OF JOHN BARTON
of John Barton
of Year 1860
July 24, 1840, St. Helens, Lancashire, England
November 30, 1916 at Kaysville, Utah
written by Eliot S. Barton - 1957
The information and statements as stated in this article are
authentic. Some have been taken from the records of the Church
Historian's Office. Some from books by different authors (Book by H. H.
Blood). Some from the D. U. P. files. And some from memory told to
my brothers--Clifton, Morris, and myself.
John Barton, a veteran Elder of the Kaysville Ward, Davis County, Utah, was
born July 24, 1840, at St. Helens, Lancashire, England, the son of John Barton
and Elizabeth Bell. His parents were of moderate circumstances, the
father being a superintendent of a large foundry. John received a common
school education and though naturally inclined for a sea faring life, his
parental authority prevented him from realizing his aspiration in that
direction. He left home to join the Royal Navy when he was 15, serving about a
year until his family bought off his enlistment. At the age of 11 he
commenced service as a clerk in a pawn broker's establishment and remained in
that position about four years. After his release from the Navy he
learned the business of machinist in a large foundry and continued in that
vocation until he was eighteen. He worked his way across the Atlantic in the
sailing ship "Underwriter". Due to very stormy weather and
high seas it took 42 days to make the crossing. How he worked his way
from New York to Council Bluffs, he was hired as a driver of oxen in Captain
Hortons D. Haights' freight outfit and walked the entire distance. A few
weeks from Salt Lake his shoes wore out. The rest of the distance he
He was the first of his family to make the long journey to the new land and to
endure the hardships of the trek across the plains. To a young man,
however, this may not have been such a hardship, being full of life and vigor
and fired by a great ambition to join the Saints in the Valley of the
He arrived in Great Salt Lake September 24, 1860, and immediately came to
His ability to splice ropes and other things to which his limited experience
as a sailor came to splendid use to him while crossing the plains.
He was an apprentice machinist in England, working in a foundry and was told
not to bring any tools, as there were plenty in Utah. When he arrived he
found no tools nor machine works, so he turned to making knives, repairing
wagons and making bone handles for knives from the horns of animals both
domestic and wild, or doing odd jobs and whatever he could for a living, his
pay was mostly chickens, bacon, ham or flour, etc.--anything that could be
He turned to farming. After residing in Grantsville, Tooele County for
one year, he spent some time in Skull Valley chopping out cedar posts to sell.
One incident I recall Father telling us boys, he was alone cutting out cedar
posts in the mountains in Skull Valley. An Indian kept watching him from
the underbrush and kept moving from tree to tree to get closer to Father and
the team. "He was not after my scalp", said father, "He
wanted the horses." We questioned Father at different times and he
would always say, "The Indian was sent on his way and I had the
In his youth he was ordained successively to the office of Deacon and Teacher.
After his arrival in Utah he was ordained a Seventy, February 16, 1861, and
served as clerk of the 62nd Quorum of Seventy's for about three years.
Later he was ordained a High Priest.
Two years afterwards in 1862 his parents, brothers and sister followed him to
this country. He helped his family build the first brick house in
Kaysville. It still stands about one city block west of the Union
Pacific Railroad tracks on Center Street.
On December 25, 1863, he married Sarah Flint who bore him six children--Clara
(died 1878), Walter (died on mission in Mississippi), John F., George Earnest,
Anna and Vina.
Like most young men of his time he had learned a trade in his native
land. He was a mechanic of considerable skill and somewhat of a
There was a death in the early days of Kaysville and the man was to be buried
in a wagon box. John Barton remarked it was a pity a man should be
buried in a good wagon box, as they were very valuable. So he
volunteered to make a coffin from rough lumber. No doubt that was how he
started to make coffins.
At first he undoubtedly made his own coffins or caskets, but later on he
bought the boxes, covered and trimmed them himself. For many years his
caskets were kept in an adobe building on the southeast corner of his property
near the Opera House. On shelves in this building were also numerous
bolts of cloth, laces to line and trim the caskets and handles for
carrying. When Anna and Vina, his girls, were old enough they assisted
him in his work.
When they were young ladies and their mother had passed away (April 1887) and
he married my mother, when we three boys were old enough we too, helped him
line and trim the caskets.
In 1892 (July 20) he married Francis Geaves Shelton, who was born April 13,
1856 in London, England, and immigrated to Utah in 1891. (Died April 1,
1936). She bore him three children--Clifton, Eliot S. and Morris
W. Later when he opened the first furniture store in Davis County on
North Main Street he moved his caskets there and later he moved his caskets to
"Wessel" Building. He maintained both businesses at these
locations until his death.
In the early days the dead were packed in ice. A Mr. Sullivan, in the
late 1800's came to Kaysville. He had embalmed Queen Victoria of England
and taught Father how to embalm people. This is how Father became the
first undertaker and the first furniture dealer in Davis County.
What may have been his mode of conveyance in the early days, we do not know,
but for a great many years he owned a black hearse pulled by a beautiful team
of black horses and a white hearse with a team of white horses, named Sam and
Doc. Doc died. Then it was Sam and Charley.
