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Barnes, Robert Yates
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Barnes, Robert Yates
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 363-365


Robert Yates Barnes, vice president of the Farmers Bank of Baylis, also a representative of agricultural and stock-raising interests, is accounted one of the active business men of his village and community, and the extent and importance of his business operations have brought him a good financial return and at the same time have made him a factor in the advancement of general prosperity. He was born April 6, 1861, in Pike county, his parents being Nathan L. and Margaret (Cunningham) Barnes. The father was born March 15, 1833, in Washington county, Pennsylvania, and was a son of William and Sarah (Lawson) Barnes, of Pennsylvania, who came to Pike county, Illinois, in the fall of 1854 and located near Baylis, buying a farm of one hundred and twenty acres on section 24, New Salem township. The grandfather was extensively engaged in raising stock, making a specialty of cattle and horses. He spent his remaining years here, passing away September 4, 1884, while his wife died in 1868.

Nathan L. Barnes was educated in the common schools of Pennsylvania and remained at home until the removal of the family to Pike county, after which he entered business life here by working as a farm hand by the month. Subsequently he returned to the Keystone state, and was there married to Miss Margaret Cunningham in 1855. He brought his bride to Pike county, and she engaged in teaching school, and thus assisted him in gaining a start. He was paid a dollar and a quarter per day for his labor, and was thus employed for six months, after which he rented land for three years. On the expiration of that period with the capital he had managed to save from his earnings he bought a farm of one hundred and seventy acres about a mile and a quarter south of Baylis. To this he has added until he now owns three hundred acres of valuable land, and his farm is a well improved property, the well tilled fields yielding him excellent harvests annually. He has placed all of the buildings upon his farm, and has cleared most of the land. He has engaged quite extensively in the stock business; and although he came to this county a poor boy, he is to-day one of its prosperous citizens-a fact which is attributable entirely to his own efforts. In 1863 he was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife. In October, 1905, he removed from his farm to Baylis, where he is now living a retired life, resting in the enjoyment of the fruits of his former toil. He is a member of the Presbyterian church; and his political views are those of a prohibitionist. He is numbered among the early settlers of Pike county, and, moreover, is a citizen whom to know is to respect and honor because of his fidelity to manly principles in all life's relations. His influence is ever given on the side of right, justice and truth, and he advocates every movement which tends to ameliorate the hard conditions of mankind or to uplift humanity intellectually and morally.

Robert Yates Barnes was educated in the common schools of Pike county and remained at home until twenty-one years of age when he traveled through the west, visiting Colorado, California and Washington. He spent two years in the west, being in Seattle in 1882, when there were but five thousand inhabitants in the city. In 1884 he returned to Pike county and entered upon the occupation to which he had been reared. For a year he remained upon the home farm and then went to Missouri for the winter, but in the spring returned to this county and resumed general agricultural pursuits. He made his first purchase of land in 1887, becoming the owner of sixty acres in Adams county, Illinois, which he sold in 1894. He then bought where he now lives, owning one hundred and sixty acres of fine land, which adjoins Baylis and is splendidly located. His farm is on section 12, Hadley township, and is a well improved property, the fields having been brought under a high state of cultivation, while the fences are well kept and the buildings are in good repair. He has a fine home, tasteful in its furnishings and attractive in its surroundings. He keeps a large amount of cattle, hogs and horses and is a lover of good horses, having now in his possession some fine coach horses and also some fine driving stock. Moreover, he figures prominently in financial circles in the county as the vice president of the Farmers Bank, with which he has been connected since its organization. In fact he was one of the organizers and is a stockholder, and from the beginning has occupied his present official connection therewith.

In 1885 Mr. Barnes was united in marriage to Miss Nancy Davidson, who was born September 4, 1859, and is a daughter of William and Susan (Hartman) Davidson, of Adams county, Illinois. Her father was a farmer by occupation; but both he and his wife are now deceased. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Barnes have been born two sons and a daughter: Arthur L., who was born March 22, 1887, was graduated from the high school at Baylis in 1905, and is living at home; Ralph D., born March 15, 1888, was educated in Baylis, and is also with his parents; Alta May, born May 16, 1892, died in 1897.

Mr. Barnes has always voted with the republican party, but does not seek nor desire the honors nor emoluments of public office. He served on the town board, however, and was a school director for years. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen camp, No. 593, of Baylis, and of the Mutual Protective League. His wife and elder son are members of the Methodist church, and Mr. Barnes contributes generously to its support. He keeps thoroughly informed concerning the conditions of the village and community, and gives active co-operation to many measures for the public good. As the years have gone by he has developed extensive business interests which have proven to him a profitable source of income, and his life of industry is indicative of the fact that faithfulness to duty and strict adherence to a fixed purpose in life will do more to advance a man's interests than wealth or advantageous circumstances.

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