This photograph of Ernest and Helen Barnes, with their daughter on the left and daughter-in-law on the right, was taken on Mother’s Day 1943 in their yard in Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ. They lived near the village of Kingston and their house was on Lincoln Highway, now called State Road 27. I like pictures like this that show a range of emotions as the shutter is clicked. Ernest was born in Wayne County, NC on 14 February 1885. Helen was born in County King’s, Ireland (now called County Offaly) in August of 1881, but once she emigrated to New York City she changed this date to August 1887. Maybe that is the birth year she was told by her family – or maybe she wanted to re-invent herself.
The little baby shown here on the left in this next photo, taken on the same day, is their first grandchild. Granddad Ernest is really beaming from ear to ear. Grandmom Barnes looks happy just to be sitting and relaxing.When I started researching our Irish Barnes line in 2000, I received outstanding help from Ernest and Helen’s daughter, shown here on the left. She said her mother was one of twelve children born to John and Mary Ryan Barnes. She listed the six girls as: Maria, Margaret, Hannah, Johanna, Anna, and Helen. The six boys were: John, Pat, James, Daniel, Thomas, and Gerald [Jeremiah]. John Barnes was the only sibling to stay in Ireland. Their farm was near Birr, then called Parsontown. She also said the family was Roman Catholic. I wrote down some other memories she had, such as her grandfather had died when her mother was five years old.
Since I was using the 1887 date of birth, I decided to start researching John Barnes’ death in 1892. Along the research trail our family contacted the Irish Midlands Ancestry in Tullamore, Ireland, and it was a great decision. They prepared a report called, The Barnes family of Kilcolman, County Offaly, Ireland. They found that John Barnes had indeed died in 1892 on April 16, suddenly of apoplexy [cerebral hemorrhage or a stroke]. He was listed as a farmer. What was very exciting is that they also found his father’s record of death. John Barns of the townland of Aghadouglas died on June 4, 1866 at age 80 of erysipelas [usually caused by Streptococcus bacteria]. He was a widower and a laborer. Helen’s baptismal record was found and she had been baptized as Ellen on 5 August 1881, the daughter of John and Mary Ryan Barnes of the Kilcolman Roman Catholic Church. Most of the siblings baptismal records turn up in this townland, in the Barony of Clonlisk.
Like many genealogists, I was so excited when the 1940 Federal Census was released this April. Since I knew where our Barnes family lived, it was easy to find them. They were listed at Franklin Township on ED 18-27, page 7 of 22, and as of now there are at least three very easy ways to do a search: http://1940census.archives.gov and http://www.ancestry.com and also https://familysearch.org/1940census .
On ancestry.com I found Ernest and Helen Barnes in the 1940 Census, indexed under Barnos. It seems that even simple surnames can and are messed up. Ernest Barnes [Senior] is listed as age 55 and born in North Carolina, and his wife, Helen, is listed as age 53 and born in the Irish Free State. Their three children weren’t listed with them. Since the census was taken on 1 April 1940, Helen Barnes, née Barnes, was really 58. Reminds me of this quote – “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” ~ Baseball star Satchel Paige