Featured Obituary – Helen Catherine Barnes (1881-1973)

Copyright 2012 Genealogy Sisters

“Mrs. Helen C. Barnes – Princeton

Funeral services for Mrs. Helen C. Barnes, 86, who died Sunday at the Morris Hall Home for the Aged, Lawrenceville will be at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday from the Mather Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Ave., Princeton.

Born in Ireland, she came to the U.S. in 1904 and lived in Kingston for 35 years, before moving to Princeton, where she lived for 14 years.

She is survived one daughter, [name and town omitted for privacy]; two sons, Ernest H. Jr., of Bower Bank, Me., and Thomas W. of Middlesex; nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Mass of Christian Burial will follow the funeral services at St. Paul’s Church. Burial will be in Kingston Cemetery. Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. today.

Contributions may be made to Morris Hall.”  Source: The Trentonian, Trenton, NJ, Published November 1973.

This obituary for Helen Catherine Barnes has some facts wrong, but the gist of it is right. Her husband, Ernest Barnes, had died in 1951. Helen was a Barnes that married a Barnes, and she came over from Ireland in 1908. Her arrival record can be found at the Ellis Island Foundation website. She is listed as Ellen Barns, arriving on the S.S. Campania on April 29th. She was going to her sister, Hannie Barns, at 223 East 36th Street, Manhattan, New York. She lists her old residence as her brother’s place: John Barns, Dromakeenan, Roscrea, Ireland.  She is 24 years old, and her other information is:  Height – 5 foot 7 inches; Hair – Dark Brown; Eyes – Brown; Occupation – Domestic. In this lovely photo above that the family saved, she looks pretty, confidant, and plucky. I love her hat, and can imagine she had a nice long hatpin anchoring it to her lustrous brown hair, and that she would know how to use that hatpin if needed.

The address she listed really belonged to her sister, Maria, and her husband, Martin Gleason. They hosted almost all of the Barnes brothers and sisters as they first came to New York City.  Only the brother, John, stayed behind in County Kings, now called County Offaly, Ireland. In the Census of Ireland, from 1901, Ellen is enumerated there as age 18, a Farmer’s Daughter, along with her mother, Mary Barnes, age 60 and widowed; her brothers, John – age 30, Daniel – age 23, and Thomas – age 16. They all had been born in Kings County. Helen’s church baptism record from County Offaly, is from the Roman Catholic Church of Kilcolman, and it lists her true birth as 5 August 1881; the child of John and Mary Ryan Barnes. Her sponsors were Pat Barnes and N.R. Barnes. At first I thought this was the initials of the second sponsor, but when I requested another copy from http://www.rootsireland.ie this simply means “Not Recorded”.

Here below is a family photograph of Helen Barnes from December 1958.

Copyright 2012 Genealogy Sisters

In 2008, my eldest daughter and I traveled to Ireland and visited the Kilcoman church, but the parish priest was away on vacation in Belfast. While taking photos of the church, we struck up a conversation with a lady walking her dog, and on asking if she knew if any of the Barnes family still lived in the area, she informed us that Helen Barnes’ nephew, John Joe Barnes, son of her brother, John, had died a bachelor a few years back, and that her cousins lived right next to his old place near the Coolderry Roman Catholic Church. They, in turn, informed us that his property reverted back to his mother’s family, the Larkins, and gave us directions to find the family plot at the Dungar Cemetery, Fancroft, County Offaly. Later, when we returned to the U.S., I wrote to the parish priest, and he sent me more information on our Barnes family.

Below is a photo of her simple grave marker in the Kingston Cemetery in Kingston, Somerset County, NJ, at the corner of Church Street and Lincoln Highway, just down the road from where Helen and Ernest Barnes had lived for many years. If you visit the website my sister and I have, also called Genealogy Sisters, you can read more about the Irish side of our Barnes family.

Copyright 2012 Genealogy Sisters

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