The true western spirit of progress and enterprise is strikingly exemplified in the busy life of Charles Barr, a man whose energetic nature and laudable ambitions have enabled him to conquer many adverse circumstances and advance steadily until he won and still retains a prominent position in the business world. He is a worthy representative of an old Ohio family, and was himself born in Brown county, that state, his natal day being July 25, 1850. In an early day his paternal grandfather, Peter Barr, a native of North Carolina, migrated to Brown county, Ohio, and there founded the branch of the family from which Charles is descended. Among the children of Peter was Harrison Barr, who married, in the county of Brown, Eliza Ann Ellis and who, a number of years later, moved to Hancock county, Indiana, and became prominently identified with the business interests of Greenfield as a stockholder and director of the Greenfield Banking Company.
Harrison Barr was a successful business man, also an enterprising farmer, devoting many years of his life to agricultural pursuits. He was twice married, his second companion being Miss Amanda Ellis, a cousin of the first wife. He died September 15, 1878, aged fifty years, and some time thereafter his widow became the wife of Arnett Stanford, with whom she is living in Greenfield at the present time.
Charles Barr, whose name introduces this review, is the son of Harrison Barr by the first marriage. He was four years old when his mother died and he grew to young manhood in his native county and state, pursuing his studies meanwhile in the common schools, which he attended of winter seasons until nearly his twentieth year. He remained on the home until twenty-three years of age and them came to Indiana, locating in Marion county, where, on the 5th day of march, 1873, he was united in the bonds of wedlock to Miss Elizabeth McConnell, whose father, Charles McConnell, was a large farmer and extensive land-owner of that part of the state. Mrs. Barr was the youngest member of her fathers family and upon the occasion of her marriage was given on hundred and twenty acres of land, upon which she and her husband set up their first domestic establishment. Mr. McConnell passed the latter years of his life with Mr. and Mrs. Barr and died at their home at the age of seventy-two. He was one of the most successful agriculturists and stock raisers of Marion county and accumulated a respectable fortune, a part of which consisted of real estate in various parts of Indiana, including one thousand acres of valuable land in the county of Marion, much of which is still in possession of his descendants. Mrs. Barrs share of the estate included the old family homestead, which her parents settled when the country was new and which in time became one of the best improved and most valuable farms in the vicinity of the state capital. To this farm Mr. Barr subsequently added forty acres and he continued to cultivate the place until the death of his wife, in April, 1885, after which, by reason of broken health, he abandoned agricultural pursuits and took up his residence in the city of Greenfield. Prior to that time he had become interested in the bank at Greenfield, inheriting his fathers share in the institution which, with that of his own, represented in 1885 about one-tenth of the capital stock. From that year until 1889 he did little beyond looking after his financial affairs and the recuperating of his health, which, as already indicated, had become greatly impaired while he was prosecuting his labors on the farm.
In 1889 Mr.. Barr, in partnership with W. S. Friese, a civil engineer, began contracting for street and sewer work, a business relationship which lasted about ten years, when the firm became Friese, Barr & Moulden, Jasper H. Moulden being admitted as a partner. While thus engaged they did a large and successful business in various parts of Indiana and Illinois, among the more important contracts being the work done in the cities of Danville and Mattoon, in the latter state, and Anderson and Indianapolis, in the former. The Anderson contract amounted to sixty-five thousand dollars, including the grading and graveling of streets, curbing, etc., the work being completed between the months of May and October, during which time an average of three hundred men were kept constantly employed. The members of the firm had the work under their personal supervision. Up to that time the Anderson contract was perhaps the largest of the kind in the state and the work, completed to the letter according to plans and specifications, was so generally satisfactory in every detail as to elicit the highest encomiums for the public. The Indianapolis contract was for the laying of a large sewer, fourteen feet deep, and by employing a force of three hundred and sixty-five laborers the work was finished and received within two weeks. Additional to the work in the cities mention, Mr. Barr did a large amount of business in many other places, among which was the grading and laying the walk around the new court house in Greenfield, besides other jobs of various kinds in the city and elsewhere throughout Hancock county. During the term of years in which Mr. Barr was engaged in business he never had a strike among his hands, nor were there ever any differences of any consequence between him and those in his employ,. The business proved to an eminent degree satisfactory financially, and the superior character of the work done by the firm earned for the gentlemen comprising it a wide and enviable reputation throughout Indiana and neighboring states.
