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Judge O. E. McCutcheon


Judge O. E. McCutcheon, for man years a resident of Idaho Falls and one of its leaders, died at the Spencer hospital late Monday afternoon after a long illness. He was widely known over the state in a political and business way and was Republican floor leader in the 1909 legislature. Funeral services will be held at two o'clock Thursday afternoon at the Presbyterian church, the Rev. Gulick in charge. The Masonic lodge will be in charge of the services at the grave. Otis Eddy McCutcheon was born at the settlement of Dryden in Tompkins county near Ithaca, New York, August 8, 1845, so that on the day of his death March 22, 1926, his age was 80 years, seven months and 14 days.

He was the third son of Renssellaer [sic] and Elvira Bishop McCutcheon, and his generation was the third which lived in America after his grandfather, George McCutcheon, came from the Island of Skye near the coast of Scotland. In the year 1846, his father wanted a new home in what was then the far west, and a homestead was taken about four and one half miles east of the village of Albion, Calhoun county, Mich. All of the children were educated at Albion college, and Judge McCutcheon secured his degree of Bachelor of Arts from that institution with the class of 1873.

He studied law at Charlotte, Michigan, in the office of his brother, Isaac D., who was later territorial secretary of Montana, and resided for many years at Helena, and was a leader of the bar in that state. Judge McCutcheon was admitted to the bar in Michigan in November, 1872, at which time he was elected prosecuting attorney of the newly created Iosco county, the county seat of which was Tawas City on what has always been called the east shore of Michigan.

On November 15, 1872, he was married to Mary Ella Gough, of Forester, Sanilac county, Michigan, who survives him and now resides at Traverse City, Michigan. The young couple moved to Oscoda where they had their home and raised their family during the years from 1872 to 1892. Practiced in Michigan. Judge McCutcheon practiced law first at Oscoda from 1872 until 1892, when he removed to Saginaw, Mich., and resided there and carried on his business until 1902. It is said that there was no abler lawyer in the practice in the field which he occupied during the 30 years he was at the bar in Michigan. During these years one of his clients and his closest personal friend was Colonel Edwin F. Holmes, a man of large affairs with business interests scattered over various sections of the United States. One of the investments which Col. Holmes had made was represented by a mortgage on what is now the New Sweden Irrigation district canal, as well as a large body of land irrigated from that canal. This business in 1896 first brought the judge to Idaho. He made periodical visits after his first trip, always on the affairs of the canal company in the New Sweden county, and finally came to Idaho Falls to permanently reside in the spring of 1902. The legislature of Idaho of 1899 passed the irrigation district law, and at his suggestion the land owners in the New Sweden vicinity took advantage of the provisions of that law during the early spring of 1899 organizing the New Sweden Irrigation District, which was the first of its kind in the State of Idaho. During the years from 1902 until 1911 practically all of the judge's time was taken in looking after the business affairs of Col. Holmes in Idaho and elsewhere, and he guided the new irrigation district through the uncertain channels of its early existence. He had served two terms as prosecuting attorney of Iosco county from 1872, and was re-elected in 1874. He was also circuit court commissioner of the judicial district of which his county was a part during the years 1874 to 1876. He was a member of the Michigan house of representatives for two terms from 1878 until 1882. He was elected senator of Bingham county, Idaho, at the election of 1906, and served two terms. Afterwards he served one term in the Idaho house of representatives as a representative from Bingham county. He was appointed dean of the college of law of the University of Idaho in 1911, and served with distinction and ability from two years, or until the close of the spring of the year 1913. He has acted as trustee of the Idaho insane asylum at Blackfoot, and was regent of the University of Idaho from the year 1908 to and including 1911. He was a member of the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the Idaho State Bar association. He was made a master Mason at the AuSable, Mich. blue lodge in 1882, and took much pleasure in the fact that he was admitted to Eagle Lodge No. 19, of Idaho Falls, and greatly enjoyed attending sessions of the order as frequently as his health permitted. He was also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge No. 1087, of Idaho Falls. The life long friendship existing between Col. Edwin F. Holmes and Judge McCutcheon came to an end with the death of Col. Holmes at Batavia, Illinois, in September, 1925. This incident was a serious shock, and materially hastened a decline in health which had commenced in the spring of 1925. During the years that the judge practiced law along the east shore of Michigan his closest competitor and business rival was Hon. C. R. Henry, late of Alpena, Mich., who died about the 10th of March last. The news of this event was communicated to the judge in a letter bearing the information which was received last week, and as he said, was a great shock to him, and perhaps hastened his death. Was in Legislature. He was floor leader of the Republican forces in the Idaho legislature of 1909, at which time a great fight took place over the proposed local option law, and it was largely through the judge's efforts that the law was passed, and the fact was lately mentioned by Paul Clagstone who made a recent visit to Idaho Falls. This was regarded as a notable achievement. The irrigation district law of Idaho as it stands today was largely developed under the authorship of Judge McCutcheon. His experience in organizing the New Sweden Irrigation district, the Idaho Irrigation district, the Snake River Valley Irrigation district, and other small districts gave him great familiarity with the requirements of such organizations and the necessities of the land owners under such institutions. No more workable law than that of Idaho has been adopted by any arid state. The title of "judge" was bestowed upon Mr. McCutcheon by Hon. William E. Wheeler for many years dean of the newspaper men of the State of Idaho, and former editor and proprietor of the Idaho Register. Eight children were born of the marriage mentioned above, four of whom died in infancy. The four children surviving are: Mrs. Arthur E. Lyons of Lansing, Mich., who lived in Idaho Falls with her father for a few months; N. [Neleus] D. McCutcheon of Salt Lake City; R. [Robert] B. McCutcheon, deputy United States marshal, Boise, Idaho; and Otto McCutcheon of Idaho Falls. Student of History. Judge McCutcheon traveled extensively during his life time. He was a great student of history, men and affairs. It has been said of him that he knew more about a greater variety of subjects than most men. A vast amount of information had been stored away throughout years of studious effort, travel and observation. It was always a marvel, even to those who knew him best, to hear him answer a question on practically any subject. His information covered such a wide variety of subjects, and his memory was so phenomenal that he could not only answer any question propounded, whatever its field or import, but he could dilate upon the subject and furnish information of the utmost accuracy. He practiced law for practically 54 years, and was eternally vigilant and jealous of his professional reputation. He was a lawyer who represented and upheld the best and highest traditions of his profession. He served several years as a member of the library board in Idaho Falls, and took great interest and pleasure in the work of that institution and in his association with the friends who were his colleagues in the work. He has written much in the form of memoirs and personal recollections some of which have been published in the annals of the Michigan Historical commission. These efforts are rich in details concerning the men and affairs of his time, all touched with kindly humor, and perhaps at some future time may be given greater publicity. He was the last of his generation in the male line, but a sister, Mrs. Melissa Young of Grand Rapids, Mich., survives him. Never physically powerful he had a heart and constitution which has been a marvel to the medical profession. Stricken with anemia about a year ago it was, unknown to the judge, last August pronounced of the pernicious type, and his family was advised that if he survived for 60 days it would be a miracle. But on February 3 last he slipped on an icy street while entering a car, was placed in the Spencer hospital the next day and remained in bed practically every moment since. For many years he has made him home at that residence of Mrs. Ann Jane Haley, who mourns his passing as though he had been of her own family.

Family Line: 
Andrew & Jeanne (Adair) McCutcheon of New York

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