Legislative Career of Hugh Franklin McCarter

Idaho Statesman, March 12, 1921

Photo of H.F. McCarter
Hugh Franklin McCarter

Latin Scholar Tells of Work in Early Days: Pioneer of Little Wood River Country Plays Important Part in Establishment of Educational System in Idaho

Hugh Franklin McCarter

H.F. McCarter, one of the pioneers of the territory, had an enviable experience last week. He woke up to find himself the possessor of a $100 draft drawn on the Wells Fargo company, dated April 15, 1878. The interesting document was found in an old wallet among the effects of his brother [James P. McCarter] who died in California recently. It is Mr. McCarter's idea that his brother, who used to send him money occasionally in the early days, had bought the draft and then forgotten that he had never mailed it. The draft is No. 466468 and is signed by Lays Tevis. Mr. McCarter intends to send it back to his attorney to cash at San Francisco.

The draft will recall pleasant memories of similar drafts, to many pioneers of the city, for in the early days it was a common form of exchange.

In Idaho 35 Years

Mr. McCarter has lived in Idaho for 35 years, part of the time on the Little Wood River and part of the time on Camas prairie where he is now residing. He had the honor of representing his county, which was then known as Logan county, in the second state legislature [1892-93].

Being a fine Latin student, and almost the only man with a higher education in the legislature, he was made chairman of the Committee on Education. He had heard that Wyoming had recently introduced a free text book system, and Mr. McCarter introduced a similar bill which passed. At that time Kansas, Mr. McCarter said, had the best educational laws in his estimation, and he introduced several of them into the legislature.

In this session Mr. McCarter introduced a bill to tax foreign mortgages, an effort, he said, to get at the money sharks. It passed the house, but not the senate, and a bill introduced by the late Melvil Ruick to exempt all mortgages from taxation, passed.

Equal Suffrage Born

Mr. McCarter had the honor of introducing the migratory stock law, of which he was the author.

Speaking of this session of the legislature, Mr. McCarter said the youngest member was the only native son named Gafney from Kootenai county. It was at this session of the legislature that the equal suffrage bill was passed and Mr. McCarter was one of its ardent supporters.

Game lovers of today may thank Mr. McCarter for two bills he succeeded in having passed at this session, one prohibiting the killing of deer except for one season and the other which prohibited shipping trout out of state.

The danger of deferring measures when they might go through is demonstrated in another bill which Mr. McCarter was ready to introduce. He wished to see a measure introduced providing for a binding twine and woolen factory in the penitentiary such as Kansas had. Jack Campbell of Hailey, warden at that time, said he thought it better to wait until he had the penitentiary walled in before such a measure was introduced, so Mr. McCarter held off. He did not come down to the legislature and no one else seemed as interested so the measure was never introduced.

He has kept in close touch with the Kansas institution ever since and sees that the twine factory is a great money maker for the penitentiary and of great boon to the farmers and he knows it would have been an equal success in Idaho and at the time the temper of the legislature was in favor of it.

Mr. McCarter still enjoys reading his Latin and he deplores the fact that modern man seems to have lost his love for the classics.

The crop of Marquise wheat on Mr. McCarter's ranch last season was quite unusual and he obtained $2.10 a bushel for it. He spends most of his winters in Boise with his daughter.

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