JOHN L. McCARTER, of Syracuse, is an old timer of Hamilton County, where he has lived since 1887, and his activities and experiences have made him truly a man of affairs. Again and again the people of Hamilton County have exercised their political franchises to place Mr. McCarter in the office of sheriff, and that is his present incumbency.
He was only eleven years old when he accompanied his parents to this section of Western Kansas. He was born in Carroll County, Arkansas, May 16, 1876. He comes of an ancestry that for several generations has lived in the middle states. His grandfather McCarter was a Tennesseean, a farmer by occupation, and was accidentally killed when in middle life. His widow subsequently came to Kansas in 1886 with her son and homesteaded in Edwards County, where she died at the age of eighty-two. She was born in 1819. Her children were: Wesley; Martin, mentioned in a later paragraph; William; Sarah, who married John Skaggs; Moses, father of Sheriff McCarter; Martha, who married Richard Scroggins; Joseph A.; and Eliza, who married George McClery.
Moses McCarter was born in Missouri in 1857, grew up as a farmer, acquired little education, and never identified himself with church or with fraternal organizations. Save for a few years as a merchant at Coolidge he has been a farmer. On coming to Hamilton County in 1887 he homesteaded land and also pre-empted a claim, proved them up, and for a long period of years was actively identified with local agriculture. He is now living on a farm in Prowers County, Colorado. Moses McCarter married Mary Shirley, daughter of Jesse and Rebecca (Franch) Shirley, who were Ohio people. Mary Shirley was one of a family of eight daughters. Moses McCarter and wife had the following children: John L.; Jennie, wife of Cooper Baker, of Jetmore, Kansas; Nora, wife of J. C. Turner, a veterinary surgeon at Dallas, Texas; Nellie, wife of J. W. Smyth, a retired business man of Cripple Creek, Colorado; and Gladys, wife of Frank Kerns, of Dodge City, Kansas.
John L. McCarter acquired his early schooling in Barry County in Southwestern Missouri, and after coming to Kansas attended the rural district schools. His life to man's estate was spent as a farmer and also employed on various public works, including the construction of the Amity Canal and as a hand on an extra gang of the Santa Fe Railway. For six years as a cowboy he rode the range for Mills & Wood, ranchmen, covering Hamilton County. He left that employment to engage in the livery business at Syracuse, looked after his work in that line for three years, then for a short time was a farmer, and from that was called into official station.
He had been interested in political affairs for several years, and was finally made candidate for sheriff. He failed of election the first time, but in 1906 was chosen as the successor of John Brady and filled the office two terms. While sheriff in those two terms Mr. McCarter made an honest effort at law enforcement along prohibition lines, and with the aid of the county attorney put most of the joints and liquor selling places out of business. Another achievement was the breaking up of a gang of horse thieves. Two of them were convicted and Mr. McCarter took them as their escort to the penitentiary. These were noted foreign thieves and had been doing a big business on the bill of sale principles with other people's stock.
After his two terms of official service Mr. McCarter engaged in the real estate and insurance business at Syracuse and had become settled in a profitable business when he was again elected sheriff. By re-election he is now serving his second term. Besides the routine duties of his office the chief incidents which have made his administration memorable was in apprehending and taking charge of the prisoner Sweet, murderer of the Grant County school teacher, a crime that attracted nation wide attention. After Sweet was convicted of the crime Mr. McCarter had the unpleasant duty of removing him to prison.
While in general affairs Mr. McCarter is a republican, he has maintained a strictly neutral attitude as long as in public office. He cast his first presidential vote for McKinley in 1900, and has never missed a presidential election since and always has supported the regular nominee. He was chairman of the delegation from Hamilton County to the last senatorial convention at Topeka. Mr. McCarter is an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Syracuse, being one of its trustees and a member of its board of stewards. He is also a past noble grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has represented his lodge in the state lodge.
In Edwards County, Kansas, November 3, 1902, he married Miss Ella McCarter, a first cousin, daughter of his uncle, Martin McCarter, above named. Mrs. McCarter was born in Barry County, Missouri, in 1882. Her father is a farmer, still living in Edwards County, and by his marriage to Wilma Weston has the following children: Mrs. Mary Weese, Mrs. Jane Weese, Mrs. Martha Weesethree sisters who married three brothers; John, Jesse, James, Mrs. Rose Newlin, Mrs. McCarter and Mrs. Myrtle McCarty. Mr. and Mrs. McCarter have a delightful family of young people, their children being Lola, Clyde, Dorothy, Myrna, Iva, John Leroy, Jr., and Frances R.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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