Few families can trace their Clark County heritage back 154 years as can the Carty clan of the Ridgefield and Woodland areas.
It was as early as 1835, although some sources place it a few years later, that James Carty arrived in Fort Vancouver as a barrelmaker for the Hudson’s Bay Co. A relative of the Jim Carty who was in recent years the county prosecuting attorney, the pioneer Carty was born in Ireland in 1808 and came to the United States in 1833.
The immigrant signed on a whaling vessel that was headed for the polar seas, but during a layover in Honolulu, Carty got ill and stayed behind. When he recovered, he sailed on a Hudson’s Bay Co. trader headed for the Northwest.
After working in Fort Vancouver a few years, Carty built a log cabin in what is now the Ridgefield area to become the first white settler there. He died in 1873.
In 1859 another James Carty, a cousin of the original pioneer, came to America from Ireland and also headed for Ridgefield. He married a widow, Mrs. C.H. Reed, and after her death married Anna O’Rourke. There was one son, William E. “Bill” Carty, born of this latter marriage on April 4, 1894.
Bill Carty also was to spend his entire life in Ridgefield, working as a rancher and serving 22 years in the state Legislature. A staunch Democrat, bill Carty’s political career began in 1932 when he was first elected to the House of Representatives. With the exception of two terms, Carty served continuously until 1960, when he was defeated by 100 votes by Ella Wintler, Vancouver Republican.
The only breaks in Bill Carty’s Olympia service came in 1934, when he was defeated in the primary election, and in 1952 when he unsuccessfully ran for state senator.
Bill Carty died in 1962 at age 68, remaining politically active until the end.