Eli Barnard, who is living in Perry but derives his income from a good farm property about a mile and a half from the city, was born in McLean county, Illinois, September 1, 1843. His parents were Melmon N. and Sina (Philpot) Barnard. The father, who was born in North Carolina March 7, 1806, died October 4, 1873, having for several years survived his wife, who was born in Pennsylvania, April 17, 1804, and died September 18, 1868. They were married in Tennessee, July 10, 1828, and their family numbered six sons and five daughters, of whom seven are yet living, as follows: Frances J., who is a widow and lives in Lexington, Illinois; James O.; Samuel F.; William E.; Austin Y.; and Eli and Levi, twins. The father was a farmer’s son and in the fall of 1828 made his way to Illinois with ox-teams. He and his wife located near Bloomington and cast in their lot with the early settlers of that locality. They called upon a pioneer by the name of McCulley and Mr. Barnard made arrangements with him to occupy an old log house that McCulley owned. He made repairs upon the place and moved into it, he and his wife spending their first winter in Illinois in that humble abode. In the spring of 1829 he entered land from the government and built a log cabin, stopping up the chinks with mud and sand. He had seventy-five cents in money when he came here and he spent fifty cents for salt and kept the remaining twenty-five cents in order to pay the postage upon a letter which he wrote to his father. His nearest trading points were Chicago and Springfield. He drove his hogs to the Chicago market and there received a dollar and a quarter per hundred pounds. He also hauled wheat to Chicago. At one time he and six other men were on their way to that city, driving six hundred head of hogs, when they were caught in a storm. It turned very cold and in crossing a stream the oxen went over the side of the bridge. There were some hogs in a wagon and the men had a hard time in saving the oxen and hogs. When they got them out of the water the hogs in the wagon were frozen and the men’s clothing was frozen upon them so that they could not bend. This was in the year 1831–the year memorable as the winter of the deep snow. For months the snow lay upon the ground and the deer could travel over the crust which had formed upon it. On one occasion Mr. Barnard met an Indian who had shot a deer and made signs to the red man that he wanted meat and some of the deer hide to make himself a pair of shoes. This the Indian gave him. Many were the hardships and trials borne by the pioneers of that early day but as the country became settled the difficulties and obstacles which confronted them were not so grievous. As time passed M. N. Barnard purchased more land until he was the owner of four hundred and eighty acres, in the midst of which he built a fine frame house. He became one of the substantial and progressive agriculturists of his community and his success was well merited, as it was the reward of his own labor. He never cared for public office but gave his political support to the democracy until the time of the Civil War, when he became a republican. He held membership in the Christian church. Two of his sons, Joseph and Austin Barnard, and three of his sons-in-law, enlisted for service in Company I, Ninety-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Two sons-in-law died in army hospitals, Arthur Busick passing away at Springfield, Missouri, while John Kieger died at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. The parents remained residents of Illinois for many years but spent their last days in the home of their son Eli.
In the common schools of his native county Eli Barnard acquired his early education and when not busy with his text-books he was trained in the work of the fields. When twenty-three years of age he began farming on his own account on the old homestead and later he owned two hundred acres of this land. He was quite successful in his farming operations, bringing his fields under a high state of cultivation and gathering good crops as the reward of his labor. He continued a resident of Illinois until 1896, when he sold his farm in that state and came to Dallas county, Iowa, purchasing two hundred and twenty-seven and one-half acres of land, a mile and a half east of Perry. There he lived until 1900, when he bought a fine home in Perry, so that he might provide his children with the educational advantages afforded by the public schools of this city.
After the war Eli Barnard made a trip to Tennessee in search of his aunt, Mrs. Alice Duffy, his father’s sister. They had lost trace of her during the war and Mr. Barnard’s father sent him to seek out her location and bring her to Illinois, which he did. It was in the following year, an the 1st of January, 1868, that Mr. Barnard was married to Miss Cirilda Shaw, who was born near Bloomington, Illinois, January 5, 1843. She is a daughter of Joseph S. and Eleanor G. (Beaty) Shaw, who were married January 8, 1836. Her father, who was born in Ohio, October 15, 1810, died February 4, 1865. The mother, who was born in Ohio, June 16, 1815, passed away December 4, 1904. In their family were twelve children, of whom seven survive. Rachel, the wife of John Cunningham; Mrs. Barnard; Henrietta, the wife of Thomas Batey; Lafayette, who married Miss Della Lewis; Anna M., the wife of Duff Rayburn; Ellen J., the wife of William Gonder; and Florence C., the wife of N. Gilmore. Mr. Shaw was an extensive farmer of Franklin county, Ohio, and also raised stock on a large scale. He belonged to the Methodist Episcopal church and his political views were in harmony with the principles of the whig party.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Barnard have been born seven children, of whom six are yet living: Sina, who is a school teacher; Josephine, who formerly engaged in teaching school and is now the wife of A. Reichenbach; Leslie, who is a graduate of the dental department of the Northwestern University of Chicago and is now located in Kelso, Washington; Anna, who was also a teacher and is now the wife of Earl Smith, an attorney at Mason City, Iowa; Grace, a teacher in Boone, Iowa; and Alta, at home. The family are well known in Perry and this section of the county and are highly esteemed, the members of the household occupying an enviable position in the social circles in which they move.