William Barton
William Barton

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

WILLIAM BARTON was born in Troy, N. Y., Feb. 7, 1805, and was next to the eldest in the family of three sons and three daughters of Robert and Mary (Carpenter) Barton, the former a native of Dutchess County, and the latter a native of Ulster Co., N. Y. His parents came to Troy in 1803. His father at that time was a fanning-mill maker; was afterwards in the grocery and provision business, and still later in the manufacture of soap and candles. He was an active business man, was connected with various enterprises in the early history of Troy, and was in politics one of the old Federal party. He died in Troy, in the year 1836, aged fifty-nine. His wife died in 1866, aged eighty-six. Both were members of the Society of Friends.

William Barton received a good education at the Friends' School, at Nine partners, Dutchess co., N. Y. For many years he was connected with his father in business in Troy. In 1832 (having previously studied engineering with Amos Eaton and others) he became assistant engineer in the construction of the macadamized road from Troy to Bennington. In 1833-34 he was assistant engineer on the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad, and in the construction of the bridge at Troy, over the Hudson River, for that road. From 1836 to 1839 he was engaged in the surveys for the Boston and Albany Railroad, and subsequently contracted to build sections of that road, and also to build the wharves and accomodations for the depot on the east side of the Hudson at Albany.

In May, 1839, Mr. Barton married Mary A., daughter of James and Rebecca Wells, of Springfield, Mass., and sister of David A. Wells, of Norwich, Conn. Returning to Troy the same year, he was appointed city surveyor, and held the office almost continuously until 1859, - a term of nearly twenty years, - during which time, in 1858, he made the first complete map of Troy, embracing the whole city, and was also the engineer for the extension of the wharves along the city front.

In 1859-60 he was one of the organizers of the Arba Reid Steam Fire-Engine Company, and was its first president. In 1860-61 he organized the Troy and Lansingburgh Street Railroad Company, and the Troy and Cohoes Street Railroad Company, and was the engineer and uperintendent until 1867. He has been one of the directors since the organization of both roads, and is now one of the executive committee. From 1870 to 1878 he was engaged in the coal business, at the corner of Jacob and River Streets.

Mr. Barton has taken an active part in the politics of his city and county. Was formerly a member of the Whig party; is now a Republican. For two years, 1847-48, he represented the Seventh Ward in the common council of Troy. He has ever been interested in all enterprises tending to the prosperity of the city where he has spent most of his life as an active business man.

Reared under Quaker influences, he in early life held that velief, but about 1836 he became a Unitarian, and after returning to Troy he became one of the founders of the Unitarian Church in that city.

Mr. Barton is well known in Troy as an enterprising, upright, and judicious business man. He correct habits, integrity, and honesty of purpose in all his relations of life have won him the confidence of all who know him.

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