Baldwin County (Georgia) Cemeteries

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Nathan C. Barnett

Jun 28, 1801 - Feb 3, 1890

Cemetery: Memory Hill
East Side, Section I, Lot 63, Grave 11
-- See section's Lot Layout map on Memory Hill website. (Map will open in a new window.)

Inscription and Notes:

Hid and protected the great seal of the state during Gen. Sherman's visit to
Milledgeville Dates per obituary, Union Recorder, 2/4/1890
Government Service.
Former Secretary of State of GA during the Civil War

See the attached file NathanBarnett_Picture_and_Bio.pdf for more info on the source of this picture.

Nathan C. Barnett was the Secretary of State of Georgia during the War Between the States. On November 18, 1864, with Sherman's army advancing on Milledgeville, Barnett buried the Great Seal of Georgia under his house and pigpen located just east of the New Court House on Hancock Street. He is believed to have died a pauper.

Death of Col. N. C. Barnett (Obituary, Union Recorder, Feb 4, 1890)

We hardly got into type a brief notice of the serious illness of Col. N. C. Barnett, Secretary of State, on yesterday morning, when a telegram was received in the city announcing the death of the venerable gentleman on Sunday evening. We believe Col. Barnett was a native of Columbia county, and was born June 28th, 1801. His second wife was Mary Ann, daughter of Doctor David Cooper, the first Supt. and Resident physician of the State Lunatic Asylum. Besides his widow he leaves three children -- Addison, Mary and Stewart.

Col. Barnett was first elected to the office of Secretary of State in 1843, while a resident of Clarke county, Ga., and, with the exception of two or three terms, when he was defeated by Col. Geo. W. Harrison, and Hon. E. P. Watkins, he has held the office continuously ever since. The old man has been in feeble health for several years prior to his death, but his wonderful vitality and will power enabled him to discharge the duties of his office with the valuable assistance he was so fortunate as to secure. Col. Barnett was a good man -- a christian -- an amiable, lovely man, whose life has been one long illustration of the power and protection the Lord giveth to those who love him and obey his commandments.

The remains were expected to reach the city at 9:54 last night. We go to press before the train arrives. The funeral will take place from the Methodist church at 11 A. M. to-day.

Memorial Services and Burial of Col. N. C. Barnett (Union Recorder, Feb 11, 1890)

[Part of article omitted]

Sketch of his life

Nathan Crawford Barnett was born in Columbia county, Georgia, in July 1801 and was eighty-eight years, seven months and five days old at the time of his death.

His mother was a sister of William H. Crawford, the illustrious Georgian who served in the cabinet and as foreign minister, and his father was William Barnett, a gentleman of English descent.

On the death of his father his mother moved to Oglethorpe county where Col. Barnett grew up, completing his education at the Lexington academy. In his young manhood he bore a striking resemblance to his distinguished uncle, William H. Crawford. Tall, erect, of commanding presence, high character and intelligence he grew rapidly in strength and reputation. In his boyhood he was thrown among such men as his illustrious uncle, Thomas W. Cobb, Stephen Upson and George R. Gilmer, and on his removal to Walton county his associates were Walter T. Colquitt, Hugh A. Haralson, and men of like stamp.

After his marriage to Miss Morton of Clarke, Mr. Barnett moved to that county, where he was elected succesvely major of battalion and colonel of the Clarke county regiment.

He was engaged in merchandise at Watkinsville when he was elected to the legislature in 1836. He served two sessions, and acquired considerable prominence in the state through his active and valuable work. The service there to which he has referred with most satisfaction was his active work in behalf of the Western and Atlantic railroad.

After Colonel Barnett was elected to the office of secretary of state in 1843 he held it with the exception of one or two terms until the days of reconstruction.

His departure from the public service after the war was characteristic of the man. General Ruger, who was at the head of the military government of Georgia, wished the great seal of the state affixed to an executive act which Colonel Barnett could not approve. He refused to sanction the papers with the imprint of the seal and as a consequence was removed by General Ruger. Colonel Barnett took the seal with him, and kept it until his return to office in 1873. So the ancient seal of the state was not given to any of the corrupt transactions of radical rule.

