Researching the Barnes Family of Johnston and Wayne Counties, North Carolina

Johnston County, NC at formation on June 28, 1746.  Source:

Johnston County, NC at formation on June 28, 1746. Source:

I’ve been researching my husband’s Barnes line from North Carolina more extensively since receiving back his DNA results. This map is from the North Carolina Atlas of Historic Boundaries, by John H. Long, Compiled by Gordon Denboer, Charles Scribner’s Sons, NY, NY, (May 1998).  I’ve found these historic maps very helpful. They show how the borders of the counties of North Carolina have changed over the years. You can click on this map to enlarge it.

The Barnes clan lived in this area from the 1700s,  possibly coming from the coastal counties of the Colony of North Carolina, from where they lived in Virginia – most likely circa mid 1600s. If you know this area of eastern North Carolina, the Barnes surname is very common. I started researching about fifteen years ago, and there are still so many family lines to untangle! We turned to Family Tree DNA, based in Houston, Texas to try to find out some more answers. I have no affiliation with this company. We used the Y-DNA test to find out the heritage of my husband’s Barnes line. He also did the Family Finder test for his autosomal DNA results going back at least five generations for both his maternal and paternal ancestry.

The autosomal DNA test results show my husband is 100% European, with about 57% British Isles, 40% Western and Central Europe, and 3% Southern Europe roots. The results took from about December 26, 2015, when the lab received back the test kit, until January 22, 2016. There were pages of matches, with some known distant cousins that we have corresponded with. The Y-DNA test took until February 4th, 2016 and gave him matches from his Barnes paternal line. This test showed the genetic distance between the matches. What was very interesting was the geographic concentration of the matches, leading back to the exact area of North Carolina that his grandfather, Ernest Howard Barnes, was from. Ernest lived in Wayne County, NC from his birth in 1885, until going north to New York State when he was around twenty years old, to attend a business college. The photo below was taken while he was in college in North Carolina when he was about eighteen years old.

Photo of Ernest H. Barnes, taken about 1903. Initials on his collar are AMC. N.C. College of Agriculture & Mechanical Arts in West Raleigh, NC. E.H. Barnes was a member of Company F there in the 1903 yearbook listed on pages 116 & 117.

Photo of Ernest H. Barnes, taken about 1903. Initials on his collar are AMC. N.C. College of Agriculture & Mechanical Arts in West Raleigh, NC. Taken about 1903.

Ernest Barnes’ parents were Thomas Whitley Barnes and Sarah Ophelia Rose, and they had a farm in Grantham Township, Wayne County, NC. His grandparents were Jacob H. Barnes who had married Nancy Ann Musgrave; and George Pinkney Rose who had married Nancy Brent or Brunt (I have seen both spellings). The last four were my husband’s great-great-grandparents. All of these families had lived within the boundaries of the map I posted on top.

The Rose and Brent families lived near Bentonville, Johnston County moving slightly east into southern Wayne County in Grantham Township. The Barnes and Musgrave families had lived towards the northern part of the map. The Barnes family lived near the border of today’s county line between Johnston and Wayne counties. Jacob H. Barnes had inherited land in Boon Hill, Johnston County (renamed Princeton in 1873), although on records he had put that he was born in Wayne County. The Musgrave family had lived in Fork Township, Wayne County, on land situated north of the Neuese River and south of the Little River. Although the Barnes, Rose, and Brent families had come down to North Carolina from Virginia in the early to mid 1700s, the Musgrave family had come from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to the Falling Creek area of Wayne County in the mid 1700s.

What was interesting with the DNA Family Finder test, was that all four names – Barnes, Rose, Musgrave, and Brent – showed up in 2nd to 4th cousin matches with my husband. Fourth cousins have one set of great-great-great-grandparents in common, so I think some of these matches are really 5th cousins. If any of his first or second cousins had been tested they would have been shown as immediate or close relative. For a simple Cousins Chart and explanation use this link:

In the weeks to come I will delve deeper into the Barnes distant cousin matches. One outcome of my husband’s Y-DNA test is that I will look more closely into a certain group of Barnes men from Edgecombe, Wilson, Johnston, and Wayne counties of North Carolina. There seems to be a close relation between Jacob H. Barnes’s father Jacob, and men with the first names of Jesse, Jethroe, Josiah, and possibly another Jacob Barnes (Sr.) from about 1750 through 1840. From some of the DNA results it seems that the  Will of Jethroe Barnes of Wayne County, dated the 13th Day 1816, may have been written by the brother or uncle of our Jacob Barnes that died in May of 1840. Hoping for some brick wall busting!

Good luck breaking down your brick wall! Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes

Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes


About Maryann Barnes

I live in Virginia and enjoy meandering walks back into the past. I also enjoy old photographs and sharing family research.
This entry was posted in Barnes, Boon Hill Township, Brent, DNA Testing, Goldsboro, Grantham Township, Johnston County, Locations, Musgrave, North Carolina, Research, Rose, Surnames, Wayne County and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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