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Charles Wesley CARSON  1870 - 1961   arrowarrow PIONEER    PARENTS    LIFE    NOTES    LABELS    PHOTOS    THANK YOU


Charles Wesley CARSON  1870 - 1961

aka Charles W. Carson, C. W. Carson, Charles Carson, C. Carson
nationality American
occupation electrician; recording engineer; (poultry) farmer
birth 10 Jan 1870, Ottawa, Putnam, Ohio (the 1900 CENSUS has Dec 1874, Ohio)
death 20 Nov 1961, Tappan, Orangetown, Rockland, NY
marriage single
childrenno children


father Columbus Marion CARSON

b. .. Sept .... 1845, ........, Ohio
d. .............

mother Harriet "Hattie" BUSHNELL

b. .. Aug 1846, .........., Ohio (MBB has: 1840, Hayesville, Ohio; prob. wrong)
d. 19 Oct 1924, Tappan, Orangetown, Rockland, NY

marriage got married in 1867
  • Cara (= Carolyn)

    b. .. Aug 1867, .........
    d. 3 Aug 1956, Tappan, Orangetown, Rockland, NY

  • Charles Wesley

    b. 10 Jan 1870, Ottawa, Putnam, Ohio
    d. 20 Nov 1961, Tappan, Orangetown, Rockland, NY


Between 1904 and 1908 Carson travelled to foreign countries (China, Japan), but also Brazil (together with Henry/Harry MARKER in 1908 (source: ANCESTRY and possibly also ELLIS ISLAND) to make recordings for COLUMBIA. company.

The Library of Congress has some correspondence between him and Columbia, the firm he worked for, but I have not yet seen that material (Jim Walsh Collection).

For a long time I tried to locate him in the various censuses, but somehow I could not trace him there.
The only clues I had were:
- that he was born in OHIO
- that he was living in NEW YORK in 1908 (passenger list). And the 1908 passenger list gave his age as 36 years old in 1908, so he was born in <1872> or thereabouts.
Finally I found out that he was either born in Jackson (Hardin County, OHIO) or Ottawa (Putnam County, OHIO).

Recently it was officially confirmed that he was born on 10 Jan 1870, Ottawa, Putnam County, Ohio.
Other sources give conflicting data: the 1900 Census gives DECEMBER 1874, New York (the birth location New York is obviously not correct).
The 1908 passenger list points to a <1872> birth date.

1860 CENSUS (Jackson, Hardin, OHIO, 17 July 1860):
P. CARSON (41y) Hotel keeper
Nancy CARSON (36y)
- Marion C. (= Columbus) CARSON (14y) Charles Wesley's father
- Wm (= William) B. (11y)
- Elvira (16y)

1870 CENSUS (Ottawa, Putnam, OHIO, 25 Aug 1970):
Wm CARSON (25y) hotelkeeper ("C. M." Carson has suddenly become "William" Carson, but in view of wife "Hattie" this must be Charles Wesley's father alright) hotelkeeper
Hattie CARSON (22y)
P. CARSON (47y) hotelkeeper
Nancy CARSON (36y)
- Cara CARSON (3y)

1880 CENSUS (Jackson, Hardin, OHIO, 24 June 1880):
C. M. (= Columbus Marion) CARSON (35y)
Hattie CARSON (33y)
- Carrie CARSON (12y)
- Charlie CARSON (9y)

1900 CENSUS (Manhattan, New York, NY, 9 June 1900):
Columbus M. CARSON (b. Sept 1845, Ohio; 54y) clerk
Hattie CARSON (b. Aug 1846, Ohio; 53y)
- Carrie CARSON (b. Aug 1870, Ohio; 29y, New York) teacher public school
- Charles CARSON(= our man)(b. Dec 1874, New York; 25y) single
In this census Charles' occupation is indicated: electrician
This is an important clue since many recording engineers started out as electrician.
Plus the fact that the family has moved to New York!
However, the shown birthplace of Carrie and Charles (New York) is incorrect!!!

1905 NEW YORK STATE CENSUS (9th District, Manhattan, New York Co., NY; 1 June 1905):
C. Morrison (= Marion) CARSON (58y) Shipping clerk
Hattie CARSON (57y) mother
= Cora (= Cara) CARSON (32y) Teacher P(ublic) S(chool)

1910 CENSUS (Orangetown, Rockland County, NY):
Charles W. CARSON (38y) poultry farmer // single
= Merrian (= Marion) CARSON (66y) father
= Hattie CARSON (65y) mother
= Cora (= Cara) CARSON (36y; a younger sister? Carrie was an older sister)
It seems by 1910 Charles had quit making sound recordings and decided to become a poultry farmer...

