Jehu Barnes — His Death a Family Affair

Jehu Barnes — His Death a Family Affair

© Copyright Hugh W. Barnes 2016, All Rights Reserved, Click here for a bio.

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Text appearing in Blue is a link to information located elsewhere and is information about the subject in the blue text. In many cases, the information at the other side of the link also has green underlined text.  Only click on this blue underlined text using the right mouse button. To view it, go to the top of your screen and click on the far right tab. When you are through viewing this information, click on the x in the light colored tab at the top. This will take you back to where you started. We will review all known events in the life of Jehu Barnes.  He was the youngest son of Brinsley and Elizabeth Lindley Barnes.  There is evidence to support the fact that Jehu was Brinsley’s most trusted son.  This article also discusses the murder case that followed. Like all of his siblings, Jehu was named for a Bible character.  Jehu is the name of five men in the Old Testament.  It is most likely that he was named for the eleventh king of Israel, who was anointed king by Elisha. Most sources state that Jehu was born about 1751 in Orange County, North Carolina.  This is incorrect, and the exact date and place will remain unknown.  Jehu’s mother was in Chester County, Pennsylvania through 1753 when she requested that the Society of Friends transfer her membership to the Cane Creek Meeting House in North Carolina. [2]   Realistically Jehu was born between 1750 and 1760, and the exact location remains a mystery.

Revolutionary Militiaman
Revolutionary Militia

Military Service

Nothing is heard of Jehu until 1772.  In that year, Jehu along with his brothers James and Thomas and his brother-in-law Jacob Teague appeared on Militia Muster Rolls.  This Revolutionary War service occurred in Captain Jeduthan Harper’s Chatham County Regiment.  His brothers Brinsley Jr. and John enlisted in Captain Brooks, Chatham County Militia along with Samuel Carter husband of his sister Mary. All were privates.  [1] [3] A regular army was not established until the Continental Congress acted on June 14, 1775, and General George Washington was appointed commander-and-chief.  The militia consisted of an army of trained civilians. “Militiamen were lightly armed, had little training, and usually did not have uniforms. Their units served for only a few weeks or months at a time, were reluctant to travel far from home and thus were unavailable for extended operations. Furthermore, they lacked the training and discipline of soldiers with more experience.”[3] “The men that served in the militia during the Revolution were NOT eligible for pensions for bounty land warrants.  Only the men who served, at least, two years in the Continental line were eligible for that.  But, the militia service does make them eligible for “Patriot” designation, if the time their service was during the period of the war. Having said that, I can tell you that Chatham militiamen were eligible before then, because of the wording in the court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions beginning in  August of 1774. At that time, the Court Justices decided that they would remove all mention of the King of England and his titles, from their government documents.  The War of the Regulators had its effect on the county!”[3] Harper, Jehu’s Captain, was later promoted to the rank of Lt. Col.  After the war he was a delegate to the Fourth Provincial  Congress that voted to join the other colonies in declaring American independence. [4] James and Thomas have been recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as Patriots.  No one has applied under Jehu.  Jehu’s brothers Brinsley Jr. and John who in 1772 served in Captain Brooks’s Chatham County Militia.  John went on to serve as a gunner in Kingsbury’s Artillery Company, where he earned the nickname Deaf John.  Neither John nor Brinsley Jr. have yet to be recognized by the DAR.

Jehu’s Family

Although researchers have been unable to locate a marriage document, it is widely believed that Jehu married Hannah Teague. Jehu and Hannah had six children. We identify them as follows. Zachariah (1780-1831 born and died in Wilkes County, NC), married Rosamond Austin.  They had nine children.  Mary “Polly” (1783) married Thomas Whitten.  Lydia (1785-1861) married Sion Harrington.  Jesse (1782-1867), was born on May 4, 1782, in Wilkes County, North Carolina.  He married Anna Marley on December 13, 1806, in Wilkes County, North Carolina. They had nine children in 25 years. He died on February 11, 1867, in McCameron, Indiana, having lived a long life of 84 years, and was buried in Martin County, Indiana.  Hannah (1786-1870) married John Marley.[1] No information is available for an unknown child.  [5]

Jehu’s Migration to Wilkes County, North Carolina

The exact date of Jehu’s migration from Chatham County to Wilkes is not known.  [7] He first appeared in the Federal Census of 1790.  He is subsequently listed in the Censuses of 1800, 1810 and 1820.[6]

Agrees to Care for His Aged father, Brinsley

Jehu was apparently trusted by his father, Brinsley.  In July of 1790, they entered into a legal agreement whereby Jehu would care for Brinsley until his death.[7]  Brinsley died in the Fall of 1794.

