Charles W. Barnes. As reporter and newspaper editor, former state superintendent of insurance and now president of the Kansas Life Insurance Company of Topeka, Charles W. Barnes has had an exceedingly busy and successful career covering almost the entire forty-year period since he came to the state.
He was born on a farm in Coshocton County, Ohio, October 28, 1869, a son of William O. and Maria Lonisa (McGruder) Barnes. His grandfather Charles Barnes was a lawyer, one of the pioneer members of the Ohio bar, and in the early days served as a judge. William O. Barnes was a farmer, and left the farm to serve in an Ohio regiment during the Civil war. In 1877 he brought his family out to Western Kansas, locating in Trego County. He acquired a large acreage of land, but soon found that it was not amenable to the kind of agriculture he had practiced back in Ohio, owing to a lack of rainfall. That was many years before the introduction of modern dry farming. He took up cattle raising, but not long afterwards met financial disaster during the severe winter of 1882, when most of his stock was frozen in a blizzard. Having had a lion’s share of early Kansas vicissitudes, he then removed to Lyon County, and is now spending his declining years at Osage City.
The only child of his parents, Charles W. Barnes was eight years old when he came to Kansas, and on his father’s farm and ranch came to know something of the hardships and privations of the Kansas farmer of that time. Most of his education was acquired after his father moved to Lyon County, where he attended the State Normal School in Emporia. At that time it was his plan and ambition to teach, but he became diverted to a more congenial employment in newspaper work. He worked on the News, the Democrat, the Republican and the Gazette at Emporia, and was employed in almost every capacity from apprentice to editor.
In 1895 Mr. Barnes came to Topeka as political reporter for the Daily Capital, and for three years kept tab on the political situation in the city and throughout the state. He next went to the State Journal at Topeka, as political reporter, and in fact has never wholly lost his interest in journalism.
In 1903 Mr. Barnes entered the field of insurance as assistant to C. H. Luling, then state superintendent of insurance. Then in 1907 he was elected state superintendent of insurance, and reelected in 1908. Those were stirring years in insurance circles everywhere, and he rendered his state a valuable service in the careful and conscientious administration of his public duties.
In 1913 Mr. Barnes was the chief organizer of the Kansas Life Insurance Company, of which he has since been president. Bringing to this institution his wide experience as an official and as a practical business man, he has succeeded in making it one of the large and safe financial institutions of the state.
Mr. Barnes is affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Knights and Ladies of Security, and the Sons of Veterans. On Christmas Day, 1899, he married Margaret Holmes Bear. They have two children: Charles W., Jr., and Jack B.