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Barton, Isaac
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Barton, Isaac
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 159-160


There is perhaps no resident of Pike county more deserving of mention among its representatives and respected citizens than Isaac Barton, a retired farmer now living in Pittsfield. He was born in Kentucky, June 7, 1825, a son of William and Mary (Brewer) Barton, the former of English descent. The family, however, was founded in America at an early day, the paternal grandfather having been a native of Virginia, where he followed the occupation of farming. At the time of the outbreak of hostilities between the colonies and the mother country, he espoused the cause of liberty and laid down his life on its altar in the battle of Bunker Hill. His wife lived to the advanced age of eighty years and reared their family of five children, filling the place of both father and mother after the death of her husband. During the greater part of her life she was a devoted member of the Baptist church.

William Barton, father of our subject, was born in the Old Dominion and in early manhood went to Tennessee, where he was married to Miss Mary Brewer, a native of that state and a woman of high Christian character, belonging to the Baptist church. They afterward removed to Knox county, Kentucky, settling on the Cumberland river, and were among the early residents of that locality. Mr. Barton acquired a large tract of land and met success in his business affairs. For many years he was a deacon in the Baptist church and took an active and helpful part in its work. His political allegiance was given to the whig party. He was killed in a runaway accident when about sixty years of age and his wife died when more than fifty years of age. In their family were thirteen children, eight sons and five daughters, of whom three are now living. Those deceased are: Susan; Henry; James; John; Soloman; William; Lewis; Elizabeth; Sarah; and Nancy. Those who still survive are: Isaac; Mary Jane Barton, living in Kentucky; and Daniel, also of that state.

Isaac Barton was only eleven years of age at the time of his father's death and he afterward provided for his education by working for his board and the privilege of attending school. He remaining in his native state until twelve years of age, pursuing his studies in one of the old-time log schoolhouses, with its open fireplace, slab writing desk beneath the window and other primitive furnishings. He then accompanied his brother to Parke county, Indiana, which was a pioneer district with few evidences or promises of rapid development, and there he secured employment as a farm hand, his wage being seven dollars per month for the first years. He continued in similar service for eight years and then learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed for four or five years, after which he operated a carding machine for two years and also spent some time in sawmills. He was likewise employed as a clerk in a store before leaving Indiana, but thinking to find still better business opportunities in Illinois, he came to Pike county in December, 1847, making the journey on horseback, at which time his possessions consisted of his horse, saddle and about fifteen dollars in money. For two years he was employed in sawmills at Rockport, Pike county, after which he invested his savings in eighty acres of land on section 8, Martinsburg township, of which only ten acres had been cleared. A log house had also been built into which he moved but after making some improvements on that property he sold the place and bought seventy-nine acres in Pleasant Hill township, the purchase price being six hundred dollars. A year later he sold out for twelve hundred dollars, thus realizing a good profit on his investment. He next became owner of one hundred and sixty acres farther north, but soon disposed of this at an advance of three hundred dollars and invested in one hundred and sixty acres of timber land north of Rockport, where he took up his abode and there operated a sawmill for ten years. As his financial resources increased he added to his landed holding from time to time until he owned three hundred and sixty acres. He carried on farming on an extensive scale and also raised stock, while to his farm he added excellent modern equipments and accessories. He carried on his farm work in a most systematic and approved manner and the place showed his careful supervision in its attractive appearance. He was careful in expenditures but always in touch with the spirit of progress in farm work and so directed his labors that success resulted. He still owns forty acres of valuable farming land together with one of the finest homes in Pittsfield, standing in the midst of seven acres of ground. The dwelling, a beautiful brick residence, sets well back from the street and the lawn is adorned with fine evergreen trees, shrubs and flowering plants.

On the 15th of February, 1848, Mr. Barton was married to Miss Rachel M. Owsley, who was born in eastern Tennessee, December 27, 1830, a daughter of Thomas and Charity (Butcher) Owsley. The father was a most far-sighted business man. He followed farming and he was also the first in the country to deal in ready-made coffins. He came to Pike county in 1847 and was the owner of eleven hundred acres of bottom land all in one body and a large farm on the upland. He had three children but Mrs. Barton is the only one living. She is an intelligent lady and earnest Christian woman who has indeed been a faithful companion and helpmate to her husband. They became the parents of eight children: Mary, the wife of Richard Wells and a resident of Arkansas; William Thomas, deceased; John A., who married Allie Hayes and lives in Missouri; Frank, who married Elizabeth Wells and resides in Arkansas; Della R., at home; Fred, who married Annie Huffman and is located in Missouri; Anna, deceased; and Clyde E., a graduate of Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia, and now practicing his profession in Germantown.

Politically Mr. Barton is a stalwart democrat and has been called to various offices by his fellow townsmen who recognize his, trustworthiness and ability. He was justice of the peace, constable, assessor and collector while living in Atlas township. He belongs to the Masonic lodge of Hartford and both he and his wife have been members of the Methodist church since 1855, taking an active and helpful part in its work. Mr. Barton has served as steward, class leader, trustee and superintendent of the Sunday school and his labors have been most beneficial. He has always kept well informed on topics of general interest and has lived an upright life, crowned with successful accomplishment and the respect and honor of his fellowmen throughout the county in which he has now lived for almost six decades, witnessing almost its entire growth and development.

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