John Barton was a very versatile man, skilled in many things. He was one
of the first dentists in the community, serving the people in his home day or
night for many years. An incident is related by one of his early
patients showing his generosity and kindness.
In the winter of 1881 Joseph Jarman, then 14 years of age, arrived in
Kaysville. He had been suffering for several days with a terrible
toothache. His face was swollen and misshapen. His neighbors,
anxious to help him, said, "Go down to John Barton's. He will pull your
tooth for a quarter." Where in the world he obtained a whole
shilling (a quarter) he never knew. Nevertheless, he did have the tooth
extracted and paid Mr. Barton the Money. Two days later John Barton
found where Joseph was staying and went to see him. "My boy,"
said Mr. Barton, "I hear you are a young immigrant just over from
England. Is that right?" "Yes, that is right," said
Joseph. "Here then." said Mr. Barton, "Take your quarter
back. I'm sure you need it much more than I do."
Like many of the pioneers, he gathered herbs and from them produced his own
medicines. His cough remedy was especially recommended and sought after
in the community. When either of us boys got a sore throat Father would
put some powdered sulphur on a kitchen knife, press down our tongue, and when
we would "AH" wide enough he would blow the sulphur down our
throats. We tasted sulphur, but the throat was better.
In 1868 he was appointed sexton of the Kaysville Cemetery, an office he held
for 48 years or until his death. It was well known that whatever John
Barton did, he did well, and the cemetery was one of those examples.
Much of its beauty of landscaping and well-planned appearance is due to his
care and foresight and remains as a monument to him today.
The Kaysville Brass Band was organized in 1864. Among the musicians was
Joseph Barton, peter Barton and John Barton. Father played what was then
known as the tenor horn. In the early part of the year 1869 the railroad
was being laid through Weber Canyon and as the tracks neared the mouth of the
canyon the Kaysville Band went by teams to the canyon and serenaded the track
layers. As the construction train slowly moved down the canyon on the
newly laid tracks towards the Salt Lake Valley, it was stopped opposite to
where the band was playing. They were invited to get aboard. This
they did and the Kaysville Brass Band had the honor of riding upon the first
train on the first flat car and the first rails to enter the Great Salt Lake
Valley, playing all the time.
Father was interested in Civic Affairs and enjoyed dramatics very much.
He would spend hours working to decorate a float or make something for a
parade or Home Dramatics Show. He supplied almost all the
"props" for the local shows and supplied chairs, dressers, etc. for
the setting. For the traveling troupes such as Moore- Eithe Company,
Taylor Brothers Company and others, he did much of the prompting from the
wings. He did not go too deep into politics, although he was a member of
the city council many times during his life. Throughout his entire life
he devoted his time and his talents, which were many, to the building of his
community and to the advancement of the Gospel and his Church. He served
the city and community in many capacities and was always ready to do his part
and more in building and making public improvements.
The explosion in the Daley-West mine in Park City in 1902 killed 33 men and
injured many. They called for undertakers and hearses from Salt Lake and
vicinity to come to Park City to assist in preparation and burial.
Brother George was in Park City. They used white tops and wagons to fill in
for the needed hearses. Herbert Barnes, then 16, went with Father on the
trip, leaving Kaysville at 9 P.M. They arrived at Liberty Park at Salt
Lake at 2 A.M. where they fed, rested and watered the horses and proceeded up
Parleys Canyon on a narrow dirt road at 4 A.M. Herbert got sleepy and
got permission from Father to sleep in the hearse while Father drove.
They arrived in the late afternoon. The next day they formed the funeral
procession of ore wagons, delivery wagons and white tops. Father was
chosen to lead. As the band started to play, Father's team of black
bolted. Musicians dropped their instruments and caught the team by the
bits. They were unhitched and a team of horses from the mine, that were
used to such noise, were substituted. Then the procession moved forward.
Driving a yoke of oxen you use no reins, only commands, gee was to turn right,
haw was to turn left. Father had driven oxen from Council Bluffs and
from force of habit he would gee and haw the team until reminded to pull on
Father almost always carried a sack of old fashioned peppermint candy in his
pocket to let children help themselves when they would pass.
Death came to him on Thanksgiving Day, November 30, 1916, at his home, and
with his passing Kaysville lost one of its best known and highly respected
pioneers. I shall always remember his bearded face, his kindness, his
ready smile and quick wit.
John Barton was an early
dentist of Kaysville. One humorous incident follows: "In the early winter
of 1881 Joseph Jarman, then only fourteen, arrived in Kaysville. He had been
suffering for many days with a toothache and his face was badly swollen. He was
advised to go to John Barton
and get it pulled for a quarter which he did. Two days later Mr. Barton
found where Joseph was living and went to see him. My boy, I hear you are a
young immigrant just over from England. Is that right? Yes, that is
right. Here, then, said Mr. Barton, take
your quarter back. I am sure you need it more than I do."
Treasures of Pioneer History