Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


WILLARD MAJOR BARRON. In placing the name of Willard Major Barron, of Republic, in the front rank of Greene county's business men, simple justice is done to a biographical fact, recognized throughout this section of the Ozark region by those at all familiar with his history, for he was the founder of the extensive manufacturing industry which bears his name. A man of wise discretion and business ability of a high order, he manages with tactful success an important enterprise and has so impressed his individuality upon the community as to gain recognition among its leading citizens and public-spirited men of affairs. What of the man and what of his work? This is the dual query which represents the interrogation at least nominally entertained whenever that discriminating factor, the public, would pronounce on the true worth of the individual. The career of Mr. Barron indicates the clear-cut, sane and distinct character, and in reviewing the same from an unbiased and unprejudiced standpoint, interpretation follows fact in a, straight line of derivation. In this publication it is consistent that such a review be entered, and that without the adulation of ornate praise.

Mr. Barron was born in Northhampton county, Pennsylvania, March 24, 1854. He is a son of Samuel C. and Sallie (Major) Barron. Samuel C. Barron was reared in Pennsylvania and received a good practical education, partly in the schools of Easton, that state, and later in life started in the retail cigar business for himself, which he continued until his death, in igo6. He and his wife were both natives of, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, and were reared and married there. The Major family were in the cooperage business in, that locality and were well known and highly respected, as were also the Barrons. During the war between the states Samuel C. Barron served three years as a soldier in the Union army, as a member of a regiment from his native state. For some time after the close of the war he followed blacksmithing, but later took up the cigar business. Toward the latter part of his life his eyesight failed and he finally went blind.

Willard. M. Barron was the, only child of his parents. He grew to manhood in Pennsylvania, remaining there until he was nineteen years of age, and there he was educated in the common schools. Leaving his native state he went to Michigan, locating twelve miles south of Kalamazoo, where he engaged in the grocery business for himself, later took in partners, the firm name becoming Barron, Frank Boner & Company, continuing for two years. During those early years in Michigan our subject learned the cooperage business; for which he seemed to have a natural bent. His grandfather had operated a cooper shop many years at Martin's Creek, Pennsylvania, near the city of Easton, and there young Barron often visited and watched the workmen at their tasks, however he did not attempt the work himself at that time. He worked under John B. Major, an uncle, who was engaged in this line of endeavor in Michigan. Mr. Major is now deceased. He was foreman of the cooperage plant owned by. Jacob Johnson,who hadmarried the mother of our subject and was therefore at that time our subject's, step-father. When twenty-two years old Willard M. Barron went to Winona, Minnesota, where he worked at the cooper's trade three years, then returned to Michigan and worked two years for his stepfather, then located in Schoolcraft, that state, and started a grocery store, which he conducted two years, then sold out and came to Missouri, buying a farm in Jasper county, in 1880. In 1887 he same to Springfield and worked for the Springfield Lumber and Cooperage Company about six years, then went to Mammoth Spring, Arkansas, where he had charge of the Mammoth Spring Roller Mills cooper shop, which position he held seven years, then went to Nashville, Tennessee, and took charge of the H. C. Mocker cooperage plant, which employed on an average of forty-five men. After spending two years there he returned to Springfield, Missouri, and took charge of the Wunderlich cooperage shop here, which he operated a year, which ended his work for other people. In all the above responsible positions he gave eminent satisfaction in every respect, being an exceptionally highly skilled workman, energetic, reliable and handled the men under him in a manner to get the best results possible and retain their good will at the same time. He continued learning the various ins and outs of the business until he felt eminently qualified to manage a plant of his own, and thus he went to Republic and began in the cooperage business for himself. He was successful from the first and his business grew by leaps and bounds under his able management and wise foresight until it has now reached enormous proportions and he has thriving factories in a number of other cities besides his main plant at Republic. Upon establishing his plant in the last named place he contracted to make the barrels for the Becker, Langerberger Milling Company of Republic, which, however, was even at that time owned by the R. C. Stone Milling Company. He has three other plants, one at Joplin, one at Carthage, one at Aurora and, formerly, he operated similar plants at Mt. Vernon and Marionville. His main plant and head office are at Republic, and the combined output of all his plants averages one hundred and fifty thousand barrels per year, all hand-made and of a superior quality and workmanship. The Barron Cooperage Company has a splendid financial rating and has from the first stood high in the industrial circles of the Southwest. Each factory is modern in every detail, equipped with up-to-date machinery and only the most highly skilled artisans are employed and the best material used. The various plants give employment to a large number of men.

