BENJAMIN FRANKLIN CARMAN
Source: History of Montgomery County, Indiana. Indianapolis: AW Bowen, 1913, pp. 864-68.
The most elaborate history is perforce a merciless abridgment, the historian being obliged to select his facts and materials from manifold details and to marshall them in concise and logical order. This applies to specific as well as generic history, and in the former category is included the interesting and important department of biography. In every life of honor and usefulness there is no dearth of interesting situations and incidents, and yet in summing up such a career as that of Mr. Carman the writer must needs touch only on the more salient facts, giving the keynote of the character and eliminating all that is superfluous to the continuity of the narrative. The gentleman whose name appears above has led an active and useful life, not entirely void of the exciting, but the more prominent facts have been so identified with the useful and practical that it is to them almost entirely that the writer refers in the following paragraphs.
Benjamin F. Carman, who for many years has been recognized as one of the most substantial citizens of Montgomery county, was born in Clark township, this county, on the 8th of August, 1860. He comes of a long line of sterling ancestry, his family, on the paternal side, having been established in this country for over two hundred and fifty years, while in England the family line is traced back through several centuries. The first representative of the family in America were John and Florence Carman, who left Nazing, England, with a party of pilgrims, including John Eliot and the wife of Governor Winthrop, landing at Roxbury, Massachusetts, on November 2, 1631. The descendants of John and Florence Carman are scattered all over the United States, members of the family being also found in Canada, Mexico and South America.
The first official record of the Carman family shows that at the time of the Norman conquest, in 1066, they owned eighty-two acres of land in Wiltshire, England, also a mill, a tenant and three slaves. Another reference to the family is, about 1400, of a priest who ministered at the Winfarthing church for thirty-eight years. From 1408 to 1470 William and Catherine Carman owned the manor of Patesley, in Norfolk. During the reign of "Bloddy Mary" at least five members of the Carman family met death, being burned at the stake, martyrs because of their religious belief, and the record says they met their fate bravely, even joyfully.
From such stock came John Carman, the pregenitor of the family in America. He has prospered here in his worldly affairs, becoming quite well-to-do, and was prominent in public affairs in Connecticut and Long Island, being a deputy to the general court of the colony in 1634. Two hundred and fifty years after he landed at Roxbury, five hundred of his descendants met at Hampstead, Long Island, to celebrate the arrival of the family in America.
Among the children of John Carman was Caleb, who was the father of James, who was the first pastor of the Baptist church at Highstown, New Jersey, in 1745. Rev. James had a son Caleb, who was the father of Joseph. The latter was born in 1745 at Bordentown, New Jersey, moved to the interior of Virginia, and in 1768 he married Mary LaRue, a French girl. Joseph Carman was a soldier in the American Revolution, having enlisted in 1776 as a private in Captain William Croghan's company, Eighth Virginia Regiment, commanded by Col. Abraham Bowman, to serve until April, 1778. In 1779 he and his family, in company with followers of George Rogers Clark, came down the Ohio river on flat boats, and located at a fort in Shelby county, Kentucky. Joseph Carman was killed by Indians along Carman's creek, in Henry county, Kentucky, in 1786. He was the father of seven children, of whom the second in order of birth was Isaac. Isaac Carman married Mary Hughes, who died of cholera in 1833. He was a Baptist preacher in Shelby county for many years, and was well known and highly respected. His death occurred in Indiana in 1854. To him and his wife were born ten children, the youngest of whom was William N. Carman, father of the immediate subject of this sketch.
William N. Carman was born in Shelby county, Kentucky, but in 1834, when he was but seven years old, his father brought his family to Montgomery county, Indiana, where he entered three eighty-acre tracts of land, one for each of his three daughters, and also bought one hundred and sixty acres of land from Joseph Staten, who had entered it from the government in 1831. This land has remained continuously in the family, being now the property of the subject. Here William N. Carman was reared to maturity and eventually married Ann E. Harrison. She was born in Clark township, this county, on October 1, 1832, and was the daughter of John and Mary (Ashby) Harrison. Her parents were natives of Kentucky, who located in Harrison county, Indiana, where John Harrison served as judge of the county court. His wife was the daughter of Lettice Ashby, whose family came to Montgomery county in an early day, or at about the same time as the Harrisons. Here John Harrison carried on farming pursuits the rest of his life. He also had two brothers, Eli and Joshua, who came to this county.
