BARNES, SUSAN ELIZABETH (Sewall-Fry). - Few people residing outside of the New England States have so valued and preserved the records of their lineage as has Mrs. Susan Elizabeth Sewall Fry Barnes, of Jacksonville, Ill. Mrs. Barnes, who is a pioneer and the daughter of pioneers, has lived in Morgan and Cass Counties for seventy years, coming here at the age of two months from the vicinity of Clarksburg, on the Monongahela River, in Harrison County, W. Va., where she was born July 30, 1829. Mrs. Barnes is one of the children by the second marriage of her mother, Eliza Ward (Middleton) Sewall, extended mention of whom is made elsewhere in this work. Her father, William Sewall, was born in Augusta, Me., January 17, 1797, and in early life was a clerk, and later a teacher and a farmer. He taught school in several of the places in which he lived, and at Jacksonville, March 8, 1830, established in the old historic school house a school which he conducted through the "winter of the deep snow," and for two or three years thereafter.
The Sewall family was known in England for many generations. Fuller, in his "Worthies of England," describes the arms of the family as "Sable Cheveron betwixt three Gad Bees argent," the same having been bestowed upon "John Sewall, Sheriff of Essex and Hertfordshire, fourth year of the reign of Richard II, 1380." Mrs. Barnes' grandparents were Henry and Tabitha (Sewall) Sewall, the former of whom was born in York, Me., October 24, 1752, and was a soldier in the Revolutionary War; her great-grandparents were Henry and Abigail (Titcomb) Sewall, the former born at York, Me., March 26, 1727; the great-great-grandparents were Nicholas and Mehitable (Storer) Sewall, the former born at Newbury, Mass., June 1, 1670; the great-great-great-grandparents were John and Hannah (Fessenden) Sewall, the former born at Baddesley, England, October 10, 1654; the great-great-great-great-grandparents were Henry and Jane (Dummer) Sewall, the former born in Manchester, England, in 1614; the great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were Henry and Anna (Hunt) Sewall, the former born in Coventry, England, in 1576; the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents were Henry and Margaret (Gresbrook) Sewall, the former born in Coventry, England, in 1544, and who served as Mayor of Coventry during 1589 and 1606. The third Henry Sewall came to Newbury in 1635, as one of the first settlers of that region, and eventually succeeded to large landed estates. In 1646 he married Jane Dummer, of Newbury, and became the progenitor of the numerous family of Sewalls now scattered over the United States and Canada.
As was customary with the daughters of the early settlers, Susan Elizabeth Sewall was taught knitting spinning, weaving, and the art of beautiful hand sewing. There were no sewing machines in the country previous to 1846, and practically everything worn by the people was made by the women of the household. Necessarily they were skillful and rapid in the use of the needle, and personally devoted much more time than the women of the present day to affairs of the wardrobe. Miss Sewall attended the early subscription schools of Morgan and Cass Counties, and in 1848 came to Jacksonville to enter the Academy for Young Ladies, from which she graduated in 1851, and of whose Alumnae Association she is still a member. Subsequently she engaged in educational work in various parts of the county, though still making her home in Jacksonville.
The marriage of Miss Sewall to Abiel Fry occurred at the home of her mother in Jacksonville, November 12, 1867, Mr. Fry being than a resident of Muscatine, Iowa, in which town the young people lived. After the death of Mr. Fry in 1876, his widow visited her sister near Chandlerville, Ill., and there met Rev. William Barnes, of Jacksonville, to whom she was united in marriage, August 1, 1878. Mr. Barnes died May 1, 1890, and his widow still makes her home at the Barnes homestead, 415 West State Street, Jacksonville. Mrs. Barnes is one of the interesting women of Jacksonville, and has a host of friends who can testify to her genial nature and large heart. Her memory is stored with reminiscences of the early days of the State, and more especially of the men and women who, like herself, have been integral parts of the unfolding prosperity of Morgan County.