Michael James Barnett and his wife, Margaret Jane (Knowles) Barnett
original provided by Margaret Morgan
Michael James Barnett

Michael James Barnett was born on August 8, 1840, in Fulton County Illinois. Margaret Jane Knowles (known as Jane to her husband) was born on August 4, 1844, in Menard County Illinois. They married in Menard County on April 7, 1864, while Michael James was on leave from the Union Army.

Michael James and Margaret Jane both died in Fremont, Nebraska; he on March 11, 1920, and she on February 13, 1926. Both are buried in Ridge Cemetery in Fremont.


He was the second child and older son of William C. Barnett (born 1814 in Virginia) and his wife Asenith Killian (born 1815 in Kentucky); they moved to Illinois in 1830. Both of them had ancestors who had lived in America for at least several generations.

For more on Michael James Barnett's life and times, click on one of the links below.

The Civil War Diary
Michael James Barnett kept a diary during 1865, the last year of the five that he was in the Union Army. The diary was handed down to a son, William R. Barnett, a grandson, C. C. Barnett, and a great-granddaughter, Catherine (Barnett) Garrels Wiley. Recently, Mrs. Wiley's daughter, Linda (Garrels) Mullen, had the diary professionally scanned, transcribed the entries, and added some references and other comments. Great-great-grandson Gordon R. Morgan, son of Margaret (Barnett) Morgan, reformatted the transcription and added some more comments and references.

This diary illustrates the life of an enlisted volunteer in the Union Army, with a little excitement and tragedy, and much drudgery and hardship. It also has frequent reminders of those back home who love and support a soldier.
The 33rd Illinois Volunteers
Michael James Barnett volunteered for the Union Army, joining the 33rd Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry. The story of the 33rd Illinois Voluntters is recounted in History of the Thirty-Third Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry...1861 to 1865
This volume, published in 1902, recounts the history of the volunteer regiment in which Michael James Barnett served throughout the Civil War. It passed from William R. Barnett to C. C. Barnett, and then to one of Catherine Barnett Wiley's sisters, Margaret Jane Morgan. Mrs. Morgan provided it to me for scanning and publishing here.
Mobile's Great Magazine Explosion
The diary entry for July 25 describes hearing of the Great Magazine Explosion in Mobile. The magazine (a storage facility for 200 tons of ammunition and gunpowder) exploded with such devastating force that much of the city was leveled and several hundred people died. Michael James Barnett was over 160 miles away at the time, but the explosion was so great that news about it spread immediately. Linda Mullen provided links to articles about it; those links, and a summary, appear here.