Morton Matthew McCarver was born near the town of Lexington, Kentucky, on January 14, 1807, and died at Tacoma, Washington, April 17, 1871. The annals of the West do not contain the story of a more representative, resolute, and energetic migratory pioneer. McCarver struck out into the world when but fourteen as a hand on a flatboat making a trip to New Orleans, and was soon in Texas. From thence onward his movements serve to register the progress of the forefront of the wave of American settlement penetrating the wilderness of the Far West. He was among the leaders in the first great movement occupying in succession Iowa, Oregon, California, the Frazer River country, Idaho, and the Sound country. He made something of a specialty of locating the sites of future towns and cities. He began with staking out the site of Burlington, Iowa, in June, 1833; he was associated with Peter H. Burnett in founding the town of Linnton on the banks of the Willamette in 1843, hoping to make it the emporium of the Oregon country; in the fall of 1848 he suggested the city of Sacramento and managed its platting; and with the vision of a prophet in 1868 he began operations in the founding of a city on Commencement Bay—the future Tacoma. But McCarver was much more than an exploiter of resources as a preëmptor of sites of future centers of population. He was a commonwealth builder as well. In 1838 he was commissary general of the Iowa militia; in 1844—5 he was a member of the Legislative Committee of the Provisional Government of Oregon and was elected its speaker; in 1849 he was sitting as a member of the California Constitutional Convention at Monterey, and during the Rogue River and Yakima Indian wars was again commissary general for the Oregon troops.
The story of this very strenuous life is told with fine directness and explicitness by his son-in-law. The volume also contains a sketch of the life of his second wife, Julia A. McCarver, and an address on "The Early History of Tacoma."
Commercial advertising is sandwiched in between some prime historical material, but the editor should have the credit for stimulating the production of these valuable sketches and for getting them into their fine dress.