Marion County, WVGenWeb

Walter Kenneth Barnes


The History of West Virginia, Old and New Walter Kenneth Barnes (photograph)
and West Virginia Biography
The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Published 1923
Volume II, Pages 28-29

Walter Kenneth Barnes, one of the younger members of the bar of his native city and county, was born at Fairmont, Marion County, on April 6, 1891, and is a scion in the fifth generation of the Barnes family in what is now Marion County. Mr. Barnes is a descendant of William Barnes, who came to this section from George's Creek, Maryland, some time prior to 1782 and settled on the Tygart's Valley River, near where the City Pump Station of the City of Fairmont is now located. There William Barnes, one of the pioneers of this section, built one of the first water mills in this locality, and followed his trade of millwright. For several generations the land originally occupied by this William Barnes, together with a large part of the land now known as Pleasant Valley, were owned and occupied by the Barnes family and their connections. Abraham Barnes, the eighth son of William Barnes, was born in 1782 at the Pleasant Valley home of William Barnes. He married Mary Ann Hall, daughter of Jordan Hall, of Pleasant Valley. Among their children was Peter T. Barnes, born September 3, 1828. During his young manhood he was a teacher, but later engaged in the mercantile and milling business, he together with his brother, Thomas H. Barnes, owning and operating the Palatine Mills near Water Street of Palatine (now Fairmont) for several years. March 11, 1852, Peter T. Barnes married Mary Vandervort Martin, a widow, to which union several children were born, one of them being James Walter Barnes, born September 3, 1862.

J. Walter Barnes, the father of the subject of this sketch, engaged in teaching during his early manhood. In 1882-3 he studied law at the University of Virginia, and in September, 1883, he was admitted to the bar of Marion County. He practiced law at Fairmont until 1885, when he accepted a position as teacher in the Fairmont State Normal School, and in 1892 he was made president of this institution, in which capacity he served until 1901. In 1902 Mr. Barnes became general manager of the Consolidated Telephone Company, and made it one of the strongest independent telephone companies in the country. He retained his connection with this company until it was absorbed by the Bell System in 1915. From 1914 to 1919 Mr. Barnes was commissioner of finance and public utilities of the City of Fairmont, being one of the four city commissioners in charge of the governmental affairs of the City of Fairmont. During the World War he served as Federal fuel administrator for the State of West Virginia, having charge of the enforcement of the orders and rulings of the Federal fuel administrator within the state. In March, 1920, Mr. Barnes was appointed by Governor Cornwell, a member of the State Board of Control for a term of six years, which position he still holds, being the treasurer of the board. On June 3, 1884, Mr. Barnes married Miss Olive Cooper, a daughter of Maj. William P. Cooper, who was the founder and publisher of the Fairmont Index. To this union were born six children, Hugh Cooper, George Roscoe, Walter Kenneth, Fay Evans (died May 17, 1903), Homer Francis and Mabel Irene.

Walter Kenneth Barnes, the third son of J. Walter Barnes and Olive (Cooper) Barnes, was educated in the public schools of Fairmont, graduating from the grades in 1905 and from the Fairmont High School 1909. He then became associated with his father in the telephone business for a while in the plant department, later being made commercial manager of the Consolidated Telephone Company and associated companies, and having supervision of the commercial affairs of thirty-four telephone exchanges, covering eleven counties in the northern part of West Virginia. He remained in this position until September, 1912, when he resigned and entered the College of Law of the West Virginia University, from which school he was graduated in June, 1915, with the degree of Bachelor of Laws. The following month he was admitted to the bar in Marion County, and has engaged in the practice of law at Fairmont ever since, with the exception of the period in which he was in active service during the World war. In May, 1918, he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve Force and reported for duty at St. Helena Training Station, being later transferred to the Naval Operating Base at Hampton Roads, Virginia. There he was made a company commander by reason of his cadet training while at the university, and was assigned to the duty of training new recruits. He was discharged on January 4, 1919, and then returned to Fairmont, where he resumed the practice of law. In August, 1919, Mr. Barnes formed a law partnership with Herschel H. Rose, of the same city, under the firm name of Rose & Barnes.

Mr. Barnes is a Presbyterian, as his family has been for the past five generations, his father having served as an elder in that church since 1890 and as superintendent of the Sunday School for thirty years. Mr. Barnes has been for the past seven years secretary-treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the same church. He is a member of Fairmont Lodge No. 9, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Fairmont Lodge No. 294, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He also follows the leadership of his ancestors in his political allegiance, as he is a member of the democratic party.

While in active service in the navy Mr. Barnes met Miss Margaret Rogan Millar, of Norfolk, Virginia, and she became Mrs. Barnes on July 3, 1920. Mrs. Barnes is a daughter of William H. and Margaret (Rogan) Millar, of Norfolk, Virginia, where Mr. Millar is engaged in the wholesale dry-goods business. Mrs. Millar is a descendant of Hugh Patterson, of Eastern Tennessee, and moved to Norfolk from Russellville, Tennessee, at the time of her marriage to Mr. Millar. On December 2, 1921, a daughter, Margaret Cooper Barnes, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Barnes.