On account of continued indifferent health, aggravated by exposure while personally overseeing his work, Mr. Barr, about the year 1899, retired from the firm and since that time has devoted his attention to his private business interests. Since the organization of the Greenfield Banking Company he has been a heavy stockholder and member of the directors and in January, 1891, was elected vice-president of the institution, the duties of which position he is still discharging in a manner creditable to himself and to the entire satisfaction of everybody concerned. He is one of the able and reliable financiers of this section of the state and to his wise and conservative action is the bank largely indebted for much of the success and popularity which it today enjoys. He is a man of great sagacity, is rarely mistaken in his judgment of me or in matters of business, and he usually foresees with clearness future possibilities and determines with a high degree of accuracy the outcome of present plans and deliberations. He has achieved success in his various undertakings such as few attain and at the present time is accounted one of the wealthy men of Hancock county, owning in addition to a one-tenth interest in the bank, a valuable farm of one hundred and sixty-six acres in Center township, a fine business property in Greenfield, besides a splendid residence and other holdings in the city, to say nothing of the large amount of personal property in his possession. His home is perhaps the finest and best-appointed dwelling in the city and, believing the good things of this world were created for utilitarian purposes, he has surrounded himself with such conveniences and luxuries as large wealth and refined taste can procure. Barring ill health, he is as well prepared to enjoy life as one in his favorable circumstances can find it in his power to do.
Mr. Barrs first marriage was blessed with one daughter, Jennie L., who is still a member of the home circle. His second marriage, solemnized on the 2d of June, 1886, with Miss Flora Heizer, of Brown count, Ohio, a lady whom he has known from childhood, resulted in the birth of two sons, Clarence H. and Henry B.
Mr. Barr is a Democrat in his political views and for a number of years past has taken quite an interest in promoting the success of his party in the county of Hancock. While he has never sough honors or emoluments of public office, he was prevailed upon at one time to permit his name to go before the convention as candidate for the nomination of county auditor. The choice falling to another in no wise disconcerted him or in the least dampened his ardor in the campaign which followed, as he gave the ticket his unqualified approval and by his activity and influence contributed much to its success at the polls. He is a man of firm and decided convictions , with the courage to express and maintain the soundness of his views and opinions whenever such procedure becomes necessary. With no visible connection with any church organization, he has gi en the subject of religion much intelligent thought and upon it, as upon other great questions, his opinions have been formed only after mature deliberations. To live and do good is one of the cardinal principles of his life and his long and busy career has been largely moulded and directed by this most excellent precept. Fraternally Mr. Barr is a Mason of high degree, belonging to the Greenfield lodge, where he was initiated into the mysteries of the order in 1886. He has served in several important official positions in both blue lodge and chapter and is considered one of the brightest craftsmen in the organization to which he belongs.
Mr. Barr is an admirer of manly sports and each year takes an outing with a few congenial spirits, visiting interesting places of resort and finding rest and recreation with rod an gun. He has sent home many trophies of the hunt and chase and has quite a fine collection of curios of different kinds collected while on his various tours.
In all of his business transactions, as well as in his social relations, Mr. Barr has manifested unquestioned integrity and the demeanor of a gentleman, gaining by his unassuming manners and kindly personal bearing many friends in the city of Greenfield and throughout Hancock county. By reason of his large success, his unblemished character, a just and liberal life and the universal esteem which he enjoys, Mr. Barr may without invidious distinction be classed as one of the honored and prominent residents of the city in which he lives. A liberal donor to all enterprises calculated to advance the interests of the community in every commendable way, a becoming modesty, which is one of his characteristics, causes him to be averse to making any display of his benefactions.
Transcribed from Biographical Memoirs of Hancock County B. F. Bowen, Publisher, Logansport, Indiana, 1902 Pages 252-255.
Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI July 7, 2002.
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