There are four generations of Carltons buried in the same lot in Section 6, starting with Eugene Carlton, who was born into slavery in Hancock County, Georgia around 1840. He was a carpenter and he shared this trade with his son Thomas and grandson William Terrell Carlton, both buried with Eugene and other kin. Eugene’s daughter Jennie Carlton Weldon is also buried with her husband Rev. Charles Weldon in Section 6. The Carltons were among the thousands of formerly-enslaved African Americans who, upon Emancipation, left the rural communities in which they had toiled all of their lives for new opportunities in cities and their suburbs, North and South.
Eugene, Jennie, Thomas, and William Carlton and their families chose the metro Atlanta area in which to make a new start. In the late 1880s, they became early members of the Edgewood Community of DeKalb County and turned into long-term residents there. There was even a street named Carlton’s Alley which may have been a part of Whitefoord at one point. Eugene was a resident of Edgewood for over 30 years and Thomas for over 40 years.
In 1867, during Reconstruction, Eugene Carlton was a registered voter in Hancock, Georgia, and in 1902 he was a registered voter in Edgewood, DeKalb Co., along with his son Thomas. This is a significant accomplishment for both men due to the restrictive poll tax in place and the dangers they faced for their boldness in claiming their rights. There was a brief time during Reconstruction, even before the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1870, when African American men were able to register and, at least theoretically, vote in elections. Eugene Carlton apparently exercised this right even in 1867, only two years after the Civil War ended. Although the 15th Amendment granted African American men the right to vote, in 1877 Georgia adopted a poll tax into its state constitution to restrict voting rights of African Americans and poor whites. This poll tax remained in place in Georgia until 1945. For Eugene and Thomas Carlton to be able and willing to pay this tax speaks both to their financial security and bravery in a time when all across the South, African Americans were discouraged from voting through the tax and threats of violence.
The Carlton family experienced a great deal of tragedy in 1928. In April of 1928, Thomas lost his sister Jennie Carlton Weldon. Two months later in June, his grandson Willie Eugene Carlton died of tuberculosis just one month after his 18th birthday. One month later in July, his son and Willie Eugene’s father William Terrell Carlton also died of tuberculosis. He was only 40 years old and left behind a pregnant wife and six children under the age of 15, including toddler twins. William Terrell Carlton and his wife Mary Howard Carlton had already been sharing a home with William’s parents Thomas and Cornelia Terrell Carlton in Edgewood and, after his death, Mary and the children continued to live with the Carltons for many more years.