More about that last independent

In the last Idaho column I noted that I didn’t know much about A.L. Freehafer, the last person elected (in 1928) to the Idaho legislature as an independent, other than that he was later (in 1930) elected as a Democrat, and had served in the legislature some years before as well.

Turns out that Freehafer has some family members who became considerably better known around the state than he was: His grandson was former U.S. Senator James McClure. The senator’s son, Boise attorney Ken McClure, sent a note this morning on Freehafer, filling in some of the background about him:

I know a fair amount about A. L. Freehafer. Nice to read about him. He was my great-grandfather. Albertus Leroy. The source of Dad’s “James Albertus.” He actually served in the Senate from three different counties He lived in Council, and was elected in 1908 to represent Washington County in the Senate. In 1909 he carried the bill that created Adams County (split off from Washington County) and then was elected to represent Adams County. He left the Senate to serve on the (I believe first) PUC in 1913 if memory serves. After that service concluded he later moved to Payette County (to be nearer my grandmother and her husband and to practice law in that growing metropolis) where he later was elected to the Senate.

A.L. was a lawyer who “read the law” instead of going to law school. He and my grandfather, W. R. McClure, practiced law together in Council after my Grandfather graduated from the U of I Law School in 1920 (following a stint in the army air corps in WWI) until my grandfather moved to Payette in 1924, just a few months before my father was born. After that, A. L. practiced in Council for a couple years with Roger Swanstrom’s father (or perhaps grandfather, I don’t recall, I do recall that his nickname was “Too Tall Swanstrom” since he was tall, just like Roger) until he moved to Payette. He may have run as an independent in 1928 but he was a Democrat, particularly after Roosevelt was elected. I had always assumed he had run as a Democrat in Washington and Adams Counties, but I guess I don’t know for sure. I need to find out. Thanks for the article. It gives me a bit of research to do.

Thanks: Illuminating a whole section of Idaho politics and law.

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