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
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
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
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
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
(Taken from the Historical Data Project- Bismarck)
City History 1879-1979
Fargo Public Library- Dakota Room
Top of Page