The Carlocks of Overton County, TN

Do you ever wonder where names come from, especially last names? And if you take time to do some research, most often the name you’re wondering about usually starts out as another name. That’s the case with the last name Carlock. According to information shared with me by a former Overton Countian, Jim Carlock, history about where the Carlock name began and about that family is as follows.

The last name Carlock is one of many spellings that still exist in the United States, derived phonetically from the original name Gerlach. That last name can still be found today in many phone books in modern day Germany. In the early 1700’s, David Gerlach came to the United States from near the Franco-German border in western Europe. The family lived in Virginia until a grandson of David Gerlach, namely Job Carlock, came to Overton County in 1803 along with others of his family.

Job Carlock settled in the Alpine community. Later, he was one of the organizers of the Cave Springs Cumberland Presbyterian church. Job had 8 children by his first wife, Sarah McDonald, and 9 more by his second wife, Elizabeth Johnson. His last child was born in 1834. Job and his second wife are buried in the Nettle Carrier cemetery near Alpine. The old grave markers at the edge of a cow pasture are still readable. Most of his children moved to other parts of the country.

One of Job’s younger sons, John McSpadden Carlock, did stay in Overton County and raised his family there. John grew up in Alpine and went to the Dillard school there. For a while, he taught school, then married Mahala Ann Tays in 1856 and became a farmer. He settled on a farm in the Oakley community and became an elder in the Taylor’s Crossroads church. At the start of the Civil War, John joined the confederate army under Colonel John Murray. He served about 2 years before he became very ill and was sent back home. John McSpadden Carlock and his wife, Mahala, are buried in the Fellowship cemetery. They had 6 children, two of whom stayed in Overton County.

The youngest son, Porter Lafayette Carlock took care of his parents until their death, as was the custom for the youngest child. He attended school at Hatcher Hall on Eagle Creek, and later the Alpine Academy. He taught school in Overton and Morgan counties for about 5 years. In 1904, he married Louisa Bell Deck and had two children. After his first wife died, he married Marcia Ledford and had two more children. Porter lived most of his life near Alpine on the farm near where his grandfather, Job, is buried. Porter, like his ancestors, was active in the local church where he served as an elder in the Alpine Presbyterian church. Porter is buried in the Green Hill cemetery near Alpine.

Porter’s youngest, John Lee, married Mary Torrogin and had two daughters, Margaret and Marsha. After his first wife died and he retired, John returned to Livingston and married his high-school sweetheart, Trelba Copeland Carr. John lived in Livingston until his health started to fail.

The eldest son of John McSpadden Carlock, Thomas Ward, also stayed in Overton County. At times, he was a farmer, and other times, in public life. He taught school for a while and served as county school superintendent. In 1884, he became the county surveyor, a post he held for almost 40 years. In 1911-12, he was elected as a representative in the state legislature. He also served as an elder in the Presbyterian church and was a Mason. In 1903, he married Winnie Neally. They had 5 children, one of whom died in infancy. Two of their sons, Carey and Charles, were lifelong residents of Overton County. A daughter, Edith, married Rev. Lexie Freeman who served as pastor of the Livingston First Methodist church. Another son, John Douglas, lived in Oregon most of his adult life.

Carey Carlock is best remembered as manager of the Jenkins and Darwin store on the Livingston square. He was an active member of the First Methodist church. Carey married Lois Langford in 1942 and they had two children, Jim and Linda. Charles Carlock is best remembered as a barber, a seller of cemetery monuments, and a founder of the old Oak Street Methodist church. Charles married Irene Bowden and they had one daughter, Frances. The Carlocks have been in Overton County over 200 years, starting with the original patriarch, Job. Those who have emigrated from Overton County still feel strong roots there.

Additional history on the Carlock family is taken from information the late Carey Carlock complied many years before he passed away. It reads as follows:

Abraham Willard Carlock came to Overton County as an infant. He married Mary R. (Polly) Goodpasture, daughter of John and Margery (Bryan) Goodpasture. Polly’s brother, Jefferson Dillard Goodpasture, owned a large plantation farm two miles from Livingston where he built a brick home. The bricks used in the construction of his home were molded and baked on the plantation. The house is described as having ten rooms with fourteen foot ceilings, six fireplaces, and 180 window panes. It had a three tier back porch of red cedar. All other woodwork was of yellow poplar. It was said that Mrs. Goodpasture used to sit on the top porch and watch the slaves at work in the large fields.

In 1827, Abraham Willard Carlock and his wife, along with their small son, moved to Illinois. It is said that they walked most of the way along with a train of ox carts. Their family eventually grew to twelve children. Many of the Carlocks that descended from Abraham Willard Carlock had illustrious careers as teachers, lawyers, ministers, and held public office. Abraham was a staunch Democrat, and on his tombstone are these words … “Here Sleeps The Old Democrat.” In time, the area in Illinois where Abraham and his family settled grew into a township and was called Carlock, Illinois. A few miles north of Carlock, there are two cemeteries, one on each side of the road. The one of the west side is know as the Democrat cemetery, and the one of the East side is the Republican cemetery. It is said that Abraham would not allow Republicans to be buried in the cemetery were he planned to be interred. On this same road, there is an historic marker reminding people that Abraham Lincoln traveled this road when he was running for President, and perhaps at other times as well. In spite of Abraham Carlock’s political party fervor, he must have had a great admiration for Lincoln since he entertained Lincoln as an overnight guest on occasion, whereas, it is said he usually sent Republicans seeking overnight accommodations on down the road to Republican neighbors.

Abraham Carlock was never known to have ridden a railway coach, a steamboat, or even a bus. He was respected and admired by those who knew him. His motto for life was, “Keep Out of Debt.” He died in 1884.

The following was taken from an old issue of the Livingston Enterprise that began with the headline “Thomas W. Carlock Celebrates Birthday.” Thomas Ward Carlock celebrated the Eightieth anniversary of his birth on Sunday, December 19, at his home in west Livingston with his entire family and a few of his relatives and neighbors. An elegant dinner was served at 1 o’clock in the afternoon with fifteen persons partaking. Besides himself and wife, his four children were present. One daughter, Miss Edith Carlock; sons, John D. and Carey H. Carlock of Livingston and Charles D. Carlock of Byrdstown and his wife, Mrs. Irene Bowden Carlock; Mrs. Maggie Bowden, Alfred L. Neely and wife; Marvin McCormick, wife, Ninnie Draper McCormick, and daughter, Miss Rose; R.L. Mitchell and Judge L.D. Bohannon of Livingston. The devotional was offered by Mr. Carlock, the honored guest, appropriately. After the dinner hour, the afternoon was enjoyed immensely by excellent string music, conversation and story telling. From early manhood, Mr. Carlock has been active in educational, church, civic and political affairs of the county. He was educated in the schools of his community, Overton Academy, Livingston, and at Oak Hill Institute. He served as county superintendent of schools one term; county surveyor for eight years; deputy county court clerk for several years; represented Overton County in the State Legislature 1911-12; served as President of the Overton County Agricultural and Mechanic Association in 1892; chairman of the Tenth Senatorial District in 1909-10. He is a Cumberland Presbyterian and his served his church as Ruling Elder for the past fifty-six years. He was reared on the farm and is a practical farmer.

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