The Village of Barry
Courtesy of Big Stone County Historical Society (Museum)
from the Big Stone County, Minnesota 1881-1981 Book
Edmond and William Barry came to Morris from Lowell, Massachusetts on May 10, 1879. There was no railroad, so they hired a locator to take them out to where their brother James and William Nash had filed claims the previous year. Edmond filed on the land on which Barry is now located. William filed just north of there. Later that summer their parents and sisters came and filed on adjoining land.
The Barry Post Office was started in 1879 with Miss Maria Barry as postmistress, dispensing mail from the farm house just east of the present town site.
In 1880, the Clark brothers built a general store and a house. They operated the business for about six years, then turned it over to their nephew, A. B. Converse. Successive owners included William Casey, John Curran, and William O’Donnell.
On May 22, 1900, the county commissioners granted a petition signed by William Barry, asking or incorporation of certain territory in Toqua Township under the name of Village of Barry, and ordered that an election be held June 11, 1900.
The early settlers were all Irish, and many of their descendants still live in the area. Dr. Oliver, writing about the early 1900s, says there were four elevators, two stores, a lumber yard, blacksmith shop, and last , but not least, a saloon that did a thriving business. He mentioned Wm. O’Donnell as storekeeper; Thomas O’Phalen in the lumber yard; John McBrady as an elevator manger; two Barry brothers as leading citizens; P.R. Hatney in the hardware store; and Jack Dwyer and Jack Keeler. Patrick Hanratty was a long time resident, and county commissioner.
Until it burned in December 1978, Ed Kowalzk had operated the general store for a year, after Lloyd and Rosella Carlson had it for many years. There were two grain elevators: the Farmer’s Co-op and the Taffe brothers Barry Grain Company in 1981. The post office, liquor store, and a gas station-garage were about all that remained in Barry.
City of Barry officials in 1981 were: Edward Taffe, mayor; Adeline Taffe, clerk; and Thomas Zych, treasurer. They operated under a charger dated 1904.
Additional information can be found at the Big Stone County Museum which is located at 987 US Highway 12, Ortonville.