1 Sept 1956
Columbian-Progress, Columbia, Mississippi
Section One-Page Six
Transcribed by Shannon Gorman for msmarion.com
“Philosophy of Life Includes Work, Religion, Good Cooking”
Labor Day seems a good day to sort of take stock of the value of a man’s work. A 90-year-old man at Hub says a man’s life can be pretty well judged by his work-sometimes the work speaks louder than the organizations to which the man belongs, and much louder than some of the things he says.
Otho Barnes, the son of an ex-slave, has spent his life in the Hub community. Although not one of the richest men the county, financially, his life reflects hard work on his farm and for thee improvement of his community and richness which cannot be bought.
If a man works for what’s right his neighbors and his Lord will know it and he’ll be judged accordingly, he says.
Otho say his father, Henry, was born in Kentucky and brought to this area when he was 12 He was sold to “Uncle Ben” Barnes, “the best white man who ever put on a pair of pants,” he quoted his father as saying. That was when the title of “Uncle” was a title of respect given older men of both races and in way had any derogatory meaning as may have implied since.
When it became time for Henry to choose a last name, he took the name of his master, Barnes. He homesteaded some land and reared a family. At that time land cost $1.50 and acre and one could get 160 acres or less, but not less than 40 acres in a homestead.
Otho was born April 25, 1876 in what is now the Hub community. He says it was then known as the Foxworth community. He has lived his lifetime there, farming and raising cattle until age limited activities.
He served 32 executive (consecutive) years as a trustee of Globe Academy at Hub one of the first schools in the state to provide transportation for Negro students and now consolidated with other schools to forma Marion Central.
In 1905 he joined the Hub Chapel Methodist Church. On December 21 of that same year he married Anna Jefferson in the same church building, the first one of three. He has helped build the two other buildings for the church since then and says he been “everything but the preacher” at various times during his years in the church.
Mr. Barnes says parents are failing to set an example for their children and is a staunch believer that children imitate someone they know in young life having only praise for the late A. G. Webb, with whom Otho as a young boy spent much time and took for an example.
Mr. Webb told him the value of being a good citizen and responsible citizen and about the turn of the century he registered to vote one of his first votes being cast for Mr. Webb. After voting for a number of years, he says, he decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. For several years he did not vote. Then he says he decided there were some men running for office who would do a better job than others and that he should support the good men. He re-registered and started voting again.
The ex-farmer has seen farming from more than one angle. He owned 40 acres and rented about that much more. He worked himself but also had some tenants, saying he had “all types” working him at tone time or another.
Although he did not finish high school he learned to read and writhe and has been a staunch supporter of education. He says Frank Patterson was superintendent of schools, when he first began serving as a school trustee. Schools were then running three-month terms.
“Children walked to school, then, and thought nothing of it at all,” the former trustee said. Mr. and Mrs. Barnes enjoy life in their home, about a mile north of the Hub school on the old road that was Highway 13, and look forward to hearing from their four children, 29 grandchildren, 71 great grandchildren, and 7 great- great grandchildren.
Two of the children, Porter Barnes and Juanita Warren, live in Cleveland Ohio. Mrs. Minnie Lee Toney lives in Chicago, Illinois, but Mrs. Viola Conerly chose to remain closer by. She lives out from Columbia.
The old farmer says farming has been hard work but has been a good life. He says the life of the country rests on the produce of the farms, which could use more money for what is produced.
He cited a good watermelon in Cleveland, which he says his son will have to pay $5 to get. Having grown thousands of them during his lifetime, and sold them for far less, he says that’s too much.
“We bought some of what we wanted and tried to get what we needed,” he says in commenting on the past.
Regular hours, plenty of work, and exercise, and a healthy appetite which has always satisfied at his wife’s table of good cooking are some of the things he gives credit for his many active years. He also says resting on Sundays, and attending church and Sunday School are much more important than many people believe.
With a twinkle in his eye he says he sewed (sowed) some wild oats nothing really criminal or immoral- but he shut the gate on the wild oats patch when he married and is proud of it.