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Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa
Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887

CAPT. JOHN W. BARR, Sheriff of Benton County, residing at Vinton, was born March 12, 1840. He is the son of John Barr, one of the original proprietors of the Ohio State Journal, and who was its editor for many years. His father was born in Hagerstown, Md., in 1809. He was a college graduate and a man of more than ordinary ability. He established and published one of the first daily papers in Pittsburgh, Pa., previous to which time he published the Weekly Telegraph. After three years of constant work on the daily, on account of weak eyes he had to give up literary work. He then removed to Sandusky County, Ohio, where he took up a large tract of land, a part of which now comprises the town of Clyde, on the Columbus & Cleveland Railroad. In 1820 he married Miss Maria S. Spencer, a native of Pennsylvania. Two children were born to them — John W., and Mary J., now the wife of H. D. Smith, of Clinton, Iowa. He was an ardent supporter of Henry Clay, an old-line Whig, a man of quiet dispositiou. He died in 1845. His widow still lives and now resides at Clinton, Iowa.

John W. Barr, the subject of this sketch, was educated in the common school at Wooster, Ohio. In the spring of 1860 he went to Davis, Stephenson Co., Ill., where he married Lottie K. Davis, a daughter of Horatio G. Davis. Mrs. Barr was born in Rock Run Township, Stephenson Co., Ill., in 1840, and died in Vinton, Sept. l5, 1880. Soon after the breaking out of the Rebellion Mr. Barr enlisted in Co. B, 46th Ill. Vol. Inf., as a private. The regiment rendezvoused at Camp Butler, near Springfield, Ill., but was soon sent to the front and participated in the siege and capture of Ft. Donelson. It was next in the battle of Shiloh, where Mr. Barr was wounded twice by musket balls, first in the head, and the second ball entered the right side and passed to the spinal column. He carries the ball to this day. He lay upon the field for thirty-six hours and was then taken to the hospital, where he remained for four mouths. After the battle of Ft. Donelson he was promoted from Co. B to First Lieutenant of Co. F.   In September, 1864, he was commissioned Captain at Natchez, Miss. In the spring of 1865 he was upon the staff of Gen. Crocker, and was also on duty under Gen. J. W. Davidson, and assigned as Acting Ordnance Officer of the Southern District of Mississippi, where he remained until the close of the war, when he returned to his home at Davis. Capt. Barr was wounded again in the right arm in a cavalry skirmish in Louisiana, and was taken prisoner May 22, 1863, at Vicksburg; at the end of five weeks he was paroled. In the fall of 1866 Capt. Barr came to Vinton, where he had previously purchased land. Mrs. Barr died in 1880, leaving six children — Lottie L., wife of Milo P. Whipple; John Davis, Minnie M., Mary E., Bessie B., Ralph D. Mrs. Barr was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a sincere Christian and highly respected by all who knew her.

Capt. Barr was again married, June 11, 1883, to Miss Agnes S. McLanahan, a native of Pennsylvania. Two children blessed this union — Mabel and Edna.

Capt. Barr is a member of the Benton County Veteran Association, and is the present Quartermaster of the organization. He is also a member of P. M. Coder Post, G. A. R., and was its first Senior Vice-Commander. He is likewise a member of Vinton Lodge, No. 62, A. F. & A. M.; of the Knights of Pythias and the United Workmen. In politics he is a stanch Republican and cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln. In addition to the office of Sheriff he is a member of the City Council. Capt. Barr is a self-made man, and has always "paddled his own canoe."

Source Citation: "1887 Benton County, Iowa Biographies"  [database online]  Benton County IAGenWeb Project. <>
Original data: "Portrait and Biographical Album of Benton County, Iowa." Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887, p. 198-199.
Transcribed by: Sue Soden. Submitted to the Benton County IAGenWeb Project on January 28th, 2009.  Copyright © 2009 The IAGenWeb Project.

Return to: 1887 Biography Index

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