Biography of Thomas Wilson Barnard
Kalamazoo County, MI Biographies



Kalamazoo County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

THOMAS WILSON BARNARD was born in Deerfield, Rockingham Co., N. H., Oct. 14, 1810. He was of English descent, and both grandfathers served in the war of the Revolution. Moses Barnard entered the army as colonel of a regiment. Thomas Wilson, the maternal grandfather, entered it when eighteen years of age, served through the war, and was promoted to a colonelcy.

When Thomas W. Barnard was six years of age, his parents moved to the then remote frontier of Western New York. Thomas W. remained with the family until he attained majority. In 1832 he came to Kalamazoo with the Gibbs brothers, arriving in time to assist in raising the old Kalamazoo House, one of the first frame buildings in the then, not very big village. The ensuing autumn he purchased from government a quarter section of land near Wood's Lake. Returning to New York, he gave such a glowing account of the country that he induced the family, consisting of his father, mother, and two sisters, to return with him to his new home. The journey was performed in a wagon through canada. Mr. Barnard and his father soon became familiar with the new country, and rendered good service to newly-arriving settlers in assisting them to find desirable locations. For this service they recieved such compensation as enabled them to improve their own home. As early as 1835 they manufactured lime from marl, found upon their own land.

In 1838 Mr. Barnard married Lazetta, daughter of David Southworth, who came from Broome Co., N. Y., in 1837, and settled on a large farm near St. Joseph, where he died in 1840. To this union were born eight children, four of whom died in infancy. Thomas W. Barnard and wife passed their entire married life, of thirty eight years, upon the fhrm where they first settled, which is still in possession of the children, and where they died, he March 15, 1876, and Mrs. Barnard, Dec. 30, 1878.

In speaking of the death of Mr. Barnard, one of the county papers says,

“We have to announce the death of Thomas Wilson Barnard, one of the early settlers of Kalamazoo township, a citizen known to nearly all the early pioneers of Western Michigan. He was a man of marked character., and sterling integrity. Those who knew him best loved him most. Never existed a truer friend or a more generous nature. In his charities, which were numerous and varied, he gave with a singular discretion. He was selected in an early day to bear a prominent part in the opening of roads, in organizing town affairs, and as highway commissioner. Several of the first roads were laid out and worked under his supervision.

“Mrs. Barnard was a woman of superior intelligence, and a kind and judicious mother. She left no duty unfulfilled. Her life was one of active usefulness and unselfish devotion to her family, and it was here in the home circle as wife and mother that her many noble qualities of head and heart found fullest play.”

History of Kalamazoo County, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of its Men and Pioneers.
Everts & Abbott., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia.