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John Henry Barr, II

Indiana, USA
Death 27 Mar 1937 (aged 75)
Ithaca, Tompkins County, New York, USA
Burial Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown, Specifically: Body taken to Rochester for Cremation
Memorial ID 176339102 · View Source
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Major John Henry Barr, Former Professor, Passes Away at Home
Funeral services will be held at the home, 505 East Seneca Street, at 4 o'clock this afternoon for Maj. John Henry Barr, 75, former machine design professor and University trustee, who died here Saturday night. Rev. Abbot Peterson, Jr., Unitarian pastor, will officiate, and the body will be removed to Rochester tomorrow for cremation. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Katherine Kennedy Barr; one son, John H. Barr Jr., of Easton, Pa., and three sisters, Mrs. Llewellen Christian of Minneapolis, Minn.; Mrs. Richard Saxo Jones of Philadelphia, Pa., and Mrs. George A. Jones of Seattle, Wash.
Graduate of Minnesota
A native of Terra Haute, Ind., Mr. Barr was graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1883 and won an ME degree at Cornell in 1889. Coming to Cornell in 1891 as assistant professor of machine design, he was made a professor and department head seven years later. In 1903 he became factory manager for the Smith-Premier Typewriter Company, Syracuse, and from 1909 to 1913 was in charge of engineering for the Union Typewriter Company. He was with the Remington Typewriter Company from 1913 to 1923. In 1923, he became vice-president and engineer for the Barr-Morse Typewriter Company of Ithaca. Mr. Barr had been granted about 60 United States patents covering his developments of visible keyboard machines and portable typewriters having a standard single shift keyboard. He was a Cornell trustee from 1905 to 1915. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he was also a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and of tho Franklin Institute. An author of several technical papers and a textbook on kinematics, notes on machine and, with Dexter S. Kimball, Sr., Elements of Machine Design.

-The Cornell Daily Sun, Volume 57, Number 131, 29 March 1937

John Henry Barr II, born June 19, 1861, secured a Mechanical Engineering degree and a master’s of science from the University of Minnesota. After his marriage to Katherine Kennedy on June 4, 1884, the couple relocated to Ithaca, N.Y., where John Henry II enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University.

He earned a master’s of mechanical engineering from Cornell in 1889 and joined the faculty in 1891. Four years later he was elevated to associate professor of machine design and became a full professor of machine design and mechanical engineering in 1898.

While at Cornell, Barr wrote several technical papers on machine design and began work on a textbook, “Kinematics of Machinery.” But before his book was published in 1905, Barr resigned from Cornell to become director and manager of Smith Premier Typewriter Co. in Syracuse, N.Y.

Between 1909 and 1913, he was a consulting engineer for the Union Typewriter Co.

From 1913 to 1923, Barr was a consultant for Remington Typewriter Co., competing with Arthur J. Briggs, a former co-employee at Smith, to design a portable typewriter.

According to the patent application dated May 21, 1918, the Terre Haute native was the sole inventor of the world’s first four-bank portable typewriter. The patent was granted Oct. 28, 1919.

The state of the art office machine was introduced at the New York Business Show during October 1920. Capable of doing everything a standard typewriter could do, Barr’s portable was far ahead of its time.

Though attached to an aircraft armament section in Washington, D.C. during World War I, Barr later became a major in the ordnance department. However, he continued to work on enhancing the portable typewriter. During the 34-year period between 1903 and March 27, 1937, the date of his death, he applied for more than 60 patents.

Barr left Remington in 1923 to go to work for Morse Chain Co., the manufacturer of power transmission equipment. This move led to the establishment of Barr-Morse Corp. of Ithaca, N.Y.

A competitive environment existed in the world of portable typewriters beginning in 1926 with Barr-Morse, Remington, Corona, Royal and Underwood as the major players.

Barr-Morse was the only one to use a basket shift, a feature otherwise available only in standard non-portable typewriters.

The Barr Portable was built in Ithaca until 1937. After John Henry Barr’s death, Barr-Morse sold its typewriter production business, including the tooling and rights to the “Barr” name, to a new corporation: Barr Typewriter Corporation, owned by men whose last names were Koret and Kingsbury.

The new company moved operations to an industrial facility in Weedsport, N.Y. Salvatore Leonardi managed the factory. The firm boasted two slogans: “Small enough to carry off, sturdy enough to carry on” and “You can use the Barr wherever you are.”

-Information from "HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: The precocious sons of John Henry and Eliza Barr" by Mike McCormick, The Tribune-Star Jun 10, 2012


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  • Created by: Starfishin
  • Added: 14 Feb 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 176339102
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Henry Barr, II (19 Jun 1861–27 Mar 1937), Find A Grave Memorial no. 176339102, ; Maintained by Starfishin (contributor 48860385) Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown, who reports a Body taken to Rochester for Cremation.