Lewis Chesley Barnes was born in Clark County Kansas December 3, 1885 in a homestead cabin. He had on half-brother and was the first born of five children, three boys and two girls, the children of David Chesley and Alice Malinda (Hayes) Barnes. After a hard winter the family moved to Arkansas close to his father’s family seeking a more moderate climate.
Young Lewis went to a small college paying his way by selling Bibles and playing a fiddle for square dancing. He then enrolled in the University of Nashville, later given a new name as the University of Tennessee in Memphis. He graduated in its first class. To conduct an apprenticeship he practiced with Dr. Chastain of Prescott, Arkansas. In 1914 to 1916, he worked as a physician on the Hadley Plantation in Lincoln County. Leaving the plantation he formed a partnership with Dr. Pell Baker of Blissville.
His final move was to Ashley County to the town of Hamburg. Making house calls on horseback, then by buggy, later in a Model T Ford, he became known as willing to do whatever was necessary to bring comfort to his patients. After four years since graduation from medical school, he was ready for a secure pace in the medical community. He bought a practice of a deceased doctor with the office just off the town square, a location which he enjoyed in the midst of the community activity.
Dr. Barnes married Winifred Elimer Massey April 7, 1919. The couple had four children, all daughters.
Dr. Barnes immediately became a popular town-doctor, always “folksy, earthy, jolly, genial, beloved and loving”*. People came to his office for medical treatment and while there saw some of his specimens, looked at his funny, educational and interesting displays like the bandaged jawbone on a deer head. He gave encouragement and hope to the chronically ill. He did minor surgery in his office and used hospitals in the area for major problems. In homes he brought at least 2000 babies into the world. As medicine expanded dramatically after WWII he continued to learn keeping up with the advances in science.
He was a railroad physician for thirty-eight years beginning in 1920 until his death, going to sawmill centers regularly. When the area was flooded he rode in the caboose of trains to check on the stranded men. He was coroner at one time and served as health officer of Ashley County from 1917 until his death taking only a break between 1930-1932. As a Selective Service Examining Physician for WWI and WWII he received Presidential Citations.
Dr. Barnes was a Member of the American Medical Association, the Arkansas Medical Association and the District Association and held several offices including President.
He was a member of the Methodist Church, was a Democrat politically, a member of the Lions Club, and Prairie Golf Club.
Dr. Barnes lived a vibrant, full life of service,k a friend to all, a caring physician to all his patients.
On October 1st, 1958 he died at the age of 72 of a heart attack having practiced medicine for 46 years, 42 in Ashley County. He is buried at Pinewood Memorial Park in Ashley County, Arkansas.
*Y. W. Etheridge, Reflection of Ashley County, 203