©Barlow Genealogy 1998-2005


Nathan Barlow, and Nathan Barlow, Jr. of Barry Co Michigan

Michigan biographies, including Members of Congress, elective state officers, Justices of the Supreme Court, Members of the Michigan Legislature, Board of Regents of the University of Michigan, State Board of Agriculture and State Board of Education

Used with permission    Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Nathan Barlow  Representative from Barry Co Michigan 1841 and 1848

Born in the State of Vermont, in 1785    Came to Michigan in 1837    Settled in the township of Yankee Springs, Barry County

By occupation he was a merchant and farmer    In politics a Whig    He served as Associate Judge

In company with his son, Nathan Jr., erected a saw mill at the outlet of Barlow Lake in 1840

He died January 25, 1899

Michigan biographies, including Members of Congress, elective state officers, Justices of the Supreme Court, Members of the Michigan Legislature, Board of Regents of the University of Michigan, State Board of Agriculture and State Board of Education

Used with permission    Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

Nathan Barlow, Jr.   Representative from Barry County, 1850    Born in Canandaigua, NY, January 01, 1818

He left his home in New York and first went to St. Louis, Missouri, but came to Barry County Michigan in 1840 and was one of the early pioneers--engaged in active business, built the first frame hotel in Hastings, was early in mercantile and milling business, which he followed until declining health compelled him to retire.

Various county offices were filled by him, and he always filled the place to the satisfaction of the people

Politically he was a Democrat

History of Barry County w/Biographies 1912
In presenting the biography of Honorable Nathan Barlow we feel that we can do no better than to give in full the following paper read before a meeting of the Barry County Pioneer Society by Honorable Charles Mack:

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen: 

I have been called upon to give a sketch of the life and character of one of the early pioneers, one, who in his lifetime, was well & personally known to every person in Barry County. I refer to the Honorable Nathan Barlow. He was, indeed, one of the early pioneers. Coming to this county with his parents from the state of New York, in the year 1810, the family settled on a new farm in the township of Yankee Springs. In the year 1842 he was elected County Clerk of this county. The whole number of votes cast in the county that year was 315. There are today more legal voters in any one township in Barry Co, than there were in the entire county at that time. The population of this city at that time was about 100.

In the year 1844, Mr. Barlow was elected to the office of County Treasurer. After finishing his duties as a county official he launched into business for himself, by renting and operating the old flouring mill owned by Messrs. Dibble and Hayes.

He built his first residence on the ground where now stands the Parker Hotel. He soon opened the residence as a hotel and operated it as such for several years.

Later on he associated himself with the late Wm. S. Goodyear. The firm Barlow & Goodyear proved to be one of the strongest and most reliable that ever did business in this county. The firm was engaged in the mercantile business; they were also the owners & operators of the large flouring mill that was located on South Hanover street, which in its time was a great boon to the farmers of this county. They also operated the old woolen mill located on Fall Creek, which will be remembered by the surviving pioneers of this county.

Mr. Barlow’s push, enterprise, and business sagacity were perhaps best shown in his connection with the building of the Grand River Valley railroad. The project lay dormant for more than twenty years after the act had been passed by the Legislature authorizing the construction of this road. Mr. Barlow was a member of the Board of Directors of this company, and with this spirit of enterprise that marked his whole career, resolved to put an end to the hauling of all merchandise used by more than one-half of the population of this county. This hauling was done over the long & tedious wagon road from Battle Creek to this city. There are some here today, who well remember the sand hills and the mud holes they had to contend with, while teaming over this road. As I said before, Mr. Barlow resolved to put an end to this hauling of goods by wagon, & in the fall of 1863, and during the dark days of the War of the Rebellion, when it was no easy task to arouse men, and raise money for a project of this kind, he was instrumental in getting the directors together in the city of Jackson, and at that meeting it was resolved to build the Grand River Valley railroad, or perish in the effort. The labors performed, and the trials endured by the Board of Directors during the construction of this road, will never be fully known by us. Reward finally came to them and in April, 1869, the cars rolled into Hastings for the first time; and in March of the following year the road was completed to the city of Grand Rapids.

In politics, Mr. Barlow was a lifelong Democrat and took an active part in political affairs.

That he was held in high esteem by the people of this city and county is shown by the honors showered upon him by calling him to fill so many positions of public trust, having filled with marked ability the offices of County Clerk, County Treasurer, Representative in the State Legislature, Postmaster at this place, and member of the Board of Education of this city. He was a member of the School Board in 1872, when our present high school building was erected. This building stands today as a monument to the enterprise and good judgement of the members of the board at that time.

