Monday, December 5, 2011

Tasker Lowndes Oddie (1870-1950)

   A former Governor and U.S. Senator from Nevada, Tasker Lowndes Oddie was a New Yorker by birth, being born in Brooklyn on October 24, 1870, the son of Henry Meigs and Helen Gibson Oddie. Oddie attended public schools in the Orange, New Jersey area and is remarked as having been a sickly youth. His state of impaired health later led to Oddie being sent by his parents out west, where the sixteen-year-old would work on a Nebraska ranch in the hopes that he'd better his healthAfter his return home Oddie began pursuing a law degree, attending night classes at New York State University. He would earn his bachelor of laws degree in 1895 and after being admitted to the state bar that year found employment as a clerk with a "wholesale importing house" in New York City. 
   Three years after attaining his law degree, Oddie joined the Woodbridge Company, a real estate firm. He would become Secretary-Manager of that company and in 1896 his work with that firm took him on an extended business trip to Nevada. So taken with the state and its lucrative business possibilities, Oddie relocated to Nevada in 1898 and here began a lifelong interest in that state's mining industry. 
  Beginning his mining claim in Austin, Nevada, Oddie was "obliged to do hard manual work in and around the mines" and in 1900 joined with a partner, J.L. Butler, to develop and expand mining properties in Tonopah. The two men would eventually establish the Tonopah Mining Co., with Oddie himself taking the titles of company manager, as well as being the vice-president of the Tonopah Belmont Development Co.  In addition to his success at Tonopah, Oddie's reputation continued on the upswing through the early 1900s, serving as secretary and manager of the Gold Hill Mining Co., and added the title of bank president to his resume when he took on the presidency of the Nye County Bank.
   After earning substantial wealth through his mining interests in the Tonopah area, Oddie became actively involved in politics, serving as the District Attorney for Nye County in 1901-1903. While serving as District Attorney, Oddie also held the office of Superintendent of Schools of Nye County and was later elected to the Nevada state senate from 1904-1908.
   In 1911 Oddie was elected as the Governor of Nevada and served one term in office, his term concluding in 1915. While in office, he signed the city charter for Las Vegas in 1911, thereby officially making it a city. Oddie is also listed as being unmarried during his time as Governor, and his mother, Ellen G. Oddie, is mentioned as serving as official hostess during his tenure in office. In an interesting side note, "Mother Oddie" is mentioned as having "kept track of her son's paycheck until her death in 1914". 
 Three years after leaving the Governor's office, Oddie married Ms. Daisy Randall MacKeigan, a native of Los Angeles. It is unknown at the time of this writing whether or not any children were born to them.

                                                            Oddie during his senate service.

  Six years after his term as Governor concluded, Oddie was elected to the United States Senate from Nevada, where he served for two terms. During his service, he was Chairman of the Committee on Mines and Mining (reflecting his earlier business interests) as well as chair of the Post Office and Post Roads committee. In November 1932 Oddie was defeated by Patrick Anthony McCarran (1876-1954) for a third term in office. McCarran would go on to serve over two decades in the Senate and is remembered today for being one of that body's leading anti-communist members during his time in office.
  Tasker L. Oddie died in San Francisco, California on February 18, 1950, and was subsequently buried in the Lone Mountain Cemetery in Carson City, Nevada. His wife Daisy survived him by four years, dying on February 6, 1955, at age 70. The rare portrait of Oddie located at the top of this article was discovered in the 1903 edition of The Successful American, Volumes 7-8.

1 comment:

  1. Senate defeat was election of 1932. Two main factors: Democratic tide that year (FDR), and demographic shift in Clark County resulting from influx of worker in Boulder City for Hoover Dam construction.