52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Week 21 – Dallas Carroll
“Common lore in the Town Creek Alabama area is that there was a Cobb woman that loved him so much and after she married another man, named her daughter, Dallas.”
So was Dallas, my 2nd great Uncle a lover? His only known living niece, Dorothy remembers him as being of bronze coloring, not too tall but delightful to be around.
His Military Registration Card, dated September 12, 1918 records him as being medium height, medium built with black hair and eyes.
Dallas was the first-born son of Henry Carroll/Cal and Celia Sherrod (married in 1882) born May 7, 1883. Dallas was raised on the farmland where his father Henry was acquiring acres upon acres to secure the family’s future. Henry was born during the enslavement period in 1858 to an enslaved mother, Emma Sims and stated his father was “A Dutch Sea Captain”. Dallas’ father believe the way to success was landownership and exposed his first son, Dallas as well as his nine other sons and one daughter to farm life. It has been told that Henry was a tough taskmaster and his son’s rebelled when they were grown. At twenty years old, Dallas married Gertrude McDonald on Sunday, November 23, 1903 in Lawrence County, Alabama. I was told that he loved horses and sure enough by April 18, 1910, he was living with his wife, Gertrude and working at a private stable in Town Creek. Dallas appears to have been the first son to leave his father’s farm.
Dallas’ wife, Gertrude appears to have disappeared from the records and the 1910 Census show they had no children. She may have died but we aren’t sure. In 1918, Dallas is living in Chattanooga, Tennessee according to the city directory without a wife and working as a presser at Peerless Dry Company. By the 1920 census, he is living at 3704 Chandler Avenue in Chattanooga with his new “wife”, Essie. No marriage record has been found in Alabama or Tennessee. Dallas was working on his in laws, William and Mariah Hawkin’s farm. Back to what he knew from his father’s farm in Alabama but not for long. By 1927, Dallas and Essie are living at 1105 W. 38th Street in Chattanooga and he has become a Pullman Porter on the railroad. Dallas and Essie are listed in the Chattanooga Directory through 1931. There are no records showing that Dallas and Essie had any children, however Essie appears to have a daughter, Evira Abernathy, born about 1917.
Dallas’ work as a porter on the steamer railroads took him out west for April 5, 1930, he is renting a place on North Grand West in Salt Lake City, Utah. The census records him as head of household 103 and paying ten dollars rent. He is married but no wife his listed, born in Alabama. Living around him are other Steam Railroad employees that are listed as Negroes most with Tennessee roots. Various occupations listed are machinist helper, lubrication, porter and cook. Some of these employees have wives listed with no occupation and perhaps they are on this census because they were on a stopover in Salt Lake City waiting for a train going East. Dallas was working during the peak times of the Southern Railway System that developed a large company from a number of other companies including the Tennessee Railroad. The company system had over 8,000-miles of track and ran through thirteen states. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters launched a successful effort that organized African American workforce made up of porters and maids.
Dallas was about forty-seven in 1930 and his occupation choice offered him an opportunity to be a part of the African American middle class. His route was mainly in California according to his niece, Dorothy who remembers stories he told her when she was young. You see, Dallas became ill (possibly TB) while working out west as a porter and moved back to Alabama living with his brother, Otis Cal and family. Dallas’ wife Essie Carroll was found listed in the 1940 US Census, Chattanooga as a widow, which gives us a target time of his death because no death records for Dallas, has been located.
Dallas’ story is a perfect combination of documented records, verbal history passed down in our family and tied to a very important part of migration, growth of Chattanooga as a city and introduced me to key roles of African American during a golden age of travel. Loving the historical journey of finding family.