The agricultural interests of the county were near and dear to him, and perhaps no class of people could say more kind things of him today than the pioneer farmers of Barry County. They remember him as their friend, and their benefactor in their early struggles, when the county was new, and when money and favors were hard to get. In truth, and in conclusion I will say that Mr. Barlow was one of those men who do things, and say little about it. He belonged to that noble stock of pioneers who are fast passing away, and whose good works live after them.”

In addition to the above excellent and well written sketch by Judge Mack, it might be well to recite something of the home life of Mr. Barlow. On February 02, 1843, he married Melissa B. Tyler. To them were born four children- Chas. E., Fred H., Henry H., and Sarah L., of whom two, Sarah L. and Henry H., are still living, Sarah L. being Mrs. Chas. Huffman of Hastings. Mrs. Barlow died March 28, 1869 and on May 31, 1870, Mr. Barlow married Hannah M. McNair, who survives him, as does also their son, Royce E. Barlow of Chicago.

Another subject which perhaps should be commented upon more fully is the connection of Mr. Barlow with the organization of the Grand River Valley railroad and in dealing with this efforts in this direction we believe an account written by Edward W. Barber of Jackson will be read with interest. The sketch is as follows:

In the fall of 1863 it was determined by the directors of the Grand River Valley Railroad Company to organize for the purpose of building the road from Jackson to Grand Rapids. Prior to that time the idea had been to construct the road by way of Lansing, but this was given up on account of the proposed construction of the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw. Pursuant to the plan to build by way of Eaton Rapids, Charlotte, Vermontville & Hastings to Grand Rapids, a meeting of the stockholders of the Grand River Valley Company was held in Jackson on the 20th day of October, 1863. Before the meeting was held the question of who should be chosen was fully talked over, and the result of the election was that all of the shares represented, were cast for the following persons, namely: Nathan Barlow, Edward W. Barber, Henry A. Shaw, Amos Root, Joseph E. Beebe, William H. Withington and Moses A. McNaughton. This is the order in which the names are given in the official minutes of the meeting. Of the persons then elected Mr. Barber is the only one now living.

As soon as notified of the action of the stockholders, Mr. Barlow filed the oath of office required by law with the Secretary of the company, which bears the date of November 21st, 1863, and on that day a meeting of the new board was held in Jackson, and the purpose to proceed at once to build the road was evidenced by its action in adopting a resolution that Director Barlow of Barry County, Director Shaw of Eaton County and Director Root of Jackson County, be authorized and directed to procure on behalf of the company the right of way through their respective counties for the track of the road.

At every subsequent annual meeting of the stockholders of the company until the year of his death, Mr. Barlow was chosen a director, and from the outset took an active part in the construction of the road, and as to every detail with reference to building the line in Barry County he was consulted and his advice accepted.

Matters with reference to the road in Barry County were placed formally in his hands. At a meeting of the directors, held in Jackson, August 3, 1865, at which Mr. Barlow was present and the contract was let for its construction, the board authorized him to make such arrangements with Mr. Hiram J. Kenfield, or some other person, as he should deem for the best interest of the company, to procure subscriptions to the stock and rights of way in Barry County. Later in the same year, at a meeting held November 9th, Mr. Barlow was authorized to negotiate for rights of way in the County of Barry.

At a meeting of the directors held in the village of Hastings on the 24th day of June, 1868, the matter of locating depot grounds was considered, and it was determined, after remarks by Messrs. Mills, Holbrook and others, that plats of the lands which would be needed either east or west of the village, would be made and sent to Hastings to be viewed by the public, and that written propositions sent to the President and Secretary of the company would be considered by the board. Mr. Barlow was especially anxious for an open and square deal in this matter.

This subject came up again at a meeting of the Board of Directors held in Jackson, October 07, 1868, when the proposition of Mr. Barlow and H.J. Kenfield to donate ten acres of land east of the village of Hastings for depot purposes was formally accepted. This action was unanimous on the part of the board.

During all the years that Mr. Barlow was a member of the board there was entire harmony, and in regard to every important action the determination was unanimous. In attending meetings the members paid their own expenses. Building the road was a hard financial struggle. About four years after his first election as a director, in the fall of 1867, the road was completed & cars commenced running to Onondaga in Ingham County; in July, 1868, to Eaton Rapids, and in October, 1868, to Charlotte; in April, 1869, to Hastings, and in March, 1870, to Grand Rapids. With all the details of the work during its slow progress Mr. Barlow was familiar and his advice and counsel in regard to the work in Barry County were regarded by the other members of the board as of great value. He seldom, if ever, seemed to be in doubt as to the best policy to pursue.

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