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Barnes, Nathan L.
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Barnes, Nathan L.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 540-546


Nathan L. Barnes, a retired farmer and stock-raiser residing in Baylis, Illinois, was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania, March 15, 1833, and is a son of William and Sarah (Lawson) Barnes. The father's birth occurred in Washington county, Pennsylvania, where he followed farming, owning and operating a small tract of land. He was also a shoemaker by trade and engaged in that pursuit to some extent. He came to Pike county, Illinois, in the fall of 1854, making his way down the Ohio river and up the Mississippi to Little Cincinnati, Illinois. He brought with him his household goods and live stock, having four tons of property which was thus shipped to his western home. He located near Baylis and purchased a farm of one hundred and twenty acres from William Davis on section 24, New Salem township. He brought with him his wife and family of nine children and one of his sons, William Barnes, had come to Pike county the year previous. The father spent his remaining days here and, having purchased some town property in Baylis, occupied his home up to the time of his demise. He was quite widely known as a stock-raiser, making a specialty of cattle and horses, and his business interests were capably conducted and brought to him well merited success. He died September 4, 1884, at the advanced age of eighty-six years, three months and twenty-four days. He had long survived his wife, who passed away in 1868, at the age of seventy-three years, eleven months and three days.

Nathan L. Barnes was educated in the common schools of Pennsylvania, which he attended through the winter months. During the remainder of the year, however, he worked upon the home farm, taking his place in the fields at the time of early spring planting and continuing there until crops were harvested in the late autumn. He remained at home until his removal to Pike county and made a hand in the fields when fifteen years of age. Following the removal to the west he entered upon an Independent business career, being employed by the month as a farm hand in this part of the state. Subsequently he returned to Pennsylvania and was married. His wife engaged in teaching school and through their united efforts they thus made a start in the business world. Mr. Barnes received a dollar and a quarter per day for his services and worked by the month for six months, after which he began farming on his own account, desiring that his labors should more directly benefit himself. He continued the cultivation of rented land for three years and afterward removed to Harshman Prairie, where he remained for two years. He then returned to his former locality, where he continued for one year, after which he purchased one hundred and seventy acres of land a mile and a quarter south of Baylis. To this he has added until he now owns two hundred and seventy-two acres, constituting one of the valuable and productive farms in this portion of the state. He has put all the improvements upon his property, including a fine residence, large and substantial outbuildings and good fences. The fields are well tilled and he has one of the best farms in New Salem township. He has engaged extensively and successfully in raising hogs and could produce in them a weight of from two hundred and twenty-five to two hundred and fifty pounds at six months old. He was known as the best raiser of hogs in the county and his business proved very profitable.

In 1855, Mr. Barnes was united in marriage to Miss Margaret H. Cunningham, of West Alexander, Pennsylvania, and unto them have been born four children, of whom three are now living: Mary Jane, who is the wife of Mathew Nichols and resides in this county; Lizzie, the wife of Finley Ritchie, a resident of Pike county; and Robert Y., who married Nancy Davidson and lives in Baylis. The wife and mother died March 3, 1863, and in 1865 Mr. Barnes was again married, his second union being with Miss Lydia Ann Huff, who was born in Pike county, Illinois, and is a daughter of John Huff, one of the early settlers of this part of the state, his home being near Beverly. Unto Mr. Barnes by the second marriage have been born eight children of whom seven are yet living, namely: John, who married Effie McKinney and resides in New Salem township; William C., who wedded Amy Moore and resides near Barry, Illinois; Alice, who married Curtis Bowman and is living near Barry, Illinois; Lottie, who resides at home; Frank, who married Emma Palmer and is living in North Henderson; Sam, who married Lizzie Cummings and resides upon the old homestead farm; and Floyd, who is also at home.

Mr. Barnes favors the Presbyterian church and he gives his political support to the prohibition party. He was formerly a republican, but believing the temperance question to be the dominant issue before the people he became a prohibitionist. He has never sought or desired office but performs his duties to the county and community as a private citizen. He has been very successful, for he started out in life empty-handed and has worked his way steadily upward to success. Those who know aught of his prosperity know that he has been an energetic man, diligent and careful in business and at all times reliable and straightforward. By his capable management and energy he has won the splendid competence that now enables him to live retired, resting in the enjoyment of the fruits of his former toil.

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