COL. BENJAMIN BARNEY
Is the son of Benjamin Barney, who was born in Taunton, Bristol county,
Massachusetts, in the year 1760, and who served his country through the whole
of the revolutionary war, under General Washington, enlisting in April, 1776.
He received his honorable discharge in 1781, after which he located land
and made improvements in Berkshire county, Massachusetts. In the year 1782
he married Miss Deborah Crapo, and permanently located on his land, where
he remained until his death, which occurred in the year 1821. He always
maintained a warm devotion and love for his country, lived a quite and useful
life, and died a devoted Christian. Mrs. Barney, his wife, survived him until
the following year (1822). She too had lived a good and useful life, and
died in the full hope of a living mortality beyond the grave.
Col. Barney was born in Berkshire county, state of Massachusetts, on the 21st day of September, 1795, and remained there until March, 1817, when he emigrated to Ohio, and stopped in Huron county. He remained there eight years, engaged in laboring on a farm. In the year 1820 he was married to Miss Minerva Harris, daughter of William Harris. She was born in the state of Pennsylvania in the year 1800, and moved with her parents to Ohio in the year 1818. In the year 1825 the Colonel came to the state of Illinois, and settled in the town of Atlas, which at that time was the county seat of Pike county. He remained there for nine years, engaged at such labor as he could get to do. The first employment he had was cutting and cording up wood, for which he was paid twenty-two cents per cord, and out of which he had to support himself, wife, and two children. His second employment was keel-boating up the Ohio river, for which he received fifty cents per day, and thought he was doing well. He continued boating during the summer and fall of the year 1826. During the winter of 1826-27 there was but one post office in Pike county, and that was at the old town of Atlas . At one time, on account of high water and bad roads, they were without a mail for three weeks. The legislature was in session, and the few citizens of Atlas and vicinity being very anxious to get the news, they hired Mr. Barney to go to Carlton, a distance of over forty miles, and get the mail. This he did, making the journey in three days crossing streams in canoes, on logs, and sometimes having to wade. Thus, through unbroken paths, where the snow, in many places, was above his knees, he made his way, carrying a mail on back weighing over sixty pounds. He received for his journey the sum of ten dollars, which he thought was easily earned.
Mr. Barney remained in Atlas and supported his family by his labor until about the year 1834, when, with the small surplus he had accumulated, he purchased a small pieces of land on section 31, in Barry township, where he built a small cabin and moved his family into it. He has remained on the same section ever since.
In April, 1832, Mr. Barney was drafted to serve in the Blackhawk war, and was mustered into service at Rock Island, under General Whitesides, and was elected colonel of his regiment, which was the second Illinois mounted riflemen. After serving fifty days, he and his regiment were mustered out of service at Ottawa, Illinois. He was honorably discharged and fully remunerated, after which he returned to his farm and family in Barry township, where he has been successfully engaged in farming and stock raising ever since.
The Colonel, in his younger years, served a term as apprentice to the blacksmith trade, but, after a few years experience, was obliged to abandon the business, on account of his health, when he changed to farming and laboring, as before stated. He commenced his course in life a very poor boy, and has experienced many hardships and met with many reverses; but, being of sober, moral, and good habits, and being an industrious man and exercising economy, he has succeeded in accumulating wealth, and is now classed among the heavy land and property owners of Pike county.
Colonel Barney is of a cheerful temperament, always looking at the bright side, and never allowing himself to become perplexed or to grieve over misfortune. He is a very generous-hearted man, and is ever ready and willing to lend a helping hand to those in poorer circumstances, provided they are worthy. There is no man who more highly estimates virtue and morality than Colonel Barney. The Colonel has held many of the local offices of his township, and has always discharged the duties faithfully and to the satisfaction of all his constituents.
Although the Colonel's health is rather feeble, we hope he may be spared many years yet, for when he is called away Pike county will lose one of her best citizens.