Lewis Barney (1808-1894)

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Lewis Barney
Lewis Barney 1.jpg
Lewis Barney 1880's
Born: 8 Sep 1808 Holland Purchase, Niagra, New York
Died: 5 Nov 1894 Mancos, Colorado
Father: Charles Barney
Mother: Mercy Yeoman
Siblings: Luther Barney
Lewis Barney
Lucien Barney
Lurinda Barney
Henry Barney
Walter Barney
John William Barney
Lucinda Barney
Spouse: Elizabeth Turner
Married: 11 Apr 1832 Sangamon Co., Illinois
Children: Sarah Jane Barney
Walter Turner Barney
James Henry Barney
Alma Lewis Barney
Joseph Smith Barney
Rachel Abigail Barney
Spouse: Elizabeth Beard
Married: 12 Mar 1851 Winter Quarters, Nebraska
Children: William Orson Barney
Arthur Barney
Martha Ann Barney
David Barney
William Edward Barney


Deseret Weekly November 23, 1894


Mancos, Colorado, November 12th, 1894. Another of Utah's Pineers has passed away; on the 5th inst. Brother Lewis Barney breathed his last. He had been ailing for about a month, but was not taken seriously ill until a few days before his death, the cause of which is old age. He was 86 years old on the 8th of last September.

Brother Barney embraced the Gospel when a young man, was personally acqainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, and passed through many of the trying ordeals connected with the early days of the Church, among others the expulsion from Nauvoo. He was very anxious to finish his temple work before he died and had planned to work in the Salt Lake Temple this winter. He was going with a team by way of Wyoming, where he had a son living, but his family desired him to abandon the idea, as they did not deem it wise for a man of his age to undertake such a journey alone. Brother Barney was always true to the principles of the Gospel, and has now gone to reap the reward of a well spent life.


Lewis Barney was born September 8, 1808 at Holland Purchase, Niagra, New York.

He married Elizabeth Turner on April 11, 1832 at Sangamon County, Illinois.

They soon moved to Iowa to be with his father and family and later joined the Mormon Church where he was baptized May 1840 in the Mississippi near Nauvoo, Illinois.

They lived for a time (along with his mother-in-law Lydia Ballinger Turner, where she died), in Lima, Illinois.

Their children were, Sarah Jane, Walter Turner, James Henry, Alma Lewis, Joseph Smith , William Orson Barney and Arthur Barney ().

He married his second wife Elizabeth Beard on March 12, 1851 at Winter Quarters, Nebraska.

Lewis kept a journal that was made into a book by Ronald O. Barney, ONE SIDE BY HIMSELF-The Life and Times of Lewis Barney- 1808-1894".This is a must read for descendants of Lewis Barney. One cannot do justice to Lewis in this biography like the book does!

Lewis Barney died in Mancos, Montezuma, Colorado, November 5, 1894 and is buried at the Old Mormon Cemetery in Mancos.

--From his Findagrave memorial: Born in Holland Purchase, Niagara County, New York to Charles Barney and Mercy Yeoman. At age 3 his family moved to Owl Creek in central Ohio looking for "the unexplored and unsettled wilderness toward the West." After his mother died in childbirth when he was 17, his family was westbound again to Illinois winding up in the middle of the Grand Prairie, which looked to Barney "as boundless as the ocean." In 1832 he served in the Spy Battalion during the Black Hawk War, which involved such noted Americans as Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Zachary Taylor and Albert Sidney Johnston. After the war on April 11, 1832 he married Elizabeth Turner and took up farming. He built a house and fenced 80 acres of land. In 1838 however he left it all behind and headed for Iowa. Barney was of the opinion “that religion of every kind was a hoax." When his brother in 1839 Luther joined the Mormon Church out of curiosity he decided to investigate the new religion. After meeting Joseph Smith he concluded Mormons were "an honest and industrious people” and was baptized in early 1840. Barney once again sold out and bought a lot in Nauvoo from Hyrum Smith. He built a frame house on it, but "not being accustomed to city life," he also purchased a quarter section of land nearby. Following the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, Barney was driven from his farm. He received his temple endowment in February 1846 and crossed the river soon thereafter. He left his family behind to join the Pioneer Camp's trek across Iowa and three months later he returned, packed up his family and left Nauvoo forever. Barney went to the Salt Lake Valley with the 1847 Pioneer Company and returned to his family that fall, "thankful to find them alive." He settled in Iowa for five years along with what one minister called "herds of Mormons, who bring forth their young in the most prolific manner." When Brigham Young called him to "gather to Zion," Barney crossed the plains again in 1852 with about 70,000 other emigrants, a record. On Blacks Fork his plural wife gave birth to a baby boy. In Utah, he helped settle Palmyra, Spanish Fork, Springville, Springtown, Monroe, Burrville and Manti. With bullets "whistling round us tearing up the ground and cutting the brush at a rapid rate in every direction," Barney fought in the Walker War. He dammed Echo Canyon during the Utah War and served in Utah's Black Hawk War, "being exposed to hardship and danger of every kind." He survived grasshopper plagues, a reformation that "cast a gloom over the Saints," the United Order, working on the Union Pacific Railroad and even teaching school. Like most pioneers, he died broke. On June 12, 1897, Barney's picture dominated the front page of The Salt Lake Tribune, part of its "Fifty Years Ago Today" tribute to Utah's pioneers. Actually, it was his brother Walter's picture, but The Tribune put Lewis' name on it. Lewis Barney never quit searching for that unexplored and unsettled wilderness. Lewis Barney may not have been a member of the Mormon hierarchy, but he was never common. From his 1840 baptism in Illinois to his 1894 death in northwest Colorado, Barney wandered the western Mormon landscape struggling to establish an earthly patriarchal kingdom but failing to find the land and basic resources that would support his two wives and many children. The arid West refused to give place to such agrarian utopias. In spite of repeated failures, Lewis Barney never lost his vision of a family kingdom and his commitment to the religious beliefs on which it was based.


Old Pioneer Cemetery, Mancos, Colorado

Letter to Franklin R. Barney, great-grandson, written 13 November 1980:

"I, Lewis Barney, was born in the State of New York, Cayuga or Chelagian [Niagara] County, on the 8th day of September, 1808," written by Lewis Barney in his own hand in "The Life of Lewis Barney" as Written by Himself. Ronald O. Barney, Senior Archivist at Church Historical Department in SLC, Utah: "Lewis Barney did die on 5 November 1894. His funeral also gives that date. There is no doubt in my mind regarding this date. I am aware that the death date of 1895 has circulated around but I assure that it was in 1894. Every published and private manuscript record that we have here verified the 1894 date. He was 86 years old when he died. Just another note on this, about two months ago a cousin from southwestern Colorado wrote me and sent me a picture of a headstone placed on the grave of Lewis Barney in the old Mormon cemetery (as opposed to the new city cemetery) in Mancos, Colorado. I do not know what family members put the headstone there, but it is inaccurate. All the headstone say is LEWIS BARNEY 1808-1895. It is obvious that the headstone is of recent vintage. There was no indication as to whether there was an old marker or not."