Biography of John Barton of Gardner, Illinois

The number of residents of Grundy county of English nativity is not large, but in this county, as elsewhere, residents of English birth have demonstrated their capacity for good citizenship. The Englishman is usually enterprising, and he is always intelligent, liberal and patriotic. He is imbued with the same spirit of progressiveness that animates his cousin, the Yankee, and readily and cordially joins hands with the latter in the work of civilization and development. John Barton, of Gardner, Grundy county, Illinois, has illustrated this fact in his everyday life and proven it by his success. Proud that he is an Englishman,—for when you look the world over you come to the conclusion that it is a good thing to be an Englishman,—he is no less proud that he is an American also,—an American in progressiveness, in patriotism, in love for humanity.

He first saw the light in Lincolnshire, England, one day in 1844. His father, Samuel Barton, never came to this country. Francis, a brother, came previously, and is now living at Wheaton, Illinois. John was educated in his native England and learned the trade of milling. In 1871 he came to America, and, making his way west to Illinois, located at Keithsburg, in Mercer county, where he lived four years, and after that he engaged in farming near that village. In 1881 he became a resident at Gardner, and until 1888 was employed by Louis Germain in the operation of the machinery of the elevator at that place.

Mr. Barton was the assessor of Greenfield township from 1891 to 1897, inclusive. He has been a justice of the peace since 1892 and notary public since 1893. He is a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church, and in the year immediately preceding his coming to Gardner he was the pastor of a church near Bushnell, Illinois. He still occasionally fills appointments. In his political affiliations he is a Republican. His public spirit has caused him to take an interest in many movements planned for the good of the public, and he is regarded as a worthy and most useful citizen. As a Christian and a preacher of the word of God, he naturally feels a deep interest in all religious work, which he aids so far as possible whenever opportunity is presented. The moral example of his life is of high utility in the community, and as a public official he perhaps exemplifies the highest conception of official integrity and faithfulness as brilliantly as any public functionary in the country.

In 1872 Mr. Barton was married, at Keithsburg, Illinois, to Miss Emma Ball. Mr. and Mrs. Barton have five children,—one son and four daughters,—named as follows: George, Mary, Lizzie, Lottie and Lulu. All of them except the youngest are graduates of the high school at Gardner. George has been bookkeeper for the Gardner-Wilmington Coal Company since 1893.


Genealogical and biographical record of Will County, Illinois : containing biographies of well known citizens of the past and present. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1900, Pages 604-605.

Barton, John, now a justice of the peace at Gardner, Ill., and one of the most able men holding this office in Grundy County, has discharged its duties continuously for the past nineteen years, but otherwise is living retired after years of earnest and steadfast endeavor. Mr. Barton was born November 26, 1844, in England, as were his parents Samuel and Ann (Bagley) Barton, both of whom passed away in their native land, the father dying in the early seventies, at Newcastle, where he was buried. The mother removed to Lincolnshire where she died and is buried. These parents had the following children: Sarah; Francis, who married Elizabeth Briggs, resides at Wheaton, Ill.; John; Elizabeth, who died at the age of seventeen years in England; Mary Ann, who died in England; Henry, who died when sixty years old, in England; Susan, who is married and resides in England; Lizzie, who is Mrs. T. Buchanan, lives in England, and Thomas, who died in military service in England.

In 1871 John Barton came to the United States, first living at Keithsburg, Mercer County, Ill., where for five years he rented a farm, but in 1878 he moved to Grundy County and continued to rent land in the vicinity of Gardner. Later he disposed of his agricultural interests and moving to Gardner was employed to operate the machinery in the elevator at that place. At the expiration of some six years Mr. Barton found himself impoverished in health and pocket, so decided to rest until he recovered his strength. In 1891 he was elected assessor of Greenfield Township, and in 1893 he was elected a justice of the peace which office he has since held.

Mr. Barton was married in Mercer County, June 18, 1872, to Emma Ball, a native of England, born in 1842, and was brought to America by her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Barton have had five children: George, who is living at Braceville, is cashier of the People’s Bank there; Mary Ann is the wife of Adam Nutt, and they are living on a farm near Braceville; Lizzie and Lottie, both of whom are living at home; and Lulu, who married Don H. Rogers and live in Webster County, Iowa. These children were all graduated from the Gardner High school, and all, except Mrs. Rogers have taught in the county schools. Mr. Barton owns his comfortable home in Gardner. Politically he is a Republican, but has always given a strong support to the temperance cause, being a total abstainer himself. For many years he was clerk of the old township, being its last in fact, and the first the new township was given. His religious affiliations are with the Methodist church. He and his wife are highly regarded throughout the neighborhood.


History of Grundy County, Illinois. Chicago, IL, USA: Munsell Publishing, 1914, p. 762.

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