Samuel W. Barton


Family History


Samuel W. Barton, son of John S. Barton and his wife Anna C. Wendell, was born September 11, 1866 in Kalamazoo County Michigan. Samuel was the fourth of six children, four boys and two girls, all lived in Dakota Territory, arriving at different times.


John S. Barton was engaged in raising and selling horses. He was of Irish Canadian descent while his wife was a descendent of the York State Dutch.


Sam W. started going to school when he was six years old, attending the village school at Vicksburg. Over one hundred pupils were enrolled and four teachers were employed. Sam liked to play hooky, but the chastising he received from his father the two times he tried it, discouraged any further attempts of this nature. At the age of thirteen, Sam attended a school of higher learning (thinks it the equivalent of eighth grade today).


This school was kept going year round and was taught by a lady during the summer months and a man during the winter months. A man was employed during the winter months as it was feared a lady would be unable to maintain discipline. Many of the boys would get only a few months of schooling during the winter months and would sometimes go to school until they were twenty-five years old. Samís education ended when he was sixteen years old.


Sam helped his father for a year when after much persuasion, he was permitted to take a carload of horses to Dakota Territory to sell. Sam arrived in Tower City, Dakota Territory on April 21, 1883. It was a beautiful spring day when he arrived, that night it cooled off and on April 22nd and 23rd, a blizzard raged, with an intensity which in Samís opinion has never been duplicated in this state since. On the 24th, the weather cleared and Sam disposed of all of his horses except six which he kept for his own use.


Purchasing a breaking plow in Tower City for $45.00, he started breaking land for the farmers around Tower City. The charge was $2.50 to $3.00 per acre, unless the man was an easterner when the charge went to $4.50 to $5.00 per acre. Sam was breaking land and trading, selling and buying horses from May 1883 to October 1883, earning $2,400.00 in this period of time.


Sam then joined with Buswell and Marsh who were running a stage line from Tower City to Lamoure via Lisbon. The passenger fare was $4.00 from Tower City to Lisbon and $8.00 to go all the way to Lamoure. The Fargo Southwestern Railroad from Fargo to Lisbon was completed early in 1884 and the stage line was run only from Lisbon to Lamoure and quit altogether the fall of 1884 when the railroad was completed into Lamoure.


Samís parents and brothers and sisters came to Tower City, Dakota Territory in the spring of 1884. Samís father bought a section of land near Tower City and started farming.


Sam worked for a Mr. Cummings on a survey for what was to have been the Dakota and Southern railroad, but never got beyond the survey stage. This railroad was to have connected with the Northern Pacific at Tower City and run in a northerly direction (destination not known).


Sam then lived with his parents for three years after which he went to work for the Northern Pacific railroad as a freight brakeman, starting early in 1887, he worked for one and one-half years at $60.00 per month. Sam was headquartered at Helena, Montana and his run took him from Helena to Boulder, Montana, a trip of 160 miles each day.


When Sam received notice that his mother was ill, he secured a ninety day leave of absence so as to come home for a visit. On his return trip he met Mr. Cummings who was bound for the west coast to build a railroad out there. Mr. Cummings persuaded Sam to accompany him, paying Sam double what he getting from the Northern Pacific railroad.


When Sam reached Helena he asked for an additional ninety days leave explaining to his superior why he wanted it. The second leave was granted with the understanding that if Sam was not back in ninety days he would lose his job as well as his rights. Sam started working for Mr. Cummings in 1889, and worked for him for five years, returning to North Dakota in 1894. During this time he helped build the railroad from Centralia, Washington to what is now Great Harbor and Sam helped survey the town site.


On September 24, 1896, Sam was married to Zula Buswell, the ceremony taking place at Tower City (Pastorís name forgotten). One child was born to this union, Zula (Mrs. Fred G. Fischer, Fargo, N. Dakota., Rural route). Their child was born October 8, 1898. Mrs. Barton died five weeks after the birth of their daughter. The little girl was cared for by Samís mother until she was twelve years old, when she went to live with her father.


After his marriage, Sam engaged in farming, renting a half section of land from Wm. H. Wright, which he farmed for two years. The death of his wife breaking up his home, he moved to Tower City and started contracting to do farm work. The price he was paid was figured on an acre basis, for seeding and harvesting the crop (price received per acre forgotten) the land owner receiving the entire crop.


Until 1936, Sam lived at Tower City doing odd jobs.


A. E. Roethke appointed Sam night jailer at the Cass County Jail.


Although an old man, Sam was very active, and thought he could walk the legs off of a lot of men who were many years younger than himself.


(Taken from the Historical Data Project- Bismarck)

Source: Tower City History 1879-1979

Fargo Public Library- Dakota Room


Top of Page