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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


William Henry Barnes

The name of Barnes needs no introduction to the people of Sonoma county, for the strong and admirable characteristics of the family are rooted in the upbuilding of the state, and are now finding expression through the medium of the second generation of workers, both sons and daughters, who are equally reliant, forceful and public-spirited. A native of Missouri, William Henry Barnes was born in Scott county, March 8, 1839, the son of parents who followed agriculture for a livelihood. Although the time and place did not offer the best of opportunities for an education, the son improved such opportunities as came his way and the habit which he then formed of utilizing advantages as soon as they were recognized, whether in an educational or business way, is undoubtedly the keynote of the success which has been his throughout life.

When he was still quite a youth William H. Barnes undertook farming in his native state, following this and shoe-making, a trade in which he had become very proficient, until 1870. That year marks the close of his career in the east, and the beginning of his life in the commonwealth of California, for it was in that year that he came across the plains with his family. Settlement was first made in Ukiah, Mendocino county, where he followed his trade of shoe-maker for nine years, after which, in 1879, he transferred his citizenship to Sonoma county, and since that time he made his home in Healdsburg. At the time he located here the town did not boast a shoe store, footwear then being one of the features of the general store only, and with the enterprise characteristic of his nature he grasped the opportunity to establish the first shoe store in the town.

The marriage of William H. Barnes, June 25, 1862, united him with Miss Sarah Frances Grinsted, who, like himself, was born in Missouri. Nine children were born of this marriage, as follows: Mary Ida, the wife of James R. Miller, of Seattle, Wash.; Annie B.; John T., of Oakland; Benjamin H., a resident of Healdsburg; Nettie A., the wife of W. Chisholm, who owns and manages a ranch near Windsor; William G., a resident of San Francisco; Fannie G.; Florence M., of whom a sketch will be found elsewhere in this volume; and Charles Frederick, a resident of Oakland. When Mr. Barnes came to Healdsburg forty years ago he was impressed with the thrift and enterprise of the young town and he threw his energies into movements for its progress with zest. His fellow-citizens were not slow in recognizing his abilities as a leader, and in making him president of the board of trustees of the town they had opportunity to ascertain that they had made no mistake in their judgment in this respect. He held this position for nine years, during which time his labor and influence were directed toward the organization of the Municipal Water and Lighting plant of Healdsburg, which is universally recognized as one of the finest plants of its size in the county. Fraternally Mr. Barnes is a devoted disciple of Masonry, holding membership in the lodge of his home town, where he has gained the respect of a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011