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Reverend Solomon Darius Barnes, “ Old Sol” as James Larkin Pearson, poet laurete of North Carolina called him was a well know minister, in the Foothills of North Carolina. Barnes was named for two Biblical figures; Solomon, the wise King of Israel and Darius the King of the Medes, who help defeat and divide the Babylonian empire. Barnes served churches in Wilkes and Alexander counties, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Solomon was born on December 14, 1846, and died September 6, 1925, from falling off of the back of a truck while returning from church. Barnes was trying to catch his windblown hat. The accident occurred on the Lenoir road between Holley Springs Church and his home in the Boomer Township. Solomon’s death certificate stated that he died of a brain concussion.
“Uncle Sol,” as the Wilkes Journal newspaper called him, pastored churches in Wilkes and Alexander Counties, usually for brief periods of time. He was what Wikipedia calls an itinerant minister “(also known as an itinerant preacher or evangelist or circuit rider). As a Christian evangelist, they preach the basic Christian redemption message while traveling around to different groups of people within a relatively short period.” The Wilkes Journal indicated that “he was a great student of the Bible, especially in his later years, having read the Bible through eighteen times”.
We have identified his church service as follows:
• Served as pastor of Beaver Creek Baptist Church in Wilkes County.
• Served as pastor of Walnut Grove Baptist, which was organized in the Little River community of Alexander County.
• Served as pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, in Wilkes. The church was originally located on Berry’s Mountain home of James Larkin Pearson.
• Served as pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church, in Alexander County, which was organized March 29, 1884. He served on a Presbytery and was chosen pastor and served until December 1884.
The Alexander Baptist Association noted the following service:
* History of Dover Baptist:
4/8/1882 – S.D. Barnes became pastor
4/10/1886 – SD Barnes and AM Pennell did the preaching
9/10/1887 – SD Barnes, pastor
1893 – SD Barnes, pastor
* Poplar Spring:
1904 –1910, SD Barnes, pastor
1911 – Poplar Springs, SD Barnes, pastor
Family tradition indicates that Barnes donated the property for Little Rock Baptist Church in the Boomer Township where he lived and that he served as the first pastor. The Little Rock website indicates that he served as the second pastor. We have been unable to authenticate that he donated the property. Records in the Wilkes County Register of Deeds office show that he owned significant amounts of property.
A group from Meadow Hill Baptist Church joined others in the formation of Little Rock Baptist Church. Meadow Hill had two black members. Members of the Broyhill furniture family were also prominent in the church.
Paraphrasing from Dunaway: “Southern Appalachia may have been harder hit by the Civil War than any other section of the country. On the one hand, Southern Mountain counties were deeply split politically on secession. Local populations divided their loyalties between the Union and the Confederacy.” Views in Wilkes County toward slavery were mixed. Old Guard Republicans were prominent in the county. (The Old Guard opposed slavery for both financial and religious reasons.) Family tradition suggests that Solomon was a Republican as are most of his descendants.
ON SOLOMON BARNES’S PREACHING STYLE: Kaye Pennell Howell, Solomon’s great-granddaughter, remembers a conversation with her Uncle Luther (Solomon’s grandson), concerning his preaching style. Uncle Luther said, “There are two kinds of preachers Driving and Leaving. Solomon was a Driving Preacher.”
His style is best described by James Larkin Pearson, poet laureate of North Carolina in his autobiography, Poet’s Progress. Pearson was related to Solomon by marriage. Pearson’s grandmother, Eleanor Ferguson, was the aunt of Solomon’s wife, Mary Ann Ferguson Barnes. Mary Ann was Pearson’s his first cousin.
Pearson knew “Old Sol” as he called him, dedicated three pages of the book to him. These pages are reprinted by permission of the publisher (see the bibliography).
Pearson states that after reading Studies in the Scriptures by Charles T. Russell that Solomon “became convinced that he had been preaching error” and gave up his church.
Wikipedia states that Charles Taze Russell was born on February 16, 1852, and died on October 31, 1916. Known as Pastor Russell, he was an American prominent early 20th-century Christian restorationist minister. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Russell was the founder the Bible Student movement. The movement produced the Jehovah’s Witnesses and numerous independent Bible Student groups after his death.
Russell’s full text is available through Wikipedia. To review:
Right click on the link below and then click
The Minutes of the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association indicate that Barnes had grave misgivings, while at Little Rock( various periods between 1880 and 1893). The church seems to have dropped some of its early practices such as foot-washing. It is interesting to note that S.D. Barnes was called and served as co-pastor more than a year before he was granted the license to preach. Also, the next year after he was ordained, he brought in an allegation against himself and asked the church to deal with him as it saw fit. The minutes record that “He was restored.”
