genealogy trails

Christian County Illinois

Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.

Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.

Portrait and biographical record of Christian County, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and   representative citizens, together with biographies of all the Governors of the state, and of the Presidents of the United States.  Chicago, Ill. : Lake City Pub. Co., 1893.  Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards, 2007.

ALBERT GILBERT BARNES, of Taylorville, is well known to the people of Christian County. Thomas Macaulay says that the history of a country is best told in the lives of its people. This is certainly true in recording the life work of such men as our subject, who has not only witnessed the growth and development of the county but has been identified with its progress and upbuilding and has aided in its advancement.

Many of the most important business concerns of Taylorville are the result of the enterprise and industry of Mr. Barnes. Born in Harrisburg, Pa., on the 4th of September, 1835, our subject is a son of Daniel and Margaret A. (Richardson) Barnes, who were also natives of the Keystone State.

His father was a hardware merchant. In 1840 he came to Illinois and located in the capital city. He carried on a general store in Springfield, and after coming to Taylorville, in 1858, bought a hardware store, which he successfully conducted until his death. It was the largest establishment of the kind in this place, and its proprietor was recognized as a leader in business circles.

At five years of age Albert Barnes went to Springfield, at fifteen removed to Decatur, and at twenty left that city. While there, however, he learned the printer's trade and helped set up and roll the first sheet that ever came from a Decatur press. This was in 1852.

The publication was the Decatur Gazette, of which James Shoaff was proprietor. Mr. Barnes worked at the case for one year, then aided his father in the store, and was also employed for one year as salesman in a clothing store. On the 5th of September, 1855, he came to Taylorville, and opened a clothing store, the first exclusive store of the kind in this city. His stock was valued at about $1,200, but owing to constantly increasing demands it was steadily enlarged, and he continued trade in that line alone until 1862. At that time his stock was valued at $10.000.

In 1862 he added a stock of general merchandise and carried on business alone as a dry-goods merchant until 1871, when the present firm of Chamberlain & Barnes was formed. This partnership has existed continuously since 1871, during which time they have worked up a very large and profitable business. They deal exclusively in dry goods, carpets and millinery, and carry a well-selected stock of about $30,000. Mr. Chamberlain had formerly been a salesman in the employ of J. V. Farwell, of Chicago.

Other business interests also occupied the attention of Mr. Barnes, who in 1867 established the Christian County Bank. After a year his partner Col. John Williams, of Springfield, President of the First National Bank of the capital city, retired, and the concern became known as the A. G. Barnes Bank. On the 1st of January, 1893, his son, A. T. Barnes, became a partner, and business is now carried on under the style of A. G. Barnes & Co.

Our subject is Treasurer of the Taylorville Coal Company and owns a quarter-interest in its property. He is also Treasurer of the Taylorville Gas Company and has large real-estate interests. He built the first brick storeroom of the city in 1866, and now has four good business rooms around the square.

He platted and added eight acres to the city, under the name of the Barnes Addition. He is also owner of the well-known Oak Lawn Stock Farm, in connection with his eldest son, B. L. This is situated two and one-fourth miles southwest of Taylorville, and comprises nine hundred and eighty-five acres. They make a specialty of breeding fine standard-bred trotting horses, and have on hand upwards of one hundred registered animals, and about forty standard brood mares.

In connection with the Oak Lawn training stables there is a good half-mile track, with twenty-four box-stalls. They have in training a number of choice colts from some of the most distinguished trotting families in America. Some of them give promise of becoming very speedy, and taking rank among the record-breaking flyers of the present.

Among the many mention can only be made of a few of the most prominent, as Nut Pine, 2:15 1/4, sired by Nutwood, dam Maggie Wilkes, by George Wilkes ; Sidney Bell, a three-year-old, sired by Sidney, 2:19, sire of Frou Frou, a yearling with a record of 2:24 1/4. Some of the finest horses in the State are found upon Oak Lawn Farm, and its stock deservedly brings the highest prices.

We now turn from the business to the private life of Mr. Barnes, and note that on the 28th of August, 1861, in Mechanicsburg, was celebrated his marriage with Miss Henrietta Branson, daughter of Ben Branson and a native of Sangamon County. They have a family of five children, namely: Benjamin Lincoln, Albert Thompson, Mary Henrietta, Clara May and William Edward. They also lost two in infancy: Henry A. and Harry.

Mr. and Mrs. Barnes have been members of the Presbyterian Church since 1857. He is a Knight-Templar Mason, belonging to Elwood Commandery of Springfield. He has been Treasurer of Mound Lodge No. 122, A. F. & A. M.; also belongs to Taylorville Chapter No. 102, R. A. M., and to Hazelmere Chapter, O. E. S., of which his daughter, Clara May, is also a member. In politics, he is a supporter of Republican principles but has never sought public office, preferring to devote his energies to his business interests, in which he has met with signal success.



© Judy Edwards and Genealogy Trails