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


JAMES HARVEY BARTON. Great achievements always excite admiration. Men of deeds are the men whom the world delights to honor. Ours is an age representing the most electrical progress in all lines of material activity, and the man of initiative is the one who forges to the front in the industrial world. Among the distinctive captains of industry of a past generation in Greene county, a place of priority must be accorded to the late James Harvey Barton, for to him was due the upbuilding of an industry which was not only one of the most important in the locality of which this history treats, but also one of the most extensive of its kind in southern Missouri. The comparatively brief time in which he obtained pronounced results as a man of affairs further testify to his exceptional administrative ability and executive power. The city of Ash Grove and vicinity owe him a debt of gratitude which can never be paid. Mr. Barton was in the fullest sense of the word a progressive, virile, self-made American citizen, thoroughly in harmony with the spirit of the advanced age in which he lived, while he made the most of his opportunities and worked his way upward from a beginning none too auspicious to a noble and worthy success. He made good use of his opportunities and prospered from year to year, conducting all business matters carefully and systematically, and in all his acts displaying an aptitude for successful management. He did not permit the accumulation of fortune to affect in any way his actions toward those less fortunate than he, and he always had a cheerful word and a helping hand for those in need. Indeed, Mr. Barton was a most companionable gentleman, and had a very wide circle of warm and admiring friends throughout southwestern Missouri. All who came within range of his influence were profuse in their praise of his admirable qualities, and the high regard in which he was always held, not only in commercial but in social life, indicated the possession of attributes and characteristics that fully entitled him to the respect and good will of his fellowman, which were freely accorded by all with whom he came in contact.

Mr. Barton was born in St. Louis, Missouri, March 29, 1844. He was a son of Waite and Hannah (Frothingham) Barton. The father of the subject of this memoir was born in New England and there grew to manhood and was educated, and in an early day he came west and located in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a member of the famous band of "forty-niners," making the hazardous journey across the great western plains to the California gold fields, and while in that state was a member of the noted Vigilant Committee. His wife died in early life, about 1848, but he lived to a good old age.

Upon the death of his mother, James Harvey Barton, then only four years old, was sent to the home of his aunt in Boston, Massachusetts, where he grew to manhood and was educated. When eighteen years of age he enlisted for service in the Union army, becoming a member of Company A. Forty-second. Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, in which he served faithfully and gallantly for three years, taking part in a number of the important battles of the war, and was honorably discharged in 1865. After the war he joined his father in Quincy, Illinois, and made a trip through Kansas then back to St. Louis. When the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad Company built its lines west from that city he followed the construction with a supply store, which he continued until he reached Pierce City, Missouri, where he engaged in the lumber business for a few years, then built a lime kiln which he operated until 1880. In that year he came to Ash Grove, and in company with Charles W. Goetz and W. B. Hill, formed the Ash Grove White Lime Association. They began with one kiln, but their business increased continuously until in a few years they had eleven kilns running, using about forty cords of wood a day. A large number of men were employed, and the owners of timbered lands did a thriving business. The firm shipped its first lime in May, 1881. They also established a two-kiln lime plant at Galloway. The firm incorporated in 1907 as the Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company, with a capital stock of two million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars, which stock is a staple one of the country. The cement they handle is manufactured at Chanute, Kansas. The firm is one of the largest of its kind in the Middle West and is widely known, doing an extensive business over a wide territory. One hundred and forty men are now employed by the plant at Ash Grove, this plant being modernly equipped in every respect and has a capacity of fourteen hundred barrels and three hundred barrels at the Galloway plant. The firm owns four hundred acres of splendid quarry land, located just west of Ash Grove, and four hundred and fifty acres of equally as good land just north of the city. The firm also owns and operates its own cooperage plant, making all the barrels it uses. It is not too much to say that this company is the largest and best equipped lime and cement manufacturing concern west of the Mississippi river and rivaling any industry of its kind in the United States. And the motive force back of the establishment and development of this mammoth concern was Mr. Barton, who made few mistakes in a business way and who was a man of rare foresight and courage.

Mr. Barton lived in Springfield for a period of eleven years, but returned to Ash Grove to make his future home in 1900, spending his last years at his beautiful estate, Woodbine, one of the most splendid country homes in southwest Missouri.

Mr. Barton was married in 1877 to Cynthia Hill, who was born in Covington, Ohio. She is a daughter of Thomas and Mary (Yetter) Hill, who finally removed from the Buckeye state to Carthage, Missouri. Mr. Hill was for years engaged in the live stock business.

To Mr. and Mrs. Barton three children were born, namely: William .H., born October 23, 1884, was educated in the Springfield public school, which he attended three years, then was a student at Drury College four years, then spent three years in the Shattuck Military Academy, at Fairbault, Minnesota. He was graduated from the high school at Ithaca, New York, in 1904, and from Cornell University at that place in 1908, from the mechanical engineering department. At this writing he is superintendent of the plants of the Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company in Greene county, and is a young man of much business ability. In June, 1909 he married Edna Baldwin, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, August 21, 1886, and died January 29, 1913, leaving one child, James H. Barton, whose birth occurred April 19, 1912. Helen, the second child of James Harvey Barton and wife, was born January 1, 1886, and is now the wife of Dr. Harry M. Hosmer; James H., Jr., youngest of the children, was born in 1889 and died in 1897.

Politically, Mr. Barton was a Republican and fraternally a member of the Masonic order.

Mr. Barton was called to his eternal rest August 3, 1907, at the age of sixty-four years, while still in the fullness of his powers and usefulness. Interment of Mr. Barton's remains was made in Maple Park cemetery, Springfield.

We quote the following lines from an article which appeared in the Ash Grove Commonwealth at the time of our subject's death:

"Mr. Barton was an optimist of the broadest type, energetic, pushing and always sanguine of the future. He knew no such word as failure in any of his business ventures, and to this energy the Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company is indebted for its splendid growth and present magnitude. He was ever kind and considerate of the welfare of those in his employ and enjoyed their trust and respect to the fullest. As one of the employees expressed it after his death, We worked together as one big family. He could have been worth a half million more but for his generosity to those in his employ. No more fitting tribute than this could be paid to the memory of any man that those who worked with and for him loved and respected him. No public enterprise for the betterment of the community that came to his notice was left unaided, and in his death Ash Grove has lost one of her stanchest friends and helpers, and the Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company a master mind, capable of grasping the opportunities for its future development." The following is a paragraph from an article entitled "Death of a Prominent Citizen," which appeared in the Journal, of Everton, Missouri, at the time of our subject's death:

"With the last twenty-five years there has been no movement for the betterment of Ash Grove and vicinity that Mr. Barton has not been identified with. He has ever been for progress and improvement. Liberal and broad-minded, he endeared himself to hundreds of men who were in his employ, and together with Mrs. Barton has done much for the mental and moral advancement of the people who have built up a little city around the big plant. All during his illness the workmen at the plant, together with their families and his friends from Ash Grove and Springfield, have besieged the Woodbine home for news of the sick man whom they loved so well. His death has cast a pall over the city of Ash Grove."

From these paragraphs it will be seen that Mr. Barton was eminently deserving of the high esteem in which he was universally held.

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