In late research, we learned that the Southern Claims Commission was created during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant. It,s purpose was to reimburse Southerners who had remained loyal to the Union for property that was given or taken during the Civil War by Union troops. Solomon D. Barnes of Wilkes County, NC filed a claim before the Commission in 1872 for $150 for a horse that was taken by the Union Army in March of 1865. At the time of the claim, he was twenty-six years old. He claimed he was 17 or 18 years old at the time of the incident and that he was living with his parents. The claim was denied. Two reasons were given for the denial. (1) His loyalty to the Union was “very questionable” because he served eight months in the Home Guard of the Confederacy. Solomon said her was forced to do so. (2) The Commission further stated that if he was the bona fide owner of the horse, he should have furnished proof in compliance with the rules. An explanation of the Commission is found in Wikipedia Click Here
Our research indicates that Barnes did not give up his faith and went on preaching as late as 1911. His obituary states that he lost his life on the way home from church in 1925. Had Bible Study Churches evolved sooner, he would probably have changed denominations.
Solomon’s father was John Barnes born circa 1799 in Wilkes County, and his mother was Elizabeth “Betsy” Howell born circa 1815. Federal Censuses indicate that he lived in the same household as his parents until, the death of his father. At his father’s death, he became head of household, and his mother lived with him until the time of her death. On October 31, 1867, he married Mary Ann “Anna” Ferguson. She was the daughter of Jeremiah Ferguson and Polly Louisa McGee Ferguson.
Solomon and Mary Ann are buried in the cemetery of Little Rock Baptist Church. Surviving children were two sons William Virgil “Billy” Barnes of Alexander County and John Sylvanus “Bane” Barnes of Boomer. Surviving daughters were Mrs. Nelson (Samuel), Sophronia “Fronie” Shepherd of Oklahoma, Mrs. Jean L. “Wilmoth” Carlton of Boomer, Hannah Barnes of West Virginia, Bertha Lurexey Barnes of Carlsbad-Eddy, New Mexico, and Mrs. Ann Overcash of Mooresville. His son Adolphus L. “Dollie” died in a West Virginia coal mining accident and pre-deceased him.
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* Alexander Baptist Association, 215 5th Ave. Sw., Taylorsville, NC 2868. Research from the Minutes, provided by Lari Stuckey.
* Death Certificates of Solomon D. Barnes and Mary Ann Ferguson Barnes, Wilkes County Register of Deeds, 500 Courthouse Drive, Wilkesboro, NC 28697. Available online through ancestry.com.
* Dunaway, Wilma A. Civil War in the Mountain South, Slavery and Emancipation in the Mountain South: Evidence, Sources, and Methods, Cambridge University Press, 2003. Available on the Internet at:
* Hayes, Johnson J., Land of Wilkes, Wilkesboro, NC: Wilkes County Historical Society, 1962. A free copy is available on the Internet at https://archive.org/details/landofwilkes00john. Wikipedia notes the following concerning Hayes: (January 23, 1886 – October 22, 1970) was a United States federal judge. Hayes was born in Purlear, North Carolina. He received an LL.B. from Wake Forest College in 1909. He was in private practice in Wilkesboro, North Carolina from 1909 to 1915. He was a Prosecuting Attorney of 17th North Carolina Judicial District from 1915 to 1926. He was in private practice in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1927. Hayes was a federal judge on the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. Hayes received a recess appointment from Calvin Coolidge on April 6, 1927. A new seat was created by 44 Stat. 1339 and he was nominated on December 6, 1927. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 9, 1928, and received his commission the same day. He assumed senior status on June 18, 1957. Hayes’s service ended on October 22, 1970, due to death
* Itinerant Minister definition from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itinerant_minister
* Libera, Joanne, a DNA cousin, on the family relationship between James Larkin Pearson and Solomon’s wife, Mary Anne Ferguson.
* McNeil, George F., Compiler, Excerpts of the Historical and Biographical Interest from the Minutes of the Brushy Mountain Baptist Association (Northwestern North Carolina) 1871-1994.
* The North Wilkesboro Hustler, North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Wed, Sep 9, 1925, Page 1, “Killed Jumping off Truck Sunday–Solomon Barnes”.
* Pearson, James Larkin, Poet’s Progress, Publisher: Wilkes Community College, W1328 S Collegiate Dr, Wilkesboro, N.C., 2005. Pearson was born on Berry in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1879 and lived until 1981. He was appointed North Carolina Poet Laureate by Governor Umstead in 1953 and served until his death. He had little formal education and in his early years was a farmer and carpenter. The book is quoted extensively in this blog through permission of the publisher. Order from the bookstore of the publisher, or by clicking “Amazon Link” in the top left corner of this page.
* Russell, Charles Taze, (February 16, 1852 – October 31, 1916), was a prominent American restorationist minister from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the founder of the Bible Student movement that lead to the formation of groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Russell is found on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Taze_Russell>. Restorationism is discussed on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restorationism
* United States Federal Census’s of various Wilkes County Townships for the households of John Barnes and Solomon Barnes: 1850, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920.
* White, William E. A History of Alexander County, NC, Published in the Taylorsville Times in 1926. Copied from a scrapbook owned by Mrs. Bynum C. Deal of Davidson, N. C. Available on the Internet at:
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