The legal profession, which draws to its inspiring and highly intellectual fields of labor many of the best minds among our people, has a fine representative in Hon. James S. Carnahan, senior member of the law firm of Carnahan & Van Hoorebeke, of Grand Junction, who has exhibited marked ability both in the active practice of his profession and in offices of trust and importance incident thereto. He was born in Pennsylvania on March 28, 1859, and is the son of Thomas and Sarah (Moore) Carnahan, also natives of Pennsylvania, as were their parents. The father is a farmer, and, being of Scotch-Irish descent, has all the thrift and resourcefulness of that wonderful combination of nationalities. He is now living at York, Nebraska, having moved there in 1882 after the death of his first wife, Judge Carnahan’s mother, who departed this life in 1875. Their offspring numbered five sons, of whom the Judge was the last born, and all of whom are living. The father has a daughter by each of two subsequent marriages. Judge Carnahan was reared in his native state and there received a district school and academic education. When he was twenty years old he came to Colorado, and locating at Georgetown, engaged in mining until the fall of 1884. He was moderately successful and, with a commendable ambition for a higher sphere in life, saved his earnings in order to apply them to the gratification of a long cherished desire to enter the legal profession. At the time last mentioned he went to York, Nebraska, and read law with his brother, J.C. Carnahan, a prominent attorney of that place, and after finishing his course passed a year in Valparaiso, Indiana. In the spring of 1887 he was admitted to the bar in Nebraska, and at once located at Julesburg, this state, and was admitted to practice in the Colorado courts. On the organization of Sedgwick county in the spring of 1889, with Julesburg as the county seat, he was appointed county judge, and in the ensuing fall he was elected to the same position for a term of three years. In the fall of 1892 he was elected as a Republican to the lower house of the legislature, representing Logan, Sedgwick and Phillips counties, and in the fall of 1894 he was re-elected. He was active in the service of his constituency and the state in the body and was identified in a prominent way with a number of measures of important legislation. One bill in particular of considerable public utility which he introduced and secured the passage of provided for the purchase of all county supplies by contract. In the second session he served with credit and advantage to the state as chairman of the judiciary committee. In the summer of 1895 he moved to Grand Junction and renewed the practice of his profession, in which he has been very successful and continuously occupied since that time. At present he is the city attorney, having been once appointed and twice elected to that office. In January, 1903, he formed a partnership with G. Van Hoorebeke, under the firm name of Carnahan & Van Hoorebeke, and this has become one of the leading law firms of the county. On December 10, 1889, he was married to Miss Rose E. Yeager, a native of Fulton county, Ohio, and daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Yeager, also natives of that state. They are still living in Fulton county, prosperous farmers. The Judge and Mrs. Carnahan have two children, their sons Lawrence B. and Clarence H. The Judge belongs to the Elks and the Woodmen of the World.
Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.