Continually since the restoration of the democracy in 1873, Colonel Barnett has held office, and it was very seldom that any one had the temerity to oppose him before the people or the legislature.

Col. Barnett's chief characteristics were purity of life, firmness, faithfulness and candor. Always decided in his opinions, he did not thrust them upon others, but when they were asked for he gave them with candor and absolute fearlessness. His faithfulness to his duties was noticeable in his habits up to the time of his death.

Col. Barnett was married a second time, in 1841, to Miss Mary Ann Cooper, and on the 10th of next April the forty-ninth year of the sojourn together would have been completed.


From: Biographic etchings of ministers and laymen of the Georgia conferences / by W. J. Scott found in Digital Library of Georgia.
------page 276 ------
Col. N. C. Barnett was during much of his long life a prominent State official. he served under not less than a half-score of gubernatorial administrations as keeper of the great seal of the Commonwealth, a special function of the secretary of state.
Such was the clearness of his official record and the uprightness of his private life that he was spoken of in the highest and humblest political circles as "honest Nathan."
He was a nephew of the great William H. Crawford, whose fame extended through both hemispheres. Not less than Ben Franklin or Tom Jefferson he was the idol of the French people, and but for a paralytic stroke he would have been the presidential successor of James Monroe.
------ page 277 ------
My first intimate acqaintance with Col. Barnett began during my pastorate at Milledgeville, in 1860. The strength and influence of that once strongest station in Georgia had greatly declined since its pulpit was occupied by Capers Howard, Lovick Pierce and other notabilities. During that year, however, it was blessed with a memorable revival, and from that date it has advanced to one of the leading appointments of the North Georgia Conference.
Col. Barnett was a man of courtly address, of liberal culture and strongly wedded to old-time Methodism. He kept his Christian reputation untarnished until his closing days, and it may be truthfully said that both politically and ecclesiastically he died in the harness.
No little of his success in life was due to his wife, a daughter of Dr. David Cooper, a veteran of the second British war and a former superintendent of the State lunatic asylum. Mrs. Barnett still survives, greatly beloved by a large number of her old friends of earlier days.
Nathan C. Barnett was the Secretary of State of Georgia during the War Between the States. On November 18, 1864, with Sherman's army advancing on Milledgeville, Barnett buried the Great Seal of Georgia under his house and pigpen located just east of the New Court House on Hancock Street. He is believed to have died a pauper.
Secretary of state of Georgia, 1843-49, 1851-53, 1861-68, 1873-90.
Sequential Number: 001
Law Number: (No. 1.)
Full Title: An Act to provide for raising a revenue for the political year 1864, and to appropriate money for the support of the Government during said year, and to make certain special appropriations, and for other purposes therein mentioned.
[[portions are intentionally omitted here RWK, 22 OCT 2004]]
32. SEC. XXXII. Be it further enacted, That the sum of five hundred dollars is hereby appropriated to pay the Compiler of the laws of this session of the Legislature; and that the sum of two thousand dollars, or so much thereof as may be necessary, be, and the same is hereby appropriated, to pay George N. Lester, B. H. Bigham, N. C. Barnett, and S. S. Stafford, commissioners to prepare a new great seal for the State of Georgia, for services, and to reimburse them such funds as they, or either of them may have paid out for the accomplishment of the said work. The Governor is hereby authorized to audit the accounts therefor, and to pay so much of said accounts as he may find just, from any fund in the Treasury, not otherwise appropriated.
[Sidenote: Pay to Compiler of the laws of session of 1868.]
[Sidenote: To Hon. G. N. Lester and others for services in preparing new Great Seal for the State.]
[Sidenote: Gov. to audit the accounts for preparing seal.]
Approval Date: Assented to Dec'r 14th, 1863.
From an Article originally written for the Columbia Sentinel in 1883 by Dr. H. R. Casey:
May 10, 1883
