Kimber Augustus Barton of Shirleysburg, PA: Musician, Teacher, Merchant & Innkeeper

Unintentionally, I seem to keep coming across ancestors with a musical bent. My mother possesses a fine soprano voice with perfect pitch. As a young woman, she sang in musical theater. I have fond memories of listening to her play pieces by Chopin, Debussey and others on the piano. So, I love finding musical connections to previous generations.

In tracing my maternal grandfather’s lines, I’ve found that my 4th great-grandfather, Kimber Augustus Barton, also carried the musical gene. And, like many men of his time, engaged in several different occupations during his life.

Before telling you about Kimber, allow me to lay out the pedigree from my grandfather to Kimber:

Pedigree from J.T. Irvine to K.A. BartonPerhaps the first thing to know about Kimber A. Barton is that he was named for his paternal grandmother, Mary Kimber Barton. The Kimber name is English in origin and both of Kimber Barton’s grandparents were British immigrants to America. Kimber was born about 1770 to John Barton and Mary Matthews Barton. He was their oldest child, followed by: Thomas Gage, John Jr., Mary and Sabra.

The book, History of Mount Union, Shirleysburg and Shirley Township (1909) by Charles H. Welch, includes a section on “The Barton Kindred” which states that the Bartons lived in Bucks County and moved to Shirleysburg in 1785. But the author makes it clear his facts are only “so far as we can learn.” Actually, the Bartons arrived in Shirleysburg later, for the family can be found living in Bucks County on the first U. S. Census in 1790 (last entry).

1790 Census - John Barton Family

1790 Census – John Barton Family

Bucks County is adjacent to Philadelphia County, and it appears that Kimber Barton may have received an education in Philadelphia and resided in that city for a time. I was thrilled to find this 1791 newspaper item about Kimber in the database, Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers:

The_Pennsylvania_Gazette. Wednesday, Aug. 10, 1791

The Pennsylvania Gazette. Wednesday, Aug. 10, 1791

In the 1790s, John Barton and Kimber Barton moved to Buffalo Valley in Union County, PA. The book,  Annals of Buffalo Valley, Pennsylvania, 1755-1855, lists John Barton as a tax payer and farmer in West Buffalo in the year 1794; Kimber is listed as a school teacher in the year 1796. By 1799, Kimber was living in nearby West Buffalo/Mifflinburg where he was a tavern keeper. At that time, Kimber also was appointed a federal tax assessor. There was a tax on window glass, so Kimber had to go to each house and count the number of window panes. Residents seeking to avoid the tax would remove the panes before he arrived and cover their windows with paper. You think Kimber was fooled by his neighbors?

The 1800 U. S. Census lists Kimber and his family living in West Buffalo Township (he is listed last on this snippet).

180 U.S. Census

1800 U.S. Census

Kimber and Mary had five children: Eliza, Charles, Samuel, Evaline, and Ann. Soon after the 1800 Census, the family moved west to the town of Shirleysburg (Fort Shirley) in Huntingdon County. Kimber remained there the rest of his life. In 1805, Kimber was appointed the 1st postmaster in Shirleysburg. I found this fact recorded in a couple of places, including a relatively recent newspaper item:

The Daily News (Tue., Jul 3, 1979)

The Daily News (Tue., Jul 3, 1979)

In Shirleysburg, Kimber continued his previous trade of inn keeper. He was the proprietor of a local tavern and mercantile, operating from “the Mansion House” on the west side of Main Street. Kimber is described as a “dispenser of codfish, molasses, tape and calico. His was a combination establishment; that is, he kept ‘entertainment for man and beast,’ as well as delicacies for families.” (History of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania) It was said that Kimber was “as popular as a landlord as any in the valley of the Aughwick.” What a tribute! Kimber must have been a very likeable fellow.

In 1881, Kimber Barton assisted an orphaned young lady in obtaining her inheritance by appearing before the court in Philadelphia on her behalf, as is outlined in the case:

Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of Common Pleas of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania

Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of Common Pleas of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania

In 1813 and 1814, Kimber obtained two land warrants of 200 acres each in Huntingdon County (one of which is depicted below). Presumably, he invested his tavern keeper savings in land to see him into his old age and retirement.

1814 Land Warrant

1814 Land Warrant

Among the last public records of Kimber is the 1821 Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, in which he is listed as an innkeeper.

Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1821

Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, 1821

Kimber Barton died on Oct. 19, 1822. His wife, Mary, survived him another 21 years.

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