ABRAHAM LINCOLN BARNER

ABRAHAM LINCOLN BARNER. Some of the most substantial people of Kansas today, well able to ride about over the improved highways in their automobiles, came into the state in the early days with the slow and tedious method of the prairie schooner or the mover's wagon. Such an emigrant party arrived in Sumner County in 1873. They had come overland from Central Illinois, being twenty-six days en route. Three wagons comprised the train, and the driver of one of those wagons, then thirteen years of age, was Abraham Lincoln Barner, who is now living retired at Belle Plaine in Summer County, and for years has been prominently known as a farmer, stockman, land owner, banker and closely identified with many of the business and civic affairs of his home section.

The head of the family at that time was his father, Michael Barner. Michael Barner had come out to Summer County in the spring of 1873, with two other men, and they bought three-quarter sections, two for $800 each and another for $850. One of these quarters had an unfinished house on it, but one of the familiar Kansas winds of that day soon blew it away. When Michael Barner brought his family out he bought 160 acres near one of the three quarter sections previously mentioned, paying $1,000 for it. Its chief improvement was a log cabin, and that old building is still standing there. Michael Barner during the following years became one of Summer County's most valued citizens. At the time of his death he owned 960 acres of land, and had devoted it to general farming and the raising of cattle and hogs. He was naturally a leader in the community, and was greatly admired for his straight-forward, honest, God-fearing virtues and his devotion to his family. Michael Barner was born in Pennsylvania and married Martha Ann Moan, a native of Ohio. Michael had been left an orphan at the age of nine years, and up to fifteen made his home with an older brother. Despite early handicaps he was in no way deficient in energy and ambition to make the most of his opportunities, and on leaving home he went out to Illinois and after working hard for several years he bought eighty acres in the heavy woods not far from Springfield, Sangamon County. He paid $10 an acre for this land. The timber he removed by cutting into cord wood and selling it, and he also grubbed up the stumps and gradually got his land cleared for cultivation. He was an indefatigable worker, and by sheer determination won a substantial success. Though his school advantages had been very meager, he acquired a good education by teaching himself. When he married he had only $75 in capital, but he and his wife proved excellent team mates and by much self denial in the early days made a home and provided for their growing children. Michael Barner, realizing what he had been denied in his youth, was more than eager to give his children the best of educational equipment. In politics he was a republican, but later became allied with the populist party, and altogether was little of a politician, his only public serving being on the school board. While living in Illinois he had been able to increase his first farm by an addition of forty acres, and was prospering there, but it was his desire to expand and give his children a start which prompted him to trade his forty acres of Illinois land for 160 acres in Summer County.

The birthplace of Abraham Lincoln Barner was a log cabin on the little farm in Sangamon County, Illinois, where he first saw the light of day August 8, 1860. He was the third in a family of ten children, seven of whom are still living. He attended school in Illinois, and afterward had the advantages of a log-cabin temple of learning in Summer County, Kansas, and for one year was in the high school at Oxford.

He lived at home and did his part in the work on the farm until his marriage on December 21, 1882, to Miss Laura A. Cox. Her parents came to Summer County in 1877. Mr. and Mrs. Barner are the parents of five children, one of whom died in infancy. Ray J. lives on his own farm; Florence is the wife of F. W. Scott, a farmer; Ethel is Mrs. Roy Carrouthers of Sumner County; and Bert lives on the home farm.

When Mr. Barner was twenty-one years of age his father gave him a team of horses and allowed him his board free for one year. That was his start in life. He rented one of his father's farms, and though he was thus fairly well capitalized he had by no means an easy time of it for the first fifteen years. He encountered successions of droughts, other plagues incidental to Kansas farming in the early days, and it was only by the closest kind of co-operation between himself and his faithful wife and by going without the luxuries that he finally arrived at a comfortable degree of material prosperity. Eventually he bought 120 acres, but in 1893 sold it and raced into Oklahoma at the opening of the Cherokee strip in the fall of that year. He did not locate in Oklahoma, and returning to Kansas paid $5,000 for 160 acres of land. There he began his farming career in earnest, and gradually his prosperity enabled him to make other purchases until his ownership now extends over 800 acres of the fertile lands of Summer County. This land is highly developed and improved, and he has done much as a stock raiser, keeping both horses and cattle. His favorite brand of cattle is the Short-Horn.

It was only recently, in 19l6, that Mr. Barner retired from the farm and moved to his town house in Belle Plaine. He is president of the Citizens State Bank of Belle Plaine, having held that office since 1908. This is now the largest bank in the city. He was one of the organizers of the Mutual Farmers Elevator at Palestine being president of the company there, and has given his time and resources liberally for the promotion of every laudable undertaking in his community. He is a member and president of the Fraternal Aid Society, and has served as clerk of Palestine Township and four years as county commissioner. In politics he is a democrat. He also owns some real estate in the cities of Wichita and Belle Plaine. Mrs. Barner is an active member of the Methodist Church and Sunday School.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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