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Carmen Had many Careers

Footnotes to Long Island History

Carman Had Many Careers
September 4, 1952

by

Thomas R. Bayles


                One of Patchogue's most distinguished citizens of the nineteenth century, George F. Carman made a success of more than half a dozen careers.

                Starting out as a carpenter, he worked as a seamen, a federal tax collector, A newspaper publisher and an editor, a railroad executive, a town trustee, sheriff of Suffolk county and a state assemblyman.

                Mr. Carman was born in Patchogue April 18, 1827. His father Gilbert Carman came from Hempstead, where the family had long been residents with a history that places them among the early pioneers in the settlement of that town.

                He was educated in the Patchogue school and at the age of 16 learned the carpenter's trade. Four years later he decided to go on a whaling voyage and went to Greenport where he sailed on the ship "Nile" with captain Isaac Case on a trip that lasted 37 months.

                He had plenty of time for reading and study, and besides seeing the world, mastered the science of navigation and learned much of the language of the sandwich Islanders.  His one voyage was enough and returned to his trade of building contractor.

                In 1855 he was elected to the office of town trustee and one of the two overseers of the poor. In the fall of the same year he was elected sheriff of Suffolk county. After his term of office as sheriff he became proprietor and editor of the Suffolk Herald in Patchogue and devoted his times to its interests until the summer of 1862.

                At this time internal the internal revenue laws framed to provide funds to help meet the extraordinary expenses caused by the great slave-holders rebellion went into operation and Mr. Carman was appointed by the President as "collector for the 1st collection district of the state of New York during the pleasure of the President of the United States, and until  the end of the next session of the Senate of the United States and no longer." This appointment, dated August 1862, was signed by Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, and S.P. Chase, secretary of the treasury, and has been carefully preserved, for Mr.. Chase assured Mr. Carman it was the first of the kind issued by the department, and was the first one signed by President Lincoln. Mr. Carman's appointment was not solicited but on the contrary, President Lincoln asked him in person if he would accept it.

                He continued in this office until 1869 when he retired from this office of the South Side Railroad company as general manager, where he served for two years under the president, Charles Fox. The road was then sold to Jacob R. Shipard & company who operated it for one year, when failing to meet the terms for the balance of purchase money, the property reverted to the original stockholders and Mr. Carman was elected president.

              When sold to Shipard and company the road was in good condition financially with provision for completing an extension of 15 miles east of Patchogue which the purchasers abandoned. As president, Mr. Carman struggled along for six months hoping to effect some compromise when it became evident that the state courts were about to appoint a receiver. To avoid this the company, having made previous arrangements for such a contingency handed the road over to the United States marshal acknowledging itself bankrupt.

                Mr. Carman was appointed by Charles Jones, receiver in bankruptcy to operate the road which he did successfully until its sale to Conrad Poppenhussen, and Mr. Carman's official connection with it ended. About 1870 previous to his retirement, he bought of Orange Judd for $100,000 the Flushing railroad from Hunters Point to Winfield a distance of three miles. He sold this to the South Side Railroad company.

                In the fall of 1869, Mr. Carman was elected to the state assembly and in 1879 was again elected.

                His political standing was such that he was for many years one of the most influential men in his district, not only at home but at Albany and Washington. His integrity as a citizen and in the administration of public affairs was never questioned.

                Mr. Carman's mother was Mary Ann, daughter of Samuel Homan of Brookhaven, where the Homan's were among the first settlers.

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