butler county mo, barron bio

Deem's History of Butler County Missouri
by David Bruce Deem, Probate Judge, Butler County, MO



THE man who did more to develop Butler county than any other person was the late William N. Barron, a native of England and a member of the prominent English family, who came to the United States when but a young man. Mr. Barron was born on December 3, 1859, at Reading, Berkshire, England, and was 76 years of age at the time of his death at the Mayo clinic at Rochester, Minn., on October 21, 1935.

Mr. Barron was a shorthand expert having started studying that art at the age of 10 years. Some few years later he obtained a job with the Midland railroad in England where he remained for a few years before sailing for Canada where he had employment with the Canadian Pacific railroad.

A few years later, he moved to St. Louis where he studied law in a night school. He obtained most of his legal education in this manner at night while working as a stenographer in the day time. While working for the Chouteau Lumber Company in St. Louis, Mr. Barron had occasion to come to Poplar Bluff on a business trip in 1884.

He was favorably impressed with this section of Missouri on his first visit to this county and returned here two years later to accept a position as legal advisor for the Brooklyn Cooperage company. Two years later he returned to his native England to claim his boyhood sweetheart, Miss Martha E. Jones. They were married in Ludlow, Shropshire, England. Mrs. Barron's mother was ill at the time and the bride did not return to America with her husband, but joined him in St. Louis on February 22, 1887.

A few years later Mr. Barron was named president and general manager of the Brooklyn Cooperage Company and remained as an official of the company until the mill was moved to South Carolina in 1925.

Mr. and Mrs. Barron had been married 49 years when she died on July 19, 1934, just 14 months prior to Mr. Barron's death.

Mr. Barron had many interests in Butler county but one of his outstanding endeavors was his pioneer work on the St. Francis river flood control project which, four years after his death, bore fruit with the government's plan to construct the Wappapello dam near Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Mr. Barron, with Judge J. W. Driver of Mississippi county, Ark., Dr. John Wagner of Greenville and Senator Langdon Jones of Kennett organized the St. Francis river flood control organization. No doubt the early work of this committee was largely responsible for the Wappapello dam project which will mean the salvation of thousands of acres of fine Missouri and Arkansas farm lands.

Always a man of many activities, Barron was never content to fill one job with his capable ability as an executive.

He was one of the organizers of the Butler County Railroad Company which was started in 1900. The line was incorporated to handle passengers and freight as a public service institution in 1904. His company bought extensive land interests in Butler county and in Arkansas owning at one time, approximately one half million acres of land. As the timber was moved from these lands the need for a company to sell the property was felt and Mr. Barron then organized the Great Western land Company.

All of the towns along the Butler County Railroad were named by Mr. Barron. Piggott, Ark., was named after a sister, Mrs. Sarah A. Piggott of Dartford, Kent, England. Broseley, Mo., was named for Mrs. Barron's home town of Broseley, England.

Tiperary obtained its name because of the fact, Mr. Barron's railway workers were required to walk a long, long way to erect a switch on the road. Mr. Barron named Fagus for the Latin name, Fagus, meaning beech tree. Quercus was named after the Latin term for oak while Nyssa was also named after a tree. The Butler County Railroad was sold to the Frisco railway at the closing of the Brooklyn Cooperage Company.

During his lifetime, Mr. Barron was a director of the Liberty National Life Insurance Company. In addition to his many farm properties in Butler county, Mr. Barron erected the Barron garage building, The Criterion theatre building in 1911, a building at B and Bartlett street in 1911, another corner building at B and Bartlett street in 1918, The Penney store building in 1926 and the fine Barron county home just north of Poplar Bluff which was destroyed by fire in 1939.

Mr. Barron was closely affiliated with Poplar Bluff's first library which was housed in the Criterion theater building. Both he and Mrs. Barron were on the library board for many years. Mr. Barron was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Poplar Bluff. He was president of the Inter- River Drainage District from its inception in 1912 and through its construction period when 200 miles of ditches and about 50 miles of levees were built. He later served as secretary and attorney of the district. He headed the Butler county Red Cross organization on several occasions and was one of the outstanding supporters of that organization while residing in this county.

The Butler county Oil Company was founded by Mr. Barron in November, 1927 to distribute Shell petroleum products in this territory. This concern remains one of the leaders in its field here at this time.

Four days after Mr. Barron's death, his will was filed for probate. The instrument was quite extensive and covered six typewritten pages. Friends pointed out at the time that such meticulous attention to detail was characteristic of Mr. Barron.

Mr. Barron's will provided for the establishment of a board of trustees to handle the affairs of his estate. In addition to several bequests made to relatives and employes, Mr. Barron left generous sums of money to the Blind Girl's Home and the Children Aid Society of St. Louis and the Detention home of Poplar Bluff.

Typical of Mr. Barron was his notation in the will providing for his philanthropies to the St. Louis and Poplar Bluff charity organizations. His remarks were "The rest of my estate to go to these three organizations, to share and share alike."


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