The Barnes family came to the Maumee valley around 1823 along with their grandparents, Jacob and Esther (Harris) Wiltse, and their uncle, Cornelius Wiltse. The father, Josiah or Joshua Barnes had died and his widow, Ann (Wiltse) Barnes, came to the frontier with her 8 daughters and Willard. Prior to migrating they had lived in Cayuga County, New York where Willard was born on June 24, 1808. They settled near Waterville at first, but when Willard married Elizabeth on November 3, 181, they moved to what was then Waynesville Township in Wood County. After the Toledo War, this area became Springfield Township in Lucas County, and later became a part of Monclova Township. Willard is listed in the “History of Toledo and Lucas County” as being a resident of Springfield Township before 1834.
Elizabeth Cobb Kitchell was born on January 12, 1812, in Deerfield Township, Warren County, Ohio. She was the daughter of James Leonard and Charity (Cobb) Kitchell who came to the Maumee Valley from southwestern Ohio in 1826, settling on Swan Creek in what is now Fulton County.
They moved to Wing Township (later Swanton Township) in 1834 where Willard was actively involved in the organization of that township. He built the house where the first school was held in 1835. On April 4, 1836, the first election was held for the township and he was elected one of the trustees.
Sometime between 1837 and 1839, they moved to Boone County, Illinois, and remained there until 1853, when they sold their farm near Belvedere. They returned to Spencer Township that year where they lived for the remainder of their lives. Their farm was located on Angola Road
Willard and Elizabeth had 13 children: Joshua, Harriet B., James K., George Willard, Caroline Elizabeth, Mary J., Asahel Asa, Emeline Miranda, Charles Thare, William H., Oscar W., and Sarah Jeannette. The family wrote a short history of the family in 1965 and at that time they were able to count 57 grandchildren that were born to their 13 children. Only nine of those grandchildren were living at that time: Jane Campbell of Joshua’s family; Mae Pollock of James K.’s family; Ida Stull, Harry Barnes and Albert Barnes of George Willard’s family; Opal Diamond and Pearl Belles of Charles T.’s family; and Mary Tredway and Wendell Barnes of Asahel Asa’s family. Five sons served in the Civil War – Joshua, James, John, George and Asahel, and many of their descendants served their country in subsequent conflicts. In the area around Springfield, Spencer and Monclova Townships numerous members of the family live today.
Willard died on January 11, 1879 and Elizabeth on November 11, 1881. Both are buried in Spencer Sharples Cemetery in Harding Township.