Filling in the Gaps: Tenor saxophonist Robert Carroll

My awareness of the tenor player Robert Carroll goes back about four years to the day when I also first met solographer Jan Evensmo, and, upon telling him I was from Louisville, he asked me to uncover Robert Carroll acetates. Later Phil Schaap did a show on Bob Carroll and demanded a birth certificate.

Both were tall enough orders, but now at least one is fulfilled.

A still of Robert Carroll from a Vitaphone short of Don Redman and his orchestra, December 1934

A still of Robert Carroll from a Vitaphone short of Don Redman and his orchestra, December 1934

No, I don't have new Bob Carroll music for you (yet), but we can now consider the exact birth and death dates settled. I have also found information on Carroll's family, plus new information on his whereabouts after his years on record (1931-1942).

Since some people have spelled Carroll's name with one l instead of two, Phil alerted me to the possibility of having luck searching under that spelling. I can confirm it is Carroll with two lls: Robert Carroll's full name is in fact Robert Newbold Carroll.

A call to the birth and death records office in Kentucky, asking for Robert Carrol(l) with both spellings and a circa 1905 birth year, left me with a hint: the clerk told me that all of their documents are available on ancestry.com, so I signed up for a free trial rather than going to the office to start digging through the records. And yes, it was as easy as that. No broken down cars, no musty barns, it's all been on the internet.

It didn't take long to hit gold. The 1905 estimated birth year led me astray, but searching for Robert Carroll born in Louisville and living in New York in 1940 (a census year when he records for the last time with Don Redman) gave me a match. In the 1940 census, there is a Robert Carroll from Kentucky living on 142nd st with a spouse: Lottie Carroll. His age is 31, making the birth year 1909. The real nailer is the profession: Musician. 

1940 Census, New York, NY: Robert Carroll and his wife Lottie are listed on lines 38 & 39

1940 Census, New York, NY: Robert Carroll and his wife Lottie are listed on lines 38 & 39

With this info, I refined the search, and voila, he is in the Louisville censuses of 1910, 20 and 30. His parents are Jeremiah Carroll and Minnie Dorsey Jackson. Their addresses include Roselane street (which still exists, but no longer has the address), and Burnett St. (which I assume corresponds to what is now Burnett Ave. which runs close by). My high school was near these streets.

1930 Census, Louisville, KY: Robert Carroll and his family are on lines 75-80

1930 Census, Louisville, KY: Robert Carroll and his family are on lines 75-80

The most revealing document is Carroll's internment document from the Long Island National cemetery. This document proves that Carroll's birth date is February 3, 1909 and his death date is October 19, 1952. The form, attached, is evidence that Carroll served in the military from September 28, 1942 to October 3, 1945. He was in a military band, specifically the 373 ASD Band AGD. He's buried at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale. At the point of his burial, his address was 511 W. 134 st.

Report of Internment for Robert Carroll

Report of Internment for Robert Carroll

There is little else on the obscure Carroll, except for the fact that a search on his siblings revealed that his brother Alfred Milton Carroll was a prominent lawyer in Louisville who was posthumously awarded for his work on important civil rights cases in the 1960s. Alfred Milton Carroll had four children, the oldest living relatives of Robert Carroll, and I have their phone numbers. I plan to contact them soon to find out anything I can. Pray for acetates!


SIGNIFICANCE AND REMAINING POINTS OF INTEREST

These verified military service dates disqualify Carroll as a player on the Louis Armstrong recording in L.A. of 1944 that Jan Evensmo mentions as being a possible RC item in the solography. 

Strangely, neither Robert nor Lottie Carroll are to be found in any 1950 census.

Carroll's whereabouts for the last seven years of his life remains a mystery. Presumably he was in New York during that time.

His 1909 birthdate would put Carroll in closer proximity to Jonah Jones, Lionel Hampton, Dicky Wells and Helen Humes, making involvement with the Booker T. Washington Community Center possible, as well as connection to these musicians.


SUMMARY

ROBERT NEWBOLD CARROLL

(b. February 3, 1909 d. October 19, 1952)


SPOUSE:

Lottie Carroll (1912-1970)

Marriage date unknown, but must be after 1930.

PARENTS:

Jeremiah Carroll (1880-1927) and Minnie Dorsey Jackson (1877-1950)

SIBLINGS:

Leonora M Carroll (1903-1950)

Jerry E Carroll (1906-1975)

Edwin L Carroll (1914-1964)

Raymond Carroll (1917-1930)

Alfred Milton Carroll (1911-1966)


Military service:

September 28, 1942-October 3, 1945

373 ASF Band AGD (military band)


Known addresses:

Roseland Ave., Louisville, KY (1909-~1920s)

Burnett St., Louisville, KY (as of 1930)

225 W. 142 st. (as of 1940)

511 W. 134 st. (as of 1952)


Gravesite:

Long Island National Cemetery

East Farmingdale

Plot: O 0 36774

Passenger List for the S.S. De Grasse, which returned Teddy Hill and His Orchestra (including Robert Carroll) to NYC from the UK in 1937

Passenger List for the S.S. De Grasse, which returned Teddy Hill and His Orchestra (including Robert Carroll) to NYC from the UK in 1937

More to come...

– Matthew "Fat Cat" Rivera, host of the FREEHOLD Hot Club, 2018

Matthew Rivera