Elias Barnes plantation.

As photographed here, Elias Barnes’ “big house” survived long enough to be catalogued in Kate Ohno’s Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):

“Elias Barnes was the son of Jesse Barnes and Edith Jordan. He was born in 1809 in the section of Edgecombe County which later became Wilson County. In 1830 he married Mahala Emma Sharpe. Barnes was the brother of General Joshua Barnes, who is often cited as the founder of Wilson County. William Barnes of Stantonsburg Township, another prominent planter, was also his brother. (See the William Barnes House, Stantonsburg Township). Elias Barnes, like his brothers, was a farmer of substance, and he served as a trustee of Hopewell Academy when it was incorporated in 1841 by the state legislature. Elias and Mahala Barnes’ family was a large and prominent one. Their son, Jesse Sharpe Barnes, was a lawyer who became a local hero during the Civil War. The Wilson United Confederate Veterans Camp was named in his honor. Another son, Joshua Barnes, became a distinguished local doctor. Elias Barnes died in 1856 when he was struck by lightning while squirrel hunting. His widow Mahala continued to occupy the property until her death circa 1876. In 1860 Mahala was listed in the census as a farmer with the staggering sums of $13,700 worth of real property and $10,500 worth of personal property [including enslaved people.] After Mahala’s death her son, William S. Barnes, sold her property to Henry Harriss. Like the General Joshua Barnes House and the William Barnes house, this house was probably built between 1845 and 1860. The Elias Barnes House is very similar stylistically to his two brothers’ houses. It is a large, square, Greek Revival style structure with a shallow hipped roof, interior chimneys and a three-bay facade. The wide trabeated door was probably once surmounted by a door or window with sidelights. On the interior, like the William Barnes, Ward-Applewhite-Thompson, and Edmundson-Lane-Thompson houses, a central-hall plan is followed. A broad stair ascends from the front of the building, and there are two main rooms off each side of the hall. The interior finish is also similar to the Ward-Applewhite-Thompson and Edmundson-Lane-Thompson houses in the robust turned newel posts, handsome Greek Revival door surrounds and simple mantels.”

For more about the enslaved men and women who worked Elias Barnes’ home and fields, see here.

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