Mr. Barron was married, first, to Mary Tweedy, a daughter of Thomas and Sarah Tweedy. Mr. Tweedy was a native of Ireland from which country he emigrated to New York, where he married a native of that state. He was a tailor by trade. Mrs. Barron was born in Constantine, Michigan, and was one of five children. She died three years after her marriage, without issue. Mr. Barron was married on January 5, 1879, to Sarah Jane Baldy, who was a daughter of Paul R. and Jane (Finley) Baldy, natives of Pennsylvania and Michigan, respectively. They were the parents of two children-Frank Baldy, who lives in Flint, Michigan; and Sarah Jane, wife of Mr. Barron. The latter was quite small when her mother died, and when her father married again he took her into his new home, she having spent about four years after her mother's death with an aunt in Pennsylvania. The mother of Mrs. Barron is living near Carthage, Jasper county, Missouri, where she owns about three-quarters section of very valuable land.

Four children have been born to Mr. Barron and his last wife, named as follows: Sallie Annette is the wife of, Edward Huckins and they live in Republic; Willard B. lives in Aurora, Missouri; Flora J. is the wife of J. C. McCleary, of Seattle, Washington; Lewis Whitfield lives in Joplin, Missouri.

These children all received good educational advantages and are well situated in life.

We quote the following paragraph from the leading newspaper of Aurora, this state, which article recently appeared, and we deem it in keeping with the rest of this chronicle:

"There may be some persons in Aurora and this section of the state who do not know that Willard M. Barron has one of his largest cooperage plants in this city, but everyone who is in the market for these goods has long since learned that Aurora supports one of the largest plants of this kind in southwest Missouri. The branch of the W. M. Barron Cooperage Company, which is established in Aurora is under, the personal direction of Willard B. Barron, who is a stockholder in the concern. He is the son of Willard M. Barron, who is known throughout this country as being the pioneer in cooperage works. The Barrons are a family of coopers. The father came to this country fourteen years ago and located in Springfield. After remaining there for one year he saw an opening at Republic and moved there. He has been established in that town for thirteen years, now. As he remained there he saw the development of the wonderful orchards throughout Missouri. It was at this time that Aurora became the center of large orchards and, knowing that great opportunities awaited him, he established his plant here. Willard B. Barron, who has been in charge of the plant for a number of years, has long since demonstrated that he is one of the true, live ones of Aurora. He is for everything that will develop the city, and progress is the motto of plant which he manages. With a number of young men of Mr. Barron's type in this city, Aurora would soon forgeto the front ranks of the cities of Missouri.

"Lewis W. Barron, youngest son of Willard M. Barron, is soon to take charge of the cooperage plants in Joplin and Carthage. These plants were established in July, 1913. The Barrons have been spreading out until they are now the 'barons' of the cooperage business in southwest Missouri. From twelve to fifteen men are employed at the plant here whose salaries run from eighteen to thirty dollars a week. The coopers work mostly by piece. As in the other Barron cooperage plants, the workmen in this city are highly skilled and are ranked among the high-class laborers of the city. Despite the adverse conditions of last year, the plant here has done a very nice business the present season. Thirteen cars of material have been shipped into Aurora and fifteen cars of barrels and other products of the cooperage plants have been shipped to points throughout the country. The products are not confined to this territory, but are sent to many of the neighboring states. Only recently a carload of the products was sent to Oswego, Kansas. Aurora is fortunate in having a large branch of such a concern. It means much to the city. Men are employed and money is brought here. It is such establishments, as W. M. Barron Cooperage Company that have put Aurora on the map as a commercial center"

Politically, Willard M. Barron is a Republican and is well-informed on current public matters. Fraternally, he belongs to the Masonic order, the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of the Maccabees, Woodmen of the World and Woodmen's Circle. Mrs. Barron is a member of the Ladies of Maccabees and the Woodmen's Circle. Both belong to the Methodist Episcopal church, in which they are active workers, he being president of the board of stewards and is also a trustee of the church. He was formerly leader in the Sunday school.

We close this article by quoting the last lines in an account of our subject and his large business interests, which appeared some time ago in a newspaper at Republic:

"Mr. Barron is a fervent Christian, being a member of the Hood Methodist Episcopal church. He has been Sunday school superintendent for four years. He is a member of nearly all the lodges in Republic. No better neighbor or honest man lives today than Willard Barron, of the city of Republic."

[1704-1708]


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