John W. Harton was born on May 27, 1883 in the community of Tullahoma in Coffee County, Tennessee. He attended South Jackson Public School in Tullahoma and began work at a young age to help support his mother and sisters after his father died. As an employee of the Traders National Bank, he learned about finance and real estate.
Over the years, Treasurer Harton purchased various tracts of land in Tullahoma as real estate investments. Some of the acreage that Treasurer Harton purchased eventually became land that was sold to various businesses and for the local hospital in Tullahoma.
In 1912, Treasurer Harton began his first term as the mayor of Tullahoma. At the age of 29, he was the youngest person to have held the office in Tullahoma’s history. During that same year, Treasurer Harton met his future wife, Frances Lewis. Originally from Adrian, Michigan, Frances was sent south by her father to attend the Tennessee College in Murfreesboro. One Saturday night in 1912, Frances and some of the other students from the college were visiting Tullahoma and Treasurer Harton met Frances at that time. On September 3, 1914, Treasurer Harton married Frances in her hometown of Adrian, Michigan. They had four children named Alice, Laddie, John, Jr., and Nancy.
Treasurer Harton continued to be involved in public service. In 1919, he was reelected as the mayor of Tullahoma and served until 1921. During the 1930s, he served as the mayor of Tullahoma from 1934 to 1938.
In 1939, Treasurer Harton was elected as the Tennessee State Treasurer. He served as the State Treasurer from 1939 to 1945.
Treasurer Harton was engaged in the real estate, hotel and manufacturing business in Tullahoma and Monteagle, Tennessee, and served as President of the Tennessee Hotel Association for two years.
He was also the Secretary of Tullahoma Chamber of Commerce for fifteen years, and a member of the Tullahoma City School Board. Treasurer Harton was active in community organizations. He was a thirty-second degree Mason, a member of the Baptist Church, the Knights of Pythias, the Junior Order, the Modern Woodmen, and was President and a charter member of the Tullahoma Rotary Club.
After many years of service in various public roles, Treasurer Harton passed away on October 12, 1963. He was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Tullahoma.
Reference: The Heritage of Coffee County, Tennessee, 1836-2004 (Waynesville, NC: County Heritage, 2005) p. 437; “John W. Harton, Sr.” Find a Grave,http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi; Ancestry.com Michigan Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Tennessee State Library and Archives, Photograph DB 1739; Tennessee Blue Book, 1939-1940.