Featured Obituary – Ernest Howard Barnes (1885-1951)

Ernest H. Barnes, circa 1910

Ernest H. Barnes

“Ernest H. Barnes, 67, husband of Mrs. Helen C. Barnes of the Lincoln Highway, died Friday in Princeton Hospital after a long illness. He was a member of Kingston Methodist Church and was an inspector for 12 years for the Mack Manufacturing Company in Plainfield.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Ernest H. Jr. of Glastonbury, Conn., and Thomas of Riviera Beach., Fla., a daughter, [name omitted for privacy], and eight grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Monday at 10 A. M. at the Mather Funeral Home, 40 Vandeventer Avenue, with the Rev. H. E. Dunn of Kingston Methodist Church officiating. Interment was in Kingston Cemetery.”  As published in the Princeton Packet, Princeton, New Jersey, on 6 December 1951.

The obituary for Ernest H. Barnes, Sr., seems very short, but it’s similar to other ones published in this newspaper during this time period. The obituaries give the basic facts and information for friends and family, and when the newspaper is a weekly one, many times they are published after the actual funeral was held. Ernest died on 30 November 1951. The Princeton Packet can be researched at the Princeton Public Library, and also the New Jersey Archives. I used microfilm at the Princeton Library to find this obituary (Princeton Packet, Microfilm No. 77, Jan. 4 1951 – Dec. 25, 1952).

Ernest H. Barnes was born on 14 February 1885, in Goldsboro, Wayne County, NC. He was the first child of Thomas Whitley Barnes (1861-1892) and Sarah Ophelia Rose (1863-1936). His sister, Bessie Pauline, was born in 1886, and his brother, George Herbert, in 1889. Ernest’s father, Tom, died of pulmonary tuberculosis, then called consumption, when the three children were very young. His mother continued to farm their land in Grantham Township, Wayne County, and that is where Ernest was raised, not only by his mother, but also a very large extended family. Both the Barnes, and Rose family, had lived in North Carolina since the early 1700s. Ernest’s 5th great-grandfather, John Barnes, died in Chowan County, NC in 1718, after coming there from Virginia (will of John Barnes, 6/17/1718 Chowan Co, NC – proven in Perquimans Co, NC – shared from Marcia McClure’s research).

The family story was that Ernest first came north to attend the Poughkeepsie Business College in New York. There, after college, while working in Manhattan, he was introduced to a pretty young Irish lady that shared his surname, Helen Barnes. Within months they had married on 22 February 1914.  We thought that was the only college Ernest had attended, until our northern Barnes family received a box full of photographs that had belonged to his mother, and had been passed down to Bessie Pauline Barnes Coleman in Rocky Mount, NC. Her granddaughter, Betsy, hoped to find some names associated with the photos that had been stored in this trunk. Below, is a photo of young Ernest, that was one of these photos.

Ernest H. Barnes, Darnell Photography Studio, Raleigh, NC.
Ernest H. Barnes, Darnell Photography Studio, Raleigh, NC.

When we first looked at this photo, we noticed the lettering on his uniform collar, AMC, and we were at first stumped as to what college, or military academy, it represented. His sons had both passed on by then, and his daughter didn’t remember hearing of any other school. Only a few years later, when looking at North Carolina college yearbooks on ancestry.com, did we make the connection. A.M.C. was the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, in West Raleigh, NC, now called North Carolina State University.  The Agromeck Yearbook has a few photos of young Ernest in the early 1900s, under E. H. Barnes. There, the exact uniform can be seen. Most likely, he attended the two-year business degree program and then transferred to his other college in New York State.

In another database on ancestry.com, Ernest’s World War II draft registration, from 26 April 1942, can be seen. His residence was listed as R.D. # 1, Lincoln Highway, Princeton, NJ, and his employer was Mack Mfg. Co., Jersey Ave., New Brunswick, NJ. His race is white, height 5’10 1/2″ and weight 185 pounds. The rest of his description is: brown eyes, brown hair and dark complexion, no other obvious physical characteristics. The Barnes home was in Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ, and, although at that time it was listed as being in Princeton, the closest town was Kingston.

If you are researching any of Genealogy Sisters family names, our tree can usually be seen on ancestry.com, but sometimes it is under construction, and then it is listed as private. Please drop a line, and share your research, or any questions – distant cousins are a joy to find!

Here below is the gravestone, marking Ernest H. Barnes’ burial plot in the Kingston Cemetery, Kingston, New Jersey. His wife, Helen Barnes, is buried next to him with her own marker.


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