1920 CENSUS (Orangetown, Rockland, NY):
Charles CARSON (48y)(farmer) single
= Hattie CARSON (73y)(mother) widow
John BROWER (46y)(brother-in-law) export merchant
Cara BROWER (42y)(sister of Charles)

1930 CENSUS (Orangetown, Rockland, NY, 15 April 1930):
Charles W. CAISON (sic = CARSON) (54y) single
John H. BROWER (56y)(brother-in-law) exporting
Cara BROWER (55y)(sister) teacher public school

1940 CENSUS (Tappan, Orangetown, Rockland, NY, 3 April 1940):
Charles W. CARSON (65y) Head (single)
John H. BROWER (66y)(brother-in-law)
Cara BROWER (64y)(sister) teacher public school
address: Old Tappan Road/Brandt Ave (near Washington St & Main St crossroads)

Carson recorded for Columbia Phonograph Co. in Mexico, China and Japan (Jim Walsh Collection 17 (RPC 00003) 561-2

In June, 1904, to launch a new recording plan by Ullmann and Co.'s offices, Columbia sent Charles W. Carson, a recording expert from Ohio, to Shanghai. Carson's work was under the direction of a Mr. Stanley, who was then at Columbia's office in San Francisco and later became the manager of the Oakland Branch. Carson's recording program was also arranged by Stanley, the music chosen by Chinese consultants. Columbia sent all of the recording equipment and accessories to Shanghai aboard the S.S. "Coptic", and the shipment arrived in Shanghai that November.
With the equipment received, Carson made recordings of Chinese northern operas in Shanghai until March, 1905, and then recorded Cantonese opera in Hong Kong from April to August of that year. From June 1904 until September, 1905, Carson had spent a total of fifteen months in China, making hundreds of records, but many of them were unacceptable in quality.

In the meantime Carson was asked by his headquarters in San Francisco to go to Japan by the first available ship for more recording activity, where he would work together with Harry L. Marker, under the direction of F. W. Horne.


by Charles Wesley Carson

In early 1907, Carson returned to Shanghai to complete his unfinished recordings. I believe that the recordings made in this session were issued in a 60000 series with catalogue numbers from 60000 to 605xx for the Chinese northern operas, with a label similar to those of the 15000 series. Around May [1907], he moved to Hong Kong to be an assistant to Harry L. Marker for a new recording session. Recordings made in this session were issued in a 57000 series with catalogue numbers ranging from 57700 to 578XX, and the labels had a golden Chinese dragon on a green background
These recordings covered Chinese southern operas, such as Cantonese operas, as well as those from Amoy, Swatow and Hong Kong. Harry L. Marker spent a year, from about May, 1907, in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Tianjin. Part of the time he worked with Carson and part of the time he worked alone.
(excerpts from The Development of Chinese Records to 1911 by Du Jun Min in: Antique Phonograph News, Jan-Feb 2008)

Mr. W. C. CARSON (34y) married // Phonograph
dep. Yokohama, JAPAN 4 Sep 1907
arr. Victoria, B.C., CANADA: 18 Sep 1907
transit to Seattle

Henry MARKER (35y = 31y) engineer
+ G. MARKER (27y) wife (should be: P. Marker)
+ Charles W. CARSON (36y) engineer
18 March 1908, Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL
6 April 1908, New York
Marker's residence: Newark, NJ
Carson's residence: New York

The dubbing machine, invented by Frank Capps, a Columbia employee still in the phonograph game, was a jealously guarded secret. But we just had to speed up production if we were to make any real money out of the Edisonia, Ltd., business; so Vic [Emerson] put his head together with old Carson [no doubt Charles W. Carson is meant here], his handy man, and Russell Hunting, his assistant. ........... It wasn't long before they had independently worked out another dubbing-process. Passing our laboratory late one song-plugging night, I saw a light in the loft. Curiosity drew me up the stairs.
There were the three allies [Emerson, Carson and Hunting - HS] engaged in the big experiment.
They had exactly balanced two of the wax cylinders, so that a pressure in the center caused a ball or stylus to impress both simultaneously. It was now possible to make fourteen records at a round. A big advance!

(from: They all sang: from Tony Pastor to Rudy Vallée - as told to Abbott J. Liebling by Edward B. Marks. New York: Viking Press, 1935)
[This passage refers to what period? - HS]


  • Pioneer in making phonograph records enjoying years of retirement in Tappan. Charles W. Carson Recorded Music Around World by Virginia Parkhurst (in: The Journal-News, Nyack, N.Y. of Thursday, August 12, 1948, (pp 1 and 5)
  • They all sang: from Tony Pastor to Rudy Vallée - as told to Abbott J. Liebling: Chapter: Hot Time in the Old Town (pp. 101-106) by Edward B. Marks. New York: Viking Press, 1935
  • The Development of Chinese Records to 1911 (article by Du Jun Min in: Antique Phonograph News, Jan-Feb 2008)
  • Scrapbooks [consisting of photocopies of 1904-1907 correspondence between Charles W. Carson and Columbia Phonograph Co. concerning his recordings in Mexico, China, and Japan, 2 vol.]
    n.d. (in: Jim Walsh Collection, Series VII: Volumes: Box 17(RPC 00003), Folder 561-2) (Library of Congress)
  • ......... (in: Talking Machine News Vol. 3, No 27, July 1905 (p. 111))
  • Zwischen Unterhaltung und Revolution. Grammophone Schallplatten und die Anfänge der Musikindustrie in Shanghai 1878-1937 by Andreas Steen (Harassowitz Verlag - Wiesbaden, 2006)


Charles Wesley Carson
(courtesy Jim Goodson)


Jim Goodson
Carole Elizabeth Numri Cummings
Paul Cleary
Du Jun Min
Ruth Wilhelm
Ross Laird