A Family Dispute Arises

On February 5, 1795, Jehu’s brother, Brinsley, Jr. requested that the Will of their father be proven in open court.  On May 7, 1795, John and Jehu are involved in a  court case concerning the Will.  Jehu’s agreement was found to supersede the Will held by his brothers.  Jehu went on to submit an inventory of the estate.  In the Summer of 1797, Jehu charged his brother John with trespassing regarding the estate of their father.[8a-8b]

Jehu’s Murder is Miss-reported

“ The story is told that one night two strangers stopped at the home of Jehu and asked to be boarded for the night.  Jehu invited them to spend the night.  During the evening, Jehu took to a coughing spell and the strangers asked him to stop the coughing.  Jehu could not stop his coughing, and the strangers killed him. “ Elizabeth Marley Reid granddaughter of Jehu reported that she saw the blood and a broken chair in Jehu’s home.  Her testimony was entered in the 1876 North Carolina Supreme Court case of Samuel Reid and other vs. Joseph Chatham and others concerning the disposition of Jehu’s estate.  The case arose because Jehu had died intestate (without a Will). [9]

Murder – A Family Affair

That was the accepted story until Larry Gentry a DNA cousin, and 4th great-grandson of Jehu discovered a November 23, 1821, article in the Raleigh Register.  The article stated that the Governor was offering a one-hundred dollar reward for the capture of Larkin Carley.  Carley had escaped from jail and was charged with the murder of Barnes.  Carley was described as being  “a stout man of dark complexion, 5 feet 10 inches high and about 30 years of age”. [10] Larry forwarded the article to me.  I had just completed transcribing the 1807 will of Solomon Barnes brother of Jehu.  Mary Carley, daughter of Solomon, was a beneficiary of her father’s Will.  I began a search for Larkin Carley and discovered that he was Mary Carley’s husband. Subsequent searches for the capture of Carley were unsuccessful.   I then initiated a search for a court case with no success.  Thanks to the diligence of State Reference Archivist, Colleen Griffiths the case was found.  Early court record records in the State Archives are not indexed and have to be searched manually.  Carley was identified in the case as Larkin Kerley.  The case of the State vs. Larkin Kerley was found in Wilkes County Court Minutes, September Term 1822. [11] Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., in an article on NCpedia states the Joseph Wilson was  “The Great Solicitor”.  Ervin goes on to say that Wilson was committed to cleaning up corruption in the Mountain counties. Wilson was a politician and served in the North Carolina legislature.  [12]   In the case the defense argued that the Statute of Limitations had run and that the case should be dismissed.  Details of the case remain unknown.  The Solicitor found for the defendant and nol-prossed (chose not to prosecute) the case. State v Larkin Kerley

Jehu Barnes Coroner's Inquest part 2
Jehu Barnes Coroner’s Inquest part 2
Coroner's Inquest C.R. 104.913.1 Jehu Barnes , Wilkes County, 1820
Coroner’s Inquest C.R. 104.913.1
Jehu Barnes , Wilkes County, 1820

Annals of Caldwell County reported that on “December the 21st Barnes received his death wounds by Larkin Kearley, and died the day of December 1820.  (Larkin Kearley, the murder was taken and conveyed to prison in Wilkesgorough on Tuesday, the 2nd day of January, 1821)” [13].  The Coroner’s Inquest [14] on December 26 state that Larkin Cearley “Did strike the said Barnes a little above the forehead and a mortal would which knocked him out and he died about three days later”.

