STEPHEN BARBER, Superintendent of the Madison County Children's Home, located in Peterboro, is a native of New York, born in the town of Owego, March 17, 1843, son of Frederick and Betsey Barber. The father was a farmer by occupation, and in 1867, accompanied by his wife, emigrated to Michigan, where they spent the remainder of their lives, she passing away in 1880, and he three years later. Both were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and he was a steadfast Republican.
The subject of this brief biography has spent the greater part of his life in Madison County, receiving his early education in the district schools. He is most assuredly the architect of his own fortune, having begun to support himself when quite young, working out for seven or eight seasons on a farm,
receiving as wages ten dollars per month. Ere he attained his majority the late Civil War broke out; and in April, 1862, he enlisted in the One Hundred and Fourteenth New York Infantry, in Company K, under command of Captain Seneca Lake. He took an active part in many battles and skirmishes, among the more prominent ones being Fort Bisum, Port Hudson, Opecon Creek, and Pleasant Hill in Louisiana; and subsequently, accompanying his regiment to the Shenandoah Valley, he participated in the battles of Winchester, Pitcher Hill, Cedar Creek, and other minor engagements. He served until the close of the war, being honorably discharged in 1865, and mustered out of service at Washington, D.C. After the war he came to Madison County, and engaged in farming in Cazenovia, spending what leisure time he could find in learning the carpenter's trade. This latter business he followed successfully for a period of seventeen years.
In 1890 he gave up his other occupations to take the position of Overseer of the Insane, which he retained until November, 1891. At that time he was appointed Superintendent of the Madison County Children's Home, an office which he has since filled most acceptably in every respect. In this institution there are six employees, and oftentimes thirty-eight or forty children to be cared for, twenty-five being the number at present. These waifs are well fed, well clothed, and taught, school being in session four and one half days each week of the year. Much attention is paid to their moral and physical education as well as their intellectual, each one being required to attend church and Sunday-school each week; and cleanliness is also insisted on, every child having a refreshing bath and a clean suit of clothes Friday afternoons. When possible, good homes are found for these little ones, sixty having been thus provided for within a year. In the management of this home and care of the children Mr. Barber is assisted by his estimable wife, who attends to their clothing, during the past year having made one hundred and twenty-five pairs of trousers and twenty-seven coats. The children do credit to her kind supervision, always looking neat and clean, whether in their week-day dress or in their Sunday suits. Mr. Barber has made many improvements in the Home since it has been in his charge, his mechanical ability having been put to good use, he giving his time while the county pays for the material he employs in construction. Among other substantial additions to the building may be mentioned a beautiful bay-window which adorns one side. Everything about the place indicates constant care both on the grounds and in the house, where kitchen, dining-room, beds, bedding, and so
forth, are models of neatness and cleanliness.
Mr. Barber married in 1866 Pamelia Curtis, who was born in Cazenovia in 1846. Her parents, Abel and Sarah Curtis, were born near Cazenovia, and were lifelong residents of that place, where they died at the ages of sixty-eight years and sixty-seven years, respectively. Both were members of
the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Curtis was a butcher by occupation, well and favorably known in that locality. The union of Mr. and Mrs. Barber has been blessed by the birth of one son, George A., on April 12, 1867. He is ticket agent in Utica for the Ontario & Western and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railways. Mr. and Mrs. Barber are worthy members of the Congregational church, contributing liberally to its support. Politically, he is an ardent Republican; and, socially, he is a member of Eaton Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and of Eaton Post, No. 312, Grand Army of the Republic.
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