Wilburn Cartwright

Wilburn Cartwright

Meigs County, Tennessee, USA
Death 14 Mar 1979 (aged 87)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, USA
Burial Norman, Cleveland County, Oklahoma, USA
Memorial ID 11889266 · View Source
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US Congressman. He was born Wilburn James Cartwright (some sources say James Wilburn Cartwright) one of nine children in Georgetown, Tennessee, to Reverend Jackson Robert "JR" Cartwright and Emma Josephine Baker Cartwright. When he was eleven years old he moved with his parents to the Chickasaw Nation in the Indian Territory in 1903. He was educated in local public common schools in Wapanucka, Oklahoma, and in Ada, Oklahoma, before attending the State Teachers College in Durant, Oklahoma. He then taught at schools in Coal County, Oklahoma, Atoka County, Oklahoma, Bryan, Oklahoma, and Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, from 1912 to 1926. He then entered politics and served as a Member of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives from 1914 to 1918. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1917 and relocated to McAlester, Oklahoma, where he commenced his practice of law. He furthered his practice of law by attending and graduating from the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1920. He also took postgraduate studies at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. He then served as a Member of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives from 1914 until he began his service in World War I beginning in 1917. During World War I, he put his political and law career on hold and served with the rank of Private in the Student Army Training Corps from 1917 to 1918. Following his military service, he returned to his political and law career and finished his term as a Member of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives in 1918. He then served as a Member of the Oklahoma State Senate from 1918 to 1922. While serving in the Oklahoma State Senate he had become a vocational adviser for disabled veterans in McAlester, Oklahoma, in 1921 and 1922. During this time he had married Carrie E. Staggs in Enid, Oklahoma, on June 6, 1920, and the couple would have two children together. He then decided to run for a seat in the United States Congress and was elected. A Member of the Democratic Party, he then served Oklahoma's 3rd District (Seventieth Congress and to the seven succeeding Congresses) in the United States House of Representatives from 1927 to 1943. He was an unsuccessful Candidate for renomination in 1942. After his term in the United States Congress expired on January 3, 1943, he was succeeded in office by United States Representative Paul Stewart. While serving in the United States Congress he was a supporter of then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's The New Deal public works projects (He and Sam Rayburn of Texas secured the construction of the Denison Dam across the Red River. In 1939 and 1940 this brought him into conflict with Oklahoma Governor Leon "Red" Phillips, who opposed the project and unsuccessfully sued the federal government to prevent it) for his 3rd District. He also sat on several committees including Indian Affairs, War Claims, Election of President, Vice President, and Representatives in Congress, Insular Affairs, and Roads. Because of his early experiences with automobiles, he worked hard in this last committee. In 1933, he became its chairman, a position he held through the remainder of his congressional career. With the United States Senator Carl Hayden of Arizona, he authored the Hayden-Cartwright Act, a key law in the financing of the United States highway system. He was also involved in legislation affecting American Indians and in granting independence to the Philippines. Following his term in the United States Congress, he again put his political and law career on hold to serve his country during World War II. He served with the rank of Major in the United States Army, Allied Military Government, and was stationed in Africa and Europe from 1943 to 1945 until he was injured in action and was sent back home to Oklahoma. Upon his return to the United States, he became an instructor at the Fort Custer Training Center in Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1945, and was also employed at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in Muskogee, Oklahoma, from 1945 to 1946. He then resumed his political career and was elected to the office of Secretary of the State of Oklahoma in which position he served from 1947 to 1951. He also served as the Oklahoma State Auditor from 1951 to 1955. He lastly served as Oklahoma State Corporation Commissioner from 1954 to 1960. He was reelected to that post in 1966 and served until 1973. He retired from politics in 1972 but returned to the political arena briefly when he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party nomination for the United States Senate in 1974. During his political career, he had also run for the office of Oklahoma State Supreme Court, Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, and Governor of Oklahoma, but these were also unsuccessful. Following his time in politics, he resumed his practice of law for a short time. He suffered several strokes in 1978 and had to be treated in the coronary care unit at the St. Anthony Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma. He passed away on March 14, 1979, at the age of 87, in Norman, Oklahoma. His funeral was held at the First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and he was buried in the IOOF (or Odd Fellows) Cemetery in that city. His first wife Carrie who predeceased him in May 1969 is buried with him, but he married for a second time to Coree Andrews in 1970, an Oklahoma City businesswoman and owner of Adams Engineering Company. His prominent family members include his father Reverend Jackson Robert "JR" Cartwright, who was a noteworthy Baptist preacher who served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1929 to 1931, two of his sons, Keith Cartwright and Clifford "Buck" Cartwright, were both Oklahoma State Legislators, a nephew Jan Eric Cartwright served as the Oklahoma Attorney General from 1979 to 1983, his great uncle Peter Cartwright, defeated the future President of the United States Abraham Lincoln in an Illinois Legislative race, and his daughter Doralyn Emma Cartwright, better know as Lynn Cartwright became a famous actress who later married the actor Leo Gordon, and his other daughter Wilburta Cartwright became an artist whose work often appeared magazines. Known by the nickname "the most elected man in Oklahoma government" he was also a lifelong Baptist who was a member of several prominent organizations including Odd Fellows, Freemasons, Scottish Rite Masons, Order of the Eastern Star, Shriners, Acacia, Lions, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Elks, and Junior Order.

Bio by: Peterborough K

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Peterborough K
  • Added: 5 Oct 2005
  • Find a Grave Memorial 11889266
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Wilburn Cartwright (12 Jan 1892–14 Mar 1979), Find a Grave Memorial no. 11889266, citing IOOF Cemetery, Norman, Cleveland County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .