Who Was Osmon Bennett Barnes? – Part 2


“History is the essence of innumerable biographies.”
Thomas Carlyle

Osman Barnes’s granddaughter, Melissa Barker, took me to Pineview Cemetery to spend time with members of her family that are buried there. It is a deeply moving experience, where generations of families are gathered across time, yet able to tell a story of Rocky Mount and beyond. The story is ever-changing depending on which family member is doing the telling. Visiting Pineview is a powerful witness to the fact that our families continue to go before us even after they are gone. (Photo provided by Mark Wheeless)

In the revitalization of Rocky Mount, I know it might sound bazaar, but I wish we could take people to Pineview Cemetery who are considering moving here, whether to start a business, raise a family or to live an individual dream. It is an inspiration to hear stories of the people buried there like the tale of the brick mason, Osmon Barnes. Prospective newcomers would hear Mr. Barnes and all the others say, “Throw your lot in with us. Build upon the honesty, loyalty, the perseverance, and hard work we have left behind. Embrace the importance of family, of service to your community and church. Here is a place where you can remain unapologetic for the faith of your fathers.” I believe the names woven through the tombstones in a silent, yet eloquent way, are saying,”Here is the past you can build your future upon.”


img_0666-2Important names & dates – Osmon Barnes: Born January 7, 1897, on a farm in Nash County, NC, he was the 3rd of 9 children born to Joseph Francis ‘Frank’ Barnes and Alice Jordan Williams. His father became a conductor for the Atlantic Coastline Railroad. On August 4, 1917, he married Thaney Bell Taylor, born on September 7, 1902, to John William ‘Bill’ Taylor and Mary Elizabeth ‘Bett’ Daughtridge. Osman and Thaney had four children. Mr.Barnes became a brick mason and worked with his father-in-law. In 1929, when Mr. Taylor died, he took over the business and ran the brick masonry business until he retired about 1980. As a sideline, Mr. Barnes ran a small gas and grocery store, from about 1935-1957 known as the ‘Ragged Nine’ on the northeast corner of Branch Street and Ambler Avenue in Rocky Mount. Mr. Barnes died on October 25, 1987, while still living in the home he built in 1937 at 616 Ambler Avenue. We honor Mr. Barnes and his family through the continuing generations. Think of him as a man who liked to fish and whose hobby was wine making, a man who made his work his art.

img_0694-2 img_0695-2


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s