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This is a contributing entry for ALL...ABOARD! A History of the Railroad in Hopkinton and Contoocook, New Hampshire and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
Joseph Barnard (1817-1899) was a lumberman with numerous wood lots (oak and pine) in the northeastern quadrant of Hopkinton at the time the railroad was coming to Hopkinton. One source says, “he became interested in the Boston and Maine Railroad and negotiated the deal whereby he furnished all the lumber for the railroad tracks when the railroad was put through from Concord to Warner.” He was also one of the original incorporators of the Contoocook Valley Railroad in 1849. Much of the family property went from Broad Cove Rd. north toward the town border with Webster. Barnard had lived most all his life in Hopkinton at the family homestead on Briar Hill Road. Besides the lumber industry (he would also provide lumber for ships used during the Civil War, including the USS Kearsarge), Barnard was a prominent dairyman and farmer, winning awards for Guernsey cattle and for fruit production. He was the third generation of Joseph Barnards in Hopkinton; his grandfather, also named Joseph Barnard (1737-1815), came from Amesbury, Massachusetts, in the 1760s. A descendant wrote about this ancestor, he “was somewhat assisted by slave labor, as is clearly shown by the copy of a deed now in the possession of Joseph Barnard (the grandson), it being a bill of sale, dated March 29, 1777, given him by Ruth Currier, of Kingston, NH, conveying unto him a negro man named Seeko. Mr. Barnard has likewise the indenture of a boy of 13, dated in 1769. This deed of sale proves conclusively that slavery once existed in the old Granite State, although the contrary has been persistently asserted by some high in authority.“ Seeko Barnard’s story – including service in the American Revolution – is explored in the Hopkinton Historical Society’s 2019 Putney Hill Cemetery Walk which constructs an inclusive multi-vocal narrative of Hopkinton past and present, and is a recent recipient of a national “Leadership in History” award from the American Association of State and Local History. Copies of the Cemetery Walk are available for purchase at the Society.

Photograph of Joseph Barnard’s home, located at 1030 Briar Hill Rd.

Photograph of Joseph Barnard’s home, located at 1030 Briar Hill Rd.

The Kearsarge at Boulogne is an 1864 painting by Édouard Manet depicting the Union cruiser USS Kearsarge, victor of the Battle of Cherbourg over the rebel privateer CSS Alabama. The painting is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The USS Kearsarge was built with lumber supplied by Joseph Barnard.

The Kearsarge at Boulogne is an 1864 painting by Édouard Manet depicting the Union cruiser USS Kearsarge, victor of the Battle of Cherbourg over the rebel privateer CSS Alabama. The painting is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The USS Kearsarge was built with lumber supplied by Joseph Barnard.

Parking for Stop #2: This is a private home and we ask that you remain in your car. Please pull off the road completely and do not block driveways or roads.

A more complete biography of Joseph Barnard from

Joseph Barnard, third, a prominent agriculturalist, horticulturalist, stock-grower, and lumberman, of Hopkinton, Merrimack County, N.H., was born November 11, 1817, on the farm that he now owns and occupies, he being the third of the name to hold a title to it. His grandfather, Joseph Barnard, the first of the name, so far as known, a native of Amesbury, Mass., coming to New Hampshire in 1765 or 1766, purchased land in the south-east part of Hopkinton.  The land was bought of the Rev. James Scales, the first settled minister in Hopkinton, it having been granted to him by the original proprietors, John Jones and others. Grandfather Barnard lost his title to that land, as others did of their lands in the vicinity, by the claims of the “Bow Company,” so called, and was given in exchange by the proprietors the land, previously unallotted, on which he established his home, and which is now occupied by his grandson and namesake, as mentioned above. It may be added as a part of this historical reminiscence that some land in the north-west part of the town of Hopkinton, north of the Contoocook River, was laid out in lots and sold at auction, to pay the expenses of the controversy with the Bow Company, the price received from the buyers, who were the Whites of Portsmouth, being ten cents an acre.

The Barnards of Hopkinton are probably descendants of Thomas Barnard, an early settler of Salisbury, Mass., who was one of the first Selectmen of that part of the old town that in 1668 was incorporated as Amesbury. Among his children were, it is said, a son Thomas, born in 1641, and Nathaniel, born in 1643. A Nathaniel Barnard, of Amesbury, evidently of a later generation, married Ruth French, of Kingston, N.H., and was the father of twelve children, including sons Joseph, Thomas, and Tristram, and a daughter, Mebitable (sic), who married a Currier, and lived to be one hundred and three years old.

