Transcribed from 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


Samuel H. Barr

SAMUEL H. BARR. Sone[sic] men have such initiative and adaptability for the handling of diversified business that it is difficult to classify them or hold them in one profession. That is true of Samuel H. Barr of Caney. By profession he is a lawyer, practiced law successfully for some years, and has the taste and inclinations for the profession. Before he was a lawyer he was an equally successful school teacher in Montgomery County. From the active practice of the law he was called by his increasing connections with important business affairs and is now at the head or officially connected with some of the big industries in that section of the state. Among other positions he is assistant treasurer and local manager for the Caney Gas Company.

Almost his entire adult career has been spent in Kansas. He was born in the Town of Virginia, Cass County, Illinois, April 16, 1861. His father, Robert Barr, was born in Ireland, was reared in that country, and on reaching maturity became a member of the Irish constabulary. In order to better his own and his family's condition, he determined to emigrate and come to America. In 1858 he located at Virgina in Cass County, Illinois, subsequently moving to Beardstown and then to Rock Island in the same state. In 1878 he sought the opportunities of the great Sunflower State, and established his home near Independence. He died on his farm there in 1890 at the age of fifty-eight years. Besides being a farmer he was a machinist by trade. Robert Barr married Jane Lord, who was born in Ireland and lives on the old home place a mile and a half west of Independence, being now eighty-one years of age. Their children were: Mary E., who died at Independence, Kansas, in 1891, the wife of Rev. Joseph S. Grimes, a Presbyterian minister, also deceased; Samuel H.; Robert L., who is a graduate of Marietta College at Marietta, Ohio, and is now a Presbyterian minister at Bruno, Minnesota; James, a merchant at Independence; Charles, also in the mercantile business at Independence; Fannie, who died at Independence in 1902, unmarried; Edward B., a machinist at Joplin, Missouri; and the youngest child was a daughter that died in infancy. The father of this family was a democrat in politics, and was very active in the Presbyterian Church, which he served as deacon.

During his youth spent in Illinois Samuel H. Barr received a good public school education and wisely improved his early advantages. He made his education count when at the age of twenty-two he became a teacher, and for several years was one of the most progressive school men in Montgomery County. For four years he taught country schools in the vicinity of Independence, taught one term at Caney, and during the school year of 1887-88 was principal of the Fourth Ward School at Independence.

He gave a whole souled devotion while he was in the profession, but his ambition had already taken the direction of the law, and during part of his school work he was pursuing his studies under the guidance of Hon. S. C. Elliott at Independence. Admitted to the bar in 1889, he opened his office at Caney in the same year. His success was practically assured from the beginning, and many of his earlier clients have always regretted the fact that he did not continue in general practice. During the past quarter of a century Mr. Barr has always been foremost in everything connected with the welfare of the City of Caney. Again and again he has been foremost in movements for its progress and upbuilding and has never stayed his enthusiasm or effort because of a dark outlook and has enheartened others in carrying forward a work whose results are now in evidence in one of the most thriving towns along the southern state line.

His rapidly developing interests in business and industrial fields obliged him to give up active practice in 1901. Mr. Barr is secretary, treasurer, stockholder and director in the Kansas Oil Company, a company operating in the Oklahoma fields but with headquarters at Caney. He is president of the Barr Gas Company, which has its headquarters at Independence and operates west of that city. From 1902 to 1912 he was president of the Caney Brick Company.

His most important connection, however, is as assistant treasurer and local manager of the Caney Gas Company. This company was organized in 1901, and Mr. Barr became its first secretary. The company was organized for the purpose of prospecting for gas in the vicinity of Caney. Leaders in the organization were E. B. Skinner, former State Senator S. M. Porter, and Mr. Barr, together with W. C. Meeker, G. F. St. John, John Todd, W. F. Gleeck and G. N. Sumner, all of Caney. An enterprise of this kind required great faith and enthusiasm and constant effort to make it a success. Mr. Barr is credited with a large share of the work which laid the foundation for the present industry. He spent weeks and months in the preliminary investigation and organization, until the company had blocked up 18,000 acres of leases around Caney. Then followed the development of the field. The third well drilled produced gas, and later the company brought in some of the biggest gas wells ever known in Kansas. Obtaining a franchise they piped Caney and Tyro, Kansas, and after making the field one of the largest in the Southwest they sold in 1904 a majority of the stock to the Kansas Natural Gas Company. Mr. Barr now holds his position as assistant treasurer and local manager of the original company under the auspices of the Kansas Natural Gas Company. His offices are Fourth Avenue, at the corner of Main Street, and his home is in the Palace Hotel.

With all his strenuous activity in business affairs Mr. Barr has a natural taste for politics and has been exceedingly helpful in past years to his party, the democratic. He was chairman of the County Central Committee in 1898-1900, and his work in unifying the party called for special appreciation. It was his success in his home county that led to his selection as a member of the State Central Committee for the years from 1900 to 1902, and in this larger sphere of politics his influence was hardly less noteworthy. From 1897 to 1911 Mr. Barr was a member of the Caney Board of Education, first being clerk of the board, and was president when he retired. He is a former member and now a supporter of the Presbyterian Church, and fraternally is affiliated with Caney Lodge No. 324, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Caney Chapter No. 90, Royal Arch Masons; Caney Chapter No. 105, of the Order of Eastern Star; Caney Lodge No. 160, Ancient Order of United Workmen; Caney Camp No. 941, Modern Woodmen of America, and Lodge No. 780, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, at Independence. He is also a member of the Independence Country Club and the Havana Country Club. Mr. Barr has one of the best selected law libraries and general reference libraries in Montgomery County, and it is probable that if his business interests can ever be satisfactorily arranged so that he can spare the time, he will re-enter the practice of law, for which he is eminently fitted.


Transcribed from volume 4, page 1908 of 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; originally transcribed 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.

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