John Barnes, Garveyite.

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The passport application of John Barnes of New York, New York, born in Wilson, North Carolina, seeking to travel with his wife Martha to travel to Liberia on the Black Star Line.

Here’s John in the 1900 census of Saratoga, Wilson County, with Allen and Calliann Barnes, and younger siblings Mary L., Dilla, Corinna, Willie and Bennie Barnes.

1900 John Barnes

“Calliann” may have been his stepmother, as Wilson County marriage records show that Allen Barnes, 22, married Caroline Best, 20, on 19 March 1885, when John was a little more than a year old.

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Martha Barnes was the daughter of Dan and Lishy Ann Bynum, as shown in her and John’s Wilson County marriage license:


The handwritten notes affixed to the center and top of the right-hand page of John’s application read: (1) This man intends to travel on a boat owned by Garvey. Probably is a member of Garvey U.N.I.A. He is a laborer and wishes to go to a country where there are 2 million natives with nothing to do. This Division hopes psp’t will be refused. J.W. (2) I should be glad to refuse this man a passport but I do not see how we can do it. WRC[illegible] (3) I concur with above. Nothing tanglible against him. P. Adams 7-14-21 (4) Mrs B[illegible] Please issue. We have nothing personally against this man. He is a laborer and probably too ignorant to cause any trouble. P. Adams, 7-14-21.

Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925, Roll # 1690, Volume # Roll 1690 – Certificates: 65250-65625, 14 Jul 1921-15 Jul 1921, National Archives and Records Administration.