Brought to California from his birthplace in Dallas, Texas, when but two years of age, William P. Barnes is among the few remaining original pioneers of this district.
Born October 25, 1857, the son of S.L. Barnes, farmer, and a native of Kentucky, and Sarah E. (Bohannon) Barnes, a native of Illinois, William was brought to El Monte in 1859, in a covered wagon train comprising some one hundred and ten wagons. This train, drawn almost exclusively by ox-teams was stopped twice on the way by Indians but fortunately no casualties resulted. The first time they were stopped near Dead Man Springs, and the second time near Apache Pass, (now Camp Buoy). During the trip through the Indian country, the women would do the driving while the men went aheard and followed up the rear of the train to guard against sudden attacks. On each of the two occasions mentioned, the Indians appeared, circled the train three times on horseback and then, evidently deciding that they were outnumbered and outmatched for a successful attack, they rode away. At Yuma, the train divided, some going to San Diego, and the remainder continued to El Monte, the Mecca of a large majority of the California-bound immigrants of that day. Here Mr. Barnes’ father engaged for a number of years in farming, William, the subject of this review, attending the early public school of El Monte. In this connection Mr. Barnes states that his first teacher was a Mr. Dilley, who was paid a wage of $2.50 per month, by the parents for each child, free board during the time being provided by different families in the district.
In 1868, Mr. Barnes’ parents moved to a 160-acre tract in Azusa Valley where, upon attaining his majority, William P. followed a farming for a time (1886) entering the real estate business, which though in poor health, he still continues to manage in the town of Azusa.
Mr. Barnes was married in 1884 to Miss Mary Blanche Hudson, a native of Tennessee, whose parents were Thomas H. and Martha Ellen Hudson, natives Mississippi and Tennessee, respectively. To Mr. and Mrs. Barnes were born four children, but one of whom is still living, Irene Blanche, of Azusa. Mrs. Barnes was taken by death in 1898.
Mr. Barnes is affiliated with the order of Odd Fellows, and in religion both he and Mrs. Barnes are members of the Baptist Church. Mrs Barnes was active and influential in the early organization and development of the first church in El Monte.
Mr. Barnes has rendered many years of valuable services in his community, serving terms in the capacity of constable, school trustee and city councilman.
Source: C. D. Mayon, F. Brow, L. Stoddard, and C. Mudd; El Monte from the Pioneer Days. WPA Project No. N-5740, 1936. In record 19-187072. (California Historical Landmark No. 765: El Monte). On file at the SCCIC, CSU Fullerton.