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Demas Barnes (1827–1888)

Demas Barnes (1827–1888)

Demas Barnes was born in Gorham Township in Ontario County, New York, on April 4, 1827. He married Mary Hyde (1832–1875) on December 10, 1857; she died of diphtheria on December 23, 1875. They had one daughter, Cora Barnes, born on September 29, 1858. Barnes moved to Brooklyn, New York, in 1849, and invested in a number of proprietary patent medicine companies, including Demas S. Barnes and Co. He financially backed Joseph B. Rose and Charles Henry Fletcher—who had acquired the rights to Centaur Liniment and to Castoria (then known as Pitcher's Cathartic)—for a reported $25,000 in 1870. Rose and Fletcher improved the products, and eventually Barnes owned twenty-five percent of the profitable Centaur Company, which manufactured the laxative that came to be called Fletcher’s Castoria. An amateur geologist, Barnes also crossed the continent in a wagon to study the mineral resources of Colorado, Nevada, and California, eventually publishing articles on his experiences. He served as a Democratic congressman from Brooklyn between 1867 and 1869, but he did not stand for reelection in 1868. After the death of his wife Mary Hyde, he married Anna Dorinda Blaksley in Saint Louis, Missouri, on April 25, 1878. They lived at 88 First Place, Brooklyn, until 1882, when they moved to 41 West Fifty-Seventh Street, New York City. They had one daughter, Mildred Barnes, born on September 9, 1879. Barnes established and edited the Brooklyn Argus in 1873; he was also engaged in the real estate business. He was a member of the Brooklyn Board of Education and an original trustee of the Brooklyn Bridge (when it was still a private enterprise). Barnes was struck by a carriage and died on May 1, 1888, and his wealth passed to his wife and two daughters, although Cora Barnes was the sole legatee of his stock in the Centaur Company.

"Marriage of Hon. Demas Barnes," New York Times, April 28, 1878.

"Demas Barnes’s Death," New York Times, May 2, 1888.


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