J. Harry Barley

J. HARRY BARLEY is proprietor and publisher of the Republican-Register, the oldest newspaper in Washington County, and still one of the most successful newspapers in the state. Mr. Barley is a young newspaper man, and prior to the purchase of the Republican-Register his experience was chiefly in education and banking.

The Republican-Register is the direct and lineal descendant of the Western Observer, which was founded at Washington in March, 1869. Its publisher was Mark J. Kelly. Mr. Kelly had come to Washington through the influence of Col. Dave Ballard, who gave him a bonus of ten town lots to start a local newspaper. The first number of the Western Observer was published March 11, 1869. It was the first paper published in Washington County. It was issued from a hand press, and the sheet measured 7 by 9 inches. Its influence was by no means measured by its size. Mr. Kelly was a very fair and impartial editor and made his journal a medium of attracting many substantial people to this section of the state. His paper circulated through all parts of the East, and many of the best settlers in Washington County heard of the section through the Observer. May 21, 1870, the Observer was sold to George W. Shriner and James F. Tallman, its name being changed to the Magnet. August 25, 1870, Mark J. Kelly, the former editor, with J. O. Young, founded the Washington Republican, and for about a month in the same year a daily edition of the paper was issued, this being the first daily in the county. On January 9, 1871, Mr. Young bought the Magnet from George W. Shriner and also Mr. Kelly's interest in the Republican, and consolidated the two papers under the name Washington Republican. John I. Tallman bought half interest in this paper in the winter of 1871, but soon afterwards sold it to W. P. Day. Mr. Young bought out Mr. Day on February 17, 1872, and on July 25, 1872, J. C. Martin and Perrine Stultz bought a half interest in the Republican. Mr. Martin subsequently bought the interest of Mr. Stultz, but on January 30, 1874, sold out to John Guinn. E. N. Emmons was associated with Mr. Martin from April 18, 1873, to September 12th of the same year. June 9,1874, Mr. Emmons bought the Republican from John Guinn, and on the 14th of July enlarged the size to a seven-column paper. October 6, 1876, Mr. Emmons sold his interest to J. B. Besack, who in turn sold to Ed Knowles. Mr. Knowles sold out to H. C. Robinson in 1885, and the latter subsequently took in L. J. Sprengle as a partner, to whom he eventually sold his entire interest. Later the Republican passed to L. A. Palmer, from him to V. E. Ingalls, and the latter in 1905 bought the Washington County Register, which had first been established in 1880, and consolidated the two as the Republican-Register. In February, 1915, the Republican-Register passed to the management of Paul E. Cowgill and a year later Mr. Barley became proprietor and editor. It is the enviable distinction of the Republican-Register that it has never missed an issue throughout its long career, and has never been printed on a half sheet. Its tone has been conservative both in politics and business, and none of its competitors have ever surpassed it in circulation or in influence in Washington County.

J. Harry Barley was born at Washington, Kansas, January 31, 1888. The original home of his ancestors was in Germany but his forefathers came to Virginia in colonial times. His grandfather, George Barley, spent most of his life as a farmer in Ohio, where he died more than thirty years ago. J. W. Barley, father of the Washington publisher, was born in Champaign County, Ohio, in 1835, grew up and married there, and in early life combined teaching with farming. In 1867, fifty years ago, he came to Kansas on a trip of inspection, and in 1869 he identified himself permanently with the state as a pioneer farmer on Beaver Creek in Little Blue Township of Washington County. There he homesteaded a tract of 160 acres, proved up and developed a farm. Later he removed to the City of Washington, where he taught school, clerked in a store, and then set up in business as member of the firm Rockefeller, Barley & Young. He retired from that business upon his election to the office of register of deeds in the early '80s, and held that office for two terms or four years. Since retiring from office he has been continuously in the grocery business, with his oldest son, Charles P., as his partner. He is one of the oldest residents and one of the most widely known and respected citizens of Washington County. In politics he is a republican, has been a member of the official board of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is past master of Frontier Lodge No. 104, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and is a member of Kearney Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. His service as a soldier was rendered in 1864, when he enlisted and was for ninety days in the Army of the Potomac as captain of Company F of the One Hundred and Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry.

Captain Barley married for his first wife Elizabeth Hallowell. At her death she left four children: Virginia, living in New York City, widow of John L. Dixon, a wholesale cigar merchant who died in 1916. Charles P., for many years associated with his father in business at Washington, Kansas; Alta, wife of Thomas H. Eves, vice president of the First National Bank of Fort Collins, Colorado; and George E., cashier of the First National Bank of Washington, Kansas. Captain Barley married for his second wife Anna Hallowell, a sister of his first wife. She was born in Ohio in 1860, and is the mother of two children, J. Harry and Lena. The daughter is a graduate of the Washington High School and is still at home with her parents.

J. Harry Barley received his early education at Washington, graduating from high school in 1908, spending the following year as a country school teacher, and during 1909-10 was a student in the State University. In 1910-11 he was superintendent of city schools at Wellington, Colorado, spent the next year in the offices of the Great Western Sugar Company at Fort Collins, Colorado, then was superintendent of schools at Oketo, Kansas, a year, and in 1915 became cashier of the Hollenberg State Bank at Hollenberg, Kansas. From the bank he assumed his active responsibilities as proprietor and publisher of the Republican-Register in February, 1916.

Mr. Barley has served as secretary of the Washington Commercial Club, is a republican in politics, is past master of Frontier Lodge No. 104, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and is affiliated with Tyrian Chapter No. 59, Royal Arch Masons, and Lawrence Consistory No. 6 of the Scottish Rite. August 7, 1913, at Washington, he married Miss Margaret Creighton, daughter of James and Margaret (McCallum) Creighton. Her mother now resides near Morrowville, Kansas. Her father, deceased, was an early farmer in Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Barley have one son, George, born July 7, 1914.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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