Carroll attended Pennsylvania Normal School in Millersville, and his first job was as a Breaker boy in a coal mine. Later he briefly studied medicine at Western Reserve University.
Carroll"s first job as a newspaper reporter was at the Evening Chronicle in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, where he covered the Molly Maguires trials and witnessed the hanging of 17 defendants. In 1879 he joined the staff of the Missouri Republican in Saint Louis, but in 1880 he became city editor for the Omaha Bee. In 1881 he returned to Missouri and took a job at the Saint Joseph Gazette, where he befriended writer Eugene Field.
Carroll moved to Texas in 1882.
In 1884 Carroll worked at the Cleveland Leader, then in 1887 he became editor and part owner of the Leader in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He became embroiled in the Wyoming range war, and after eight years in Wyoming he moved to Colorado to become managing editor at The Denver Post.
He served as general manager of the Denver Times for six years. Then in 1903, Carroll moved to Portland and became editor of The Oregon Journal.
After three years at the Journal, he became editor and publisher of the Evening Telegram, a job he would keep until his death in 1917.
He continued working as The Telegram"s editors
Married Florence Hurlbut, May 1, 1889.