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RG4009.AM:  Barnes (Barns) Family

Papers:  1858-1969, n.d.

Albion and Madison, Neb.:

Size:  1.0 cu. ft.


Cass Grove Barns, longtime owner and editor of the Albion Argus and the Madison Star Mail, was born in Galena Township, LaPorte County, Indiana. The descendant of a long line of Puritan farmers who first settled the Hartford, Connecticut area Mr. Barns, left agriculture after completing his public school education and began to teach in the LaPorte county school system. Barns left teaching in 1872 to attend medical school at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Barns transferred from Ann Arbor to the Eclectic Medical College in Cincinnati, Ohio, receiving his medical degree in 1874.

Dr. Barns returned to Galena Township, Indiana and practiced medicine there until he moved his practice to LaPorte, Indiana in 1876. He remained in that city until 1881, when he moved to Boone County, Nebraska, homesteading as well as earning note as a pioneer physician in central Nebraska. Dr. Barns continued to practice medicine in Albion, Nebraska until he left the profession in 1883. Dr. Barns operated several businesses in Albion, Nebraska, the Albion Milling Company, 1892-1919; the Albion Argus, 1885-1898, and 1911-1917. Barns moved to Madison, Nebraska and purchased the Madison Star Mail in 1923, remaining in Madison until his death in 1932.

Dr. Barns was active in state and local politics; he held several posts in Boone County. Dr. Barns state political ventures included a failed run for the Lieutenant Governor’s office in 1920, and candidacy for the State Senate in 1932. He died shortly before this election.

Cass Grove Barns married Isabelle Smith on June 25, 1871. They had five children: Nora, who died in infancy; Frank Milan Barns, a physician in Albion, Nebraska; Viola Florence Barnes, a professor at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts; Ruby Elizabeth Barns-Waugh, Lincoln, Nebraska; Donald Grove Barnes, a professor at the University of Washington at Seattle.

An article relating to Dr. Cass Grove Barns is also available in Nebraska History, “Post Office Primaries”, Volume 58, pp. 316-318.

Viola Florence Barnes, the daughter of Cass Grove Barns and Isabelle Smith Barns was born in Albion, Nebraska on August 28, 1885. Miss Barnes attended the University of Nebraska School of Music and received her Bachelor of Music degree in 1906. Miss Barnes continued her studies at the University of Nebraska and received a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature. She left Lincoln for Yale University and received her PhD in 1919.

Miss Barnes was an instructor at the University of Nebraska from 1913-1916; and at Mount Holyoke College 1919-1952. Barnes held the Chair of the History department from 1939-1942, and the Chair of American Culture from 1937-1952 at Mount Holyoke. Miss Barnes was a Professor Emeritus of History at Mount Holyoke from 1952 until her death in 1979.


The Barnes Family papers are arranged in three series: 1) Family correspondence, 2) Manuscripts, 3) Miscellaneous.

Series one consists of family correspondence from 1858 to 1935, including one file of undated correspondence. The correspondents include Cass Grove Barns, Isabelle Smith Barns, Frank Barnes, Donald Barnes, and various relatives. Most of the correspondence is addressed to Viola F. Barnes and mainly concerned with family matters.

Series two contains manuscripts written by the Barnes family. The first, Nebraska Pioneer: Memoirs of Cass G. Barns, was written by Cass G. Barns with a forward by his daughter Viola F. Barnes. This manuscript includes nine chapters, plus the forward and appendix in typescript. It details Dr. Barns’ early family life and professional career.

The second manuscript is the Autobiography of Cass G. Barns, which includes typescripts of chapters one and four and focuses on family genealogy as well as aspects of Dr. Barns’ career. A childrens’ writings file is included in Series two, as well as newspaper articles relating to the family.

Series three consists of two letter albums and one autograph album belonging to Viola Barnes as well as miscellaneous files relating to Viola Barnes’ college and professional career; Cass G. Barns’ political campaigns and career; and obituaries. Also included are various family genealogical materials.


Series 1 – Family correspondence

Box 1


  1. 1858-1865

  2. 1881-1888

  3. 1900-1902, Sept.

  4. 1902, Oct.-Dec.

  5. 1903, Jan.-Apr.

  6. 1903, May-June

  7. 1903, Sept.-Nov.

  8. 1903, Dec.-1904, Feb.

  9. 1904, Mar.-1908

  10. 1909-1912

  11. 1912-1915, Sept.

  12. 1915, Oct.-Nov. 7

  13. 1915, Nov. 15-Dec.

  14. 1916, Jan.

  15. 1916, Feb.

  16. 1916, Mar.-Apr. 2

  17. 1916, Apr. 6-24

  18. 1916, May

  19. 1916, June-Sept.

  20. 1916, Oct.-Dec.

  21. 1917, Jan.-Mar.

  22. 1917, Apr.-Oct.

  23. 1917, Nov.-Dec.

  24. 1918, Jan.-June

  25. 1918, Sept.-1919, Feb.

  26. 1919, Mar.-1920, Sept.

  27. 1920, Oct.

  28. 1920, Nov.-1921, Sept.

  29. 1921, Oct.-1923, Apr.

  30. 1923, Nov.-1924, Dec.

  31. 1925, Jan.-1928, Sept.

  32. 1929, June-Dec.

  33. 1930, Jan.-Apr.

  34. 1930, May-1931, Sept.

  35. 1931, Oct.-Nov. 21

  36. 1931, Nov. 22-Dec.

  37. 1932, Jan.-Feb. 7

  38. 1932, Feb. 14-Mar. 6

  39. 1932, Mar. 8-June 3

  40. 1932, June 10-Sept.

  41. 1932, Oct.

  42. 1932, Nov.-Dec.

  43. 1933, Jan.-Mar. 14

  44. 1933, Mar. 19-May

  45. 1933, June-Aug.

  46. 1933, Sept.-Dec.

  47. 1934, Jan.-June

  48. 1934, Aug.-Sept.

  49. 1935

  50. 1945, Dec. and 1966, Oct.

  51. n.d.

Series 2 – Manuscripts

  1. Nebraska Pioneer: The Memoirs of Cass G. Barns, Ch. 1-5

  2. Nebraska Pioneer: The Memoirs of Cass G. Barns, Ch. 6-9; appendix

  3. Autobiography of Cass G. Barns, Ch. 1

  4. Autobiography of Cass G. Barns, Ch. 4

  5. Newspaper articles

  6. Childrens’ writings

Series 3 – Miscellaneous

  1. Letter Albums, Viola F. Barnes

  2. Autograph Album, Viola F. Barnes

  3. Transcripts and Awards of Viola F. Barnes

  4. Cass G. Barns, campaign material

  5. Cass G. Barns, biographical material

  6. Obituaries

  7. Genealogical Notes

  8. Genealogical Notes (see also oversize)

  9. Miscellaneous



Barns, Cass Grove, 1848-1932

Barnes Family

Barnes, Viola Florence, 1885-1979

Frontier and pioneer life — Nebraska

Pioneers — Nebraska — Biography


12-15-2006   Revised TMM