Biography of Jasper Newton Barr
Buchanan County, IA Biographies





Jasper Newton Barr, a worthy representative of one of the honored pioneer families of Buchanan county, is now living retired in Independence after long years of active connection with agricultural interests, but is still the owner of four hundred acres of valuable land. For sixty seven years he has resided in Buchanan county and there are no phases of its history with which he is not familiar from pioneer times down to the present. He can relate many interesting incidents of the early days and he rejoices in the later day progress and improvement of the county.

His birth occurred in Washington township, September 12, 1847, and he is the eldest of the three children of Thomas and Eleanor (Murphy) Barr. The father was born in Carroll county, Ohio, July 30, 1823, of Irish ancestry, his grandfather, Robert Barr, having come to America from the north of Ireland and settled in Washington county, Pennsylvania. The mother was also of Irish extraction, for her ancestors came to the new world before the Revolutionary war and some of the family served under General Washington in the struggle for independence. In early life Thomas Barr was employed as a farm hand in the Buckeye state. On coming west he was accompanied by his wife and his cousin, Reuben Wickham, and his wife, the party traveling by team, each gentleman owning a horse. Reaching Buchanan county on the 18th of November, 1846, they found the work of improvement here scarcely begun. Most of the land was still in possession of the government and upon the broad tracts of prairie not a furrow had been turned. Mr. Barr entered a claim five miles north of Independence, now known as the Barr homestead, and here the family experienced many of the hardships and difficulties which come to the pioneer. The only postoffice in the county at that time was Quasqueton, fifteen miles south of where Mr. Barr located. There were still many Indians, but they belonged to friendly tribes and most of them were going upon or returning from their trips in the north or passing through on their way to reservations farther west. There were many species of wild game and it was not difficult to secure venison, for deer were plentiful and there were many wild turkeys and other lesser game. After building a log cabin upon his place Mr. Barr mauled rails to fence his property and carried on the work off general improvement and development for many years, using ox teams in his work. As time passed on prosperity attended his efforts and he ranked with the substantial farmers and stockmen of his township. From time to time he added to his holdings until he was the owner of eight hundred and forty acres of valuable land. In politics he was a democrat, but not an office seeker. He continued to remain upon his farm until his death, which occurred January 7, 1893. His wife, who was born in Guernsey county, Ohio, December 20, 1824, survived him for a decade and passed away March 13, 1903. Their children were: Jasper Newton; Mrs. W. A. Rogers, who was formerly a resident and landowner of Buchanan county, but now lives in Los Angeles, California; and John Wesley, of Arcadia, Oklahoma

The school system of Buchanan county had been developed in only a slight degree when Jasper N. Barr was a youth, but he pursued his studies in a log schoolhouse for a time and later enjoyed the advantages of a course in the Upper Iowa University His training at farm labor was not meager and he early learned valuable lessons concerning the value of industry and persistency. He remained upon the home farm and in connection with its cultivation taught in the rural schools during the winter months, becoming the teacher of many a youth who has since gained prominence. He well remembers those typical pioneer schoolhouses, in one of which he began his own education. The building was erected of logs with slab seats, the desks were made of boards supported by pegs driven into the wall, while the windows were covered with greased paper. There were no blackboards or any of the conveniences found in the modern schoolroom.

Yearning to see something of the great west, Mr. Barr went to Colorado March 18, 1879, and while there taught school for thirteen consecutive months without a vacation, going to one school on Monday after closing another on Friday. While in that state he spent some time in the mining camps of Clear Creek and Leadville during the height of the excitement there, but he never participated in the wild life and revelry that characterized those places, for he never used tobacco or intoxicants. At length he returned to the parental home and engaged in farming in Washington township, being closely associated with general agricultural interests in this county for many years. He is today the owner of four hundred acres of valuable land, some of which includes the original holdings of his father, and he has the original patents which were granted by President Fillmore in 1846. His methods of farm work were practical and his labors brought excellent results. He engaged extensively in raising stock, becoming one of the leading representatives of that business in Buchanan county.

On the 12th of September, 1893, Mr. Barr was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ellen O'Loughlin, who was born in this county, September 7, 1855, a daughter of John and Margaret (Maloney) O'Loughlin, both of whom were natives of County Clare, Ireland, the former born in 1824 and the latter in 1830. They came to the United States as young people and first settled in Ohio, where Mr. O'Loughlin worked on the canals and in railroad building. In 1852 he came to Iowa and purchased land, but returned to Ohio, where he again remained for a short time. He then took up his permanent abode near Otterville, Buchanan county, in 1854, and thereafter was engaged in general farming, devoting practically his entire time to agricultural pursuits and stock raising in Washington township, where his landed possessions aggregated five hundred and twenty acres. His political support was given to the democratic party and his religious faith was that of the Catholic church. The five surviving members of his family of ten children are yet residents of Buchanan county. Mrs. Barr is also a member of the Catholic church.

Mr. Barr belongs to the Masonic fraternity and has been an active worker in that organization. He is also an Odd Fellow and has held all of the offices in the lodge. Throughout life he has largely maintained an independent course in thought and action. He is a great reader and of a literary turn of mind, and has contributed many interesting articles to the papers on his travels and pioneer times. He has also displayed ability as a poet and is one of the old school of gentlemen whom it is a pleasure to meet. In politics he is not allied with any party but votes rather for men and measures. In religion he believes that each individual should have the opportunity to carry out his views in that regard. His own life has been well spent and his business career has been crowned with a measure of success that places him today among the substantial residents of the county.

From:
History of Bachanan County, Iowa
And its People
By Harry Church and Katharyn J. Chappell
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago 1914


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