Joseph Barnard, first, son of Nathaniel and Ruth, was born in Amesbury, Mass., January 12, 1737. In 1766 he removed to Hopkinton, as stated above, and, establishing a home there, worked as a farmer and ship-carpenter until his death, November 13, 1815. His first wife, Rhoda Currier Barnard, whom he married in Amesbury, died on April 7, 1794, leaving one daughter, Rhoda Currier, who married Ezra Morrill, of Hopkinton, and lived to the venerable age of ninety-three years. Joseph Barnard, first, married for his second wife Mrs. Olive Blake Hale, widow of Captain John Hale, an officer in the Revolutionary War. They had two children, Joseph, second, born May 6, 1795; and Sarah Ann, born April 12, 1798. Sarah Ann Barnard became the wife of Joshua Pierce, of Warner, but spent her last years in Manchester, N.H., where her death occurred August 22, 1869.

Joseph Barnard, second, father of the present Joseph, the special subject of this biographical sketch, was born, lived, and died on the old home farm, the date of his death being March 15, 1870. He did his full share of the pioneer work begun by his father, adding to the improvements already made on the original purchase of one hundred and fifty acres, clearing, fencing, and draining a large part of it. His father was somewhat assisted by slave labor, as is clearly shown by the copy of a deed now in the possession of Joseph Barnard, third, it being a bill of sale, dated March 29, 1777, given him by Ruth Currier, of Kingston, N.H., conveying unto him a negro man named Seeko. Mr. Barnard has likewise the indenture of a boy of thirteen years old, dated in 1769. This deed of sale proves conclusively that slavery once existed in the old Granite State, although the contrary has been persistently asserted by some high in authority. Joseph Barnard, second, was a man of far more than ordinary business ability. He invested largely in realty, and at his death owned several thousand acres in various townships, mostly timbered land, valued at seventy-five thousand dollars, one tract alone in Boscawen being appraised at fifty-two thousand dollars, while his entire estate amounted to about eighty thousand dollars. Naturally progressive, being quick to perceive the merits of anything new, he was the first to introduce Merino Sheep and also Saxony sheep into the town; and in 1838 he received the first prize for the finest exhibit of wool in New York.

In June 1816, Joseph Barnard, second, married Miriam J. Eastman, who was born on Horse Hill, Concord, N.H., December 6, 1799, a daughter of William Eastman, a Revolutionary soldier. They reared the following children: Joseph, third, whose name appears at the head of this sketch; Sally Ann born April 3, 1819, who is now the widow of Daniel P. Dustin, late of Contoocook; Mary Jane, born August 29, 1821, now the wife of Charles N. Tuttle, of Contoocook; William E., born May 27, 1823, who died at Edgerton, Ohio, April 2, 1884; and Rhoda Currier, born February 19, 1827, who married Dr. Ephraim Wilson, and died August 4, 1852. Mrs. Miriam J Eastman Barnard died September 17, 1869. 

Joseph Barnard, third, remained with his parents until twenty-two years old, the last part of the time receiving ten dollars a month for his work on the farm; and while still in his minority he served four years as Quartermaster in the Old Fortieth New Hampshire Regiment. After leaving home he spent two years as clerk in a store at Contoocook, and then went to Lowell, Mass., where he learned the stone-cutter’s trade, working at first for one dollar and a half per day, and boarding President Tyler, it will be remembered, made a tour of the Lowell mills and factories, interesting himself in the industries of the city; and on the second day of his stay, after large parades of civil and military companies, and ten thousand patriot girls dressed in white, he made and excellent speech of two hours’ duration, in which he acknowledged the benefits of the tariff. In the following session of Congress, it may be added, he signed the tariff bill. The epidemic which broke out two weeks after his visit in Lowell was given his name.

