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Below is a family biography included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1898.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JOHN THOMAS BARNES, an honored and esteemed elderly resident of Cortland village, now retired from active work, and living on the competence gained by former years of labor, was born December 29, 1818, in the town of Plymouth, Chenango County, N. Y., and was a son of John Barnes, a native of the Green Mountain State, who early in its history made a settlement in Chenango County. As it was a new country, and much of it still a wilderness, he purchased new land, on which he felled the trees and was busied in all those labors that go to make the life of a pioneer so full of hardship and hard work. He cleared a large farm by his indefatigable efforts, and became one of the successful farmers of his day, being in comfortable circumstances and well-to-do. He died on the farm at the age of seventy-five. His wife, who before her marriage to him was a Miss Chloe Welton of Connecticut, lived to be seventy-nine years of age. Their children were: Lucius, who lived to be eighty-five years old; Lorinda; Philura; Laura; Martha; John T., our subject; and Chloe, who with the one just mentioned are the only members of this family still living.

John T. Barnes began his life-work as a farmer, but after his marriage to Sophronia Davis, daughter of John Davis, of Plymouth, a pioneer farmer of the county, he moved to Cortland in 1852 and started a grocery store opposite the Cortland House, but disposed of his business a few years later, when he served as deputy sheriff for two terms. After performing the duties of his official position, he started a lumber yard, and dealt in lumber of all kinds where Henry Benton is now located. He was in the custom of going to Canada for a great part of his lumber. He finally sold out, when he was again given the office of sheriff, and as the instrument of the courts of the county for four years efficiently performed the duties of his position. He then began the bottling of rectified sweet cider, and built up a large trade; hundreds of miles away, his name on a bottle of cider was a sufficient guarantee that the contents were the best on the market. To accommodate the great demands he built a factory on Railroad Street, and had all the work he could attend to as long as he continued at the industry. He also built two large and handsome residences, besides a cottage; the residence where he now resides is one of the best in the village, and of recent construction, for it was erected in 1890. The home is surrounded by large and spacious grounds, which Mr. Barnes delights in keeping in first-class shape. He retired from active business in 1890, and so has been able in his spare time to oversee and direct the many improvements that have made his dwelling and grounds so tasty and inviting.

Mr. Barnes has been in his best days one of the most active men in the village, and has been its president. One child has been born to him and his wife, a son, who died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Barnes, both endowed with strong, vigorous constitutions, have enjoyed a singularly happy and useful life, not devoid of a sufficient amount of pleasure to give variety, and worthy of imitation in every respect. Mr. Barnes is the assistant and encourager of every good work and purpose tending to the welfare of his community, and is held in high esteem by his townsmen.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in Book of Biographies: Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, Cortland County, New York published in 1898. 

View additional Cortland County, New York family biographies here: Cortland County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Cortland County, New York here: Cortland County, New York Map

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