The Carson Family

From Washington County, Virginia 
To Rockcastle County, Kentucky
To Jellico, Tennessee
To Davie, Broward County, Florida


Stephen Green Carson
Born: April 29, 1870 in Blue Lick, Rockcastle County, Kentucky
Died: December 05, 1953 in Davie, Broward Co. Florida

Ancestors of Stephen Green Carson:

Great Great Grand Parents: David Carson, born about 1741 and Elizabeth Dysart, born about 1745 in Washington Co., VA

Great Grand Parents: Joseph Carson, born July 02, 1777 in Abingdon, Washington Co., VA and Mary A. Evans, born 16 Nov 1776 in either Washington Co., Virginia or Maryland

Grand Parents: (Preacher) David Carson, born February 04, 1798 in Washington Co, VA and Catherine Lawrence, born June 1801 in Washington Co, VA

Parents: Joseph Carson, born November 12, 1822 in Crab Orchard, Rockcastle Co., KY and Mahala Jane Owens, born July 15, 1826 in Rockcastle Co., KY

In 1870 Stephen Green Carson (Grandpa Carson) was born on a farm located in Rockcastle County, Kentucky on the western end of the “Wilderness Trail” which was blazed by Daniel Boone in 1775 as the way to cross the Appalachia Mountains from Virginia through Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. (The original name for the Wilderness Road was Boone's Trace. The Wilderness Road was opened to wagon traffic in 1796 after it was widened. Up to that time, it was only accessible to foot traffic and horses.) His family had lived in Rockcastle County since his great grandfather, Joseph Carson, moved there from Abingdon, Washington Co., Virginia around 1804.

Stephen Green Carson was born into a household that contained his older sister Martha Carson and half siblings from his father’s first marriage to Catherine Harness (David Carson and Samuel Carson) and his mother’s second marriage to Milton Hicks (Wilmouth Hicks, William Martin Hicks, and Samuel Hicks). At the time of his birth, his father was forty-seven and his mother forty-three. He was the twelfth child born to his mother. I suspect that Stephen Green Carson's mother named Stephen Green Carson after Stephen Green Brown, who two years earlier married Margaret Frances Carson, a daughter from the first marriage of Stephen Green Carson's father. 

On June 21, 1888 in Mt. Vernon, Rockcastle Co., Kentucky, he married Susan Ellen Sowder, the daughter of Lewis Sowder and Malvina Owens
. (See photo.) Both Lewis Sowder and Malvina Owens descended from David Owen and Winefred Mullins.

Rockcastle County Marriage Book 3, pg 272 and Book 46, pg 198
Carson, Stephen
Sowder, Susan E
June 21, 1881 [Date should be 1888.]
Wit: Owens, Logan and Brown, Mack
Loc: Sowder, Malvina
Sur: Elder, John
Off: Elder, John (minister)

In the 1900 census, Stephen, his wife, his five children (Arthur, Lula Jane, Linnie, Joseph Lewis, and Bess Browning) and his widowed mother (Mahala Jane Owens) were living in a rented house in Livingston, Rockcastle County, Kentucky. He was a railroad laborer. The December 14, 1900 edition of the Mt. Vernon Signal Newspaper contained these items:


“Steve Carson had his hand severely mashed Sun morning while assisting in putting in anew rail in the railroad yards here”

“Steve Carson's little boy crept under the bed at his residence and there being a shot gun on the floor under the bed proceeded to play with it when he discharged a load that was left in the gun doing no further damage than to tear a hole in the side of the house”

[Note: The little boy must have been Joseph.]

Sometime before 1905 the Stephen Green Carson family relocated to Jellico, Tennessee (on the Kentucky/Tennessee border), which was a major operation for the L & N (Louisville and Nashville) railroad. A short time later, William David Griffin (known as David), who also worked for the railroad, and his family moved to Jellico. William David Griffin was the father of John Ashley Griffin (who in 1907 married Linnie Carson, the daughter of Stephen Green Carson), and William Alfred Griffin (known as Alf). (See photo.)

The September 28, 1906 edition of the Mount Vernon Signal contained this article:
On last Friday morning at 7:43 o'c;ock, there occurred an explosion of a car of dynamite at Jellico, Tenn., which destroyed property to the amount of nearly half a million dollars and more than a score of people lost their lives.  On the switch was a car of containing about twenty thousand pounds of dynamite, and near this was standing J. M. Cook, Master Mechanic for the L & N R. R.,  Joe Sellers, an engineer, and Walter Rogers, Agent for the East Tennessee Brewering Co., when the great catastrophe came and a foot and part of the skull, which was identified as being that of Mr. Cook, was all that was found of the three men. Of the others killed, which number between ten and twenty (the reports are conflicting) lost their lives by falling timbers and caving in of the houses.”

