Biographical Sketch

Submitted by PHGS Member:  Steve Kamm 


George Barnes is the oldest ancestor in this line about whom we have some data.  But, little documented information exists regarding his origins.  According to the 1855 New York State Census, he was born about 1806 in Pennsylvania.  We do not know who his parents were.  He apparently moved to New York at an early age and settled into the valley of the Conhocton River, where he spent the rest of his life. 

There is a George Barnes listed in the 1825 State Census, living in Reading, Steuben County, NY, who is possibly the correct person.  George was certainly in New York from 1829-1854 when his children were born.  He seems to have lived for nearly twenty years in the area of Hornby, Steuben County.  In 1848, he apparently moved his family to Campbell, Steuben County, where, in 1873, his wife filed an application for a Mother's Pension.  In 1875, George sold 25 acres of land to Jedadiah Drake.  However, specific information about his death has yet to be collected. 

The "Barnes Family Book," compiled by Mary Barnes Frimml, lists his first name as Henry, but the death certificate of his son, Joseph Aden, has it as George, born in New York.  (The name, Henry, was from a voice tape of Lois Ann Barnes and was a guess.)  The name, George, is confirmed by the 1855 and 1865 Census records--which place his birth in Pennsylvania--and by his wife's pension application. 

From the "Barnes Family Book," George was married to Elizabeth Palmer.  The 1855 Census lists his wife as Eliza, born about 1812 in Pennsylvania.  The 1880 Census also indicates Pennsylvania.  However, this is probably in error as all other records indicate she was born in New York.  The 1865 Census, for example, lists Eliza as the 52 year old mother of 14, born in Montgomery County, NY.  She was the daughter of Aden and Hannah Palmer, early settlers in Hornby, Steuben Co., NY.  No record of the marriage of George and Eliza has been located, however the date is estimated as 1828-1830. 

Identification of the Barnes children presents something of a problem due to numerous and conflicting records.  The "Barnes Family Book,"  using information provided by Mrs. Bernard (Dorothy) Barnes, the children included:  George Curtis, William E., Andrew Curtis, Charles H., Joseph Aden, John, Neal (female), Rachael, and HannahGeorge Curtis, Andrew Curtis and Charles H. supposedly died as infants.  Also included in the list, but probably not the children of George and Eliza, were:  Cornelia A., Cornelius A., and Charles W.

The 1830 Census of Hornby, Steuben Co., lists George Barnez (sic.) while the index has him incorrectly as George Barnet.  The census lists two males (30-40) and one female (15-20).  While the female fits well with Eliza at age 18,  George would not as yet have been 30.  The other recorded male may have been a brother to either  (see Harry, below) or a farm laborer.  Of course, the records themselves may be in error. 

The Civil War Pension Records for George's son, William E., indicates William was born in Hornby, Steuben Co., NY, in 1829 or 1830.  (However, the bible of his wife says he was born in Tyrone, Steuben Co.) 

The 1835 New York State Census of Steuben County shows George and his family living in Hornby on twenty acres of improved land with one cow and two hogs.  In addition to his wife, the census shows another male (probably William E.), two females under sixteen (Angeline and ?), and one female infant (probably Louisa).  Also included in this census are Aaron Barnes of Erwin, as well as Charles M., Ephraim, and Aziel Barnes, all of Howard. 

The 1840 US Census Index of Steuben County has separate listings for five men named BarnesAaron (in Lindley Twp), George (in Urbana Twp--actually Hornby), Gerome (in Jasper Twp), Henry R. (actually Harry in Tyrone Twp) and Nelson (in Lindley Twp).  In Hornby, George's family includes:  Males 30-40 (1), 5-10 (1), 0-5 (3); Females 20-30 (1), 0-5 (3)--page 179.  These figures can be matched with the information in the "Barnes Family Book."  Six children less than 5 years possibly indicates not all the children were born of George & Elizabeth:  there is uncertainty regarding the parents of the twins, Cornelia & Cornelius, as well as Charles W.   By 1840, George Curtis, Andrew Curtis, & Charles H. had died, leaving:  Males 30-40 = George, 5-10 = William, 0-5 = Cornelius, Joseph & Charles W;  Females 20-30 = Elizabeth, 0-5 = Cornelia, Neal (F) & Rachael.  However, this census only partially matches census records of ten years later.   According to the census, George was engaged in agriculture.  Living nearby were several members of the Palmer family, relatives of George's wife. 

