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About Cassius McDonald Barnes
Cassius McDonald Barnes (August 25, 1845 – February 18, 1925) was an American Civil War soldier, lawyer and Republican politician who served as the 4th Governor of Oklahoma Territory.
Early Life and the American Civil War
The son of Henry Hogan and Semantha Barnes, Cassius McDonald Barnes was born in Livingston County, New York on August 25, 1845. Barnes would spend the first few years of his life in New York, but his parent would later moved to Michigan. There he would attend both public school and the Wesleyan Church Seminary in Albion, Michigan.
In 1861, the American Civil War broke out when Barnes was just 16 years old. Barnes joined the Union army as a volunteer soldier. Barnes’s earlier experiments in telegraphy earned him a position in the Military Telegraph and Engineering Corps of the Union army. Barnes would serve for the entire duration of the war. During his service, he would spend a portion of his enlistment as the secretary to Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon. Barnes would leave the army at the age of 20.
Arkansas and Oklahoma politics
After the conclusion of the war, Barnes moved to Little Rock, Arkansas in 1865. After eleven years as a private citizen, in 1876 Barnes, a Republican, moved to Ft. Smith, Arkansas where he accepted a position as Chief Deputy United States Marshal over the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. The year before, President Ulysses S. Grant had appointed Isaac Parker as District Judge over that court.
During his time in Arkansas, Barnes married Elizabeth Mary Bartlett of North Adams, Massachusetts, in Little Rock on June 4, 1868. Barnes would gain a friendship with the powerful Clayton family, most notably former Governor of Arkansas and (then) Senator Powell Clayton. Through his friendship with Clayton, Barnes was appointed, by President Benjamin Harrison, Receiver of the United States Land Office at Guthrie in 1890 with the opening of Oklahoma Territory. He would hold that position for four years.
Barnes was a member of the Episcopal Church, serving as a senior warden of the Guthrie church for many years. He was an active affiliate of both the Scottish and York rites of the Masonic fraternity. It was also during his tenure as Receiver, Barnes would study law and passed the bar exam in 1893. He would serve as a member of the 3rd and 4th sessions of the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature, serving from 1895 to 1897. During the 3rd session, Barnes would serve as the Legislature’s speaker.
Governor of Oklahoma Territory
When President William McKinley, a Republican, took office in 1897, he appointed Barnes to replace the outgoing Democratic William Cary Renfrow as Governor of Oklahoma Territory. Barnes formally took the oath of office on May 24, 1897.
During Governor Barnes’s four year term, little happened that was of great note. The only point of interest was Governor Barnes’s fight against a growing government. Governor Barnes defeated the attempts of the 6th Legislature to create numerous additional territorial institutions. This expansion of territorial government was justified by the Legislatures by the rapidly growing idea for the formation of the State of Oklahoma. Governor Barnes promptly vetoed this legislation.
Governor Barnes’s term in office ended on April 15, 1901 when William Miller Jenkins took the oath of office as his successor.
Governor Barnes continued to live in Guthrie for years after the end of his term, where he would serve as the President of the Logan County Bank. He was elected to and served as mayor of Guthrie in 1903–1905 and again in 1907–1909. It was during his second term as mayor of Guthrie that his wife Elizabeth died on May 27, 1908.
Barnes second marriage was to divorcee Rebecca Cagle Forney. He married her in Chicago in 1910. After the marriage, the two moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where Rebecca served as an instructress in a girl's seminary. Once again, Barnes’s interest in telegraphy served him. He would become a postal telegraph operator in Leavenworth.
In his late years, his health began to fail. This caused him to move to New Mexico, where he died at Albuquerque on February 18, 1925. His body was returned to Guthrie and interred in the Summit View Cemetery.