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Carroll County Biographies


In the person of this highly-respected resident of Washington Township we have one of the early landmarks of this county. He came within its limits as early as 1843, forty-six years ago, and took up a tract of Government land prior to the opening of the Land-office at Dixon; as may be supposed, his neighbors were few and far between, and he had little to distract his attention from the labor of beginning its improvement and cultivation. Upon the principle that “a rolling stone gathers no moss,” he has adhered steadily to the first acquisition, making his home upon this one farm during his long residence in this county.

In the meantime, however, Mr. Barber, during the gold excitement of 1849, resolved to try the experiment of a visit to the Pacific Slope, and set out, on the 28th of November, that year, to seek what he hoped would prove a more rapid fortune than that which he could delve out of the new soil of Illinois. His companions were Stephen A. Arnold, W. A. Older, Lucius Mansfield, and Virgin Gillett. Proceeding from Savanna to St. Louis, Mo., and thence to New Orleans, they traversed the Gulf and Caribbean Sea, then crossed the Isthmus of Panama, and from there sailed up the Pacific to the Golden Gate, which they reached on the 5th of March following. They were particularly fortunate in the enjoyment of good health, and were all young and unmarried, with the exception of Mr. Arnold.

From San Francisco the party proceeded inland to Sacramento, and soon began mining on the Yuba River. In September of that year Mr. Arnold was stricken down with typhoid fever, and died. This was one of the sad accompaniments of the expedition; but the other members of the party fortunately retained their health. In due time Mr. Barber, in company with his partner, Mr. Mansfield, proceeded to the mines on Nelson Creek, and later our subject traveled all through the mining regions in the northern part of the State. He was thus variously occupied until in June, 1853, and then set out alone on his return to Illinois by the same route which he had before traveled. Besides the experience which he acquired during his sojourn in California, he left the State considerably richer financially than when he had entered it, and, taken altogether, it proved a very good venture.

Mr. Barber arrived home on the 11th of August, 1853, and resumed operations on his land, which in the meantime had been occupied by his parents, who had come to America from their native County Tyrone, Ireland. There also our subject was born Nov. 25, 1826, and was the youngest but one in a family of six children, the offspring of William and Eleanor (Armor) Barber, who were also natives of that county, although the father was of English ancestry, and the mother’s people were originally from Scotland.

In County Tyrone the father of our subject had prosecuted farming, and also dealt considerably in linen cloth. After the birth of all their children they decided to emigrate to America, and accordingly took passage at Londonderry in April, 1833, on the “Great Britain,” which landed them safely in New York City, after a voyage of twenty-eight days. They located first in Hamilton, Madison Co., N. Y., where they sojourned three or four years, then removed to Jackson County, Mich., where they were among the earliest pioneers of that region. The father entered a tract of land near the present site of Waterloo, and they lived there until 1843, coming thence to Northern Illinois, and settling in what is now Washington Township, this county, to which they had been preceded by one of their sons. The parents spent the remainder of their lives upon the farm where they first settled, the father dying in 1851, when sixty years of age. The mother survived her husband ten years, passing away in January, 1861, at the age of sixty-seven. William Barber was an Episcopalian in religious belief, while the mother was a Presbyterian.

The subject of this sketch received a practical education in the common school, and remained with his father until setting out for California. After his return from that State he was married, May 20, 1856, in Washington Township, this county, to Miss Mary McIntyre, a native of Glengary County, Canada. Mrs. Barber was born Nov. 6, 1836, and is the daughter of Hugh and Christie (McCall) McIntyre, who were natives of Scotland. They came to this county about 1849, and the father lived to be quite aged, dying in Washington Township at the age of ninety-three years; the mother passed away, aged fifty-six years. Both were natives of Scotland, and came to America in their youth. They were married in Canada, where the mother had grown up from childhood, and to which Mr. McIntyre had emigrated when a young man. They were the parents of nine children, all of whom, with one exception, were born in the Dominion. From there they came directly to this county, and settled upon a tract of land, from which they constructed a good homestead.

Mrs. Barber was a child of twelve years when her parents came to Illinois, and was their eldest born. The others are all living, making their homes mostly in Carroll County. She is now the mother of twelve children, of whom only three are living, and all of whom, with one exception, died when quite young: Ella M. was taken from the home circle when an interesting maiden of nineteen years. Their eldest surviving child, Henry H., was given an excellent education, and was graduated from the State University at Champaign in the Class of ’84; he married Miss Minnie Wright, of Plainfield, and is now a member of the firm of Raffen & Co., of Chicago, engaged in civil engineering. William A. and Grace A. make their home with their parents; the former carries on farming for himself, having land of his own in Washington Township. Mrs. Barber is a member in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Our subject, politically, together with his two sons, is a stanch supporter of Democratic principles. He has been quite prominent in local affairs, was the first Collector of Washington Township, and has represented it in the County Board of Supervisors several terms.

Transcribed & Contributed by Carol Parrish from Portraits and Biographical Album for Jo Daviess and Carroll Counties, IL (1889), p. 961-965

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