The family of Henry [Harry A.] Barnes in Tyrone township includes one male and one female, both 20-30, with no children.  He might be a recently married younger brother of George.   Note that in the 1860's and 1870's, three of George Senior's sons (George Jr., Henry and Horatio) all lived in Tyrone township.  Is there a family connection?  Listings for Aaron, Gerome and Nelson have not as yet been requested. 

In December of 1848, George purchased one acre of land for $45 from Vincent and Hannah Shoemaker [recorded14 Sep 1863, liber 98. page 379].  This property was located in the town of Campbell, adjacent to the highway called Meads Creek Road.  The road is still in existence and is a major north-south route through Campbell.  Hornby Township lies just to the east of this road.  Strangely, George's son, Horatio, has Meads Creek listed as his place of birth in 1846--perhaps the family was already living on the property. 

In the 1850 Census of Campbell, Steuben County, there is a listing for George Senior at age 42--which should probably be 43/44.  The listing also includes his wife, Eliza at age 30 (which should be 38), and 10 children:  Angeline (19), Louisa (16), George (14), Joseph (13), Henry (11), Loren (9), Hannah (6), Horatio (5), John (3), and Mary J (2.5--months).  The names and ages of the children do not match particularly well with the "Barnes Family Book," however the book lists only the "early" children and is also known to contain errors.  It is also possible that George & Eliza were looking after children of relatives.  The last five names do match well with the 1855 Census. 

The 1855 New York State Census for Campbell, Steuben County, lists George Senior (49) and Eliza (43) with seven children:  Loren (13), Hannah (11), Horatio (9), John (7), Jane [Mary J.] (5), Martha (3 year old male--sic), and Adell, (8/12).  Chemung County is the birthplace listed for Loren, Hannah and Horatio while Steuben County is given for the other children.  George Junior has a separate listing.  There are also notations for Henry Barnes, age 15, a servant with the family of Sidney Thornton, and Loren Barnes, age 13, a servant of Lorentus Short, both in Campbell. 

George Senior is listed in the 1860 Census of Campbell with his wife and eight children:  George (55), Eliza (48), Henry (20) who apparently moved home, Loren (17), Hannah (15), Horatio (14), John (11), Mary J. (10), Martha O. (5), and Lilly A. (1) who may be Adell.  There is also a Geroge Barnes listed in Tyrone, Schuyler Co., of about the correct age to be George Jr. with a wife of the correct name:  George (22), Mary (25), and Elenora (7). 

In September of 1863, George and Eliza sold their one acre plot on Meads Creek Road to Erastus Lee.  They then purchased twenty five acres of land from Charles Van Vleet and his wife Sarah for the sum of $425 [recorded 14 Sep 1863, liber 99, page 128].  This property was located in Campbell Township:  "parts of lots Number Eight and Nine of Bulls Survey in range Number five East Division" along the Plank Road.  As George was later to be described as a cripple with an annual income of less than $50, his purchase of this land would seem a mystery!  However, documents submitted in support of Eliza's application for a Mother's Pension (see below) indicate the money came from "Bounty & back pay they got on account of" the death of their son, Loren. 

The 1865 NY Census, has the family living in Campbell:  George [61], born in Pennsylvania, is listed as residing in a plank home with Eliza [52], John [16], Jane [Mary J.] [15], Martha [12], and Adel [10]. 

George has not been found in the 1870 Census of Steuben County.  Perhaps he was in Tyrone, now Schuyler County? 

