Calhoun County

1891 Biography - William Barber

PROF. WILLIAM E. BARBER, County Superintendent of Public Instruction of Calhoun County, is the occupant of a pleasant home on section 6, in Hamburg Precinct. He owns there one hundred and forty acres of good land which he has brought to such a thoroughly-developed and well improved state that it is one of the most attractive rural homes in this section of Illinois. Prof. Barber is a self-made man in so far as his financial standing and worldly possessions are concerned, he having acquired his estate by dint of personal efforts, his only capital in life having been the education received in the common and high schools of his native place.

Prof. Barber is of English ancestry, at least in the paternal line, and several members of the family were soldiers during the Revolutionary War. The first settlement made in America by the Barbers was in 1635, in the old Bay State. There the father of our subject, Ephraim Barber, was born. He came west to St. Louis. Mo., about 1838, and had charge of the St. Louis Arsenal at the time of his death in 1844. In the Old Dominion Mary C. Berry was born, going thence to St. Louis, Mo., before the old French fortifications were demolished and when the now flourishing city was but a small town. She became the wife of Ephraim Barber and the mother of him whose history is the subject of these paragraphs. She is still living, spending the greater part of her time in St. Louis.

In that city April 15, 1843, the eyes of William E. Barber opened to the light of day. He is the only son in his father's family. He pursued the course of study taught in his native place and was graduated from the High School in 1861. The following fall he went to Cairo, Ill., where he remained a twelve-month clerking in the post-office. He then went to Memphis, Tenn., where he held a similar position until September, 1863, when he returned to his native place. In the fall of 1864 he was enrolled in Company F, Eighty-fifth Enrolled Missouri Militia, and spent some three months in the service, having been enlisted for an emergency. During a part of the time he was Ordnance Sergeant. The company was stationed on the Iron Mountain railroad at De Soto to guard railroad property.

After his term of service Mr. Barber returned to his native place, passed his first examination under John H. Tice, then School Commissioner of St. Louis County, Mo., and taught there one term. In 1866 he removed to Calhoun County, Ill., locating on a farm which he has successfully operated. He has taught perhaps a dozen terms of school in this State at different periods and in various districts.

At the bride's home, October 20, 1871, Mr. Barer was married to Sarah M. Temple, a native of East Tennessee and daughter of the Rev. Charles Temple, who died when the daughter was five years old. The widowed mother went to St. Louis County, Mo., and Mrs. Barber was reared there in the family of her uncle, John N. Gilbreath. She is an intelligent, refined woman of superior character who conscientiously discharges the duties which lie before her. The happy union of Mr. and Mrs. Barber has been blest by the birth of six children: Bertram T., William E., Charles G., Jessie, Robert T. and Mary.

Prof. Barber is a Republican and in the fall of 1886 was nominated for the position of County Superintendent of Public Instruction. He was elected for a term of four years and has served with credit to himself and his constituents. In his official capacity his eminent ability is recognized by all irrespective of party, as may be seen by the fact that while Calhoun County is strongly Democratic yet he was elected over the regular Democratic nominee and his election secured by Democratic votes. This in itself is sufficient proof of his popularity in the county wherein he had previously made an excellent reputation as a public school teacher. He has served as Chairman of the Calhoun County Republican convention and his stand on all questions of public polity is thoroughly understood by his acquaintances.

Professor and Mrs. Barber hold membership in the Presbyterian Church and take an active part in the work carried on by the society. Mr. Barber is now President of the Sunday-school organization of Calhoun County and has long been an ardent worker in the Sunday-school. He is public-spirited, a believer in keeping abreast of the times and is liberal toward all enterprises having for their object the elevation of society and the improvement of the community. Socially Prof. Barber is an affable, obliging and entertaining gentleman and his presence is therefore greatly desired at social gatherings. Prof. Barber was a candidate for reelection for Superintendent of Schools but was defeated with the other members of the Republican party in this county.

Extracted 23 Mar 2017 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Album of Pike and Calhoun Counties, Illinois, published in 1891, pages 783-784

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