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John A. Carman

From The Capital Region of New York State, Crossroads of Empire, 1942
Francis P. Kimball

Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin

 With the development of the business which he established as a young man a quarter of a century ago, John A. Carman, of Prattsville, has become the largest independent trucker in the East. His milk and fuel tanks, tractors, trailers and large fleet of trucks are in daily operation throughout a wide area ranging northward and westward from New York City and embracing virtually the entire New York milk shed. 

Mr. Carman was born at Roxbury, Delaware County, on November 3, 1893, son of Andrew and Eva (Mase) Carman, both of Prattsville. His father, a farmer and trucker, died in 1926. His mother is still living. After a public school education, John A. Carman began driving a team as a young man, and three years later bought horses and equipment and went into the hauling business for himself. In 1919 he bought his first motor truck and for some years after that hauled with both horses and trucks, until the motor vehicles gradually displaced the horse-drawn carts and his business in its present shape began to take form.  At this time Mr. Carman was engaged in hauling feed and coal from the railroad siding and mild to the various rail shipment points.

In 1920, when the tunnel was started, he acquired more trucks,  receiving the hauling contract and began the first major expansion of his business. In 1922 he received the contract to haul cement for the Ulen Construction Corporation building the intake shafts Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. In the same year he started his first long hauls, initiating this phase of his business by hauling feed and other products to Oneonta. In 1927 he made his first contact with the dairy industry by hauling milk into Catskill for the McDermott Dairies and, in 1929, started hauling from Prattsville to New York City. In 1931 he bought his first milk tank to haul for the Dairymen’s League on the Catskill-Millerton run, where cans had previously been used.  In 1933 he started with Hegeman Farms and added another tank, hauling out of Kortright Station and later out of Sheds.  In 1934 he bought five more milk tanks and began hauling for other companies—out of Poland for the Juniper Valley Dairy Company, in 1937; out of Blenheim for the Tuscan Dairies, in 1938, and also for Sheffield Farms until September, 1939, averaging eight hundred to one thousand cans of milk per day from Grand Gorge to Jamaica, Long Island. During the 1939 milk strike he hauled for all of his regular customers as well as from Vermont into the New York milk shed without a loss.  He has also hauled for the Rockdale Creamery Corporation of Rockdale and Smyrna, for Hagaman Farms, and Grand View, seven tanks per day; also for Hagaman out of Maybury Mills, Youngs Crossing, Sheds and Kortright Station, one thousand two hundred cans per day; for Breakstone Brothers out of Little Falls, three hundred cans daily; and for the Vogt Ice  Cream Company out of New Kingston, three hundred cans daily, and also three hundred cans from Kyserike to New Paltz and Roxbury.  At the present time he has a total of twenty-five milk tanks in operation.

In the package haul business the growth has been just as steady.  Mr. Carman began hauling for McDermott out of Catskill and continued for three years. When McDermott bought their new plant in Manorkill, he also took over that haul for two years, until the company started to do its own hauling. Afterward, when McDermott met financial difficulties, he purchased their trucks and continued the haul for another year and a half. In 1933 he began hauling case milk for Delaware County Dairies and L. Daitch & Company and has had this business amounting to fifty or sixty tons daily ever since. For the Vogt Ice Cream Company, he had been hauling cases and cans out of Delhi since 1933, with two loads daily out of New Paltz to New York City starting in 1937, also hauling for trailers which are spotted in New York, and two loads daily for Lexington Farms, since 1930, four hundred cans of cheese, milk and cream, and for Ferndale Farms hauls two hundred cans daily out of Hamden, besides transporting milk for them in big tanks out of Andes and Bovina Center, with additional loads of cream and powdered milk.

Mr. Carman also hauls general freight out of New York to all these points. In 1932 he launched another important department of his business when he began hauling petroleum products for himself, taking over for Sinclair & Texaco in 1933. In 1934 he added Colonial Beacon and, in 1935, Cities Service, Gulf, Standard Oil and a number of distributors.  These hauls are made from bulk storage plants on the Hudson River to Saratoga, Glens Falls, Schenectady, Grand Gorge, Valatie, Mechanicville, Whitehall, Unadilla, Fort Plain, Hagaman, Oneonta, Sidney, Delhi, Arkville, Liberty, Monticello, Port Jervis, Windham, Ellenville, Stamford, Luzerne, Hobart and other points. He has seven large tanks in operation all the time, hauling fuel oil, gasoline and kerosene.

On January 20, 1938, a fire destroyed his garage and ten trucks. The present fine garage, built in 1938, consists of two connected buildings, one 160x120, and the other part 90x90 feet, all planned and constructed by his own men.

Mr. Carman carries on his business under the name of John A. Carman, and by his initiative and sound judgment has built up what is now the largest independent trucking business in the East.  He operates in all a total of fifty trucks and tractors and forty-two trailers and give year around employment to from eighty to one hundred men. His dairy business alone amounts to four hundred tons daily, and for refrigerating these trucks he harvests about three thousand tons of ice yearly, which he stores in his own ice house at South Gilboa.

Mr. Carman, who has become one of Greene County’s leading business men, is a member of the Reformed Church and is independent in politics. In 1938 he was asked to be a candidate for the State Senate, on the Democratic ticket, but declined to run.  His business absorbs his entire attention, and his leisure is devoted to his family. 

On November 18, 1914, he married Ola Schermerhorn, of Grand Gorge. They became the parents of three children: Kathryn, deceased; Andrew a high school student, now seventeen years old; and Louis, fourteen years old, who is also attending high school.

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