A Glance Back to Former Johnson City Mayor, William J. Barton

The late Sue Carr Eckstein, daughter of Paul Carr, co-owner of Carr Brothers, Inc., once shared her father's massive scrapbook with me. One local undated Johnson City Chronicle article dealt with the passing of former Johnson City mayor, William J. Barton, who I have written about several times over the years.

According to Ray Stahl's book, Greater Johnson City- A Pictorial History, 1983, he served the office from 1927-29. A 1928 City Director reveals that he was president of Barton Implement and Feed Company, located on Buffalo at Cherry. At one time, he was affiliated with Summers, Barton & Parrott Hardware, residing at 309 E. Unaka.

When the former mayor died, Robert King, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, conducted the services, which were held at the residence. Interment was held at the Lyle-Barton Cemetery near the old Barton farm on the Jonesborough Highway.

The services, simple yet impressive, were conducted in the presence of several hundred friends of Mr. Barton, many of whom has been closely acquainted with him for many years. Scores of beautiful floral offerings were banked about the bier and were evidence of the high esteem in which the deceased was held by the people of this city.

Rev. King read several scripture sections and prayers were offered by Rev. John Martin, superintendent of the Home Missions of the Holston Presbytery, and Frank Sells.

Miss Rhea Hunter sang, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” a favorite selection of the deceased; She was accompanied at the piano by Miss Mary Lou Lyle.

During that Monday afternoon, all municipal offices were closed in memory of Mr. Barton and practically all city employees were in attendance at the funeral services. Pallbearers were Leland Cardwell, James A. Summers, Frank Lyle, Charles Lyle, Robert Lyle and Joe Lyle.

Flower bearers included Frances Beckner, Mrs. Paul Wofford, Mrs. J.G. Moss, Mrs. H.L. Moore, Mrs. Margaret Wylie, Mrs. H. Cass, Misses Eva Lyle and Mrs. H. Hancock.

Mr. Barton, who was 75 years of age, had been a leader in civic and community matters for many years. Coming to Johnson City from Knoxville when still a young man, he immediately engaged in business and successfully operated hardware and implement houses for a long period of time.

Having also engaged in farming, Mr. Barton was at all times a friend to residents of the rural sections and throughout his life he was a promoter of good roads and was largely responsible for securing better roads and highways.

Mr. Barton was a lifelong member of the Democratic Party and took much interest in its affairs. He was elected mayor of Johnson City in June 1927. While serving as Mayor until 1929, he also served as city judge. It was noted that Mr. Barton's administration was one of the most successful, from the standpoint of the taxpayer, in the city's history.

While Mayor, Barton began a program which called for the erection of four new schools, additions to two or three others, three new fire department stations, including a central headquarters, as well as many other improvements.

The mayor was also instrumental in the enlargement of the fire department and it was during his administration that two new engines were purchased.

Johnson City Newspaper Article Denotes Large Court That Came Before Judge Barton

During Barton's two years as judge, he collected more than $55,000 from law violators in Johnson City and established a figure which had never been equaled before. He was known to be stern, yet fair to everyone.

Surviving were his widow and a daughter, Louise Barton and eight children by a former marriage; John, David, William J. and Jr.