Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
George W. Barton Papers
George W. Barton was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1896. After attending Concord High School in Concord, Massachusetts, Barton began his studies in horticulture and agriculture at Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst. He entered the college in 1914 and completed his degree in 1918. His tenure at "Mass Aggie" included military training, which he writes about in his diaries. In addition to his scholastic endeavors, through which he produced his own herbarium documenting over twenty local plant species, Barton participated in a number of extracurricular activities. He was a member of the college rifle team, the Christian Association and the Commons Club. The latter was a social events club, and in this aspect of his life Barton was extremely active. He attended many performances, dances, and recitals in the Amherst area including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a performance by humorist Ralph Bingham, as well as numerous events at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and Amherst College.
Barton traveled west following his graduation and spent some time in Tacoma, Washington participating in an apple raising study. In the early 1920s he moved south to Pasadena, California where he researched oranges. His early career in California included a position as roadside tree inspector for the County Department of Forestry and Firewarden as well as a position in the business department of the Pasadena Post newspaper. It was in Pasadena that Barton met his future wife, Nellie Taylor Murray, a Boston native. Both George and Nellie spent their childhoods in Massachusetts, yet met on the west coast in 1922. They were married in 1924
During World War II, Barton grew culinary herbs such as sage, marjoram, and sweet basil to supplement the failing wartime market. After the war the foreign market improved and Barton was no longer making a profit from his herbs. After a brief stint as Los Angeles County agricultural inspector he found employment with the Germain Seed and Plant Company, a job he would keep until his retirement in 1962. Mr. and Mrs. Barton helped in organizing a Presbyterian Church in La Canada, California in 1948 for which Barton served on the Session for 12 years, as secretary of the Board of Trustees for four years, and as Clerk of Session for two years. Eventually Barton took over church publicity.
The couple was also involved with the Boy Scouts: Mr. Barton was a district commissioner of the Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley Council and Mrs. Barton served as president of the Federation of Mother's auxiliaries to Boy Scouts. As evidenced by his extensive photograph collection, Barton was also interested in photography and was twice president of the La Canada Camera Club, for which he later published the club's monthly flyers. Barton also served as president of the La Canada Valley Garden Club. In his later years Barton belonged to La Canada Beautiful and Descanso Gardens Guild. Mr. and Mrs. Barton joined the Los Angeles Breakfast Club in 1972. George W. Barton died in La Canada, California on June 5, 1980.