John Barber, Jr.

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1805 - 1838


The following is furnished us by the brother of the deceased, Rev. W. W. M. Barber, of Windsor, Ill.:

"Rev. John Barber, Jr., was born in Lincoln county, North Carolina, July 17, 1805, and immigrated with his father to Illinois in the year 1815, and settled with the family near Edwardsville, Madison county. He was converted at a Cumberland Presbyterian camp-meeting in Bond county, Illinois, at about the age of fifteen years, in what is now Bear Creek congregation, and soon became a member of the church. His conversion was very palpable and striking. Although he was so young and naturally very diffident, he passed through the congregation with expressions spontaneous, bold, clear and powerful, of his joy and happiness under a sense of the pardoning, saving mercy of God through Christ; and powerfully warning and exhorting others, and finally calling on inanimate nature--the trees and all--to witness that he then and there dedicated himself to the service of God. He was received as a candidate for the ministry by Illinois Presbytery at Shiloh, White county, Ill., October 10th, 1828, from Anderson Presbytery, he having first joined the latter while at college. There was an intermediate Presbytery appointed to license him, composed of John M. Berry, Thomas Campbell, Joel Knight, Gilbert Dodds, and John Barber, Sen.; but he, not having received his letter from the Anderson Presbytery, objected to being licensed when the intermediate Presbytery met, and it was not done till the regular session, which was held at Bear Creek, Montgomery county, Illinois, April 16th, 1829. He was ordained at the house of Joseph McAdams in Bond county, Illinois, March 12th, 1831, by Illinois Presbytery. By his own untiring efforts and what assistance his father could give him he became a respectable Greek scholar, having spent two years at old Princeton in Cumberland College. Soon after he left college he went into the active labors of the ministry, and was soon a spiritual, useful, and popular preacher. At about the age of twenty-five he was married to Miss E. A. Robinson, with whom he lived happily a little over eight years. A part of the time he suffered great bodily affliction, but enjoyed great peace of mind. He at length fell asleep in Jesus, leaving his companion with four children--three daughters and one son.

"Young John Barber, as he was called, was disposed to give himself entirely to the work of the ministry, but, the Church at that time not being able to do a great deal, and not being trained to do what she could, he, like other ministers, had to get a support from some other source. He became a school teacher, and soon became eminent in that calling, as well as in preaching. He possessed a clear, investigating, systematic mind. His discussions in preaching were thorough, clear, and logical, and with a ready flow of language. His reasonings and arguments were close, and his appeals almost resistless. But he was cut off in the midst of his usefulness. The Church had flattering prospects in him, and doubtless had the Church sustained him she might have enjoyed his labors much longer.

"While capable of active effort, in order to be as much devoted as possible to his ministerial calling, he became an agent in the Bible cause for a time, and again in the Tract cause as a colporteur. Under these circumstances he was strongly urged and temptations offered to him to change his ecclesiastical relations, and become connected with some other branch of the Church. It was urged that the Church to which he belonged did not appreciate his talents, usefulness, &c., or they would sustain him. He would be well sustained with others, and he would not be required to adopt any other system of theology to join the New School Presbyterians; and if he chose to join the Old School, why not? If he should have to adopt their Westminster Confession, he could make such mental reserves as were indispensable in order to meet his views and feelings in regard to doctrines. His father was also tempted in like manner as he was; but their loyalty to the Church was not measured by dollars and cents, and they therefore could not be bought. They had cast their lost with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and they would stand by her in her difficulties and trials, and co-operate with and assist others in bringing about reformations and improvements. They belonged to the Church. They had joined the army in good faith, and they never would desert it in order to support a family.

"His companion and four children are still living. The two oldest daughters and the son are married. The oldest is the wife of Rev. T. K. Hedges, who was a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, but is now of the Presbyterian Church. The second daughter married a farmer. All are religious and members of the Church, except the son, David F., who is a well-to-do farmer.

"John Barber, Jr. died April 22d, 1838, and was buried near Edwardsville, at what is call Ebenezer graveyard."

The action of Presbytery in regard to his death is found elsewhere. Mr. Barber died before our acquaintance in the State, but the universal verdict of the old citizens living who knew him is, that he was a man of more than ordinary talents and usefulness, and the entire people mourned his death.

[Source: Logan, J. B. History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Illinois, Containing Sketches of the First Ministers, Churches, Presbyteries and Synods; also a History of Missions, Publication and Education. Alton, Ill.: Perrin & Smith, 1878, pages 202-204]

The Rev. John Barber, Jr.

The Rev. John Barber, Jr., came from North Carolina with his father and settled in Edwardsville, coming with the family soon after Robert Paisley and the Rev. Rice came. He, with many others, was converted at the second camp meeting held at Bear Creek, in 1820. He was only fifteen, but he was so sincerely converted that from then on he knew he would be a minister. He was accepted at a regular session of presbytery held at Bear Creek, on April 16, 1829, and was ordained in 1831. He studied hard and was a spiritual, useful, and popular preacher. Since the congregations of that day could not support their ministers, he took up the teaching of school and was very successful. During vacations he sold Bibles and gave away tracts. It was he who was so interested in the teaching of the Bible. In other places, he established the Sunday school and no doubt it was he who organized the first one here. His oldest daughter married the Rev. T. K. Hedges, who served this Bear Creek congregation as pastor.

The Rev. W. W. M. Barber, son of "Father Barber," taught school in this community during the Civil War. He married Miss Abigail Donnell. He served the Windsor congregation for fifty-five years, where he has one daughter living, Miss Ida Barber, an ordained elder of that church.

One of the sons of the Rev. John Barber, Sr., was a physician who practiced medicine in Donnellson for a number of years.

The Barbers stood by the church during its many trying times. John Barber, Jr., died April 22, 1838, a victim of cholera, contracted while in St. Louis purchasing supplies for the churches.

He was buried in Madison county, south of Edwardsville, at Ebenezer cemetery.

With the passing of the Rev. W. W. M. Barber, the last of the illustrious Barber family, which stood for those things which were pure and right, passed on. They left a record behind in which the most gifted and honored might rejoice.

"Servants of God, well done!
Rest from thy blest employ;
Thy battles fought, thy victories won,
Enter thy Master's Joy."

[Source: Kaune, Olive F., editor. One Hundred Twenty Years of Donnellson Presbyterian Church History 1819-1939, pages 34-35]

Please Contact the Archives with Additions/Corrections

Page Last Updated on January 29, 2004