Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
BARKLEY, JAMES HENRY - The military record of Springfield equals that of any in the country, and the city and State have furnished as many noted soldiers in our last two wars, as can be boasted of in any territory of like size. One of the best known figures in military circles in the State, whose reputation is not, however, confined to Illinois alone, is Gen. James Henry Barkley, veteran of both the Civil and Spanish-American wars, and now Deputy United States Marshal. General Barkley was born February 17, 1844, on a farm near Lexington, Ky., a son of Robert Lee and Harriet (Boyd) Barkley, natives of North Carolina and Kentucky, respectively.
The Barkley family originally came from Ireland, and has been an unusually long-lived one, the General's great-great-grandfather reaching the age of one hundred and two years; his grandfather ninety-six years, and his father eighty-six years. Robert Lee Barkley owned plantations in Gibson County, Tennessee, raising cotton and tobacco, but later moved to Jackson, Miss., where he was engaged in railroad contracting, subsequently becoming a railroad official. In 1857 he came to Springfield and engaged in farming until his retirement, his death occurring in that city. Mr. Barkley was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in politics was first a Whig and later a Republican, but never desired public office.
James Henry Barkley received his early education in the schools of Jackson, Miss., and later attended the institution of Pleasant Hill, where Supt. John L. Wilson was his instructor. He left this school at the age of eighteen years, to enlist in Company G, one Hundred Fourteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and served on General Bucklin's staff, being in charge of his mounted orderlies. After being mustered out of the service in 1865, he returned to Springfield and engaged in the house furnishing business with John McCreery, whose son now conducts the St. Nicholas Hotel. Later, this partnership was dissolved, and Gen. Barkley engaged in the same business with Isaac Nutt, whom he subsequently bought out, the firm name becoming J. H. Barkley & Company. Some years later, he took as partner his son-in-law, Mr. P. M. Lax, a sketch of whose life will be found in another part of this volume. This connection continued until 1898, when Pres. McKinley appointed Mr. Barkley Brigadier General during the Spanish-American War. He reported to General Fitzhugh Lee, and remained until after Dewey's memorable victory, when he returned to Springfield and became connected with the Culver Construction Company as Superintendent, and while serving in this capacity tore down, and rebuilt the Lincoln monument. He was later, appointed Crier of the United States Court by Judge J. O Humphrey, and subsequently became United States Deputy Marshal, in which position he is now serving. In 1868, General Barkley was one of the organizers of the Governor's Guard, being made Lieutenant, later First Lieutenant, then Captain of Battery B, and finally Colonel of the Fifth Regiment which rank he held until he was appointed Brigadier General by Gov. Fifer. He was senior officer, and mobilized the troops, naming the camp "Camp Tanner." He commanded a brigade and division, under Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, and after his service was completed, the resigned his commission.
Gen. Barkley is a member of the A. F. & A. M., the I. O. O. F. and the Knights of Pythias. He passed through the chairs of Capital Lodge No. 14, was elected Grand Outer Guard at Peoria, went through the chairs of the Grand Lodge, and was elected Grand Chancellor at Quincy, serving one term. At Rock Island, he put the movement for a Pythian Home on its feet, and a year later, was elected Supreme Representative without being a candidate. At Milwaukee, he was elected Brigadier-General of the Uniform Rank, Nights of Pythias, and has been reelected every four years since. He is now Senior General of the Uniform Rank, Knights of Pythias of the World. In his political belief, Gen. Barkley is a Republican.
On Christmas Day, 1865, Gen. Barkley was united in marriage with Emily Helen DeCamp, a daughter of John and Malinda (Orr) De Camp, natives of Virginia and Illinois, respectively, both of whom are deceased. To General and Mrs. Barkley, there have been born three children: Cora Belle, the widow of Prosser M. Lax; James Howard, who died aged four months; and Kennia W., who married Jessie Green and resides in Chicago, being connected with Marshall Field & Company.