The pluckiest men, those who may go down temporarily in the world’s great battle, but who will never give up the fight and are certain to overcome all obstacles and win the victory sooner or later, are those who have gone into the battle while yet in their childhood, and as boys have done the work of men, and have been men before their time. An illustration of this fact is afforded by the career of Hon. John S. Barrett, of Montpelier, Idaho.
John S. Barrett was born in London, England, February 8, 1854. In 1860, when he was eight years old, he and an older sister were sent to the United States with a company bound for Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1864 his father, Henry Barrett, came over and made a home at Salt Lake City. He was a carpenter by trade, an Industrious and reputable citizen and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He died at Salt Lake City in 1897, aged eighty-four years. John S. Barrett had little opportunity for schooling, but he has gained much knowledge by the way he has gone through life and is a well informed man, with special ability for important business affairs. He attended district school a little and was sent to a night school a while. He began his active life as a farmer’s boy-of-all-work, drove team and labored in the harvest field, and at length got a chance to clerk in a store, where he soon developed ability to sell goods. This was the beginning of his real career. He persevered in it and prospered in it, and in 1889 opened a somewhat pretentious store at Montpelier. He was successful until the panic of 1893 caught him unprepared and compelled him to discontinue the enterprise. He was offered and accepted a position as bookkeeper in the store of the Cooperative Wagon & Machine Company, and held it until 1899, when he relinquished it to become manager of the Sidney Stevens Implement Company, dealers in all kinds of farm implements, wagons and carriages. The home plant of this company is at Ogden, Utah, and it has branches at Logan, Utah, and Preston and Montpelier, Idaho, and many agencies in different states. It is one of the oldest and largest concerns of its kind in Utah, has an extensive capital and is operating successfully on a mammoth scale. At Ogden it has large shops, where it manufactures some of the products it handles. Under Mr. Barrett’s management the business of the Montpelier branch is prosperous and steadily increasing, and his success is gratifying alike to his employers and to himself.
In politics, from the Democratic point of view, Mr. Barrett has taken an active interest, and he has several times been elected to the office of school trustee, has been a member of the city council of Montpelier, has been mayor of the city and in 1894 was elected to the state legislature, where he was influential in securing the passage of the law under which the state supplies textbooks to pupils in the public schools, a very excellent plan, and one which puts Idaho far in advance of many older states in the matter of placing education in the reach of even the poorest children. He was also active in securing the passage in the lower house of a bill providing for the removal of the county seat of Bear Lake County from Paris to Montpelier. Though this bill failed in the senate, it was favored by a large portion of the population, as the location of Montpelier, in the geographical center of the county and on the railroad, was a strong argument for the proposed removal. Mr. Barrett is the owner of a sawmill at Liberty and has an established insurance business, with as good a line of companies as are represented at Montpelier. He is a Woodman of the World and is a zealous member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, holding the office of elder and working forcefully in the mutual-improvement society of the church which has been made a power for good.
In 1876 Mr. Barrett married Miss Eliza Ann Stewart, a native of San Bernardino, California, and they have five children: Alfred, Minnie, Cynthia, Edward and Hannah. The people of Montpelier have come to regard Mr. Barrett as one of the most public-spirited men in the city. He is progressive and generously helpful to every measure which in his judgment tends to the general good.