THOMAS J. BARR AND
MARY GRANT-BARR FAMILY
Thomas J. Barr was born in April, 1824 and reared on a farm in Donegal, Ireland. It was the year one of Beethoven's greatest masterpieces, Symphony No. 9, premiered in Vienna. He would move to America in the middle part of the 1800's to join his brother William Barr, who had preceded him here. Thomas hired to a Quaker farmer, and remained in Pennsylvania for six years. He ran a "dray" (a cart designed to carry heavy loads) for awhile, before engaging in mining and farming while starting his family with his bride Mary Grant-Barr, in Shackelford, Missouri, where they lived out their lives.
His brother William Barr was born circa 1827 on the family farm in Donegal, Ireland. The younger William was the first of his siblings to emigrate from Ireland, landing in Pennsylvania in the mid-1800's. Our research indicates a William Barr from Ireland, born 1827, who had also immigrated to Pennsylvania. He must be our Thomas J. Barr's brother, for he was, as was Thomas, also a drayman. We do know, that there was only one William from Ireland, living in Philadelphia, born in the 1820's, that was on the rolls for the 1860, 1870, and 1880 Pennsylvania cencus. While we have never found any of William's extended family, we do know that our William had at least one child, a daughter. If she was an only child, it is possible that William's branch of the Barr family ended with his passing.
In May 2011, we received Mary A. Barr's 1904 obituary that states that she was survived by her two brothers: Thomas Barr of Shackelford, Missouri and William Barr of Philadelphia. It was only then that we learned there were at least these three Barr siblings that left Ireland and moved to America at various times, where they would meet up in Pennsylvania. It reflects that Mary was born in 1830 Donegal, Ireland, and landed in Pennsylvania "during the late 1840's or early 1850's".
Mary Barr would at some point marry Michael McCall, and would remain in Pennsylvania. The two had six children, two of which died at a young age. Mary died November, 1904, (nine months after Michael McCall would pass), in Freemansburg, Pennsylvania, both buried at St. Michael's Cemetary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Cathy Summers (5th generation Thomas Barr descendant) sent us an article of unknown origin, that reflects Thomas J. Barr was engaged to Mary Grant-Barr in Ireland, and that Thomas sent for her once he had established in America. She joined Thomas, but missed her brother Richard (born in 1833 Londonderry, Ireland), who was her only remaining family member. Thomas J. Barr provided Richard Grant's passage money and Richard agreed to work in the coal mine on Thomas's farm to repay the money. Richard then sent money back to County Meath, Ireland, for his fiancee Anna Cooney (born 1832), to join him here. The two would have eight children: Mathew, James, Charles, Tom, Mollie, Janie, Maggie, and Katherine Grant. Anna Cooney also had one brother (Charlie), who came to America and worked on the railroad.
Mary Grant-Barr's parents lived and died in Ireland. She was born there in February, 1828. Other than the aforementioned Richard Grant, we don't know if she had any more siblings.
Thomas J. Barr and Mary Grant married in 1856. Some believe that the two married in Pennsylvania, while their granddaughter Gladys Ruff-Barr wrote that the two held their nuptuals in Burlington, Iowa, where they had since located, and had their first children, before ultimately settling in Saline County, Missouri to farm and raise their family.
On June 1, 1847, Arrow Rock, Missouri resident W. A. Beeding wrote to his cousin in St. Charles, Missouri, the following; “There is money to be made in this upper country speculating…Saline County consists of a great deal of wealth it is mostly all well improved and thickly settled by intelligent and respectable people.” Saline County was one of the wealthiest Missouri River counties, along with Boone, Manitou, Howard, Chariton, Cooper, Lafayette, Ray, Clay, and Jackson counties.
Saline County had more miles of riverfront and excessively rich bottomland soil than any other county in the state. Steamboat traffic on the Missouri River facilitated the movement of agricultural produce, manufactured goods and people to and from Saline county. From March to November when the Missouri River was free of ice the ports of Miami and Arrow Rock were constantly busy. The major east to west trails crossing the state passed through the county further enhancing commerce. Marshall, Missouri, became the county seat when it established in 1820. Saline County was named for the regions's salt springs.
