Written by Times Correspondent Mary HOKE
“Carbon was once a bustling city located six miles north of Brazil in Van Buren Township. The Big Four Railroad ran east and west through town. John H. THOMPSON was the depot agent for 15 years. With not enough business to sustain it after that length of time and no trains stopping, the landmark was torn down.
The town was incorporated five years after it was started in 1870 by the Carbon Coal Company. A post office was established. Among the postmasters were: F.F. WITTY, James H. THROOP, William HAYWOOD, Barney GALLAGER, Tom ANDERSON, Tom BEESON, Ben BEESON, Jesse DOWEN, W.H. BRADSHAW, Chester FIELDS and Stanley DOWNING.
The town’s newspaper, The Carbon Chronicle, was published by Mr. ZENOR. Immigrants came from Australia, Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales to contribute to the development of Clay County. There were three divisions of the town, the west end was known as Irish Town, the business section as Stump Town and south of the railroad as Austrian Town where the power plant was located. It furnished lights for the town. There were miners, farmers, merchants and teachers. The population of about 500 grew, and by 1900 there were about 2,000. Carbon, a prosperous town, had plenty of work in the coalmines and clay plants, which has now been worked out.
The only Negro man who lived here was a barber named Charlie WHITE. Other barbers in those days were Mel HENDRIX and Mat MARLON.
There were three churches, Baptist, Methodist and Catholic. Carbon Baptist was built and dedicated in 1881. the Methodist was built in 1873 and was destroyed by fire a couple of times. Stewart WEBSTER donated land to build it on. In later years the Catholic Church moved its membership to Brazil. Judge MARSHALL opened a bank for business early in 1905. The most disastrous fire in Clay County’s history almost wiped Carbon out on March 25, 1905. On a windy Saturday sparks from a train fell on a shingle roof of the saloon of Eurick BAULMAN starting the fire that spread rapidly from one building to another with a loss of around $105,000.
Many businesses went up in smoke among them it was said were 13 saloons. At one time there were an opera house, dwelling houses, butcher shops, an undertaking establishment, service stations and Justice of the peace, Joe BLOWER. Doctors were George PELL, two Dr. VAN SANDT‘S , father and son, and a Dr. LEWIS.
Two boarding houses were run by Mrs. GRAY and Mrs. MOONEY. A company block of houses and a company store to accommodate the miners was here as was a mule barn where they kept the mules used in the mines. The mules were taken care of by Tom HAXTON.
In the town hall they kept the fire engine that has to be pulled from place to place by the fire fighters. PELLS, A. WELLS and McINTYRES owned butcher shops.
William CUMMINGS ran the Livery stable. Salesman or drummers as they were called came here on the train, rented a horse and buggy and went to the other towns nearby taking orders for their merchandise. They later returned the rig and caught a train back to the city that night as at that time there were no automobiles. Dr. PELL owned the first auto in Carbon.
When the mines were worked out, the clay plants destroyed by fire and no work to be had, the men had to go elsewhere to find work. New State Road 59 bypassed Carbon which now is what you might call a ghost town with no stores, no school, no doctors, nothing but memories left.”