D. WELBORN BARTON, of Ingalls, is one of the historic characters of Western Kansas, and has spent the greater part of forty-four years in the region. He is known far and wide, especially among the old cattle men, as "Doc" Barton. He was among the first white men to begin a career in this section of the state, and when he arrived the buffalo, Indians and wild horses occupied the entire region. He was one of the noted firm of Barton Brothers who practically introduced the cattle industry into Gray and adjacent counties of Kansas, and for many years he was one of the chief operators in that industry.
Mr. Barton was twenty years old when he came to Kansas in 1873 from Southern Texas. In February of that year he and his brothers started from Burnett County, Texas, for the Arkansas River. There were many hostile Indians between them and their destination, and they therefore detoured through New Mexico and Colorado, striking the Arkansas at Pueblo and coming down that stream to the present site of Pierceville, Kansas, where they established their headquarters.
In the preceding year 1872 some Indian massacres had occurred southwest of Ingalls, and that put practically an end to emigration and traffic over the old Santa Fe trail. That section of the trail from Ingalls southwest to the Cimnrron River was never again used as a popular highway to the southwestern country. A few years ago, when the trail was marked, that end of it was ignored, and the marks were set only from Ingalls west up the river to Trinidad.
The personnel of the Barton Company in charge of cattle operations were Doc Barton, Al Barton, D. Eubank and Tom Connell. Their home was a dugout in the foothills by the river. During the four years they occupied the region they were busied only with the care of the stock and the marketing, shipping them first from Great Bend and later from Dodge City. While in that region the Cheyenne Indians were camped in large bands on the Pawnee north of them, and the bands of southern Indians, Kiowas, Comanches and Cherokees, roamed to the south. Freighters and emigrants were occasionally attacked and some murders committed, but to the best of Doc Barton's belief his company never lost an animal through the Indians. When the Cheyeuues came south from the Pawnee the Bartons moved their cattle to Crooked Creek and finally into the Panhandle of Texas, grazing their herd over Lipscomb County. The Indians were not so numerous in North Texas as in the Arkansas region of Kansas, and cattlemen were able to carry on their enterprise with greater assurance of safety. The Barton Brothers remained in the northern Panhandle for four years, from 1877 to 1881. They then returned to Kansas, and Doc Barton had his last experience as a cattleman in this state.
From 1873 until the big blizzard of 1886 there was a steady profit in the business and the brothers increased their holdings from 1,500 to 12,000 head. They had a magnificent herd of the latter number in January, 1886, when the blizzard struck them. After the storm passed only about 500 animals survived, all the others having been killed or frozen to death. Most of them fell into the deep brakes along the Cimarron, and in that section hundreds were found piled up. The deep draws had filled up with snow to the level, and the cattle drifting about, driven by the blinding snow, would walk right off into the gulches, and hundreds were killed at the bottom of the pile and the others froze.
Thus Mr. Barton was forced out of the cattle business suddenly. In casting about for a location for future activities he determined to remain in Kansas, while his brothers went to Texas. For a short time he remained in Cimarron and then identified himself with Ingalls. Here he took up the career of a farmer. At that time he might have had the pick of the whole valley for a claim but he has never filed on a homestead, and if he chose might still exercise that government privilege. He satisfied himself with buying lands that were cheap, and figured that it cost him less money to buy than to prove up. As an agriculturist his chief crop has been wheat. He has harvested as much as 30 bushels to the acre and as low as 6 bushels, but has never failed to get back his seed.
Mr. Barton was formerly identified with the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges. He is a democrat and has always acted with that party in Kansas. In 1889 he was elected sheriff of Gray County, succeeding Sheriff Runnells. The four years of his service was an era of comparative quiet and order. He arrested one man for infraction of the liquor law, and other arrests were only for petty offences. His chief duty as sheriff was satisfying judgments and foreclosures. A large proportion of these land sales occurred while he was sheriff. The principal purchasers of the lands were the loan companies, and that fact explains somewhat why this western region has not been largely settled up by individual farmers in recent years.
D. Welborn Barton was born in Burnett County, Texas, December 22, 1853. In the previous year Decatur Barton, his father, had located in Texas, coming from South Carolina. The grandfather was Wilson Barton and the great-grandfather came from England to South Carolina. Wilson Barton married Miss McKinnie, of German stock. She died in South Carolina, while Wilson Barton died in Burnett County, Texas. Their children were: Doctor Welborn, Decatur, Alexander, Poinsett, Perry, David and Columbus.
Decatur Barton was not identified with the Civil war as a soldier, but his brothers, Poinsett and David, were in the Confederate army. Decatur Barton became a large cattle raiser in Texas before the war. While he was there the Mexicans came into the region and drove off 8,000 head of stock at one time, and later the Confederate government appropriated 800 cattle. This completely cleaned him up as a cattle man, and after that he spent his life as a farmer in Burnett County. He had married in South Carolina Miss Catherine Hightower. She was of French ancestry, and survived her husband several years. The record of their children is: Al, a ranchman at the head of Pease River in Texas; Wilson, who died in Burnett County, Texas; Milda, who married John Bryson, of Burnett County; D. Welborn; Clayton, who died in Gray County, Kansas; Henry, who died in Lipscomb County, Texas; Richard, of Lipscomb County; William, also of that county; Mrs. Kate Willett, of Mexico City; Lizzie, who died unmarried; Alexander and Walter, both of Lipscomb County, Texas; and Beulah, who married Wyatt Bailey, of Georgetown, Texas.
Doc Barton married in Mason County, Texas, in March, 1877, Belle Vandeveer. She was born in Kentucky, and was taken to Texas in infancy, growing up in Mason County. Her father, Berry Vandeveer, of German ancestry, was a Texas cattleman and early identified with the industry in that state. He married a Miss Carnes, and Mrs. Barton was one of their family of four sons and four daughters. Mr. and Mrs. Barton had children named Belle, Wilson, Charles, Clayton, Maud, Freddie and Jack. Mrs. Belle Burns, the eldest, lives in California and has three children, Welborn, Lizzie and Wanita. Wilson is a carpenter in Gray County and by his marriage to Eva Stimate has three children, Gordon, Belle and Edna. Mrs. Lizzie Oneal is a graduate nurse. Charles, a resident of Colorado, married Mary Byers, and has children, Lawrence, Clarence and Marisa. Clayton, a resident of Gray County, is in the army for the war, married Mary Linn and has a son Welborn. Blake died at the age of seventeen. Maud resides in Chicago. Freddie is married and lives in San Francisco. Jack is a mechanic living in Gray County.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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