Byron Jennings Carver

BYRON JENNINGS CARVER, who served as county attorney for Miami County from 1913 to 1917, has not only proved his ability on many occasions as an able lawyer, but also as a forceful man of affairs and one who is willing to fight for his convictions and his position as to right. Mr. Carver had a hard struggle to get into the legal profession, being a poor young man and having to teach and struggle along at the same time that he was studying and qualifying for the bar.

He is a native of Indiana, having been born at Franklin in Johnson County July 31, 1874. He was one of the seven children of Captain Socrates and Mary (Day) Carver, both natives of Indiana. His father was a son of an associate judge of the Court of Common Pleas, who had come from Virginia to Indiana. Grandfather Judge Carver married a Miss Tracy. The Tracy family came to America in 1640, from Scotland, and located in Maryland. They were a mingling of Scotch, Irish and English ancestry. Nathaniel Tracy and some of his brothers, Charles, Thomas, Philip and William, were also soldiers in the Revolutionary war. Nathaniel Tracy subsequently removed to Kentucky and lived there until 1818. Thomas and John F. Tracy, sons of William and Elizabeth (Tanner) Tracy, were soldiers in the Mexican war and fought at Buena Vista and in other battles of that struggle. John F. Tracy was killed on the plains while on the way to California in 1853. James Tracy was a soldier in the War of 1812 under Governor Shelby of Kentucky. Capt. Socrates Carver enlisted September 2, 1861, in Company C, Thirty-seventh Indiana Infantry. He served as color sergeant and at the battle of Murfreesboro was promoted to captain of Company B, Residuary Battalion of the same regiment. He was with Sherman's grand army in its march to the sea and up through the Carolinas, and participated in the Grand Review at Washington in 1865. The regiment was then sent west to Louisville, Kentucky, where Captain Carver was mustered out. He then resumed his private life in Indiana.

Byron J. Carver when one year old was taken from Johnson County, Indiana, to Jennings County, Indiana, and there lived until he was fifteen years of age, and in 1889 his father moved to Wright County, Missouri, where he bought a farm. This farm was cleared up by his two sons. Mr. Carver grew up in rural surroundings, had only the advantages of the common schools, and as a boy he longed and determined to become a lawyer and pursued that object steadily through all difficulties until he succeeded in his aspirations. He began life as a school teacher and taught his first school in Douglas County, Missouri. This was in a back woods district, where the inhabitants were strongly opposed to almost everything that stands as a symbol of civilization, including schools, the flag and all advancement beyond the rudimentary customs and practices with which they were familiar. Several teachers had been run out of the district and two schoolhouses had been burned, but Mr. Carver was not balked by any precedents. He mingled freely with the members of the community, gained their good will and support, and faced the situation fearlessly and taught out his term. He was receiving $25 a month. In 1897 Mr. Carver began teaching in Bourbon County, Kansas, at $30, and in 1899 came to Miami County, Kansas, and commenced teaching at $37.50 a month. He kept his law books near him and was studying law at every opportunity, and 1902 was admitted to the bar.

Mr. Carver located in Osawatomie in 1903, hung out his shingle, and started to build up a reputation. It was a hard struggle, and many men of less determination would have given up and sought some other means of livelihood. Mr. Carver had only $9.50 in cash when he started his career as a lawyer. His first important business as a lawyer was as secretary and attorney of the Merchants Organization of that town, and he did much good in that connection and worked hard to clean up and give a better civic atmosphere. He also entered politics and in 1908 was democratic candidate for county attorney. He lost the election by sixty-one votes. In 1910 the odds against him were reduced to twenty-eight votes. Then, in 1912, he was again nominated by the democrats of Miami County and polled a majority of 800, while in 1914 he was reelected to office with 1,100 votes to spare. His administration as county attorney was a clean and straightforward record of vigorous administration and enforcement of the law. Much is to be expected of him in the future, and he is looked upon by his friends and associates as one of the coming lawyers of the state. In 1912 Mr. Carver removed to Paola, and has since lived in that city.

Mr. Carver, who is unmarried, is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, a member of Abdallah Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Leavenworth, and belongs to Lodge No. 24, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Osawatomie. He has always given his active support to the Baptist Church and formerly was superintendent of the Baptist Sunday school.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Staci Lewis, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, December 1, 1999.

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