In 1873, George's wife, Eliza, filed an application for a Mother's Pension (Claim No. 207886), based on the Civil War service of their son, Loren.  Loren died in 1862 as a result of wounds received at the Battle of White Oak Swamp in Virginia.  Eliza lists her age as 61 years and her address as Campbelltown, Steuben County.  The application is signed with her mark, indicating Eliza was illiterate.  The pension was eventually granted (No. 165,364).  In 1874, Eliza was awarded a monthly allotment of $8.00, seemingly for the rest of her life.  As a result of an 1879 Act of Congress dealing with arrears, she  received a lump sum payment of $1013.87 covering the period 25 July 1862 to 16 February 1873.  The new application was witnessed by her daughter, Adell. 

From the many supporting documents attached to the original application, we learn more about the life of George and Eliza.  Several neighbors and a physician attest to the fact that as early as 1856 George suffered from multiple disabilities including a disease of the hip, a rupture (hernia), rheumatism, a disease of the spine, and a running fever sore on his left leg.  Consequently, he was humpbacked and unable to perform any work, "at most being able to cut a few shingles."  According to the Surgeon's Certificate of Examination, "He is in his seventieth year of age and has the appearance of a man of ninety.  Has a curvature of the spine in the dorsal portion which bows him very much making him look like a dwarf...He is an old decrepit broken down man." 

Their one acre of land was officially valued and assessed at $50 from 1857 until 1862 when it was listed at $25.  George's annual income in 1861 and 1862 was estimated at between 20 and 50 dollars.  After receiving a bounty and back pay resulting from Loren's death, they were able to purchase the 25 acres mentioned above.  In 1874, the land was described by a neighbor as, "not worth more than six hundred dollars & that there are encumbrances upon it of about two thirds of its value." 

The testimonies claim most of the children left home as early as possible, and only Loren provided any support for his parents before enlisting in the 34th New York Volunteers.  Supposedly, the younger children remaining at home included only girls, except for Horatio who was in poor health.  No mention is made of younger son, John.  Another testimony indicates George had been a cripple since 1865, and that in 1873 the family was living on "a few acres of poor land which is mortgaged so they have very little more than a place to stay."  The farm was apparently located near Cooper's Plains (their postal address) which is often given as the address of their neighbors. 

While these testimonies may have been exaggerated to a degree, it does appear as if the family had fallen on hard times.  Susan Moore, Hornby Historian, indicates George sold his 25 (more than a few!) acres of land in 1875 to Jedadiah Drake:  the sale of the property may have been necessary to settle the mortgage. 

George's death has not as yet been documented.  However, the 1880 Census of Painted Post Village, Erwin, lists the widow Eliza--as a 67 year old carpet weaver--and her 25 year old daughter, Adell.  Therefore, George must have died between 1875 and 1880. 

When George's daughter, Ervia Hannah Barnes (Mrs. C. Welbourne Dearlove), died in 1927, her obituary indicated she was the last to go of a family of fourteen.  There is still much work to be done in properly identifying members of this family.  Of the children listed, we are certain of the following:  William E. Barnes, George Barnes Jr., Joseph Aden Barnes, Loren Barnes, Ervia Hannah Barnes Dearlove, Horatio S. Barnes, John F. Barnes, Mary Jane Barnes Buck, and Adell Barnes Pilgrim

In an email message, we learn that George may have been a brother to one William Barnes, of about the same age, who was also born in Pennsylvania. 

According to the Barnes Genforum on the Internet, the family name "Barnes" means "Warrior" and is Norman in origin.  Supposedly, members of the Barnes family moved north toward Scotland after the Norman Conquest of Britain.  There is a "Barnes" tartan registered with the Scottish Tartan Society--the Barnes family is associated with the Campbell Clan.  And, there are two Barnes castles in Scotland, both in ruins:  Barnes Castle (near Haddington) and Barnes Castle Tower (near Peebles).  There is a Barnes coat-of-arms which originated in Durhamshire.  It is a quartered shield of gold and green with a centered horizontal black bar displaying three silver stars.  The Barnes family of Lancashire shows three stars in gold. 

Census Records, various years
Land Purchase Records
Numerous communications and clippings from the Steuben County and Hornby Historian Offices
William and Loren's Civil War records
Genforum Message board for Barnes:


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Last Update February 15, 2020