Past and Present of the City of Rockford and Winnebago County, IL, C. A. Church. Chicago: Clarke Publishing Company, 1905, pp 330-3
John BARRETT was well known in Rockford for nearly a quarter of a century and had a wide acquaintance among the early settlers of this city, taking up his abode here in 1868. He was a native of County Limerick, Ireland, born 24 Nov 1838, and his parents were Edward and Margaret (NOONAN) BARRETT, who were likewise [p 333] natives of County Limerick, where they spent their entire lives. The father was a tailor by trade and always followed that pursuit in order to provide for his family.
John BARRETT was educated in the Catholic schools of his native country and acquired a good education there. When a young man he began to learn the shoemakers trade and throughout his entire life that continued to be his source of livelihood. As a companion and helpmate for life's journey he chose Miss Margaret HAYES, also a native of Ireland, born 29 Dec 1841, and a daughter of Hall and Mary (DOWNEY) HAYES, also natives of Ireland. His father always followed farming and died in the land of his nativity, after which the mother emigrated to America and spent the remaining days in the home of her son, Thomas HAYES, in Traer, Tama County, IA. After his marriage Mr. BARRETT continued to work at the shoemakers trade in Ireland until 1868, when with his family, then numbering wife and five children, he crossed the Atlantic to the United States. Landing in New York City, he came direct to Rockford and invested in town property here, after which he owned a shoe shop on East State Street at the southeast corner of Madison Street. There he worked at his trade for nearly a quarter century or until his death, which occurred 16 Jun 1892.
Mr. and Mrs. BARRETT became the parents of ten children, of whom six were born in Ireland: (1) Catherine, who died 07 Jul 1900, was the wife of Joseph L. SCHMAUSS, who is now secretary and treasurer of the SCHMAUSS Company, the largest wholesale and retail dealers in meat in Rockford. (2) Mary is the wife of George SCHLENK and resides in this city. (3) Edwin died in Ireland at the age of six months. (4) Margaret and (5) Hannah R. are at home with their mother. (6) Ann died in Rockford 24 Jun 1879. (7) John J., who married Katherine F. HICKEY, resides in Rockford and is captain of hose company No. 2 of the city fire department. (8) William died 17 Sep 1891. (9) Edwin, who conducts a large fire and life insurance business with offices at No. 123 South Main Street, also resides with his mother. (10) Elizabeth, who died 06 Oct 1904, was the wife of Walter McGUIRE, a member of the McGUIRE Hardware Company of Rockford.
Mr. BARRETT always took a very active part in politics and was a stanch democrat. He held membership in St. James Catholic church of which his wife and family are also communicants. He was a hard working man, honest and upright and was quite successful. In the early days of his residence here he purchased the entire block upon which his widow now resides, and as the city has grown and developed this became very valuable property and much of it has been sold as city lots. They still own and retain possession of the old BARRETT home, however, at No. 1303 Benton Street, where Mrs. BARRETT and three of her children still reside, and the family is well known here. Mrs. BARRETT is now rearing her grandson, Edwin BARRETT, whose father, William BARRETT, is now deceased. Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Katherine BARRETT, also owns a nice home on a part of the BARRETT addition to this city.
Submitted by Cathy Kubly.