Hon. Thomas Carnes Waldrep. One of the youngest and at the same time most brilliant members of the Fifth Legislature was Thomas Carnes Waldrep, from Pottawotamie County. Mr. Waldrep was twenty-five years of age when elected to the Legislature in 1914, and after taking his seat in the Legislature carried on and finished his final studies preparatory to admission to the bar. It was his commendable ambition to secure experience that would prove specially valuable to him in his profession that led Mr. Waldrep to take advantage of his vacation in 1914 to make the race for legislative representative.
Thomas Cannes Waldrep was born February 16, 1889, at Birmingham, Alabama, a son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Murphy) Waldrep. Mr. Waldrep has a brother and sister: Lloyd C., who is engaged in telephone and electrical work in Shawnee; and Eva, who lives with her mother in Shawnee. The father, who died in 1893, was a planing mill operator in Birmingham, and the paternal grandfather was a soldier in the Confederate army, as was also the maternal grandfather, who died in 1902.
Thomas C. Waldrep was a student in the public schools as far as the fifth grade at the time his mother removed to Ardmore, Oklahoma. Soon afterwards, owing to the limited financial circumstances of the family, the father having died, he abandoned schooling in order to assist in earning a livelihood for the family. In 1898 his mother removed to Shawnee, and while there he attended night school and in the intervals of his regular work nearly completed the equivalent of a public school education. In 1909 Mr. Waldrep entered the Central State Normal at Edmond, spent three years there as a student, and displayed that talent in oratory and debate which has received a severe practice and discipline in subsequent years and has brought him much of his success in public life. During the last year in Edmond he was a member of the debating team and won the first individual place prize. In 1912 he entered the College of Law of the University of Oklahoma, and by working between terms paid his way until graduating in June, 1915. During his first year in law school he led the debating team of the college in a debate with the University of Colorado. In 1913 he won the first individual place prize in a try out in which sixty-two students participated, and in the debate won the prize offered by George Butte, a Muskogee lawyer. In 1914 he was the leader of the debating team which defeated a similar team from the University of Colorado, the decision being unanimous for the Oklahoma team.
Mr. Waldrep made a characteristically vigorous and aggressive campaign for the Legislature. He was nominated by a plurality of 400, with six candidates running and three to elect. In the general election he won by 250 mere votes than were cast for any other man on the democratic ticket in the county. In the Legislature he was made chairman of the Committee on Municipal Corporations, and a member of committees on labor and arbitration, revenue and taxation, judiciary No. 2, legal advisory, criminal jurisprudence, and cotton warehouse and grain elevators. Mr. Waldrep was a joint author of a bill divorcing cotton gin companies from cotton seed oil companies, declaring a cotton gin to be a public utility. Another measure of his created a tax commission, and another conferred upon the state commissioner of labor the authority to demand that elevators in buildings be equipped with automatic lockers. He was also interested in legislation affecting good roads, and a member of the subcommittee of the committee on commerce and labor that drew a workman’s compensation bill demanded by the State Federation of Labor. For a young man of his years he has already served his community, state and himself honestly and well, and the future gives promise of splendid usefulness. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of the Delta Sigma Phi college fraternity and the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. He is a member of the Young Men’s Democratic Club at Shawnee, and is secretary of the state organization of Young Men’s Democratic Clubs.