Their agricultural produce such as pork, beef, corn and salt would be shipped to the Mississippi Delta to
slaves working the cotton fields. Missouri mules, whose industry was rooted in the Santa Fe trade, formed the majority
of draft animals used for plowing the cotton fields. In the 1850s, Arrow Rock residents Claiborne Fox Jackson and
O.B. Pearson formed a partnership to regularly ship these locally produced commodities to the cotton district of
Natchez, Mississippi. The economic prosperity of Saline County was thus tied directly to the prosperity of the cotton
industry of the South. Slavery was the foundation of the economy for both regions and they nurtured and supported each
Western Missouri had been a difficult place to settle since the "Show Me State" was established in 1821. In the decades prior to the Civil War, residents to the north of Saline County would find themselves in skirmishes with Indians from Iowa.
Largely a slave state during the 1861-1865 Civil War, Missouri was the only dual-government state in the Union during the war period. Abraham Lincoln garnered not one single vote from Saline County.
Later, south of Saline County, Mormons would themselves cause quite a stir west of Independence, where, numbering in the hundreds, they entered several thousands of acres of land, established a newspaper, and "prepared to found the new Jerusalem on earth". (Switzler's History of Missouri, page 241). Following the Mormon War of 1883, the Mormons would leave Independence.
The early setting was literally a scene straight out of the Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) story as it unfolded, by the time the Thomas J. Barr and Mary Grant-Barr family arrived in Saline County. The 225 foot, 242 ton steamship Tropic, "rendered somewhat famous by its connection with the great humorist Mark Twain, sunk just west of the confines of Saline County in 1856" (History of Saline County, Missouri Historical Company, St. Louis, 1881). This was the year Thomas and Mary married. The boat was snagged and lost on the Missouri River with 12-15 lives lost. Also, the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, conceived in the office of Twain's father John H. Clemens in Hannibal, Missouri, was built between Hannibal and the population and trade center of the area (nearby St. Joseph, Missouri). Its construction began in both towns, and the lines would meet in Chillicothe, Missouri, on February 13, 1859. The rail served the Pony Express, and once carried Abraham Lincoln to a campaign stop in Iowa. Soon after, the Barr farm would establish right between the two Twain (Clemons) landmarks.
Thomas and Mary arrived in the Shackelford, Missouri area (by some accounts), in 1865, where they rented a farm for two years, then bought forty acres of raw land to improve southwest of Shackelford. We think the year 1865 is innacurate, for we have a document dated October 19th, 1864 that speaks to Thomas Barr's petitioning county road commissioners to create a public road to the Barr property. During discussions, Thomas Barr had said that he thought $231.55 "seems" like alot of money to me for the times" for the 3/4-mile road, which would be 20 feet across, and was later laid along the south border of the Barr Farm...
Meanwhile, Quantrill's Raiders were conducting Confederate ambushes on Union troops at the Missouri/Kansas border to the West of the Barr Farm. After the Civil War, former members of the Raiders would form the outlaw Frank and Jesse James Gang. The James Farm is close to the Saline County Barr Farm, in the gentle slopes of neighboring Clay County. Jesse James became famous 7 December 1869, when he and (most likely) Frank robbed the Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri, and, Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden set a reward for his capture.
Daviess County Savings Association
The 1869 bank robbery marked the first time Missouri proclaimed Frank and Jesse James as outlaws. The building, located on the southwest corner of the Gallatin business square, is shown shortly before it was demolished. Standing second from right is J.J. Mettle, who owned the building when this photo was taken (Courtesy Daviess County Historical Society). While the James Farm would be used as a hideout, the Thomas J. Barr farm would be used for more agricultural pursuits. The elder Thomas Barr would survive Jesse James by almost thirty years.
Both the Barr Farm and James Farms remain today.
In 1867, a consortium of Charles E. Kearney, Robert T. Van Horn, and Kersey Coates persuaded the railroad to build a cutoff at Cameron to Kansas City, Missouri. The railroad, through its subsidiary Kansas City and Cameron Railroad, built a shortcut with the 1,371-foot Hannibal Bridge over the Missouri River to downtown Kansas City. The bridge established a direct link between Chicago and Texas. It was the first rail bridge across the Missouri River when it opened July 3, 1869, and established Kansas City rather than Leavenworth or St. Joseph as the dominant city in the region. (Wikipedia). This would have numerous implications to Saline County farmers such as Thomas Barr, who over time bought several tracts of land totaling over five hundred acres, amongst the most valued in the area.
