BARNETT, JAMES (21 June 1821-13 Jan. 1911), a businessman, politician, soldier, and philanthropist, organized many charities. Born in Cherry Valley, N.Y., to Melancthon and Mary (Clark), the family moved to Cleveland in 1825. After attending CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Barnett clerked in Potter & Clark's store for 3 years before going to GEO. WORTHINGTON's store, eventually becoming president and director on the board of the GEO. WORTHINGTON CO. He was president and director of several banks, including GUARDIAN SAVINGS, as well as the Big 4 Railroads and Cleveland Iron Mining Co. In 1839, Barnett joined the CLEVELAND GRAYS, fighting as colonel of the CLEVELAND LIGHT ARTILLERY in the CIVIL WAR. Barnett was promoted to general and chief of artillery on Gen. Thos. Rosecrans's staff—the highest rank of any soldier from Cuyahoga County. In 1862, while visiting Cleveland, he opened an office to help enlisted men find homes for their children.
In 1856 Barnett helped organize the Republican party in Cleveland. He was appointed police commissioner in 1866, and served from 1873-74 on city council. Barnett was most satisfied working with charities. He served on the board of managers for the Soldiers' & Sailors' Orphan Home in Xenia, Ohio, and the Natl. Homes for Disabled Soldiers. In 1881, he helped create the Society for Organizing Charity, which merged with Bethel Mission in 1886 to form the Bethel Associated Charities, forerunner of the Associated Charities of Cleveland, of which Barnett was honorary president.
On 12 June 1845, Barnett married Maria H. Underhill. They had 5 children: Mary C., Carrie M., Laura, Lanny, and George. Barnett died at his Euclid Ave. home and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.
Finding aid for the James Barnett Papers. WRHS.
Barnett, James. Reminiscences of the Cleveland Light Artillery (1906).