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          Joseph Walker Barnwell, lawyer, legislator, husband and father, was born in Charleston, South Carolina on October 31, 1846. His parents were William Hazzard and Catharine Osborn Barnwell. His father practiced law for a time and then became a clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church. For twenty-one years he was rector of St. Peterís Church in Charleston. He was a man of rare talents, high character, industrious, courageous, an charismatic preach, and public-spirited citizen. His wife, who was born in Barnwell, was a woman of excellent achievement. She possessed a gentle and kind disposition. Her influence on her son was helpful, strong and enduring. The earliest ancestor of the family to locate in this country was Colonel John Barnwell, who came from Dublin, Ireland, and settled in Charleston in 1701. He commanded the expedition against the Tuscaroras in 1711, and was a colonel in the Yemassee war of 1715. In 1719 he was sent to England by the colony to negotiate its transfer to the crown. His son, Colonel Nathaniel Barnwell, was an aide to General Oglethorpe in the expendition against St. Augustine in 1740. Robert Gibbes Barnwell, son of Colonel Nathaniel Barnwell, was speaker of the house of representatives and president of the senate of South Carolina. He was a delegate to the continental congress and a congressman in 1791. He was also a courageous soldier in the Revolutionary War, in which he received no less than seventeen wounds.

          As a child Joseph W. Barnwell was fond of books and games of all kinds. Until he was six his home was in Charleston. During the next nine years he lived in Beaufort from May to November. The remainder of the time he spent on his fatherís plantation on the Broad River, Port Royal Island, some ten miles off Beaufort. He studied at Beaufort College and the schools of B. R. Stuart and A. Sachtleben, both of Columbia. He was at the Citadel during the war and later at the University of South Carolina. He also studied for a time at the University of Gottingen, in Germany. Although he aquired a broad education, he never took a professional direction. Friends gave him $2,500. in order for him to complete his education. But, he paid back the entire sum after he started working. From January 1, 1864, to December 7 of 1864, he studied at the South Carolina Military academy. On the last day, he received a severe wound in an engagement near Tulafinni, South Carolina. From early childhood he had felt he was destined to become a lawyer. He was admitted to practice in 1869, but began actual work in January of 1871. He was a seccess from the start. He not only was a seccessful lawyer, but his talents and energy brought him political honors. In November of 1874, he was elected a member of the state house of representatives from the Charleston district. In this capacity he served for two years, and distinguished George A. Trenholm sustained the policy of Governor Chamberlain in his attempt to secure reform in the state government. At the close of the term he declined to be re-elected. In 1890, he was a candidate for attorney general on the Haskell ticket, in which political contest Judge Alexander Cheves Haskell and Benjamin R. Tillman were opposing candidates for governor. In 1894, he was elected to the state senate, in which he served two years. But, owing to a change in the district, the office was abolished. In 1900 he again became a member of the state senate for a term of four years. At the expiration of which he declined to be a candidate for re-election. For several years he served with ability and faithfulness as chairman of the Democratic party in Charleston county. He was prominent in social and literary life in Charleston. He was president of the Charleston club and South Carolina Historical Society, Vice-President of the Charleston literary society and the Carolina Art Association and Chairman of the managers of the St. Cecilia Society. In all these positions he won high commendations.

          On January 23, of 1883, Mr. Barnwell married Miss Harriott Kinloch Cheves, the daughter of Doctor Charles M. Cheves and Mrs. Isabella Middleton Cheves. They had five children.


Men Of Mark in South Carolina, Volume I


James Calvin Hemphill



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