that he was very generous, and loving, but strict and prudish, and that he had a great sense of humor, - so did my mother.  My sister Barbara said she visited him frequently while they both resided in St. Louis, Missouri, and she thinks of him often.

     I asked Aunt Emily Roberts about her brother Lee and she states she never met her older brothers and knew very little about them.

     We do not have a photograph of him, but I’ve been told that to see him was like looking at my mother’s twin.

     My Grandfather, Lee Carman, was 83 years old when he was killed in a hit and run accident in 1966.  He was in the process of moving to E. St. Louis, Illinois to be closer to his Grandchildren who lived there.  He is buried at the Sunset Gardens of Memory in E. St. Louis, Illinois.





     Leza Gooden of Chicago, Illinois has done extensive genealogy research on her line of the CARMAN FAMILY.  Leza’s Great Grandfather, John Isaac Carman, is the brother of my Great Grandfather, William Henry Carman.  Below is Leza’s Family History.


     Our History………


                                  1833…………………………………………………… 1992

     The earliest unauthenticated reference to our first generation ancestry is based on oral testimony.  William Carman is alleged to have been born in 1829, on the plantation of his slave owner William John Carman in Hickman County, Mayfield, Kentucky.  William married Melvina (date Unknown) and they reared their eight children in Mayfield, Kentucky; Archibald, Martha, William, Marshall, Henry, Andrew Jackson, Hannah, and John Isaac.  John Isaac Carman (born 1850 – died 1923) is alleged to be the eldest son born to William and Melvina in Hickman County, Mayfield, Kentucky, and freed from slavery at the age of seven.  John Isaac and his parents and siblings remained in the land area known as Jim Town;  farming the land they inherited from their slavemaster.  This farmland was cultivated for orchards of fruit bearing trees, produce, cattle, hogs and chickens.  John Isaac married his childhood sweetheart Allie, also from Mayfield, Kentucky, at the age of seventeen.  This union produced seven children; Laura, Alfred Hale, Miami, Josie, Edward, Herman, and Patrick.  Laura Carman, their eldest daughter, born September 15, 1872, attended grade school through the sixth grade, when she was required to quit school, and help with the home chores due to her mothers illness and ultimate death.  Laura reared her sisters and brothers.  At the age of seventeen, she fell in love with Will Eaker, who she married, despite her fathers protests that he was too old for her and much to black.

     Will and Laura Carman Eaker remained in Mayfield, Kentucky through-out their lives rearing their family of eleven children; - six boys; Mose, Edward, Robert, Lee, Jewell, John, and Earl; - and their five girls; Allievie, Angie, Flora, Nannie Mae, and Mary Frances.  Laura Eaker died October 17, 1949 and Will Eaker died February 16, 1951 at the age of 95.  The combined skills and independence of the Carman/Eaker ancestry were passed on to their children who became skilled in their occupations; such as seamstress, teachers, cosmetologist, auto mechanics, concrete finisher, cooks, and machinist.  In later years, all but two of their children left their place of birth, seeking better economic and social conditions in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.  This migration trend has continued with the Eaker children’s descendants totaling ninety-one people.  These remaining descendants of Will and Laura Eaker are scattered throughout the land, - in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Virginia, California, Canada, Georgia, Colorado, North Carolina and Saudi Arabia – Mary Frances Eaker Duckett, born March 10, 1910, is the remaining survivor of the eleven children born to Will and Laura Carman Eaker.

     Family history is the basis of all history.  We are fully aware of the importance and influence our ancestors have on our lives and the lives of our descendants.  We are also aware of the fact that our ancestors are all a part of our background and have contributed not only to our physical appearance but  also to our philosophy of life as well.  The study of the lives of these women and men in our past is the first step toward a better understanding of ourselves.  Our romantic history is revealed in the history chain.  We are a part of all those who have gone before and whose spiritual faith, talents and abilities have come down to us link by link through the ages.

     Join me in tracing our ancestral background and get ready to get started on an incredible experience.  It will be fun, time consuming, frustrating, shocking and never ending.


                                                                                                                   Leza Gooden