Fred B. Bardon
Morris Co. Up

Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County New Jersey. Illustrated. Vol. II., Lewis Publishing Company, New York and Chicago, 1899, p90.


Whether the elements of success in life are innate attributes of the individual, or whether they are quickened by a process of circumstantial development, it is impossible to clearly determine; yet the study of a successful life is none the less interesting and profitable by reason of the existence of this same uncertainty. The march of improvement is accelerated day by day, and each successive moment seems to demand of men a broader intelligence and a greater discernment than did the preceding. Successful men must be live men in this age, bristling with activity, and the lessons of biography may be far reaching to an extent not superficially evident. He whose name initiates this review has been intimately identified with enterprises which have conserved the progress and prosperity of Madison; he has been animated by pronounced public spirit, and has gained a prestige which demands for him distinctive consideration in any compilation purporting to touch upon the life records of representative citizens of Morris county.

Fred B. BARDON, cashier of the First National Bank of Madison, was born in the city where he has attained so great a degree of success in his business operations, the date of his nativity having been June 2, 1858. His parents were Henry Jacob and Catherine (BANGHART) BARDON, to whom individual reference is made on other pages, of this volume. The educational discipline of our subject was, in a preliminary way, secured in the Madison Academy, and this was supplemented by a course of study in the high school at Newark, where he graduated as a member of the class of 1873. After leaving school Mr. BARDON secured his initiation into the practical duties of lifeby going to New York city, where for two years he held a position in the establishment of C. H. & E. S. Goldburg, dealers in willow-ware. At the expiration of this time his ambition was compelled to subordinate itself, since he was attacked with inflammatory rheumatism, whose ravages were so persistent that for the long term of six years he was unable to give attention to business. He finally gained the ascendency over the stubborn disease, and in April, 1887, he established the first newspaper ever published in Madison. To his paper he gave the unique title of the Madison Eye Opener, the same being a monthly folio edition, with pages 8½ x 10½ inches, and the press used for issuing the same being an old-fashioned affair operated by foot power. Mr. BARDON had hitherto no definite knowledge of the manifold details of the "art preservative of all arts," but with his primitive equipment he was enabled to issue a very creditable sheet from the start, continuing the paper as a monthly for the first three editions, after which he gave rein to his ambition and began the publication of a weekly paper, changing the name to the Madison Journal, thus throwing aside the title which had been in a measure a sign of amateurship. For a long time Mr. Bardon officiated as the head and sole operative in all departments of his newspaper venture, working early and late and finding that intrinsic fascination which ever abides with one who has touched journalism in any form, The paper met with a favorable reception and was continued until March, 1878, when, owing to the illness of the editor and publisher, the plant was sold to L. H. Abbey, of South Orange, New Jersey, who guided its destinies until August, 1882, when Mr. BARDON again resumed control of the enterprise, changing the title of the paper to the Madison Eagle, which has since been retained. The paper has now become recognized as one of the leading ones in the county, standing as exponent for local interests, showing a distinct local coloring, and yet offering in condensed form all the important news of the hour. Mr. BARDON's effective methods and signal interest in his work gave the Eagle a prestige , not usually attained by a newspaper whose province is so essentially circumscribed. He conducted the enterprise until July 27, 1894, when it was sold to the Eagle Publishing Company, under whose auspices it has since been continued successfully. Mr. BARDON's success in the line was due entirely to his own efforts, since he never served an apprenticeship at the trade, but accumulated a discriminating knowledge of all branches by self-application, becoming an expert compositor on "straight matter" and equally efficient in the handling of display fonts.

In addition to conducting his newspaper Mr. BARDON became bookkeeper of the First National Bank of Madison upon its organization, September 1, 1881, retaining this incumbency until May 1, 1894, when he was chosen cashier of the institution, which position he has since held consecutively, having proved a capable executive and able financier.

In his political adherency he is an uncompromising Democrat, and his popularity in the local organization of the party may be inferred from the fact that he held the appointment as postmaster of Madison during the four years of President Cleveland's first administration. He maintains a lively interest in all that touches the progress and prosperity of his native town, and is now serving his eighth term as president of the Madison volunteer fire department, in whose organization he was largely instrumental, in March, 1881. He was the first collector of the borough of Madison, in 1890, and his efficient service in this capacity is evident when cognizance is taken of the fact that the entire assessment was collected, —which had never been accomplished by any predecessor in a similar office prior to the adoption of the borough form of government. For nine years Mr. BARDON served as vice-president and director of the Morristown Building and Loan Association, and in March, 1897, was elected a member of the Madison board of education, within which time he served as a member of the building committee which had in charge the erection of the new school building. In May, 1885, Mr. BARDON was united in marriage to Miss Ella Mary BALDWIN, the youngest daughter of Samuel BALDWIN, to whom specific reference is made on other pages of this work, Two children have been born of this union, — Fred W., born July 26, 1887, and Pearl, born February 9, 1889. In his fraternal and social relations Mr. BARDON is identified with the Independent Order of Foresters, in which he is chief ranger; and he is treasurer of the Madison Athletic Association. Religiously he is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, in the local society of which he officiated as organist for a term of fourteen years. The family home is one in which is ever extended a gracious hospitality to the large circle of friends which Mr. and Mrs. BARDON have drawn about them, and it may be consistently said that their friends are in number as their acquaintances.


Transcribed by Brianne Kelly-Bly

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