Frank A. BARR is a prominent representative of commercial and industrial interests in Steuben township. He carries on merchandising in Sparland and is operating extensively in coal, thus developing the rich mineral resources of the county. His ready recognition and utilization of opportunity have been important elements in his success and he belongs to that class of representative American men who while advancing individual interests also promote the general prosperity. He is likewise popular and prominent in political circles and he has made a record which is indeed creditable in all life's relations.
Mr. BARR was born in Mercer county, Illinois, in 1858. His father, Hamilton BARR, was born in Kentucky, April 5, 1829, and on coming to this state took up his abode in Mercer county but subsequently removed to Hancock county, Illinois, where he engaged in the practice of law for about twelve years. He then removed to Oskaloosa, Iowa, and spent a portion of his time in the city and also lived part of the time upon a farm. He afterward removed to La Harpe, Hancock county, Illinois, where he conducted a hotel for four years, after which he came to Sparland. Here he was elected to the office of justice of the peace, filling that position until his death, which occurred October 19, 1906, his incumbency covering a period of twelve years, while his service was marked by the utmost fidelity to duty, his decisions being strictly fair and impartial. He was admitted to the bar in 1862. His political allegiance was given to the democracy and he held membership in the Methodist church. He had been married twice, first wedding Miss Sarah COMPTON, of Kentucky, on December 17, 1848. For his second wife he chose Elizabeth CUNNINGHAM. By the first marriage there were the following children: Anna, the deceased wife of Philip FOSBENDER, of Sparland; Mary, the wife of George RIDDELL, who is engaged in the grocery business in Watseka; Frank, of this review; Louisa, the wife of Frank MOOR, who is in partnership with Mr. RIDDELL at Watseka.
Frank A. BARR spent his childhood days in La Harpe, Illinois, and was graduated from the high school there. He entered upon his business career as a clerk in the employ of Charles F. Gill & Company, with whom he remained until nineteen years of age, when he removed to Sparland and for two years conducted the elevator here. With the assistance of T. GAPEN and Dr. TESMER he opened a small store and after conducting it for two years was enabled to discharge his financial obligations to the two gentlemen who had assisted him and to whom he has always felt deep gratitude for the aid which they rendered in his early days when he had no capital of his own. When he had discharged his indebtedness he bought a building and with renewed energy entered upon the work of building up a store. He is now proprietor of one of the largest general stores of the county, carrying an extensive and well selected line of goods which meets a very ready sale, owing to his reasonable prices, his fair and honest dealing and his earnest desire to please his patrons. His trade is constantly increasing and his success is thereby augmented. This does not, however, embrace all of Mr. BARR's business interests, for he is operating a coal mine a mile north of Sparland. This is one of the best drift mines in the state and he owns altogether about nine hundred and fifty acres of coal land in the vicinity of Sparland, employing thirty-five teams and sixty men to haul the coal and props and work in the mines. Since December, 1905, he has been paying out on an average of ninety dollars per day for labor. The business therefore is of the utmost value to the community as well as to himself, for it furnishes the means of livelihood to many a family.
Mr. BARR was married at the age of twenty-one years to Miss Clara B. BRASSFIELD and unto them have been born three children, but the daughters, Eddie B. and Mabel, are both deceased. They died of scarlet fever just three weeks apart, the former at the age of five years and the latter at the age of three. The only son, Leslie, who was graduated from the high school at the age of eighteen years, is now conducting the Lacon electric plant. He is a young man of exceptional business ability and enterprise, of whom the parents have every reason to be proud. He intends to take a higher course in electrical engineering and thus fit himself for a responsible position in the business world.
Mr. BARR is a stalwart advocate of the democracy and was first elected to office in 1885, when he was chosen township collector. He has served as alderman of Sparland for nine years, exercising his official prerogatives to advance many progressive public movements. He was also school director for twelve years, has been clerk of the school board, was county treasurer for four years and sheriff for four years, filling the last named position at the present time. He is also again a candidate for the office of county treasurer. Fraternally he belongs to the Masonic lodge at Sparland and has taken the degrees of Royal Arch Masonry in Lacon. He is likewise connected with the Knights of Pythias at Lacon and with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Mystic Workmen, all of Sparland. He is now worthy patron of Star chapter at Sparland and is likewise connected with the Rebekah degree of Odd Fellows here. Over his public record and private life there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil. He has become a leader in local democratic ranks and is one whose fidelity and loyalty in office have ever been above question. In his business life he has manifested traits of character which are most commendable and exemplary, never making engagements that he has not kept nor incurring obligations that he has not promptly met. In fact his is a record which any man might be proud to possess and it has won him the admiration and respect of his contemporaries.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.