"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"

Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.


Barrett, James A. who was an active figure in the business world of Merrill for a great many years and is now living retired in that city, was born on a farm near Watertown, Jefferson County, Wis., Oct. 29, 1854, son of Richard and Mary (RAGEN) BARRETT. The parents were both born in Ireland, the father in County Cork and the mother in Dublin. After their marriage in Ireland they came to the United States about 1852 and settled on the Jefferson County farm; both are now deceased. There were eight children in their family, as follows: Margaret, now Mrs. Cornelius CROWLEY of Sparta, Wis.; James A., subject of this sketch; John, deceased; William, a resident of Helena, Mont.; Mary, who is now Mrs. John FITZGERALD of Alhambra Springs, Mont.; Richard, of Merrill; Timothy, living at Watertown, Wis.; and Ellen deceased. James A. BARRETT attended the country schools of Jefferson County and left home to make his own way in the world at the age of 16. He first went to Wausau, Marathon County, and there followed the lumber industry for three years, working during the winter months in the camps and each spring taking part in the drives down the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers to Dubuque, Iowa, Alton, Ill., and St. Louis, Mo. He then went to Sparata, where he remained three years, and in 1883 he came to Merrill, which city has ever since been his home. He established himself in the meat business here in 1890, with headquarters on the west side and branches in the Sixth Ward and on the east side, and he conducted this enterprise until 1913, his place being one of the distinctive figures in the history of Merrill's business development. In the early days of his career here the country was new and few cattle were raised in this vicinity, so that most of the beef sold in his shop he bought on the hoof at outside points, principally on the Chicago market; he occasionally picked up some cattle at Winona, Minn., and at La Crosse, Viroqua, Tomah, and Watertown, Wis. After disposing of his meat business in 1913 he moved his home to the farm he had purchased in 1890, and which he had developed from its original wild state while conducting his business in Merrill. This place consisted of 150 acres in the town of Scott, near the city of Merrill, and Mr. BARRETT brought 60 acres of the land under the plow and equipped the place with a good set of farm buildings, including a refrigerator having a capacity for a carload of beef. He made his home on this property from 1913 to 1917 and then sold it on contract and retired to his present beautiful home in Merrill. Mr. BARRETT was married at Sparta, on Dec. 23, 1880 to Anna LOWEN, daughter of John and Bertha (MORRIS) LOWEN of that place. Both of Mrs. BARRETT'S parents are now deceased. Mrs. BARRETT is one of eight children born to them as follows: Andrew, now deceased; Tobias, who is living at Duluth, Minn.; Barney, of Minneapolis; Anna, who is Mrs. BARRETT; Elliot, deceased; Ellen, also deceased; Bertina, now Mrs. John DELL of Park Lake, Minn.; and Mary, who is Mrs. John LARSON, of Sulphur Springs, Ark. Mr. and Mrs. BARRETT have two children, Ellen and William. Ellen, born Nov. 5, 1881, is now Mrs. Frank MCCABE of Blackfoot, Mont. William was born March 9, 1883 and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1906; he is now employed as yardmaster for the Great Northern Railroad Co. at Whitefish, Mont. Mrs. BARRETT is a stockholder in the Lincoln County Bank at Merrill and at one time was a director in this institution. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America and the Maccabees, and his religious connection is with St. Francis Xavier Catholic congregation. He is one of Merrill's prominent citizens, and in view of his long and useful career here the repect that is accored him is well-merited.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 599-600; History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co

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