Solano County

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One of the sterling pioneer citizens of Solano county was the late Charles E. Barnes, who, because of his active career, his success and his fine public spirit is eminently entitled to representation in the permanent record of his county. His life was characterized by persistent and indomitable industry, and by diligence, good management and wise economy he accumulated a competency for his later years. He was greatly interested in the community in which he lived, delighted in contributing in every possible way to its betterment and advancement and enjoyed the highest need of respect and esteem on the part of his fellow citizens, his death on November 7, 1920, being considered a distinct loss to the community.

Mr. Barnes was a native of Nova Scotia, but in childhood was taken to Eastport, Maine, where he was reared and secured his education. At the age of eighteen years he came to California, making the journey by the way of the isthmus of Panama, and, coming direct to Suisun, he rented the Long ranch in the valley and gave his attention to its cultivation. Some time later he gave up farming and came to Suisun, where he engaged in building and contracting, in which he met with pronounced success, his operations extending practically to all parts of Solano county.

It properly may be said that many of the best and most substantial of the older buildings in the county are specimens of his work. About thirty-five years ago Mr. Barnes bought eighteen acres of land in the Suisun valley, to which he later added twelve acres, giving him a fine tract of thirty acres, on which he planted a variety of fruit trees and became one of the most successful fruit farmers in the valley. Mr. Barnes was enterprising and progressive in his methods, as was evidenced when, after shipping fruit to the San Francisco market for a time, he began shipping his fruit to the Eastern markets, the first man in this valley to ship fruit east. He was not disappointed in this venture and attained a fine success in his handling of fruits. He brought the orchard to a high state of excellence, it being numbered among the best improved fruit farms in the valley. In 1923 it was sold at a very satisfactory figure.

Mr. Barnes' progressiveness extended to all interests which claimed his attention and in civic affairs he was a prominent and influential figure, being for many years a potent factor in the development and prosperity of this community along all lines. He was particularly interested in educational affairs and rendered effective and appreciated service as a member of the board of town trustees of Suisun and of the school board, where his advice was considered invaluable. He was a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, having passed through the chairs of the subordinate lodge and was also a member of the grand lodge.

On December 24, 1873, Mr. Barnes married Miss Mary E. Welch, who was a native of Illinois, but who came to California in 1870. She is a member of the Daughters of Rebekah and an active member of the Congregational church, as was Mr. Barnes. They did not selfishly confine their interests to the limits of their own community but traveled extensively, having made thirteen trips across the continent to the East. Mr. Barnes was a man of pleasing presence and genial disposition and loved the companionship of his friends, among whom he was held in the highest esteem. Measured by the true standard of excellence, he was an honorable, upright, Christian gentleman, true to himself and to others, and his influence was always potent for good. His life was exemplary in every respect and his memory will long be cherished throughout which was so long honored by his citizenship.

Mrs. Barnes' grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Owen, was a prominent figure in the early history of Solano county. He was a native of Kentucky and a minister of the Baptist faith. In 1849 he crossed the plains in a covered wagon, drawn by oxen, and on his arrival in this county located at Benicia. Later he came to the Suisun valley and lived on a ranch in the hills. He was a typical preacher of those early days, making his calls on horseback, with saddlebags, and his field of work covered practically all of Solano and Napa counties. He was widely known and commanded respect wherever he went, for he was universally recognized as a man of exalted character and consecrated to the ministry of the Gospel and the uplifting of humanity. At one time he owned what is now the Lambert ranch, in the valley. Four of his sons came to California and one of them, John, became a captain in the Civil war. He was well known in Solano county and later removed to Arizona, where he was elected county treasurer.

History of Solano County, California By Marguerite Hunt and Napa County, California By Harry Lawrence Gunn. From Their Earliest Settlement To The Present Time. Chicago. S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1926. 883 pages.

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