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Robert H. Barnes

From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.

ROBERT H. BARNES, President of the Raritan Exchange Bank, and one of the most prominent citizens of Raritan, was born in La Harpe, Hancock County. Ill., April 29, 1849, and is a son of Harrison and Man (Coulson) Barnes. The father was born in Madison County, April 1, 1820, and in 1837 came to Illinois, locating in Hancock County. The trip was made by team across the country. For a time he engaged in driving a stage between Oquawka, Peoria and Monmouth, and in 1839 went to the wineries of Minnesota, where, with ten others, he engaged in lumbering on the St. Croix River. The Indians were exasperated at this intrusion, and drove the white settlers away, but as they were leaving they were met by Government agents, who were sent to make the first payments for the land to the red men. Mr. Barnes afterward returned and spent eleven months there, being kindly treated. When he again came to Illinois, he located in Peoria, and engaged in staging from that point to Burlington, Iowa. In 1845 he went to La Harpe, where he worked at his trade of harness-making, and also engaged in dealing in wagons and carriages. This business proved quite profitable. He also owned the first newspaper in La Harpe. In 1853 he was elected Constable and served for about four years. He was Deputy Sheriff twelve years, City Marshal nine years, Mayor two terms, and was Alderman for a number of years. Since 1873 he has acceptably and creditably filled the office of Justice of the Peace. He also deals in horses, selling from four to five hundred a year.

In 1844, Harrison Barnes wedded Mary Coulson, who was born in Greenville, Pa., February 25, 1828, and they became the parents of seven children, five sons and two daughters, of whom Robert H. is the eldest. Ephyshro died at the age of seventeen years; Benjamin F. is now engaged in the harness business in Mercer County, Ill.; Edward O. is represented elsewhere in this work; Harry, a printer by trade, is now living in California; and two children died in infancy.

In the common schools Robert Barnes was educated, and under the parental roof was reared. About the time he attained his majority he went to Arkansas and Tennessee for his health, spending two years in the South, during a portion of which time he was overseer on a large plantation, having charge of about ninety men. He then returned to La Harpe, and on the 19th of March, 1871, married Miss Julia Butler, of Raritan Township. With his bride he then removed to Tennessee, settling near Memphis, where he engaged in farming for about a year, and then returned to Illinois. In 1872 he embarked in the saddler and harness business in Raritan, and in 1876 added a stock of hardware and agricultural implements. In 1880 he also opened a furniture department, and along these lines has secured a large and lucrative trade, doing a profitable business. In 1876 he also established a paper, called the Bulletin. It was seven by six inches, and the subscription price was ten cents per year, but after six months he enlarged it to a five-column, four-page paper, which he published for seven years. He then sold out, with the intention of going to Kansas, but, changing his mind, he returned to Raritan, and embarked in the implement business, which he conducted until 1893, when he sold out. In 1889 he established a private bank, and three years later formed a stock company, which is now engaged in the banking business. Mr. Barnes is its President, and the success of the business is practically due to his efforts. He also owns and operates a farm, which is well improved.

In 1877, Mr. Barnes was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died on the 18th of September, leaving a daughter, Julia, who makes her home with her maternal grandparents. Mr. Barnes was again married, March 17, 1880, his second union being with Miss Ida M. Beard, daughter of Dr. Beard, of Raritan. They have had two children: Jettie, who died in infancy; and Artie R., at home.

Mr. Barnes is prominent in political, business, church and social circles. He votes the Democratic ticket, and is a member of the Democratic Central Committee. He is now serving as Notary Public, has for some time been School Director, and takes quite an active interest in the cause of education. He holds membership with the Modern Woodmen of America, and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and is a consistent member of the Christian Church. He is now serving as one of its Deacons, and contributes liberally to its support, having probably done more for its upbuilding than any other of its members. He is well fitted for leadership along these various lines, for he carries forward to a successful completion whatever he undertakes, and he undertakes nothing that is not calculated to benefit the community, either in a financial or moral way.