daughter of Thomas & Sarah Hicks Yancey
and wife of Benjamin Harrison Barnett
[click here for Thomas Yancey family info]
Barnett Family Homesite
Grave Marker of Irena Yancey Barnett
Benjamin Harrison Barnett
Note: This following eulogy, given at the funeral, is among the
papers from the Barnett home near Winterville.
Tribute to the memory of Captain Benjamin Harrison Barnett of Winterville, Georgia.
By Reverend J. M. Coile
October 18th, 1895
Winterville Baptist Church
We know we should rejoice in the live of Captain Barnett as a citizen, for he was no ordinary man, being a man of excellent judgment and worthy of trusts committed to his care.
He was for a number of years identified with the public interests of Oglethorpe County, and in every interest, he proved himself worthy of the confidence bestowed in him by the faithful performance of his duties. It is said by those that knew him best, that in all of his life – public and private – he never has been known to do a "little thing".
During the number of years that he held the office of Justice of the Peace – in the district in which he resided – he so directed those that came to receive his dispensations of justice, that in a short while, the bonds of friendship and peace was restored, when at first sight, the grievances seemed to others irreparable injuries. He never used his office towards the furtherance of his own interest. In order to adjust the differences of his fellowmen, he would often pay out of his own pocket the cost of both sides, and in this way, affect compromises that would in all probability have led to lengthy and expensive suits. We rejoice in his honesty.
In the days of slavery, he was made trustee of the estate of one of his brothers, and slaves being valued at around 2,000 dollars, approximately, constituted the amount of property entrusted to his keeping. He did not anticipate the misfortune that was soon to befall him. The War Between the States came on and with it the emancipation of the slaves. The emancipation of the slaves swept from him every vestige of his brother's estate. Yet, he did not fail in every obligation committed to him as trustee. Such unusual straightforward transactions as these not only present to the world an example of a beautiful Christian character, but made a rich legacy for his children.
He was a loving husband, kind and indulgent father, and a bountiful provider for his family. He was noted for his hospitality and good cheer with which he treated all of his friends who came to his home. His was a typical home of the Southern Plantation of long ago.
But, most of all, we rejoice because of the evidences Captain Barnett gave us, the he was a Christian, though the larger part of his life was spent outside of the church, but working for an in its support of the church. When asked why he did not connect himself with the church, he would reply, that we needed someone outside to "keep up the fences". Indeed, while he was out of the church, he did more for the cause than many that were in the church. He took great interest in the churches of all denominations around him and contributed liberally to their support.
He did much for the colored people in that area and was a liberal contributor to their church work. He reared a colored man by the name of William Barnett, who was an acceptable preacher, and the pastor of a respectable church on the plantation, known as "Barnett's Chapel".
It should be remembered that Captain Barnett had joined the church at Clouds Creek, when he was a younger man during a great revival there. And, because the members who were in such high spirits when he joined became cold and worldly, he became discouraged and he never more identified himself with the church until a few years before his death.
His wife, Irene (Yancey) Barnett, who died about 5 years ago, (February 10th, 1891) was a woman of beautiful Christian character, especially devoted to the cause of Temperance and the care of the poor and helpless children.
And now, Mother and Father have lived out their time, finished their work, entered upon their reword, and left the heritage of their good name to all of their children.
W. M. Coile
2516 Fifteenth Ave. South
November 24, 1954
Mr W H Norwood
Superintendent Public SChools
Corsicana , Texas
At your request I am sending you a copy of the last photograph that was made of me several years ago, I am also enclosing you
a copy of a picture of the old Barnett homestead. The two elder persons standing out in front are Captain Harrison Barnett and his wife Irene Yancey Barnette I spent a good deal of time with them when I was about 6 years old, going home with them from my father's graveside my mother having gone two years before him. That was back in about 1880.
At that time they were ginning their own cotton with a horse power gin. The slaves were still there and occupying their old cabins. How they were being paid I do not know, but I recall seeing them lined up on Saturday at the smokehouse receiving their weekly rations. Grandpa had taught one of his more intelligent slaves by the name of Bill, reading, writing, and simple arithmetic, and he acted as foreman.
After he learned to read, he naturally had nothing much to read but a Bible and soon became a preacher, whereupon grandpa set aside a plot of land a couple of miles from home and built a Church for him. That colored Baptist Church continues today under the name of Barnett Chapel. Although they have built a new Church and moved to a new location.
I remember very well Stephen who was one of the slaves inherited from Thomas Yancey by my grandmother. He had taught one of them black-smithing and he did all of that kind of work required on the plantation. Another one was a carpenter and looked after all carpentry work required. I have seen my grandfather slaughter 50 hogs at a time.'l at least twice in a winter. He had a smokehouse made of squared logs with dirt floors. It had morticed corners, and was put together with hardwood pens. A hickory fire was kept burning and
constantly smoked hams and bacons hung high up.
Grandpa made his own peach brandy. He had a large copper still at a spring near the house, and I have seen wagon loads of peaches hauled there where he had hollowed logs into which the peaches were dumped, and I remember seeing the men with mauls mashing the peaches into pulp ready for the still. He always kept a decanter of peach brandy on the side-board and before going into dinner he would stop there and get his drink but he never was an excessive drinker.
He was chairman for the County Board of Commissioners in Oglethorpe County for many, many, years. He was a very fine man, but not being very religious, he was turned out of the Baptist Church on account of his failure to attend three consecutive conferences, or business meetings held on Saturday before preaching Sunday
Grandmother was a lovable woman and I remember her most affectionately. Much more I could tell you if we had an opportunity to talk, but no about the Yanceys, as my grandmother was the only member of that family whom I ever saw or heard of until this correspondence with you began.
I very much hope that, since you will be retiring before long you will make it a point to visit me, and we might go to
I am enclosing herewith another letter just received from the Post Master in Lafayette. I would appreciate it, if you would carry on with this correspondence with these people and let me know what progress you make. I have checked this list of names mentioned by the post master as living in Birmingham and do not find a single one of them at the address mentioned in the list.
With high regard,