Biography of Robert H. Barton

One of the well known citizens of Moscow is Robert H. Barton, who is now capably serving as postmaster. He is true and faithful to this public trust and at all times has discharged his duties of citizenship with the same promptness and fidelity which marked his course when on the battlefields of the south he followed the starry banner to victory and thus aided in the preservation of the Union. He came to Moscow in 1877. His birth occurred in Perry County, Ohio, February 1, 1842, and he is of Scotch-Irish lineage. His grandfather, Robert Barton, emigrated from the north of Ireland to the New World and located in Baltimore, Maryland, where Andrew Barton, father of our subject, was born, in 181 1, The latter married Miss Elizabeth Biddison, also a native of Baltimore, and a daughter of William Biddison, a soldier of the war of 1812. They were farming people, and in 1833 removed to Perry County, Ohio, where the father improved a farm and reared his family. He died on the old homestead which he had acquired through his own industry, passing away in 1883, at the age of seventy-two years. His wife died in 1876, at the age of sixty-three years. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and were the parents of twelve children, eleven of whom grew to years of maturity, while six are yet living. Robert H. Barton, their fifth child, acquired his education in the public schools and in the Ohio University, at Athens, and in 1861, in answer to President Lincoln’s first call for volunteers to put down the rebellion, he put aside his textbooks and college duties to perform his greater duty to his country, enlisting in Company D, Seventeenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served for four months in the Army of Western Virginia, under General Rosecrans, after which his regiment was disbanded, but the danger was not yet past, and he reenlisted in Company B, First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, serving with the Army of the Cumberland, His regiment first did escort duty with General O. M. Mitchell and later with the cavalry in General Buell’s campaign. Subsequently they were with General Rosecrans at Stone River and until after the battle of Chickamauga, and during the Atlanta campaign were at General McPherson’s headquarters. Mr. Barton served as a foraging scout for department headquarters until General McPherson was killed. He saw the brave commander fall, and caught his horse. Later he was at General Howard’s headquarters in the same capacity, and after the capture of Atlanta was sent with his regiment on the Wilson raid. They were at Macon, Georgia, when they received the glad news of the surrender of General Lee, and Mr. Barton was honorably discharged at Hilton Head, South Carolina, on the 25th of September 1865. During the whole of his service during the great struggle he was only off duty one time, this being occasioned by a gunshot wound which he sustained in the battle of Russellville, Alabama, July 2, 1862. The ball broke his jaw and carried away both the upper and lower teeth on that side. He was in the hospital for six weeks and was then granted a thirty-days furlough which he spent at home. He entered the service as a private, was promoted to quartermaster sergeant and was recommended for promotion to the captaincy of a colored company, but the war closed and the regiment was not organized.

With a most creditable military record Mr. Barton returned to his home and began schoolteaching in Ohio, but soon afterward removed to Kansas, where he entered one hundred and sixty acres of land, operating his land through the summer, while in the winter he taught school. During his residence there he also served as a member of the school board, was recorder of deeds and assessor of the county for six years. From Kansas he removed to Utah, where he taught school for two years, and in 1877, he brought a sawmill to Moscow and engaged in the manufacture of lumber. He continued in the sawmill business for three years, and in 1881 built the Barton Hotel, which he conducted until 1881 when it was destroyed by fire, entailing a loss of fifteen thousand dollars. He then erected the Moscow Hotel, valued at thirty-five thousand dollars, not including the price of the land. To do this he had to borrow twenty thousand dollars. He conducted the hotel for a short time, but soon the financial panic came on and he was forced to lose this valuable and beautiful property. The building is a very fine one, being creditable alike to the city and the builder.

Mr. Barton was then appointed by President Harrison to the position of postmaster of Moscow, and served for two and a half years, when his party went out of power, but in 1899 he was reappointed, by President McKinley, and is the present incumbent of the office. He is very obliging, prompt and courteous, and has won favor with the public through his capable discharge of duties. The Moscow office is of the second class and is well managed by Mr. Barton, his eldest son acting as his deputy, while other members of the family serve in clerical positions. Mr. Barton was also deputy sheriff of Nez Perces County for eight years.

In 1869 was celebrated his marriage to Miss Lettie Langdon, a native of Illinois, and to them were born two children, but one is now deceased. The other, Ed. T., is now serving as his father’s deputy. The mother died in 1872, and in 1875 Mr. Barton wedded her sister, Louise Langdon, by whom he has had five children, four of whom are living. The eldest, Maude M., is a graduate of the Moscow high school and is now attending the Idaho University; Earl S. is also a student in the university; Louise E. is in the high school; and Faith S. is the youngest. She was named by the Idaho department of the Grand Army of the Republic during its encampment in Moscow, at which time her birth occurred, and by the soldiers was presented with a nice silver set.

Mr. and Mrs. Barton have always been very active and valued members respectively of the Grand Army of the Republic and its auxiliary, the Women’s Relief Corps, and he is past commander and she past secretary of the state departments of their respective organizations. In consideration and recognition of the great service he has rendered Anderson Post, No. 5, he was presented by it with a fine sword, which he highly prizes and which now hangs by the faithful blade which he carried in the great struggle to preserve the Union. He has been a stalwart Republican since casting his first presidential vote, for Abraham Lincoln, during the war, and was very highly recommended by the leading statesmen of Ohio and Idaho for the position of United States marshal of Idaho, but as the office was promised to another he was given his present position, that of postmaster. In 1889 he purchased a large lot, pleasantly located, and erected thereon a fine modern residence, in which he now resides happily, surrounded by his interesting family. His career has ever been upright and honorable, and his friendship is prized most by those who know him best.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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