"Hon. Nathan Crawford Barnett, the present Secretary of State is a native of Columbia county. His father was Wm Barnett and his mother's maiden name was Anna Crawford, a sister of Hon. Wm Crawford. His parents were of English and Scotch extraction and emigrated from Virginia to Georgia and settled in Columbia-- Losing his father when quite young, the widow and the children moved to Oglethorpe and settled in Lexington. Here young Barnett grew up to manhood, surrounded by some of the best of Georgia's citizens--William H Crawford, Thos. W. Cobb (of both of whom I have already spoken), Stephen Upson and that "prince of good fellows", George R Gilmer. On reaching his majority Nathan C Barnett moved to Monroe, Walton County. Soon afterwards he moved to Clarke county, married Miss Margaret Morton and settled in Watkinsville. While here he was first elected Surveyor, and assisted in surveying the Cherokee Purchase. In 1836 he was elected to the Legislature and was one of the warm and zealous supporters of the act to build the Western and Atlantic Railroad. Having lost his wife several years previous, he married in 1811[[note: this is a typo, should be 1841 NOT 1811]] Mary Ann Cooper of Harris County. In 1842 he was elected Secretary of State and was re-elected under Geo. W Crawford. Again, in 1850 he became Secretary of State under Gov Howell Cobb. In 1861 when the offices of the Surveyor-General and Secretary of State were combined, he was elected and continued in office during eight years of Gov J. E. Brown's administration. When the iron rule of military power proclaimed Georgia's territory N.C. Barnett, quietly yet patriotically folded the drapery of his honest office around him and boldly taking with him the Great Seal of the State followed the lead of the Noble old Roman, Chas. J. Jenkins, the then Governor. When the Democracy again came into power, under Gov James M Smith, he again became Secretary of State and to-day holds the same office under Gov Colquitt. For many years he has been a prominent member of the Methodist Church."
From the New York Times, August 14, 1884, page 2.
"The Queer Character Georgia has for Secretary of State"
Atlanta. Ga. August. 13. -- "Among the other nominations made by the Georgia Democratic Convention today was that of the Hon. Nathan Barnett, for Secretary of State. Mr. Barnett is perhaps one of the oldest officeholders in the world, being now 90 years of age, and having held his present office since 1842. Mr. Barnett was born in Columbia County while yet it was an Indian country, and as an infant had several narrow escapes from the tomahawk. He grew up to be a man of splendid physique, 6 1/2 feet in height, lean of flesh, with a long, cran-like neck. When elected Secretary of State 42 years ago, he was a man of much prominence, but held onto his office so long that the people forget the existence of both the man and his office. When reconstruction measures necessitated the clearing out of the State House Barnett was found to be still there, and as soon as the Republicans gave up the State he was found there again. Of late years he has become extremely sensitive as to his age. When asked the question recently he took the questioner away into the darkest recess of his office and pleaded that nothing be said about that question, "because", said he, "the people are calling so much for young men in office that it might defeat me." When the canvass just closed for State House officers was begun the old man for the first time in his life so far yielded to modern requirements as to write a card to the people announcing himself in the race. Georgia, being one of the original States, and her Government only dating back 150 years, Secretary Barnett's memory takes in over one-half of that era. hence his is one of the greatest authorities upon matters of titles &c. A singular feature of his memory is that he does not remember recent events. Speaking to a friend he could give but very little information as to matters happening in recent years, but when conversation drifted back to (can't make out word) he spoke of events of that date with the greatest vivacity. At the age of 60 he married a girl of 16. He now wears three pairs of spectacles bridged upon each other.
The full State ticket placed in nomination today is: H. D. McDaniel, for Governor: N. C. Barnett, for Secretary of State: W. A. Wright, for Controller; R. A. Hardeman for Treasurer, and Clifford Anderson, for Attorney-General."
END of NY Times Article... Transcribed by Robert W. Klebs, May 10, 2003.

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