A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname

Notes for Eli Mosely BARNUM

Eli Mosely Barnum received his B.A. degree from Dartmouth College. The documents of Joseph Lane, first Territorial Governor of Oregon, territorial delegate to Congress, and US Senator, mention that he corresponded with Eli M. Barnum. According to one source, Barnum was born in Florence, Ohio in 1824, married "Frank W." on 1 November 1849 in Ohio, arrived in Oregon on 7 June 1851, and settled on a Donation Land Claim in Polk County on 1 February 1854. (Genealogical Materials in Oregon Donation Land Claims, Vol. One, Lottie L. Gurley, compiler, published in 1954 by the Portland Genealogical Forum of Portland, Oregon). According to Volume 5 of that source, Barnum's wife was Francis W. Latimer of Norwalk, Ohio. LDS records confirm his wife's name and the place and date of their marriage. The index to the Oregon Statesman newspaper (Salem, Oregon) for 1850 to 1866 contains several references to Barnum. He was an attorney in Oregon at a time when the Territory had few lawyers. The index to the Statesman has several references to his court cases. (According to the index, a 9 March 1852 article indicates that Barnum had just been admitted to practice law before the US District Court in Salem, Oregon and other articles mention his appearance in court in 1853. There are also references to his being in Dayton, Oregon in 1851. Barnum was also a prominent politician. He was a candidate for probate judge, one of the first trustees of Willamette University, appointed Commissioner by the territorial legislature in 1853 to supervise the construction of the territorial capitol building, and was appointed by Territorial Governor Davis in 1854 to the post of Adjutant General of the Territorial Militia. Barnum is perhaps best known for the 1858 gubernatorial campaign. By that time the Democratic Party in Oregon was divided, as it was nationally and in most other states, into two factions; those who supported the policies of President James Buchanan and those who supported Stephen Douglas of Illinois. In the 1858 Oregon campaign, each faction nominated their own candidate. Barnum was one of the two Democratic candidates that year. He received 45 percent of the vote, but lost to the other Democratic candidate, John Whiteaker. The GOP candidate that year, John Denny, was a distant third. (There is a possibility that Barnum and Denny were related by marriage, since their wives had the same maiden name). In 1860, Barnum campaigned in Oregon for the Breckinridge-Lane presidential ticket. He moved to New York City in 1863 or 1864 and that is where his trail goes cold. The 'Genealogical Record of the Barnum Family' states that he died in Salt Lake City in 1881.

Also, Barnum Lodge No. 7, I.O.O.F., was chartered on February 23, 1858 in Corvallis, Oregon. The Corvallis Odd Fellows Lodge was named for Eli M. Barnum, an energetic officer of the new Grand Lodge of Oregon. Its number seven indicates it was the seventh in Oregon. Six Lodges were in place in other Oregon cities along the Oregon Trail: Salem, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Albany, The Dalles, and Dallas. The Odd Fellows and the Masons were the two Lodges capable of building Lodge Halls at that time. The Odd Fellows did not do so, choosing to concentrate first on acquiring a cemetery (the I.O.O.F. Pioneer Cemetery of Corvallis) in 1863. The Masons built their lodge hall first and for a while Barnum Lodge No. 7 rented meeting space from them. This first building was destroyed by fire in 1869.

From the Salt Lake Daily Tribune of 24 September 1881: Gen. Eli M. Barnum, who died here yesterday, was born June 3d, 1823, was educated in northern
Ohio, graduated at Dartmouth college, New Hampshire, in 1846; then studied law and was admitted to the bar in northern Ohio in 1848; was one of the earliest members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the same locality and was afterward a charter member of the first Odd Fellows lodge in Oregon at Salem. He went to Oregon in 1851 and served as adjutant general under Governor Davis during the Indian troubles in 1855 and 1856. He lived nearly ten years in Oregon and then removed to New York city, where he remained about the same time. He has been the most energetic and active member of his fraternity and was the best authority on laws and principles of Odd Fellowship in the territory. He died peacefully at 12 M. on Friday. ~Portland Standard~

From the New York Times, 30 Sep 1881: Gen. Eli M. Barnum died at Salt Lake City last Friday. He was a native of Ohio, where he was admitted to the Bar in 1848. He went to Oregon in 1851, where he served as Adjutant General, under Gov. Davis, during the Indian troubles of 1855-56. He was in Oregon about 10 years, when he came to New York, and remained here about the same length of time. He was early connected with the elevated railway enterprise. Of late years he had been a resident of Utah.

From The Daily Astorian, (Astoria, OR), October 09, 1881: Death of Gen. E. M. Barnum. Many of our citizens will recollect E. M. Barnum, who came to Oregon in 1851, settled at Salem in commercial pursuits, and afterward was prominently known in the practice of law, as partner of the late Hon. Jos. G. Wilson. Mr. Barnum was once a Democratic candidate for governor of Oregon, on the same ticket when Col. Jas. K. Kelly ran for Congress, when there was a split in the party, previous to 1860. Afterwards he went East to collect a large amount of Oregon war claims, and actually did collect them, but was induced to put up his securities in a big deal in the gold market in New York, in connection, it was said with Ben Wood, and the result was a tremendous loss that took away every dollar and left him unable to repay his Oregon creditors. This weakness (for no one supposed that he intended to defraud the claimants of their money) was his ruin. He could not return, and spent his life then in futile enterprises, hoping to make some bold stake that would enable him to return to Oregon. He worked for the improvement of Hell Gate for years, and lived to see the improvement finally made without his help. At too early a day he attempted to organize an elevated railway system for New York, and that too succeeded, but years afterward. This writer knew him well, and knew that his life wish was to return to Oregon, the land of all his hopes, and where he could have acquired distinction and wealth in his profession, only for the rash act that ruined his prospects and blighted his life. Mr. and Mrs. Barnum filled an important social position in Oregon, and especially in Salem, at an early day, and many will bear out our remembrance of them. He organized the Odd Fellows as an order in this state, and so long as he remained here was a prominent member. He was a leading politician of the decade from 1850 to 1860, and during that time was as well known in public life as any man in the state, and so far as his history here can be recalled, he was highly honorable. The act of weakness that was so great a loss to others, has been expiated by many years of bitter repentance and blighted hopes.

Eli was present in the Oregon Territory prior to statehood.

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