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Barber, George
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Barber, George
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 166-167


Captain George Barber, the owner of five hundred acres of valuable and well improved land in Pike county, and a resident of Pittsfield, was born in this county in 1844, his parents being Austin and Caroline (Johnson) Barber. The father was born in Ohio in 1809, while the mother's birth occurred in Missouri, but both are now deceased. They came to Pike county in 1833, and Austin Barber conducted a general mercantile business in Pittsfield, being one of the first representatives of commercial interests in the town. Later he sold out and invested in land, entering his first farm from the government, but to this he added from time to time as his financial resources increased until he owned more than one thousand acres, five hundred acres of which lay in Pike county, while the remainder was in adjoining counties. He retained possession of this extensive property up to the time of his death, although he largely resided in Pittsfield. His business career was characterized by integrity, honor and industry and was well worthy of emulation. In community affairs he was actively and helpfully interested and served for four years as county clerk. He was a stanch republican, prominent in the local ranks of the party and both he and his wife were devoted members of the Christian church. In his family were three sons, all of whom are living: Levi, who resides in McDonough county, Illinois; George, of this review, and Austin D., who is living in Hancock county and is president of the state board of agriculture. He is likewise very prominent in political circles.

Captain Barber pursued his education in the common schools of Pittsfield and when eighteen years of age enlisted in the United States army as a member of Company A, Ninety-ninth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was a noncommissioned officer and served for three years, campaigning in Missouri, after which he went to Vicksburg, subsequently to Texas and later to Mobile, Alabama. He participated in the battles of Magnolia Hill, Black River Bridge, Champion Hill, Jackson and the siege at Vicksburg from the 28th of April until the 4th of July, 1863. His regiment led the charge of Vicksburg, where one-third of its number were killed and wounded. The last engagements in which he participated were at Mobile Fort Blakely and Spanish Fort.

After being mustered out Captain Barber returned home and for twelve years was engaged in the cultivation of one of the farms owned by his father. He then came to Pittsfield, where he engaged in the grocery business for ten years, and during most of the time since he has acted as deputy postmaster, which office he is still filling. He has been a member of the National Guard for seventeen years, and when the Spanish--American war was inaugurated he once more offered his aid to his country, enlisting in Company A, Fifth Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was first lieutenant and was transferred to Company B, after which he was promoted to the captaincy. He enlisted in Springfield, was sent to Chickamauga Park and thence to Newport News, where the regiment took passage on the transport, but just about that time peace was declared and they returned to Lexington, where they were mustered out.

Captain Barber was married in 1866 to Miss Mary Frances Hicks, a native of New York, now deceased. They were the parents of two children: Charles, who is a bookkeeper in the First National Bank in Pittsfield, and T. H., who is connected with the Deaf and Dumb Institute at Jacksonville. For his second wife Captain Barber chose Leona Binns, who was born in Pike county and is a daughter of E. F. Binns, now deceased. He was prominent in political circles here and served as county clerk for one term.

Captain and Mrs. Barber occupy a fine home in Pittsfield one block south of the courthouse square, and in addition to this property he owns five hundred acres of valuable and productive farm land, well improved, and is associated with his son in the superintendency of this farm, whereon they are engaged in the raising of fine Hereford cattle. In his political views Captain Barber is a stalwart republican and for several terms has served as supervisor of Pittsfield township. He belongs to Dick Gilmore post, No. 515, G. A. R., and both he and his wife are members of the Christian church. His entire life has been passed in Pike county and he has therefore been a witness of its growth and development through more than six decades. His acquaintance is wide and favorable for his strong and salient characteristics in financial, political, official and social circles have been such as to gain for him the warm regard and friendship of those with whom he has come in contact.

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