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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Evelin P. Barber

EVELIN P. BARBER. A man of ability and influence, energetic and persistent in purpose, Evelin P. Barber, of Syracuse, Hamilton County, was one of the foremost pioneers of this region, and has been prominently identified with its development, his advent having marked the beginning of real civilization in this portion of Western Kansas. In 1872, Mr. Barber, Rev. Russell Jones, an Episcopal minister, and Michael Arr, a German merchant of Syracuse, New York, were sent from that city by a little band of citizens to select in Kansas a tract of land on which a colony might be advantageously founded. As a result of their explorations about thirty families from Syracuse, New York, came to Western Kansas, and entered land in what is now Hamilton County, calling this station at first Holidaysburg, but Mrs. Barber did not like that name, and it was subsequently changed to Syracuse.

Mr. Barber was born in Marcellus, Onondaga County, New York, February 14, 1842, of substantial New England ancestry. Gay P. Barber, his father, was born and bred in Connecticut. He was a natural mechanic and learned the trade of a clock maker, which he followed until Seth Thomas started his clock factory, an enterprise that soon effaced the wooden clock industry, thus putting him out of business. Going then to Marcellus, New York, Gay P. Barber operated a saw mill and manufacturing plant, making barrels and lumber of all kinds. He spent the later years of his life in Syracuse, New York. He reared four children, as follows: Mrs. Annette Jackson, of Onondaga County, New York; Imogene married William Barber and died in Wayne County, New York; Edwin, who served in a New York regiment during the Civil war, died in California; and Evelin P.

Having completed the course of study in the rural schools of his native town Evelin P. Barber assisted his father in the mill and the woods, becoming familiar with the lumber industry. In 1861, at Syracuse, he enlisted in Battery F, Third New York Artillery, and was commissioned sergeant of Capt. E. S. Jenny's battery. The battery was first ordered to Washington, District of Columbia, then to Newbern, North Carolina, and subsequently served during the war along the coast of that state, South Carolina and Florida. With his battery Mr. Barber took part in the engagement which resulted in the capture of Morris Island in Charleston Harbor, and for more than a year had headquarters at Folly Island. He was also stationed at Fort Wagner on Morris Island to prevent the Confederates from fortifying Fort Sumter. Mr. Barber was later given charge of a battery of six guns, and sent out to break up bands of Confederates raiding along the various railroads of the state. He was thus engaged when a courier notified him of the surrender of Lee's army, and it is believed that the cannon which sent a parting shot at the band of rebels in front of him was the final shot east of the Mississippi of the war. Later, with Battery F, he went to Washington, where the men of his company were asked to do further service in the South, but each man in the battery rebelled, asking to go home and be mustered out. The request being granted, the battery marched to the Camden and Amboy Railroad station, where instead of waiting for "varnished cars" to carry them home they seized the first freight train that backed into the yard and forced the crew to start them towards home, but before reaching Syracuse had to commandeer another freight train in which to complete the journey. Two months after reaching Syracuse the battery was mustered out of service. For many years Mr. Barber took an active interest in the Grand Army of the Republic, and is a past commander of Syracuse Post No. 381.

Mr. Barber, as mentioned above, was one of the originators of the Syracuse Colony in Kansas, and made many trips to and fro, and as a result of the Kansas movement 300 or 400 families came to the state to settle. He filed a homestead claim on section 7, Hamilton County. He immediately embarked in the cattle business, gathering up as his nucleus genuine Texas long horns passing over the trails west and northwest. He also became an extensive raiser of sheep, both of these industries being among his activities for many years.

Mr. Barber established the first store in Syracuse, was the first postmaster of the place, and in the matter of establishing the countyseat at Syracuse was active, earnest and influential. He can properly be called the father of the forest tree propaganda in this region, as he took the initiative in planting trees in the hamlet, and the present beautiful city ornamented by its many shade trees nestling in the valley is but the outgrowth of his efforts.

Mr. Barber married in Onondaga County, New York, in 1868, Mrs. Caroline Johnson, who was born in that county, a daughter of Murray B. Lester, a well educated man, prominent in political affairs. Mrs. Barber had two brothers, John Lester and Henry Lester, both of whom came to Hamilton County, Kansas, and died in Syracuse. Mr. and Mrs. Barber have no children. Mrs. Barber is a member of the Episcopal Church, and seems to be the only surviving member of the original congregation of that church in Syracuse. She is very popular not only in social circles but in public affairs, having been chosen as one of the first women aldermen in Kansas, having been elected to the office in Syracuse as the result of a concerted movement to substitute women for men on the town board.