While recuperating, Mr. Barnard returned to his boyhood home; and when there he purchased from his father a tract of timber land for eight hundred dollars, buying it, however, in opposition to his father’s advice. Establishing himself then in the lumber business, he carried it on for thirty-five years, meeting with good success from the start. He supplied timber of all kinds for use in ship-building, his operations extending over several townships, in which he erected or hired mills, employing at different times forty men. The tallest mast timber in the State is found in the valleys of the Contoocook, Blackwater, and Warner Rivers, the regions in which he carried on his lumbering. During the late Rebellion he furnished much of the timber for naval supplies, and all the large timbers of “Ironsides,” and most of the material for the “Kearsarge”, which has recently been destroyed. In the Granite Monthly of May, 1893, is an article written by Mr. Barnard concerning the “Timbers of the Kearsarge,” in which it is stated that Mr. Barnard and the Hon. J.H. Butler, of Nottingham, were associated in 1860 in Newburyport, Mass., in handling oak timber for ship-building, and in 1861 were called upon to furnish timber for gunboats, said timber to be of first quality. White oak is in its best state when from eighty-five to one hundred years old; and this they found in large quantities on a hill near Tyler Station in Hopkinton, N.H.; and soon had a large force of men at work getting out white oak and yellow pine, sending to the Portsmouth Navy Yard a large part of the white oak of seven hundred and fifty thousand feet of timber for the building of the famous boat the received its name from the Kearsarge Mountain, which stands in plain view of the spot whereon its timbers were hewed.

Mr. Barnard resided in Contoocook twenty-five years of this time, and while there built in 1849 the Contoocook Valley Railway, extending from Contoocook to Hillsborough, fourteen and one-half miles, he being superintendent of construction, and furnishing much of the timber used. For several years he was officially connected with the road. He has also been Fire Claim Adjuster of the Concord Division of the Boston & Maine Railway for some years, an office that takes him quite often over the two hundred miles under his charge. Four years after the death of his father Mr. Barnard removed to the parental homestead, which he inherited; and he has since devoted much of his time to farming pursuits. He settled this estate, and has also settled many others in Merrimack County, usually by request, sometimes on commissions to appraise for tax purposes; and he is often called upon to estimate the timber on large tracts of land. For several years Mr. Barnard had charge of the waterpower at Contoocook; and in 1870 and 1871 he represented that town in the State legislature, where he was one of the Committee on Towns and Parishes, 1889. At the time of the war for the Union he was the enrolling officer in the Twentieth District, and the mainstay of the widows and fatherless, who trusted him implicitly, and whose confidence was not misplaced.

As a stock-raiser and dairyman Mr. Barnard breeds the Guernsey Cattle, which he exhibits at the various fairs in this section of the State, invariably securing prizes, both on cattle and dairy products. It was largely through the exhibitions of stock that he has made that the Deerfoot Creamery was located at Contoocook, and his herd of Guernsey has stocked many of the large New England dairy farms. In the culture of fruit of all kinds he takes great interest; and at a horticultural fair in Concord, when over a hundred exhibits were entered, he took thirteen prizes and sweepstakes for the finest fruits. He is a member of various agricultural and horticultural societies and a contributor to many of the journals. In politics he was in early manhood a Democrat, and voted for Franklin Pierce for President, but since that time has supported the principles of the Republican party.

On October 26, 1849, Mr. Barnard married Maria Gerrish, who was born April 15, 1831, a daughter of Abiel and Eliza (Dodge) Gerrish. Her father was born on the present site of the county farm in Boscawen, and her mother in that part of Merrimack County now included in the town of Webster. Mr. and Mrs. Barnard are the parents of eight children, the following being their record: Ellen Maria born March 1, 1851, died January 6, 1886; Joseph Henry, born October 12, 1852, died July 9, 1855; Abiel Gerrish, born January 8, 1855, was a lawyer in California; Joseph B., born March 17, 1857, died October 23, 1863; Mary Eliza, born January 11, 1859, is the wife of Jonathan Fowler, of South Sioux City, Neb.; George Edgar, born November 1, 1864, married Miss Bertha S. Tyler of Hopkinton, and now carries on the home farm; Rhoda Frances was born June 28, 1867; and Charles Lewis, born March 28, 1870, died December 29, 1895.

Barnard, Jared Alan. Joseph Barnard, Access Genealogy. Accessed July 3rd 2020.

Lord, C.C. . Life and Times in Hopkinton, N.H.. Concord, NH. Republican Press Association, 1890.

New Hampshire Antiquarian Society. Life and Times in Hopkinton 1735-1970. Hopkinton, NH. New Hampshire Antiquarian Society, 1989.

New Hampshire Antiquarian Society. Hopkinton New Hampshire 1765-1965. Hopkinton, NH. New Hampshire Antiquarian Society, 1965.

Tyler, Mala Duclos. Hopkinton and Contoocook. Charleston, SC. Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

HHS collection

Metropolitan Museum of Art