In the fall of 1920, Mac began his clerking for the law firm of Phillips, Cox, and Phillips, a law firm that included John Calhoun Phillips, who later became governor of Arizona. He passed the state bar exam while completing his law studies at Stanford University and began his practice in late 1921. A year later, he earned his Juris Doctorate degree but continued his studies towards a master’s degree in political science.
Mac was appointed Assistant Arizona Attorney General in 1923 and moved to Phoenix. The following year, he earned his Master of Arts in Political Science and successfully ran for the Pinal County Attorney. He then moved to Florence, the county seat, to take office.
During the seven years since coming to Arizona, Mac had become quite successful. He earned two graduate degrees, passed the bar exam, opened a law office, and was elected Pinal County Attorney. During this time, he was also courting Clare Collins, whom he had met at Stanford University.
Clare had been a music major with a vocal concentration and a proficiency that could have led her to a grand opera. However, throat problems led her away from a career in music and to the dry climate of Arizona where she completed studies in elementary education and music at the Northern Arizona Normal School in Flagstaff in 1923. After graduating, she accepted a teaching position at Florence High School. A year after Mac took office, the couple married.
After Mac and Clare married, Clare quit her job at Florence High School to become a homemaker.
Their son William Ernest McFarland was born July 18, 1927 at the Arizona Deaconess Hospital and Home in Phoenix. Clare bought a baby memory book, where she recorded the details of William’s life.
By all indications, William was healthy child and adored by both parents. In 1928, Clare was pregnant again and she and Mac were looking forward to growing their family. Daughter Jean Clare was born in February 1929.
William became ill and died several days before his sister's birth while Jean Clare died two days after her birth.
Clare with William, age 3 months
The loss of both children within days was devastating to the couple. After grieving for four months, Mac took a leave of absence from work, selling some of his stock in his in-laws’ lumber company in order to take a long trip with Clare. She and Mac traveled to Europe via Los Angeles, the Panama Canal, Cuba, and New York City.
After traveling for more than ten weeks, the couple returned to Florence reinvigorated from the journey and ready to try again. A year after they returned, Clare was again pregnant.
As Pinal County Attorney, Mac was tasked with the prosecution of crimes and representing the interests of the county in civil suits.
He had higher aspirations, though, and decide to run for Superior Court Judge of Pinal County. The then-current judge, Ernest L. Green, had been in office since acquiring the position in 1924 during a controversial recall election.
Judge Green received more votes that Mac, which meant the latter would be returning to private practice at the end of the year. His term expiration coincided with the approximate time frame for the birth of Clare and his third child.
Mac unsuccessfully ran for Superior Court Judge in Pinal County and he and Clare were expecting another child, a daughter to be named Juliet.
In early December, 1930, Clare checked into the Pinal County Hospital to give birth. Sadly, her and Mac’s third child was stillborn on December 5.
Weakened physically and emotionally, Clare contracted pneumonia and passed away December 13. She is interred in the Florence Cemetery along with the couple’s three children.
Within two years, Mac has lost his wife and three children to illness. No longer a county attorney, Mac focused on his private practice and became the legal counsel for the San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District.
Founded in 1928, the district administers water from the Gila River and other sources to tens of thousands of acres in the area of Florence, Coolidge, and Casa Grande. Tom Fulbright, who had served as deputy county attorney under Mac, joined his law firm and the two remained partners until the 1970s.
In 1934, Mac ran again for the position of Superior Court Judge of Pinal County. The results were different and Mac defeated the incumbent Ernest L. Green by a significant margin. While Mac returned to the courtroom, Green returned to private practice and, in 1936, joined the McFarland and Fulbright law firm.
Around this time, Mac also began courting Edna Eveland Smith, a teacher at Florence High School.
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