ALVA Y. BARR. Sheltered in the quiet homes of the country is a large proportion of the intelligence and cultivation which have always been acknowledged as a marked feature in the character of the people of Illinois. This fact is amply illustrated at the homestead of the subject of this notice, who is recognized as one of the leading men of Woodson Precinct, and who is at the head of a bright and interesting family, who are devoted to each other and whose chief interest lies under the old rooftree. Whether entering their domicile as a friend or a passing traveler, the attention is at once attracted by the air of taste and refinement, which pervades the dwelling and its surroundings. Within there are books and music, and last, but not least, numbers of fine paintings by the hand of Miss Effie M. Barr, who has long been recognized among the people of this section as a natural born artist. With very little instruction she has arrived at a point very near perfection, and it is not to be wondered at that the parents look upon this gifted child with more than ordinary pride. All the children are bright and interesting and have been trained and educated in a manner suited to their station in life, and which has made of them good and useful members of the community.
It may be well before proceeding further to glance at the antecedents of our subject, whose father, Ebenezer Barr, was a native of Boston, Mass. From New England he emigrated early in life, prior to the War of 1812, to Erie County, Pa., and was there married to Miss Mehitable Palmer. Upon the coming on of the war mentioned, he proffered his services as a soldier in the American Army, and later, after the struggle was ended was engaged as a carpenter in the erection of a blockhouse at Erie, Pa. He also assisted in fitting up the vessels connected with the fleet of Commodore Perry.
After the British were once more driven from American soil, the father of our subject settled down again in Erie County, Pa., where he lived until the summer of 1838. He then decided to seek his fortune in the young State of Illinois, and arrived in what is now known as Scott County, with his family that same year. They sojourned there one year, then changed their residence to a point four miles northwest of the present site of Jacksonville, where they also spent four years, and where the father died in 1844. The mother outlived her husband many years and died at quite an advanced age at her home in Jacksonville, in about 1870.
Five sons and five daughters completed the household circle of the parents of our subject, and nine of the children lived to grow up. Alva Y., was the eldest born, and first opened his eyes to the light in the northeastern part of Erie County, Pa., Aug. 2, 1818. He there spent his boyhood days and was nearly twenty-one years of age when he came with the family to this county. He worked for his father as a carpenter most of the time until the death of the latter, and afterward gave his attention principally to farming. He has been a resident of Woodson precinct for a period of forty-one years and is consequently known to the people of this section far and wide. His farm comprises 100 acres of valuable land, which he has brought to a high state of cultivation, but for the last few years he has given his attention largely to the breeding of Percheron horses. This industry carried on intelligently and successfully has been the source of a handsome income.
The 13th of June, 1848, witnessed the marriage of our subject with Miss Mary P. Crawley, the wedding taking place at the bride's home in Woodson Precinct. Mrs. Barr was born in Adair County, Ky., June 25, 1827, and is the daughter of Asa and Hopestill (Crawley) Crawley, who were also natives of the Blue Grass State. The father was a soldier in the War of 1812, and died of consumption while on duty at New Orleans. The mother subsequently came to this county and was married to Ebenezer Hoag. They settled in Township 14, where her death took place Jan. 25, 1853. They were the parents of four children.
Of the children, nine in number, born to Mr. and Mrs. Barr the record is as follows: Mattie A. is the wife of Henry Reeder, of Harvey County, Kan.; William W. remains at the homestead; Laura J. is the wife of Clark Simonds, of Washington; Isador, (Mrs. Alexander P. Craig) lives in Colorado; Clara E. and Effie M. remain with their parents; Cora E., is the wife of Clifton Greene, of township 14; Eleanor is the wife of James M. Greene, of Greene County, this State; Lulu B., the youngest, remains under the home roof.
Mr. Barr, politically, votes the straight Democratic ticket, and with his estimable wife and all their children, belongs to the Christian Church. He has held several important offices of the township and is a man whose opinion is generally respected. He like most other men has met with his many drawbacks and discouragements, and in the summer of 1861 suffered the loss of his home by fire. He is one of the comparatively few men who have preserved as far as possible the outlines of the family history; and among other relics he has in his possession, is an ax which was used by his father in the construction of some of the war ships of Commodore Perry. This relic is naturally highly prized, and it is to be hoped will be carefully preserved by coming generations.