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Cuming County Biography

Ford Bella Barber

information taken from Heritage of Bancroft: 1884 - 1984

Ford Bella Barber was born November 5, 1843 a few miles from Cleveland, Ohio. One of seven children, he lived with his parents until he enlisted in the 88th Ohio infantry at the age of 19 years. After re-enlisting in November 5, 1863, with the 10th Ohio cavalry, he was eventually wounded and near the end of the war was captured and imprisoned at Savannah. He was released from there in June of 1865. An interesting fact known about Mr. Barber is he attended the national gathering of the Civil War Veterans every year until his death at 86 years of age.

In 1867, Ford B. Barber decided to come to Nebraska to “get a piece of the pie” being offered in the West. He homesteaded in Burt County near Lyons where he operated a grocery store at his place for a few years. It was here that he met and married school teacher Susan Ann Watson in 1873. It was in the spring of 1874 they moved by bobsled from Lyons into their newly built frame home in Bancroft Township, Nebraska. This first building would eventually become part of the site platting of the new village of Bancroft, Nebraska.

The Barber family worked their land putting some into cultivation; the rest in pasture for their livestock. They also planted a grove of trees which included a small orchard. A large barn and granaries were later added to the farm which was surrounded by fencing.

When a railroad began building through the area, Mr. Barber began envisioning what the future could hold for an area having the advantage of faster transportation available. So in June 1850, Mr. Barber deeded a 40-acre tract of land to the Chicago, Minneapolis and Omaha railway. As part of this deed an adjacent 40 acres for a railroad right of way was included as well as an agreement with the railroad company to lay out a plat for a town. Mr. Barber retained an interest in the company and as company agent began selling lots. In 1881 he and a Mr. William Ward joined forces to form the real estate company know as Ward and Barber Real Estate Agency. This agency was successful in its outreach as is evidenced by the fact that people from England, Scotland and Germany joined those immigrating to the ever expanding community of Bancroft.

One can never describe Mr. Barber as being “just a farmer” as he was active in affairs of our country, his civic community and his religious community. Rather than accepting the honor of having the town named for him, he preferred to be remembered as a military man, for the civil rights actions he was influential in having passed in the House of Congress and for his perusal of the study of the Scriptures.

The Leila Stahl Buffett Genealogy Center was created in memory of a granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Barber.

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