Genealogy brings Mich. man to Canfield Underground Railroad stop
By Sean Barron
A lot of time has passed between when a Southern farmer and abolitionist settled on a piece of Canfield property and one of his descendants learned about it — 38 presidencies, to be precise.
“I recently did an ancestry search ... and I read about this place and was interested in seeing what it’s all about,” said Martin Barnes, referring to the Loghurst Farmhouse Museum, which he visited for the first time Friday.
A few months ago, the Fair Haven, Mich., man learned that his great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Barnes, once owned the three-story house and museum at 3967 Boardman-Canfield Road, which the Canfield Heritage Foundation operates.
The home on seven acres was built in 1805 and is said to be the oldest log home in the Western Reserve, noted Claire Neff of the heritage foundation.
The elder Barnes moved into the home with his wife, Nancy, and eight children after having arrived via covered wagon from Virginia in 1826, when John Quincy Adams, the nation’s sixth president, was in office. For about 10 years, Barnes, who fought in the War of 1812 and was a staunch abolitionist, farmed the land and used the home as an Underground Railroad station for the safe passage of slaves seeking freedom in the North.
Barnes, a retired municipal worker, took time with his wife, Delores, to tour the home, which includes a Victorian-style parlor with an original tea set. Among the artifacts he found was a shotgun that he thinks one of his relatives owned, along with a sign that indicates Jacob Barnes probably used the residence as a stagecoach stop for people traveling between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
Also during his stay, Barnes and his wife visited 17 W. Main St., the Canfield home of Nancy Barnes after her husband died.
The couple also stopped at Canfield Methodist Church, home to the so-called “egg” Bible. According to legend, a Methodist minister was using an umbrella for protection as rotten eggs were being tossed at him for delivering an anti-slavery speech, and one of the eggs dripped on the open Bible.
Neff’s husband’s great-great-great grandfather, Conrad Naff, built the house, she continued, noting that the spelling of the family name was later changed to Neff. The original home had two rooms with a sleeping area before additions were made around 1826, she explained, adding that Jacob Barnes also built the front porch.
Calling Jacob Barnes “a forward-thinking, strong man,” Neff noted that he was unconventional in many ways, including the decision to leave everything in his will to his wife.
“That was unheard of at the time,” Neff said.
More recently, the home has undergone various renovations such as a new roof earlier this year and a refurbished front porch. Each project cost about $25,000, noted Lee Sandstrom, the heritage foundation’s president.
The nonprofit Canfield Heritage Foundation is seeking members and donations. For information or to make a contribution, go to www.loghurst.org or send an email to email@example.com.