A Conspiracy Theory

Records indicate that Jehu knew Carley.  Larkin “Cearlee” witnessed the 1790 document in which Jehu agreed to care for Brinsley for his lifetime.  For that care, Jehu was to receive 290 acres on the Lower Little River of the Catawba and the rest of his estate for sufficient maintenance, during his lifetime.[7] With the death of his father in the Fall of 1794, Jehu probably suffered the wrath of his family until his tragic death in 1820.  We suspect but have no proof that other family members participated in a plot to murder Jehu.  Carley’s father-in-law Solomon died in 1807.  Brinsley II had migrated to Estill County, Kentucky before 1795 but filed a court case requesting that an earlier Will prepared by Brinsley proven in court.  Jehu’s brother John( my 4th great grandfather) filed a case against Jehu concerning settling Brinsley’s estate. Jehu sued John in a trespass case. John was a successful slave-owning planter.  The Encyclopedia Britannica states that a planter class came to dominate nearly every aspect of those colonies’ economic life.  These same planters joined by a few prominent merchants and lawyers, dominated the two most important agencies of local government — the county courts and the provincial assemblies. Charles Austin Beard in Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy discusses the role of planters in southern politics.  Like planters, Joseph Wilson,the Solicitor in Sate v. Larkin Kerleywas also a Jeffersonian Democrat. [13]  At the time of this writing, we have been unable to tell if the law was different in1822.  Today there ino statute of limitations in a murder case.  If the 1822 law was the same, someone would have had to have exerted pressure on the Solicitor to break the rules. ATTENTION:  Click To Inform Me When New Information Appear on This Site If you find the information on this website useful, please contribute to its support and maintenance.


This article would not have been possible without the efforts of three individuals.  First, I recognize Warren E. “Mick” Barnes for devoting his lifetime documenting the life of Brinsley Barnes and his descendant.  Warren graciously made his complete findings available to the author.  Second, the story would not have been told without the efforts of Larry Gentry a skilled genealogist and fourth great grandson of the victim.  Larry hails from California and is my 5th cousin once removed.  Third, I thank Reference State Archivist Colleen Griffiths.  Without her persistence, the court case would never have been discovered.  I thank the Honorable Beverly Beal retired Superior Court Judge for his legal assistance and the legal staff of the University of North Carolina School of Government.


[[1] Barnes, Warren E. “Mick”, Descendants of Brinsley Barnes 1713-1794& Elizabeth Lindley along the lineage of Willard Howard Barnes 1907-1974 & Ethel Garnell DAVIS, 1998-1946, Prepared 1998, with revisions 2012. (All court documents referenced below are extracted from this book.) [2]  Women’s Minutes, Kennett Monthly Meeting, 5 May 1753 [3] “Militia and Army.” Boundless U.S. History. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved 21 Feb. 2016 from Boundless 4] A list of men on the Muster Rolls of Capt. Jeduthan Harper’s Regiment. Chatham Co. Regiment, Sept. 1772. List No. 6 Taken from the original documents in the N.C. State Archives. Extracted from[1]. References to Captain’s Harper and Brooks [5] Gentry Family Tree, Larry Gentry, [6] Census 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820. [7] Articles of Agreement Between Brinsley Barnes and Jehu Barnes, July Term 1790-1798, c.104.30001. [8a] Wilkes County, NC Court Minutes, Vol. IV, 7 May 1795. [8b] Wilkes County, NC Court Minutes, Vol, IV, 5 August 1795. [9] NC Supreme Court Case of Samuel Reid and others vs.Joseph Chatham and others, 1876. [10], The Raleigh Register, November 23, 1821. [11] Wilkes County, NC Superior Court Minutes, 1820-1830CR 104.311.2., State v. Larkin Kerley, Wilkes County, September Term 1822. [12] Ervin, Jr., Sam J., NCpedia, Wilson, Joseph, 1996. [13]Scott W.W., Annals of Caldwell County, Originally published in 1930.  1996 reprint by the Caldwell County Genealogical Society. [14]North Caroina State Archives, Corner’s Inquest, C.R. 104.913.1 Jehu Barnes, Wilkes County, 1820 [15] Beard, Charles Austin. Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy. New York, Macmillan Co., 1915. (c) Copyright Hugh W. Barnes 2016, All Rights Reserved