William N. Carman lived on the old homestead in Clark township until the mother's death in 1899, after which he made his home with his son, Benjamin F., until his death, which occurred in August, 1910. They were the parents of seven children, of whom two sons died in infancy, two daughters, Mary E. and Martha, died in childhood, while those living are: Prsicilla A., the wife of John F. Zimmerman of Ladoga; Sallie F., the wife of Joseph Albert Smith, of Jamestown, and Benfamin F., of Ladoga. William N. Carman always followed the vocation of farming, in which he was successful, being energetic and practical in his efforts. Religiously, he was one of the charter members of Bethel Christian church, of which he was elected elder and to which he donated an acre of ground on which to build the church. He owned altogether about four hundred acres of land, which, before his death, he divided among his children.
Benjamin F. Carman was reared on the home farm, where he remained until he was twenty-five years old, securing a good practical education the meanwhile in the public schools. After his marriage, in 1884, he farmed with his father for about a year, at the end of which time he moved to a place about a half mile north of the home place, where during the following seventeen years he devoted himself steadily to agriculture, and with gratifying results. He was elected to the office of auditor of Montgomery county, to take office in 1904, but, the office becoming vacant before his elective term begun, he was appointed to the office in the fall of 1903, thus holding the office for four years and two months. About a year before the expiration of his official term, Mr. Carman, on December 3, 1906, bought the Knox hardware store in Ladoga, and thereupon moved his family from Crawfordsville to that place. He was now an extremely busy man, having the official duties as auditor, the management of a hardware store and the supervision of a large farm on his hands, but he successfully took care of all his interests, discharging his public duties to the entire satisfaction of his fellow citizens. About three years after acquiring the store he took his son, Walter, in as a partner, and on June 1, 1910, he sold his remaining interest in the business to Ralph F. Blatchley. Then giving his entire attention to agriculture, he bought the interests of the other heirs in his father's farm, thus becoming the owner of two hundred and eighty-five acres of splendid land in Clark township. About 1909 Mr. Carman bought the George Grimes residence in Ladoga, a comfortable and attractive home, where he now resides.
On September 11, 1884, Benjamin F. Carman was united in marriage with Lelia B. White, who was born and reared in Clark township, being the daughter of James L. and Harriet (Cox) White, the father having come to this state frm Ohio in an early day. To Mr. and Mrs. Carman have been born four children, the two first of whom, born on August 28, 1885, were twins, George Waller and John Walter. The first named died on April 26, 1888. The other two children are Anna L. and Bertha Irene. The latter is at home with her parents, while Anna L. is the wife of Guy Britton, of Roachdale.
Walter Carman lived with his parents on the home farm until he was eighteen years old, and secured a good public school education, attending the high schools at Ladoga and Crawfordsville. He then attended business college, graduating in both bookkeeping an stenography, after which, for a year, he was employed as a clerk in the Crawfordsville State Bank. He has been in the hardware business since January 1, 1907. One June 21, 1911, he was married to Hazel B. Shackelford, the daughter of Mark Shackelford, of Ladoga.
Politically, Benjamin F. Carman has always given his support to the Republican party and has ever taken a lively interest in the trend of public affairs. His religious membership is with the Christian church, of which he is an elder and to which he gives a liberal support. Fraternally, he belongs to the Free and Accepted Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Tribe of Ben-Hur, in all of which he takes an active interest. In every avenue of life's activities in which he has engaged, Mr. Carman has been true to every trust, and throughout the county he is held in the highest esteem. Persistent industry and the exercise of the ordinary quality of common sense-these have been the keynotes to the success which has crowned his efforts. Though devoting himself closely to his own business affairs, he has not been unmindful of his higher duties as a citizen and he has given his unqualified support to every movement which has promised to benefit the community, morally, educationally, socially and materially. Personally, he is a man of pleasing address and his friends in Montgomery county are in number at his acquaintances.
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