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Free Genealogy Biography of the John Barr
Pennsylvania Volunteer of the Civil War wrote:

John William Barr

In 1857 the panic was. The bank failed; money was scarce; most of the business was on an order basis. The man you worked for would give you an order to some store and I concluded to go West, thinking I could better myself.

So in March 1858, I went to Iowa. I found that town was just as bad as in the East. If you got work, they could not tell you when you would be paid. Railroads were few in Iowa; you had to travel by stage coach. I traveled by stage from Muscatine to Knoxville, Marion Co., stayed five weeks but could not find anything to do; went as far as Council Bluff on the Missouri River. Omaha was across the river, but at that time it had only a few houses.

I came back to Knoxville and stayed five weeks longer, and by that time my money got all, so I concluded that I would try and go back to Muscatine and write home for money to get home. I knew the landlord and I knew I could stop for two weeks before he would ask me for pay.

So my only way was to walk 150 miles. So I started on my trip without a cent of money. At that time you could travel a whole day before you would see a house. So sometimes I slept on the Prairies with but the sky above for covering.

One day I came to a place between Sigourney and Washington where they were making a railroad. They were working about a mile and a half from their shanty; they were eating dinner and all they had was bread and pork, the fat about three inches thick. One of the men asked whether I was hungry, I said, you bet, and he gave me a hunk of bread about two inches thick and a big hunk of pork. I thought it was the best meal I had in a long time, and from that I learned to eat. My mother often told me I would learn to eat, for as a boy at home I was very choicy, from that time I learned to eat to live, but some people live to eat.

On the last day of my tramp I found 1/2 dime, 5 cts. After I had a good supper at the Boston House, kept by a Mr. Booth, I walked down to the steam boat landing; a man came to me and asked me if I would give him some money that he had walked all day and had not a bite to eat, I reached in my pocket and gave him the five cents. I thought it might do him some good as I could not do much with 5 cents.

That evening I wrote home for some money. I ought to have gotten an answer in six days. When I thought it had come I went to the post office every evening for five weeks and every time it was "no." In the meantime, I met a man that had worked in Wisconsin what they called the pineries. He wanted me to go along to St. Louis. He said he had a row boat, and we could go 350 miles in the boat down the Mississippi River.

I told him I wanted to stay till Friday, as I still expected a letter, and if I got it I would go and if not I would go any how. I went to the post office and asked, they said "no," so I said, "this is a hell of a office, I have been coming here for five weeks and every time it is 'no;' there is something wrong." The postmaster was sitting inside of a railing, he called out, "what is the matter." Then the clerk said, "this man said that he thought there ought to be a letter here for him and was not. Then he called out what was the name, and the clerk told him."

Then he said I should come back here the letter had laid for five weeks. It was registered, and I never thought of asking for a registered letter. Theodore Barr's father, was postmaster at Pine Grove at the time and he got notice that the letter had arrived, but had not been called for.

Then, that night we started for St. Louis. Stayed two weeks in St. Louis. I found if I staid much longer my money would get all so I took passage on a boat for Pittsburg, paid my fare to that place. When the boat got to Wheeling, Va., the Ohio River got so low that the boat could not get any farther till the river would rise; so the passengers went to the Captain and asked him to pay the fare on the cars. He said, "you stay on the boat, when the boat goes up you will get there."

It was in the fall of the year and the passengers were anxious to get home. So took train from Wheeling to Pittsburgh and had to pay my fare. I got acquainted with a young man on the boat and ho asked me where I was going to stop, I told him that I was not acquainted in Pittsburg, so he said that I should go with him we would stop at the Monogohala House.

The next morning I went to Monogohala city to see a friend. He asked me where I stopped, I told him, he said he would come over and we would have a good time. So I went back and got my dinner and asked for my bill and it was $4.00. I counted my money and found that I had not enough to pay my fare to Harrisburg; the fare that time was $12.00 and I had only $10 left. I came to the conclusion that if I would stay till night till my friend would come I would not have enough money to pay my fare; for I had not enough to pay from Pittsburg.

So I concluded I would walk till I would get to where my money would reach. I got on the pike and never got a railroad till I got to Chambersburg on a Sunday morning. I asked at the station what time a train would go to Harrisburg they told me not till 10 a. m. Monday. I concluded I had walked so far I could walk to Harrisburg till that time, and Monday at 12 m. I was in Harrisburg.

The distance from Pittsburg to Harrisburg is 208 miles. I walked it in 76 hours. in them 76 hours I had one square meal at Carlisle, the rest of the time I lived on cheese and crackers. I slept one night on the top of the Allegheny Mountain. I came home in October none the worse for my trip.

On April 21st, 1861, I enlisted in Company D, 10th Regiment Pa. Volunteers. Served three months as First Lieutant, proceeded to Chambersburg, Greencastle and Williamsport; July 1 advanced into Virginia to Martinsburg, July 17 to Charlestown, July 23 to Harpers Ferry returned to Harrisburg and was mustered out July 31st, 1861, expiration of term.

Re-enlisted in August the 14th, 1862, as private in Captain Fox, Co. K, 127th Regiment to serve nine months under Col. W. W. Jennings; moved with the Regiment to Washington Camp at Arlington Heights, guarded the Chain Bridge, engaged in the battles of Fredericksburg Dec. 13th, 1862, and Chancellorsville May 1-3, 1863, was promoted to Second Sergeant Oct., 1862, and to 2nd Lieut. Jan. 19th, 1864; discharged May 19, 1863, expiration of term.

Re-enlisted July 1st, 1863, and organized Co. H, 39th Regiment P. V. M. Served as Captain during Lee's invasion of Pa., was discharged Aug. 2nd, 1863, on account of emergency being over.

Re-enlisted the fourth time Feb. 16th, 1865, as a private in Co. B, 16th Regiment P. A. Cavalry to serve one year or during the war under Captain R. W. McDowell. Col. J. K. Robinson promoted to Corporal, engaged at Five Forks April 1, 1865; Amelia Springs, April 5, 1865; Sailors Creek April 6; Farmersville April 7, 1865; Appomattox Court House April 9th, 1865. After Lee surrendered went to Lynchburg, done provost duty till Aug. 1, 1865; left Lynchburg on a James River canal boat to Richmond. Va., was mustered out of service Aug. II, 1865, came on a steamboat to Baltimore and there took cars for Harrisburg and was paid home on the 18th of Aug. 1865.

Went to work at Catkins Polling Mill Sept. 1, 1865, in Pottsville and worked in Pottsville till April 1st, 1868. Moved to Bausch Gap and worked for the P. & R. Was foreman in the car shop when the shops were moved to Pine Grove in 1872.

Came to Pine Grove and worked for the P. & R. Co. till May 1st, 1904, was retired at the age of 70 years, and am still living in Pine Grove at the age of 82 years.

Mr. Barr was instrumental in organizing (company G, 4th Regiment, in January, 1877; was first Lieut. when the company was first organized for two years; then was elected Captain; resigned the command in 1882. Was a charter member of Wolf Post, 203; was P. C. for one term, and O. D. Adjutant of the Post for 4 years.

Source: Biographical Notes, 1841-1916, of Pine Grove, Pa: J. W. Barr: Achenbach & Reber: 1916

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