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Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp.614-615

SAMUEL STEADMAN BARRY is one of the oldest survivors among the honored band of Illinois pioneers.  He was born in Salem, Massachusetts, March 19, 1811.  He is a son of John and Mary (Frye) Barry, who were natives of Essex County, Massachusetts, in which locality they lived and died.

John, grandfather of Samuel S. Barry, was one of the Massachusetts minute-men who took part in the famous battle of Lexington. When the first alarm was spread through the agency of Paul Revere and others, he started from Lynnfield, in company with a neighbor named Thompson, who lost his life in that conflict.  This John Barry married a lady of the name of Bancroft, who was of the same family as the eminent historian, George Bancroft.

The Barry family is supposed to have originated in Normandy.  Several De Barres are known to have located in England at the time of the Conquest.  The progenitors of this family in America probably came from Ireland.  The Frye family is of English lineage.  Benjamin, father of Mary Frye, enlisted among the artificers of the Continental army, serving as a Lieutenant for two or three years, and took a conspicuous part in the campaign of General Gates against Burgoyne in the vicinity of Lake Champlain.

John Barry, the father of the subject of this sketch, was a cabinet-maker at Salem.  He had six sons and three daughters, of whom the following is the record: George, who became a sea-captain, died while on an ocean voyage and was buried at sea, off the Falkland Islands.  John, who was also a seafaring man, was appointed by President Jackson master of the frigate “Potomac,” and was sent on a cruise to the coast of Sumatra to punish depredations committed by the natives of that island upon American commerce.  Samuel S., the next in order of birth, was followed by Nathan, who is residing at Batavia, Illinois.  William died in Lake County, Illinois.  Horatio became a drug clerk in New York City in early life, and went from there to Mississippi.  He served through the Mexican War, and is supposed to have lost his life on the way to California overland in 1849.  Mary married William Abbott, and after her death the latter married her sister, Eliza.  Martha is Mrs. Alfred Payne, of Ivanhoe, Lake County, Illinois.

Samuel S. Barry attended the public schools of his native town, and at the age of fourteen years began to learn the trade of house painting and decorating.  He continued that occupation at Salem until 1833.  At that date he went to New York City, where the next three years were spent in the same avocation.  In 1837 he came to Illinois, spending twenty-eight days of the month of November on a sailing-vessel between Buffalo and Chicago, and for a time directed his attention to agriculture.  He made his home in Lake County, locating a squatter’s claim, on which he resided until 1850, although he worked at his trade in Chicago during a portion of this period.   In 1850 he removed to Chicago and became a partner with Nathaniel S. Cushing, and engaged in executing painting and decorating contracts.

At the time of the great Chicago fire their place of business on Lake Street, together with most of their stock in trade, was destroyed. It is noteworthy that, though they were heavy losers, they were among the few firms suffering in that catastrophe who paid all their obligations in full.  They immediately resumed business, and the partnership continued until 1875, when the firm of S. S. Barry & Son was formed.  The new firm continued to carry on the same line of business ten years after that date.  At the end of that time S. S. Barry retired and the business was discontinued.  Up to that date Mr. Barry participated in the decoration of many of the finest houses in the city, as well as several large business blocks.

On the 4th of July, 1837, Mr. Barry was united in marriage with Miss Abigail C. Abbott, daughter of Thomas and Abigail (Corbin) Abbott, of Salem, Massachusetts.  She was his faithful partner and companion for nearly sixty years, expiring at Kenilworth, August 5, 1895, at the age of eighty-three years. Mr. and Mrs. Barry were blessed with three daughters and one son.  Martha Elizabeth, who is now deceased, was the wife of Horace G. Smith, of Denver, Colorado.  George is a prominent citizen of Wilmette. Helen is the wife of Joseph Sears, of Kenilworth; and Abbie Marion resides with her parents.

Mr. and Mrs. Barry were among the earliest adherents of the Swedenborgian faith in the West.  For twenty years past they were members of the Chicago Society of the New Jerusalem.   Mr. Barry is a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity, and was for a long time identified with Oriental Consistory.  He was also an early member of Union Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, but in recent years has been prevented by the infirmities of age from attending the meetings of these societies.  In early life he was an ardent admirer and supporter of Henry Clay, and enlisted under the Republican banner upon the first organization of that party. He has been in harmony with most of the legislation enacted under its administration of affairs, except the demonetization of silver in 1873.  Since 1892 he has been living in quiet and peaceful retirement at Kenilworth, and continues to enjoy the respect and esteem of his fellow-citizens in Cook County.

                                -- Submitted on June 12, 2000 by Sherri Hessick ( )