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William Barber 1769-1830 York, York County, Pennsylvania

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William Barber 1769-1830 York, York County, Pennsylvania

Posted: 6 Jul 2004 9:30AM GMT
Classification: Biography
Edited: 7 Apr 2013 5:13PM GMT
William Barber, a conspicuous member of the York County Bar from 1793 until his death in 1830, was born at Columbia in the year 1769. He was a descendant of Robert Barber, who settled on the banks of the Susquehanna, in 1726, where Columbia now stands. William Barber grew to manhood on his father's plantation and obtained a liberal education before he studied law and was admitted to the bar at York, March 2, 1793. He was of purely English descent and although he practiced his profession in a community which largely spoke German, he had very little familiarity with that language and rarely attempted to converse in it. He possessed such qualities as made him strong and influential in the borough of York, of which he was one of the leading citizens during his whole professional life. In the practice of law, William Barber, was the equal of any of his associates. During his early career, he was associated with men of attainments like Thomas Hartley, James Smith and Ralph Bowie, who had acquired distinction as lawyers. Besides being a successful counselor at law and a pleader before court and jury, he transacted a large amount of orphan's court business, which brought him a competence. William Barber began the practice of law during Washington's first administration. When two political parties were organized about the close of Washington's second term, William Barber was an avowed Federalist, the party founded by Hamilton, Jay and Adams and with which Washington affiliated. In 1806, he was appointed prothonotary of York County by the Governor of Pennsylvania. His ability in performing the duties of this office made him popular and, although a Federalist, he was reappointed four times by Democratic governors. This was done because he received the unanimous support of his political friends and opponents. He served in this position from 1806 to 1823. In 1809 William Barber was one of the founders of the York Bank the first institution of its kind in York County. He was cashier of this bank from the time of its origin until 1813 and then resigned to devote his attention to his professional duties. In 1809, he was one of the commissioners for the construction of the first bridge across the Susquehanna between Wrightsville and Columbia, which was completed in 1814. After its erection he was continued as one of the managers until its interests were disposed of to the Columbia Bank. He was always a promoter of the cause of education and served many years as a trustee of the York County Academy. William Barber was justly esteemed as one of the most popular men of his day in the borough of York. He was of genial nature, exceedingly courteous toward every one. He was a benevolent man and a liberal contributor toward the support of charitable institutions and religious societies. He aided in the support of four different churches, making the largest contributions toward the Presbyterian Church, of which he was a member. Early in life he was married to Elizabeth, daughter of Conrad Laub, who had served as Sheriff of York County. William Barber resided on southwest corner of George Street and Mason Alley and at the time of his death, August 19, 1830, left to survive, his widow and some nephew and nieces.

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