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OPINION: That Would Be Me

February 11, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

I wonder, well I mean if it isn't asking too very much, might you sit back, get comfortable and read along as I yarn with you a spell. Now that night has come and my mind is right -- it seems that the darkness brings the thoughts into my brain more clearly after the sunlight has passed -- I would like to tell you the tale of a man who once lived in Pineville. That man went by the name of John Lucas Barr.

If I might beg your patient indulgence, the connection between Mr. Barr and McDonald County will be forthcoming. After all, this is a story and every story has to start somewhere, most likely at the beginning, and so it is that I will begin with John Barr's beginning.

John Lucas Barr was born in Jefferson County, Penn., on September the 11th in the year 1832. John's parents were Christopher and Sarah Lucas Barr. Although born in America, John's grandparents, Samuel Barr and Margaret Patterson Barr, came to this country in 1904 from County Down, Ireland.

John Barr grew up in Brookville, Penn. His father was a prominent citizen of the county and, in fact, served as the county's first treasurer. John knew what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to be an attorney and, so, he attended the Oberlin (Ohio) College Law School. He graduated in 1852.

Following graduation, John decided to go west, and west he would go, finally settling in DeWitt, Iowa. It was in DeWitt that the fledgling attorney hung his sign, announcing his profession as an attorney. Life was good for John but then there would be a great change that affected John and much of the country, the Civil War.

John and his college classmate, Samuel Burdette heeded the call to arms and enlisted in the Union army. The two men served proudly in Company "B" of the 1st Iowa Cavalry. The two Privates saw action at several sites during the war, including engagements at Prairie Grove and Mission Ridge.

Barr's regiment played a prominent role during the battle of Black River Bridge. There the Confederates were ordered to protect that important structure at all costs, but the Union commander, General McClemand, was equally determined and had other thoughts.

When it seemed that the battle was lost and there was no hope of defending the bridge, Confederate troops from Missouri burned the bridge to the ground. The Union Army's Sergeant William Wesley Kendall was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The terrible and costly struggle between the states finally came to a conclusion and John Barr returned to civilian life. He returned to his chosen profession as an attorney and in 1870 moved to Pineville. It was there that he once again hung out his shingle.

John was twice married. His second wife, Mary S. Carroll Walker, gave birth to two children, both of whom were males. One of the children was born in 1871 and was given the name, Ernest Barr. John Lucas Barr died in the year 1891 and is buried in the Pineville Cemetery. His son Ernest, who also later served in the military, continued to live in Pineville where he ultimately met and married a sweet young woman.

Ernest found that he was irresistibly drawn to a young Pineville woman, Margret "Maggie" Grimsinger. The young lady, who was twenty-five years younger than Ernest, had known hard times while growing up in San Antonio, Texas. Her parents had been killed in an automobile accident when she was eleven or twelve years old and somehow the orphan fell into the custody of a relatively affluent couple.

The man and woman made it clear to Maggie that her role in the household would be that of a maid and cook. For several years, and until Maggie grew into her late teens, she filled the role as an unpaid servant, receiving only room and board for her efforts.

Maggie eventually left Texas and moved to Pineville. It was there that she met Ernest Barr. The two were married and the marriage produced three children, Ernest Jr., Dallas, and a daughter who was given the name Mary Louise. Ernest was a part-time barber and died in 1933. The cause of death was listed as alcoholism.

Mary attended high school in Pineville, and it was during her senior year that she fell in love with a basketball player. Mary cheered as Floyd Fine Jr. sank those free throws, and on warm summer weekends the two swam in the cool waters of Little Sugar creek near the dam.

Now Floyd, or Junior as he was called, was actually a Noel resident, but his father, Floyd Sr. had been elected county sheriff, so the family moved into the sheriff's house in Pineville just before Junior's senior high school year. Mary and Junior were married shortly after graduation.

Floyd eventually enlisted in the Marine Corps and spent the next 20 years serving his country. Mary often worked long hours as a salesperson at local department stores while her mother, Maggie Barr, kept house and minded the couple's three children.

This isn't meant to be a funny story, a sad story, or anything more than a tale about a man, John L. Barr, and how many years ago he came to make a life for himself and his family in Pineville. He was a lawyer and a prominent, well-respected member of the community in the latter part of the 19th century.

Mary and Floyd's firstborn child was a boy and the last born was a girl. The middle child was a small red-haired baby boy, the great-grandson of John Lucas Barr, who was named ... well, that would be me.

Stan Fine is a retired police officer and Verizon Security Department investigator who, after retiring in 2006, moved from Tampa, Fla., to Noel. Stan's connection to Noel can be traced back to his grandparents who lived most of their lives there. Stan began writing after the passing of his wife Robin in 2013. Opinions expressed are those of the author.


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