Transcribed by Pamela Wagler from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


These is no name in Washington township more highly respected or one more familiar to the community than the one which heads this review. Mr. Joseph H. Barton has been identified with Des Moines county for sixty years, and has always been enterprising and active in all movements that would in any way improve the county; and a review of this county would certainly be incomplete without his record. He was born in Franklin township, Des Moines county, March 31, 1845, and is a son of Henry and Nancy Elizabeth (Wyatt) Barton.

His father, who was born in Cheshire, England, came to America about 1840, and settled in Iowa, where he soon purchased a farm of one hundred acres of wild timber land in Franklin township, Des Moines county. He at once began to clear the place, and built a log house and log barn, living in the former for many years in real pioneer style. From time to time, as success came to Mr. Barton, he added more to his farm, till he had a beautiful place of four hundred acres. He later erected a large and substantial brick dwelling, which is still standing on the farm. He was a man who could manage his work with the best of results, was careful in all things, and his hard and untiring labor connected with general farming was rewarded with success.

Mr. Barton was not spared to really enjoy the fruit of his work and early hardships, for in 1856, while erecting his new home, he took sick, and entered into his eternal rest when about fifty-five years of age. A man of his day in all things, and of rare ability, he was sadly missed in the community, but years may come and go, and still his name will be written indelibly in the minds and hearts of the coming generation as one who assisted to make the county prosperous.

Mrs. Barton was also a native of England, where her marriage occurred. She came to America with her husband, and performed well all the many duties that fell to a wife and mother in those early days. She was a noble Christian woman, and took much pleasure in active church work in the Methodist church, of which she was long a faithful member. She laid down the burdens of this life in 1885, at the old home place, and rests by the side of her husband in the cemetery at Franklin Mills. Mr. and Mrs. Barton were the parents of nine children, of whom six are living.

Our subject obtained his education in the common schools of Franklin township, and as his father passed away when he was only nine years of age, the care of his mother and the management of the farm devolved upon him as soon as he was old enough. He remained on the home place, engaged in general farming and stock-raising, till seventeen years of age, when he went to Washington township and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land, upon which he erected a large two-story frame dwelling, a modern barn, and several other buildings for his stock and grain. He is a prosperous farmer, and an extensive feeder and shipper.

About six years ago he bought the elevator at Roscoe and enlarged it, more than doubling its capacity, and has since been very successful in the grain business. In addition to these various enterprises, Mr. Barton owns two thirds of the Roscoe store, which is now managed by his son, C. H. Barton. He was also one of the organizers of the Citizens’ State Bank, of Mediapolis, Iowa, and has been the vice-president ever since. He still owns forty acres of the old home farm in Franklin township.

Oct. 24, 1867, Mr. Barton married Miss Verlina Griffith. She is a daughter of James Griffith, and was born in Flint River township, where her father was an early settler, living on one farm there for over sixty years, a fact we think can not be equaled in the county. Mr. Griffith died in Flint River township in 1903, aged seventy-nine years. He was a man possessing high moral principles, and was respected by all.

Mrs. Barton received her education in the schools of her native township, where she grew to womanhood and was married. She is a devoted member of the Methodist church. As the years have passed, Mr. and Mrs. Barton have had eight children added to the household, of whom seven are living: James Henry, is a farmer residing, in Washington township. He married Miss Pearl Cline, a daughter of Henry Cline and they have three children living: Raymond, Ruth, and Burrell Joseph. Katherine is the wife of John W. Thomas, who lives near Roscoe, Washington township, and they have four children: Everett, Blanche, Vera, and Cecil. Julia is at home. Edward J. married Nellie Ermina Enke, a daughter of James Enke. They live in Washington township, and have two children, James Allis, and Lois Pearl. Charles married Miss Lulu Kurtz, daughter of Charles Kurtz, who is a farmer of Washington township. They have one child, Surrell, and live at Roscoe, where Mr. Barton is manager of the general supply store, and also express agent and station agent or the Burlington Railroad Company. Lulu and Mark are at home. Nellie died when four years of age. The children were all born in Franklin township, where also they were educated.

Mr. Barton belongs to that class of men whose enterprising spirit is used not alone for their own benefit. He has not only advanced the general good and promoted public prosperity, but has ably managed individual interest. And all who know him have the highest admiration for his good qualities of heart and mind.

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