After construction of the Hannibal Bridge, the Kansas City population would boom.
A century later, the 1967 Missouri Historical Society Book recognized that early numbers of the Barr family in the Shackelford, Missouri community, would "far outnumber those of any other family". Thomas J. Barr was proud to to be known as one of the most "prominent and substantial men in the area", always investing his surplus money in land, farming, and stock raising. He was a life-long member of the Catholic faith, and raised his family in his faith. It is said that his character was "beyond reproach".
Thomas and Mary enjoyed full and useful lives, both living past eighty years of age. Published works have said that Thomas and Mary had eight children, however our research reflects that they had ten, including a twin boy and girl, and two that died at a very early age. A few of the older children were born in the log cabin they had built 1/4-mile from the county road, yet their hard work eventually allowed them many comforts, including a "beautifully located home, many outbuildings, and everything to make a life in the country desirable and pleasant".
Thomas and Mary home Circa 1900
This house replaced the original log cabin that was home for Thomas, Mary, and their first four or five children. Thomas J. Barr and Mary Grant-Barr raised ten children in this Saline County farm house, two of which would die at any early age. The children probably would have attended Green Mound Rural School about a mile southeast of here. This framed house was used by the Thomas J. Barr family until late 1902, when Thomas and Mary would move. All the children were grown by then. Son Charles Barr would remain in the home and on the farm.
Thomas J. Barr would die in 1910, a year before Mary Grant-Barr passed, both in Shackelford, Missouri. His sister Mary Barr-McCall had preceded him in death by six years. It is unclear where their brother William Barr passed, (although he survived his sister's 1904 passing, and the two still lived in Philadelphia at the time).
While much has changed with the Barr farm since the Civil War years, 4th-generation Wayne Charles Barr still operates the farm. It is one of ten Missouri farms that have been designated "Saline County Century Farms". These are farms that have been in the same family for 100 years or more, and are recognized at annual ceremonies.
The old Shackelford Bridge
Richard "Dick" Barr b. 5/15/1857 Bulrington, IA. d. 11/11/1935 Shackelford, MO. m. Catherine Holmes 3/05/1889 in Shackelford, MO. b. 10/24/1859 or 1861 d. 1938 Shackelford, MO. (parents Mr/Mrs Patrick Holmes). Seven children.
Mary Jane Barr b. 1859 Burlington, IA. d. 1940 Norman, OK. m. Bailey Carlton Belt 1884 in Marshall, MO. b. 7/10/1848 Faquier, VA. d. 1939 Norman, OK. Four children.
Anna "Annie" Barr b. 1860. d. 11/08/1934 Glasgow, MO. m. Dennis L. Lynch in Shackelford, MO. b. 1859 d. 9/20/1936 Glasgow, MO. Seven children.
John Barr b. June, 1863 Burlington, IA. d. 1942 Marshall, MO. m. Bettie Sims 9/24/1189 in Kansas City, MO. b. 6/11/1869 Herndon, MO. d. 6/11/1934 Napton, MO. Eleven children.
William "Will" Barr b. 1864. d. Norman, OK. m. Agnes King b. 1869. d. 1928. Remarried Annie Kellett. No children.
Catherine "Katie" Barr b. 6/25/1866. d. 1946 Kansas City, MO. m. Charles Ludwig Castle 2/22/1889. b. 9/16/1862 Wisconson. d. 4/30/1944 Shackelford, MO. Ten Children.
Thomas Barr b. 5/17/1868 d. 1870
Charles Thomas Barr b. twin 3/30/1870 Shackelford, MO. d. 1947 Marshall, MO. m. Harriette Catherine Thompson 1/20/1903 in Shackelford, MO. Eleven children.
Rosa "Rose" Lee Barr b. twin 3/30/1870 Shackelford, MO. d. 2/21/1952 Shackelford, MO. m. Frank John Castle 11/17/1897 in Shackelford, MO. b. 1/14/1868 d. 3/01/1953 Shackelford, MO. Eight children.
Cecelia Barr. b. 1874. d. 1875.
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