John Barton was born in England about 1809. Family tradition says that he stowed away on a ship to America. In St. Louis about 1834, he married Huldah Rundell, a daughter of James C. Rundell, a local farmer and prominent member of the First Baptist Church. The Rundells had migrated to St. Louis from Greene County, New York, about 1820.

John Junior was born in 1835, followed by Daniel in 1836, and Lucinda in 1838; the last two were baptized at the Catholic cathedral on Walnut Street.

John Barton worked as a carpenter until about 1839 when he started a soda water business in his home on the northeast corner of Fourteenth and Clark streets.

More children were born: James in 1840, Mary Elizabeth “Molly” in 1844, Clara in 1845, and Sarah in 1847. All survived the conflagration and cholera epidemic that devastated St. Louis in 1849. The family later adopted a nephew named Philip, a son of Huldah’s sister Eliza.

In 1839, John Barton’s father-in-law bought eighty acres in Bridgeport Township, Warren County, Missouri, where he ran a plantation until his death in 1845. An abolitionist, he owned no slaves. In fact, his Baptist friends founded the African Baptist church that influenced Dred Scott to sue for his freedom.

In October 1851, John Barton purchased 160 acres in Bear Creek Township, Montgomery County, Missouri. When the federal government granted his land patent in August 1852, the family moved and became farmers. But, “Pa” continued to do business in St. Louis, at least during the soda water season—the warmer months. About 1858, he sold his business to Haight & O’Brien, “Soda Water Manufacturers and Dealers in Pure Lake Ice,” but stayed to work for them. His son, Dan, also worked for them as a teamster. Their factory was at Seventeenth and O’Fallon streets.

During the Civil War, business was slow in St. Louis. There were shortages, as the Mississippi River was blocked at Vicksburg. John Barton continued to work for Haight & O’Brien, in season. In 1862, he went to Memphis to get barrels for them. Out of season he worked his farm in Montgomery County. The Barton family supported the Union cause during the war. John Junior died at Helena, Arkansas, while serving in the Thirty-third Missouri Infantry (USA). Daughter Lucinda married a Union soldier, Northrop Hyde. Son James served in local militias.

In May 1866, John Barton bought a new spring wagon at High Hill, according to tax records, but on 5 October he died. Cause of death is unknown, but cholera was epidemic at the time. His wife Huldah survived him. Both are buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Montgomery County.

(Sources include contemporary family letters, census records, church records, military records, land and tax records, city directories, cemetery records, and the memoirs of John Mason Peck)

Written by John Sullivan
May 2017

© 2017, St. Louis Genealogical Society

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Last Modified: 26-Oct-2018 10:01