[Note: The John Milton Cook who was killed in the explosion was the grandson of John B. Cook and Elizabeth Proctor. After John B. Cook died, Elizabeth Proctor married George S. Myers. Elizabeth Proctor and George S. Myers had a daughter Eliza Ann Myers. Eliza Ann Myers married James Fish Carson, son of Judge John Evans Carson. Eliza Ann Myers and James Fish Carson were the grandparents of Thomas Newman Holman, the husband of Lula Jane Carson, daughter of Stephen Green Carson.]

The 1910 census shows the Stephen Green Carson family still living in Jellico, Tennessee. Stephen was listed as a laborer and owned his own home (with a mortgage). In the home with Stephen and Susan were their children: Joe, Bessie, Charley, Willie, and Hazel. Also in the home: their son Arthur Carson (age 21 and an electrician) and their daughter Lula Jane Carson (and her husband Thomas Newman Holman who worked for the L&N railroad). (See photo)

William David Griffin and his family are listed in the 1910 census for Jellico, Tennessee. Shortly thereafter he relocated his family to Davie, Broward County, Florida.

In a 1982 article titled "The Davie Dilemma" Victoria Wagner writes:
“Zona, The First Improved Town in the Everglades.   The first permanent settlers arrived about 1909. Dean and Emil Cross and the four Hill brothers came from Michigan. They were joined by the Griffins from Kentucky and workers returning from the Panama Canal Zone. Finding the terrain and its problems similar to those just left in Panama, the settlers called the new town Zona.” [It was later renamed Davie.]

The 1920 census shows the Stephen Green Carson family living in Jellico, Tennessee (in a rented home on Cathotie Street). Stephen was a Yard Foreman for the L & N railroad. In the home with Stephen and Susan were their children: Charles, Willie, Hazel, and SG, Jr. Living next door (owned home with mortgage) was John Ashley Griffin, his wife Linnie Carson, and their children: TA, Alene, Jack, and Howard. After John Ashley Griffin died of the flu around 1921, his widow Linnie moved from Jellico, Tennessee to Davie, Florida to be with her in-laws, the Griffin family. 

The 1920 census also shows that across the border in a rented house in Depot Township, Whitley County, Kentucky was Thomas Newman Holman (an inspector for the railroad), his wife Lula Carson and their four children: Claudia, Mildred, Marie, and Mary F.

Because of lack of work in Kentucky/Tennessee, from June 5th to the 13th of 1925 the Steven Green Carson family and the Thomas Newman Holman family drove to Davie, Florida in two cars. Stephen and Susan and their children Bill, Hazel, and SG were in one car. Newman and Lula and their children Claudia, Millie, Marie, Frankie, Raymond, and Easy were in the other. The trip took eight days. They went to Davie, Florida because the William David Griffin family was already living there. 

Note:  Florida's Land Boom

By 1920, Florida had a population of 968,470 people. Just five years later, the population had grown to 1,263,540. What had caused such a rise in the population?

Following World War I, large numbers of Americans finally had the time and money to travel to Florida and to invest in real estate. Educated and skilled workers were receiving paid vacations, pensions, and fringe benefits, which made it easier for them to travel and to purchase real estate. The automobile was also becoming an indispensable way for families to travel, and Florida was the perfect destination. Many of the people who migrated into Florida were middle class Americans with families. Unlike visitors of the past, these newer arrivals wanted homes and land rather than resorts and hotels.

The "Roaring Twenties" was a time when a person's wealth and success was measured by what he owned. At the same time, because the economy was prospering, credit was easy to acquire if one had a decent job. People who recognized this economic change and wanted to make money by selling land poured into Florida. These people, known as land speculators, bought land at cheap prices and sold it at a large profit.

During this boom, however, most people who bought and sold land in Florida had never even set foot in the state. Instead, they hired young, ambitious men and women to stand in the hot sun to show the land to prospective buyers and accept a "binder" on the sale. A binder was a non-refundable down payment that required the rest of the money to be paid in 30 days. Many people got rich quick from the commission they made from these sales. With land prices rising rapidly, many of the buyers planned to sell the land at a profit before the real land payments were due. Sometimes land buyers didn't even have enough money to pay for the land; instead they had just enough money for the binder. They were depending on the prices to continually rise.

