website icon graphic

FredQuest Genealogy

James Barnes - Centennial History of Barnesville

A Sketch of the Founder

extract from
Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio
Honorable A.T. McKelvey (1903)

James Barnes, the founder of Barnesville,was a notable man. Like the majority of the early settlers, Mr. Barnes was a member of the Society of Friends, who emigrated from the South in 1803, locating at St. Clairsville. In 1812 he removed to Barnesville, where he had previously entered large tracts of land, then entirely in forest. In 1806 he associated himself with Rev. James Rounds in the tanning business, and in 1808 he laid out the town, reserving one block on Chestnut street, fronting on Main and Church streets, for his family.

Mr. Barnes was active and enterprising in advancing the business interests of the community, and was personally engaged in clearing lands, planting orchards, cultivating farms, buying and clarifying ginseng, shipping as high as 3,000 pounds of the root in a single year. In 1814 he organized companies for building flour mills, woolen mills and sawmills, and in 1823-26 he engaged in the tobacco trade very extensively and built an immeense packing house on the site of the old Presbyterian Church.

While Mr. Barnes was engaged in multifarious pursuits, he was never nervous or confused, but always calm and deliberate.

In personal appearance he was tall and portly, and always attired in the simple garb of the Quaker.

He was generous to a fault, and ever helpful to the poor. While in the pursuit of the tobacco business, he sustained heavy losses, from 1828-38, from which he never recovered.

In an effort to regain his lost fortunes, his overtaxed body and brain collapsed, and he dropped dead in the mountains of Pennsylvania, while returning to his home.

McKelvey, A.T., Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio, Biographical Publishing Co. (Chicago : 1903)