JOHN SMITH BARNGROVER is numbered among the pioneer settlers of Dallas County, Iowa.
He has seen the wild lands transformed into beautiful homes and farms, the log
cabins replaced by substantial residences, while churches and schools have been
built, villages and towns established, industries and enterprises introduced,
while the work of progress and civilization has been carried forward until the
county of today bears little resemblance to that of a third of a century ago.
Mr. Barngrover has borne his part in the work of development well deserves
mention among the leading and influential citizens.He
was born in Highland county,Ohio,September 26, 1822, and is a son of George and Sarah Badgley BARNGROVER.The family is of Swiss origin. The grandfather, Six BARNGROVER,
emigrated from Switzerland to America,and after reaching this country was bound out for a time to pay for his passage money. The father of our subject was born in Kentucky,
October 18, 1789, and when a young man removed to Highland
county,Ohio, whence he afterward went to Johnson county,Indiana,
and later to Howard county,that State, where he died at the age of sixty-two years, his death occurring on the 2d of May, 1851. His wife, who was born January 10 1794, died February 13, 1835. Of their family of eleven children, four sons are yet living. The father of this family was a soldier of the war of 1812, and was present at HullŐs surrender. The maternal
grandfather of our subject died at the home of his daughter, Jrs. Barngrover,
the grandmother having died several years previous. They were natives of
Canada, whence they came to the United States.
The gentleman whose name heads this review spent his early boyhood days on the old home farm, and at the age of sixteen started out to make his own way in the world, serving a four-years apprenticeship to the tannerŐs trade. He then entered the employ of Jesse R. Grant, father of Ulysses S. Grant, and was working for that gentleman when the future general and president returned from West Point. Mr. Barngrover left for Ohio in 1843 and went to Indiana in time to vote for James K. Polk the following year. He remained in the Hoosier State until 1846, when he enlisted in the service for the Mexican war as a member of Company C, First Indiana Infantry, under Colonel James P. Drake. He remained at the front for a year, and now receives a pension in recognition of his service.After his return, Mr. Barngrover was united in marriage, on the 13th of April, 1848, with Sarah A. Kinnick, who was born in Marion County, Indiana, and is a daughter of William and Sarah [Clark] Kinnick. Her father was a native of North Carolina and when a young man removed to the Hoosier State, where he made a farm. He had visited the site of Indianapolis before a house marked the place and continued agricultural pursuits in Johnson county for some years, but at length came to Iowa. The paternal grandparents of Mrs. Barngrover were natives of Maryland and North Carolina, respectively. The maternal grandparents, Alexander and Sarah [Glenn] Clark,were natives of Kentucky and early in life removed to Indiana,where they spent their remaining days, the former dying at the age of sixty-five, while his wife survived until eight-two years of age.
By their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Barngrover became the parents of ten children, of whom a daughter died at the age of two years, and one son in his twentieth year. Eight of the family are now living: George, who married Elizabeth Butler, resides in Crawford, Nebraska, and has one child, Sarah who is living in California; Mary E., wife of W. W.Rudrow, a farmer of Dallas County, and has one son; James A., a resident of Montana; Charles E., who married Bertie May Gosling, is farming in Nebraska,and has two children; Harvey M., who married Lucy A. Lyle and resides in California; Nettie, who married Dr. E. E. Emerson, a resident of Brown county, Kansas; and Frank, who manages the old home farm.
Upon his marriage, Mr. Barngrover rented a farm in Indiana, and lived in Johnson county for about six years. In 1854 he sold all his property in that State, and in the month of June came to the West, making the journey by team. On reaching Illinois, he went to the home of his brother James, with whom he remained until August, and then drove across the country to Fairfield,Iowa, where he stopped one week with his brother, William J., and then came to Dallas County where a week later he purchased eighty acres of land upon which his present home now stands. His wife and two children who had been born in Indiana accompanied him. They took up their abode in a little log cabin, and the following year Mr. Barngrover purchased forty acres of land on which a better cabin stood. It was the birthplace of four of the children and continued to be the residence of the family until 1867, when the present house was erected. They went through all the experiences and hardships of pioneer life, for Dallas County was an undeveloped region when they here located. Our subject performed the arduous task of developing a good farm from a tract of wild land, as no improvements had been made upon the place save about ten acres cleared and the little cabin built when it came into his possession. He soon had richly cultivated field and good buildings, while the neat and thrifty appearance of the place indicates his careful supervision.
Since casting his first presidential vote, Mr. Barngrover has been a stalwart advocate of the principles of Democracy, but has never sought or desired political preferment, giving his entire time and attention to this business interest. He was formerly a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and contributed liberally to support and to all matters pertaining to the public welfare. Socially, Mr. B. has been a member of the A.F. & A. M. for many years, having obtained the Royal Arch degree.
Historical and Biographical Record of Iowa, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1896, pages 649-651.
Transcribed by Andree Swanson