Laws were also written to help support the land boom. In order to get people to come to Florida and invest in real estate, the Florida Legislature passed laws that prohibited state income and inheritance taxes. During this time, horse and dog racing also grew in Florida as a way to attract rich gamblers. The railroads continued to grow throughout the 1920s, and Henry Flagler's railroad that connected Southeast Florida with New York caused other rail routes to be built.

It was during this time that many vacation spots were created and some of our most popular cities were developed. Dave Davis, the son of a steamboat captain, built Davis Island in the Tampa Bay area. Barron Collier started Naples and Marco Island as winter resorts. In addition, Carl Fisher and John Collins bought and developed the mangrove island off the coast of Miami. Miami Beach began to develop into the world-famous resort that it is today.

Unfortunately, this land boom did not exist without problems. The demand for housing was so high that the cost of rent soared. Because the speculators had inflated the economy, many American who had migrated to Florida could no longer afford to live here. They began to write back home and tell people about their problems. Newspapers began writing stories that advised prospective residents to stay away from Florida.

At the same time, the demand for building materials overwhelmed the railway systems that transported them here. Railroads could not keep up with the needs and began to shut down. This acted as a brake on many developments, slowing down or stopping the boom's momentum. Once land prices stopped going up, many speculators couldn't sell at the high prices. There were suddenly thousands of acres of overpriced land without any buyers.

The boom stopped as suddenly as it had started. An unusually cold winter in 1925 followed by an extremely hot summer frightened away many potential buyers. It also cast doubts on the state's reputation as "heaven on earth." What was to follow was a series of natural disasters (freezes, hurricanes) that would send Florida into a tailspin, causing it to enter a Florida Depression four years before the 1929 stock market crash brought the whole country's economy down in the Great Depression.

One year after the Carson and Holman families moved to Davie, Florida, the 1926 hurricane destroyed most of the area.

The 1930 census shows Stephen and Susan living in Davie, Broward Co., Florida (owned own home) with their sons: William (laborer in truck farm) and SG, Jr. Stephen is listed as a laborer in a citrus grove and Susan as a janitress at a school. Living next door was their daughter Linnie and her second husband George Price.

When Stephen Green Carson died on December 05, 1953, he and Susan had been married for sixty-five years and had a total of twelve children. (See photo)

1. Arthur Carson born Apr 17, 1889 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. [Note: Chester Alan Arthur was US President from 1881–1885.]

2. Lula Jane Carson born July 17, 1890 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. Lula Jane Carson married Thomas Newman Holman, the son of Samuel David Holman and Claudia Lung Carson.

3. Linnie Carson born April 23, 1892 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. [Probably named after Linnie Sowder, Susan’s younger sister who died as an infant.] Linnie Carson first married John Ashley Griffin, the son of William David Griffin and Sarah Frances Owens.

4. Joseph Lewis Carson born August 31, 1895 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. [Probably named after his grandfathers: Joseph Carson and Lewis Sowder.]

5. Bess Browning Carson born April 22, 1898 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. [Note: Stephen Green Carson’s first cousin, Bessie C. Magee, (daughter of John Magee and Catherine S. Carson) on January 14, 1898 married J. Henry Browning.]

6. Charles Pointer Carson born October 8, 1901 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. [Note: On August 30, 1901, Joseph C. Pointer died in a horse riding accident, He was the nephew of (Preacher) David Carson and the husband of Wilmouth Hicks, a daughter from Stephen’s mother’s second marriage.]

7. Mary Elizabeth Carson born 1903.

8. William Randolph Carson born March 22, 1905 in Jellico, Tennessee.

9. Annie Irene Carson born 1906 in Jellico, Tennessee.

10. Hazel Edna Carson born Jul 06, 1908 in Jellico, Tennessee.

11. Mary Frances Carson born Jun 03, 1912 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky.

12. Stephen Green Carson, Jr. born Apr 09, 1914 in Rockcastle County, Kentucky.


“Rockcastle Roots” (August 1992) is the second part of John Lair’s “Rockcastle Recollections.” The first volume was a history of Rockcastle County, Kentucky. This volume covers the history of individual Rockcastle County families. Some of our families are included:

Page 66
Page 67
Page 68
Page 69


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