David Riley Carpenter, during a residence of fifteen
years in Oklahoma, has become most widely known as a newspaper man
and several years ago he made a very vigorous campaign for election
as congressman at large. Most of these years have been spent at
Dacoma, where he has been an aggressive worker for law and order and
a force to be reckoned with in politics and affairs.
A son of Jacob and
Elizabeth (Burton) Carpenter, he was born on the old Burton farm near
Orleans, Indiana, January 12, 1854. Both parents were born in Ashe
County, North Carolina, and the Burtons, numbering many thousands,
are the largest family of record in the State of Indiana. Jacob
Carpenter was of pure German descent, while Elizabeth Burton was of
English and Scotch origin.
Largely due to the
circumstances of time and place, Mr. Carpenter had poor school
advantages as a boy, but eventually worked his way into the State
University of Indiana, which he attended for a time in the early
’70s, though not completing the college course. At the age of twenty
he was in Central Nebraska, then an unsettled country, and was a
pioneer farmer there.
On January 1, 1877,
he married Miss Emma Augusta Peak, who was then seventeen years of
age. Among other accomplishments Mr. Carpenter may well be proud of
the large family of children which he has reared or is rearing. They
are twelve in number, and names and dates of birth are as follows:
Albert M., December 3, 1877; Mary E., March 12, 1880; Roy A., August
28, 1882; John S. and Belva L., December 12, 1884; Anna B., July 25,
1888; David Orrill, July 23, 1891; Robert B., October 9, 1893;
George B., July 16, 1895; Merle A., July 5, 1897; Marguerite,
November 13, 1898; Guy E., June 14, 1903.
Though a part of his
earlier years were spent in teaching school, most of that portion of
his life was devoted to farming. Mr. Carpenter is also a mechanic,
followed his trade as carpenter for a time, and at various periods,
aggregating about ten years, has been engaged in newspaper work. In
1886 he was admitted to the bar in
Chase County, Nebraska, but after a brief practice gave up the law
for newspaper work.
Few men have a
better acquaintance with the course of political sentiment in the
West than Mr. Carpenter. He became active in the anti-monopoly
movement in the early 70s, took a prominent part in the Alliance
uprising and in the organization of the populist party in 1890. In
1888 he first met W. J. Bryan, then hardly known beyond the
boundaries of his home district in Nebraska. They both spoke at a
political meeting at Beaver City, Nebraska, and since that time Mr.
Carpenter has been an admirer and supporter of the silver tongued
orator in all the latter’s political adventures. For more than
twenty-five years Mr. Carpenter has been on the political stump, and
his clear and forceful manner of delivery has made him a place among
the political orators of Oklahoma. He served as under-clerk in the
upper house of the Nebraska Legislature in 1891, and was bill clerk
in the Nebraska Legislature in 1893. In
1890 he was the farmers’ candidate for Congress on the populist
ticket for the Fifth Nebraska District, and only a few votes stood
between him and the nomination at the convention.
It was in 1901 that
his life became identified with Oklahoma, when he settled in old
Woods County. He was chosen to preside over the last big fusion
convention of the populist and democratic parties ever held in old
Woods County at Old Augusta, in 1902. When in 1912 Oklahoma elected
three congressmen at large, Mr. Carpenter was one with twenty-seven
others to make the race on the democratic ticket for one of the
seats. In a number of counties where he was known he had a liberal
margin of votes, but his statewide acquaintance was too limited to
give him an equal chance with those who have made for themselves a
name in the affairs of the state.
Not only in
practical politics but to educational and other public affairs Mr.
Carpenter has given a loyal support for many years. For one term he
served as president of the "Commercial Club of Old Augusta, and
there has been no undertaking for the improvement and welfare of the
little town of Dacoma, Woods County, where he has lived for the past
eleven years, in which he has not been one of the leading spirits and
often prime mover. He has always stood for law and order, and his
activities in the suppression of crime in his own town made him the
target of the lawless element, and as a result, on the night of April
17, 1910, he was clubbed on the streets of Dacoma within a short
distance of his own door. Fortunately for him, the culprit who
attacked him was too drunk to accomplish his design, and Mr.
Carpenter escaped with his life, but he still carries the scars of
the murderous act on his head.
In 1912 Mr.
Carpenter established the Dacoma Enterprise, and was its editor for
three years until he sold the plant. He is a student of social and
political economy, spends some time in historical research, and is
now engaged in writing a book.