Dan Barr was 'grand old man' of Methodism

By Murphy J. Barr
Journal Historian

The following article appeared in the November 27, 1936 edition of the weekly Winnfield News-American.

Rev. Dan C. Barr, 84, affectionately known as "Brother" Barr, and termed the "grand old man of North Louisiana Methodism," died at a Monroe clinic. He had been seriously ill for several days, and the end was not unexpected.

The body was taken to the First Methodist Church of Monroe Friday at 2 p.m., where it lay in state until Friday at 7 p.m., when it was removed, at the request of Brother Barr himself, to the Oak Ridge Methodist Church, where it lay in state until the funeral Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rev. W.L. Johns, presiding elder of the Monroe District, officiated. Interment was made in the Oak Ridge Cemetery. Many from Winnfield, Atlanta, and other sections of Winn Parish attended the funeral of Brother Barr of Oak Ridge. He was among the most beloved of ministers of Winnfield, having served as pastor of the Winnfield and Atlanta churches during his early ministry. Brother Barr is survived by the following daughters: Mrs. S.M. Abel of Rochelle, Mrs. W.O. Files of Oak Ridge, Mrs. J.M. Brothes or Monroe, Mrs. Minnie Boughton of San Marcos, Texas, and Mrs. Roberta Bondy of San Antonio, Texas. An only surviving sister is Mrs. M.A. Hunt of West Monroe.

Rev. Barr was born July 18, 1852 in DeKalb County, Alabama, and was one of ten children, having eight brothers and one sister. Of the number only one sister survives.

The family moved to Montgomery in Winn Parish. As he recalled those days in later years, Brother Barr's voice would choke for it was then an unbroken family and family ties were near and dear to him.

Brother Barr received what little education he had at the old Atlanta Institute in Atlanta, LA, at such times as he could be spared from farm duties. A deep imprint educationally and spiritually was exerted by Rev. J.F. Marshall, who boarded with the Barr family for five years and tutored Dan C. Barr. With virtually no preparation such as is now expected of a preacher, D.C. Barr began to preach in 1879 as "local" preacher. In 1882 he joined the Methodist conference. From 1879 to 1926, a period of 47 years, he preached continuously, rounding out a most unusual career.

Although superannuated in 1926, he has been called upon to preach, to perform marriages, and to preach funeral sermons at frequent intervals, for his popularity is as extensive as his acquaintances. In his long career, starting as a circuit rider, he preached in Claiborne, Winn, Grant, Jackson, and all parishes that extend through North Louisiana from the Ouachita to the Mississippi Rivers. In his last pastorate at Oak Ridge he established the usual record for a Methodist minister by remaining for 10 consecutive years, which was his longest single pastorate. In his work as a pastor, he was greatly aided by his loyal wife, who was Miss Lizzy Hardy of Montgomery, LA. They were married in 1875. She died in 1925, only a short time before the couple had planned to observe their golden wedding. Many places were included on the itinerary of Brother Barr as circuit rider. Sometimes he went on foot, but later he was able to buy a cheap mule. Nature gave Brother Barr an unusual degree of vitality, which remained almost until the end, his mentality being specially keen to the last. No record of births, deaths, marriages and conversions were kept by the minister, but he does know that more than 60 were added annually to his church membership. In 50 years at this rate there would have been easily 3,000 conversions. In his long life, Brother Barr found time to farm and to hunt and fish, all of which were such to afford him the keenest pleasure. He was a hunter and fisherman of note, and many prominent men of North Louisiana have spent weeks and weeks on hunting and fishing trips with Brother Barr. They forgot that they were with a minister, and he, throwing off what might be regarded as a degree of stiffness of the clergy by the laity, made himself one of the boys in all that was clean and wholesome. His contact with them caused to increase their respect for this cleric who could perform outdoor feats as well as preach sermons on Sunday.

One of the outings remained a treasured memory with Brother Barr. It was the celebrated hunting expedition taken by President Theodore Roosevelt to North Louisiana. Brother Barr was one of the invited guests.

Civil War days were keenly recalled by Brother Barr and he told many interesting tales of those stirring times. Brother Barr held only one state political job. That was as the first superintendent of the Louisiana Training Institute. Once asked whether he had any enemies, he stated that he could not recall a single one. "I love everybody so much," he said, smiling through his glasses. "And oh, how I love the little children.." He declared recently that his only regret was that he had not done more for humanity. The Bible is unchanged and unchanging in the opinion of Brother Barr. He stated that the world is in a complex age but that it will all work out satisfactorily. The life of the man was perhaps best summed up in his own words: "I have not accumulated much money but I have accumulated a host of friends. I love them all and they are my worldly stored up wealth."

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