Henry Howes Carter, Secretary of State for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1960-64, was born August 30, 1903, in West Liberty, Kentucky. He was the only child of James William “Will” and Alice (Wells) Carter. He graduated from Morgan County High School and attended Bowling Green Business College. On June 14, 1931, he married Mary Alma Jones. They had two children, John Scott and Alice Ann.
From 1920 to 1933, Carter served as assistant cashier of the Commercial Bank in West Liberty. His mentor there was former state senator Cortis K. Stacy, president of the bank and an uncle by marriage. Carter often attributed his success to the support he received from the Stacys. From 1934 to 1941, he was an examiner with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation with territories in Kentucky and Missouri. He served as state banking commissioner from 1947 to 1955, when he began his political career by running for Kentucky State Treasurer.
In the 1955 race for State Treasurer, Carter was on the Bert Combs slate in the Democratic primary. However, A. B. “Happy” Chandler won the gubernatorial primary and subsequently the general election. Carter was the only one of the Combs candidates to win in the general election, and he did so by a margin of more than 156,000 votes. Thus began a tumultuous four years in which Governor Chandler attempted and failed to strip the office of Treasurer of its powers through legislation. The Carter home in Frankfort became the secret meeting place for Combs supporters as they led a successful campaign against Lieutenant Governor Harry Lee Waterfield’s bid for governor.
In 1959, Carter was elected Secretary of State on a ticket headed by Bert Combs. He held that office until 1964, when he began a four-year term as Auditor of Public Accounts for Kentucky in the administration of Edward T. Breathitt. After completing that term in 1968, he retired from public office. He died at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington on June 24, 1970.
Although Carter was for many years a resident of Frankfort, he owned a 1,000-acre farm in Morgan County, where he raised tobacco, purebred Herefords, and mined limestone. He spent most weekends at his farm. He also was a partner in the West Liberty Oil and Gas Co., a gas distributing company whose territory included Morgan, Wolfe, and Breathitt counties.
Information supplied by Alice Carter, July 2004.
Who’s Who in the South and Southwest,, 6th ed. (Chicago, 1950, 1952).