Barbara Barton was born as Barbara Standish Gibbs in the town of Barrington in Bristol County, Rhode Island, USA, on 12 October 1908. She was the only child of Harold and Mabel (née Collamore) Gibbs, who sometimes worked at Harold’s father Ruben’s grocery store. Harold was a fisherman who eventually became a leading conservationist in Rhode Island. The family owned a telephone as early as when Barbara was still in elementary school.
During her youth, Barton was in the Girl Scouts, even meeting the First Lady of the United States one time. She graduated from Barrington High School in 1926 at the age of 17. She was the secretary of her class and participated in extracurricular school activities such as music, acting, and cheerleading. Coincidentally, her best friend at the time, Mary Jane Sinclair, also lived an extremely long life, dying on 12 May 2016 at the age of 107. The two maintained contact with each other for the remainder of Mary’s life.
Barton studied textile design, graduating in 1928, and later worked as a fabric designer. She used to teach Sunday school at Warren Methodist Church.
On 24 October 1931, she married Edwin ‘Pete’ Sanders Barton (1909–1992), whom she had first met as children at Sunday school. The couple had four children: Prudence Bishop, Charlotte Sornborger, Ralph, and Edwin ‘Ned’. Her husband worked as an engineer, managing a plant, and died in 1992 at the age of 83.
Her parents died within two years of each other; Mabel in 1968 at the age of 79, and Harold in 1970 at the age of 83.
Barton still lived independently until the age of 102. She survived a fall when she was 104 years old, breaking her arm in the process. As of 2015, she lived in the care home Hattie Ide Chaffee Home in Providence, Rhode Island.
Barton died in Providence, Rhode Island, USA on 12 August 2022, at the age of 113 years, 304 days. She was survived by all four of her children, with the eldest of them, Prudence Bishop, being 90 years old at the time. At the time of death, she had 13 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great-grandchildren.