by Mark Himes
Joseph Barnett was born in 1754 and died in the md 1830's. He, along with three other people, became the first in what is now Jefferson County. The others venturing along with Barnett were Andrew Barnett, John Scott, and Fuge Van Camp was a freed slave.
In 1797 the four pioneers led by Barnett came to the Lick Creek. In Barnett's honor, the area is called Port Barnett located along along Route 322 near Hunphrey's Charcoal. In the area he found Native Americans from the Seneca tribe. This branch of the Seneca Tribe was known as the Corn Planters.
Barnett gave the Indians whiskey. They helped him build a tavern, and later a saw mill. When the Indians would bring goods to trade, Barnett would offer them whiskey. He knew the Indians would get drunk and not think clearly. With the Indians drunk they would give him their goods at a fraction of what they were worth.
Port Barnett was the last place to stop on the trip west. People going west would stop to get supplies for the rest of their journey. Barnett's Tavern became the only stop on the 75 mile trip across rugged wilderness. The item most important was whiskey. Whiskey keptp for a long time while most other drinks would not keep.
This year is the Bicentennial of Jefferson County. In the honor of the 200th Aniversary of the county, Joseph Barnett's grave has been rededicated. His grave is located in the Brookville Cemetery on North Pickering Street in Brookville.
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