Hon. E. O. McCance. Oklahoma lost one of its capable legislators and editors in the death of E. O. McCance May 12, 1915. During the Fifth Legislature he was democratic representative from Woodward County. Though he attended the session of the Legislature at Oklahoma City he was a sufferer all the time, and at the close of the session in the spring of 1915 he went home, and at the end of two weeks on the advice of his physician went to Silver City, New Mexico, but lived only three weeks. He was buried at Mutual, where for a number of years he had been in the newspaper business as editor of the Mutual Enterprise.
The late Mr. McCance knew his section of the state as perhaps no other citizen. He was a pioneer in the then partially developed Northwestern section of Oklahoma and he brought to the Legislature a knowledge of the needs of the people of home and a general stock of ideas calculated to make the state more prosperous. It was as a member of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention that he laid the foundation for his later usefulness in the making of laws in conformity with the principles of the organic constitution.
E. O. McCance was born near Athens, Tennessee, September 16, 1874, a son of J. E. and Martha (Prophet) McCance. His father, a native of Alabama, was a soldier in the Confederate army under General Pemberton, was wounded in the battle of Champion Hill and surrendered with the rest of his command at Vicksburg. After the war he was a prominent merchant and died in January, 1913. Mr. McCance’s mother was a native of Tennessee, some of her male relatives were in the Confederate army, and her father was a pioneer settler near Springfield, Missouri. The Woodward County representative had four brothers and four sisters: Rev. J. B. McCance, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, at Lone Wolf, Oklahoma; Mrs. H. Burleson, who is the wife of a lawyer and farmer at Hobart, Oklahoma, her husband being a nephew to the noted Texan, now postmaster general of the United States; M. L. McCance is a teacher at Lockport, Illinois; H. B. is in charge of the York-Kee Lumber Company’s plant at Mutual; J. C. is in his brother’s printing office at Mutual; Mrs. Lou Bouquot is the wife of a banker and grain dealer at Moreland, Oklahoma; Mrs. Amos Johnson is the wife of a barber at Vici, Oklahoma; and Miss Ella McCance is a druggist at Mutual.
Mr. McCance acquired his primary education in the public schools of Missouri up to the age of fifteen. In 1890 his father removed from the Texas Panhandle and settled near Amarillo. In 1894 they moved across the line into the newly opened country of Woodward County, Oklahoma. For three years Mr. McCance worked with his father on the farm and in the blacksmith shop. After passing his twenty-first birthday he realized his deficiency in educational equipment and spurred on by ambition resolved to make himself a useful factor in the world’s activities. Being past the scholastic age, he had to obtain special permission from the Board of Education in his district in order to attend the common schools. He was a pupil for four months with boys and girls years his junior. Later he attended high school at Woodward, taking a ten weeks’ course in the summer Normal, and at the conclusion was granted a third grade teacher’s certificate. Then followed three years of teaching, and after that a course in the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Stillwater. Although six months behind his class when he entered the Agricultural College he made rapid progress, though unfortunately ill health prevented him completing his sophomore year. In 1901 Mr. McCance began his career as a newspaper man, buying half of the interest of Frank Smith in the Enterprise at Mutual, and a few months later becoming sole proprietor. He continued to edit and publish this paper for nearly fifteen years, and has the largest and best equipped newspaper plant of any inland town in the state not county seats.
In 1906 the citizens of the Fifth District sent Mr. McCance down to Guthrie as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He had been, elected by a safe margin on the democratic ticket, overcoming a normally substantial republican majority. In the Constitutional Convention he was chairman of the Committee on Public Printing, and a member of committees on Education, Prohibition and Legislative Apportionment. A distinction of special note is that he was the youngest member of that historic body. He was author of the provision in the Constitution that prohibits a member of the Legislature voting on a bill in which he has some pecuniary or other interest. He was author also of the provision for the teaching of agriculture and horticulture in the public schools. While opposed to the general plan for the division of the counties, Mr. McCance succeeded in getting as good a county for his own constituents as could have possibly been created for them.
In 1914 Mr. McCance was elected a member of the Fifth Legislature by a plurality of thirty-six in a county with a normal republican majority of five hundred. He came to the Legislature as the first democrat elected from his district since statehood. He was made chairman of the Committee on Enrolled and Engrossed Bills, and a member of the Committees on Appropriations, Judiciary and Senatorial Re-districting, Prohibition Enforcement, Constitutional Amendments, Public Printing and Labor and Arbitration. He introduced a bill creating a special property tax for the building of public roads. This was held unconstitutional by a committee, and he then introduced a resolution providing for a constitutional amendment covering such. Another bill introduced by him provided that by a municipal or township vote the public records of cities, towns, school districts and townships might be audited by the state.
Another measure which he advocated, and which has many obvious advantages, was one prohibiting railways from changing proposed routes after grades had been established, depot and switching sites fixed, and official statement of plans filed with the secretary of state, except upon vote of two-thirds of the people of the community affected. Thus in spite of ill health, with the menace of death constantly over him, Mr. McCance made a record in the Legislature which may well be a permanent memorial to his name.
Mr. McCance was married June 7, 1903, at Runningwater, Texas, to Miss Zoe Duvall, whose parents were among the pioneer settlers of the Texas Panhandle. To their marriage was born one child, Venia May, now three years of age. Mr. McCance was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, served as Sunday School superintendent eight years, and for a long time was a steward and lay leader.
He was a member of the Oklahoma Press Association, and was major general of the Squirrel Rifles, a military organization formed during the Constitutional Convention by W. H. Murray, president of that body. This title was one of the rewards for the influence of Mr. McCance in helping elect Murray to the presidency of the convention.