Reon Barnes

Reon Barnes was born in Middletown, Connecticut on December 9th, 1845. He was the sixth of twelve children of Duane Barnes and Cynthia Turner. Reon Barnes was one of the most important developers of Staten Island of his time.

Reon Barnes’ ancestors were from England. Of three brothers, who were professional men immigrated to Long Island in 1652. Ultimately, a branch of the family settled in Connecticut, where Reon’s father, Duane Barnes was born.

Reon Barnes spent his early life in New England, where he went to public school and worked in the publishing business with his father.  During his formative years there, he developed numerous intellectual and behavioral characteristics that would help him achieve great success later in life.

Throughout his life, Barnes was known for his decisive and good and accurate judgment. He was a great communicator and his memory was so excellent it became legendary.  Barnes had a genial nature and was well liked and greatly admired. Physically, Barnes inherited an imposing figure from his parents.  He was tall, portly, with well-defined features.

Barnes moved to New York City when he was fifteen years old.  From New York, he traveled extensively throughout the United States and its territories, gaining notoriety and experience in the business world. Ultimately, he began a contracting business.

Barnes quickly developed extensive business operations in contracting throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, later expanding through the entire United States. He did many notable projects, including railroad piers, bridge projects, and construction of stockyards.

Reon moved to Staten Island in 1872, and by 1876, procured a ferry service for Staten Island giving it a comfortable link to the city. This was an incredible advance for the growing community. In addition, he constructed incandescent electric lights to illuminate the streets and buildings of Staten Island.

Reon also purchases enormous amounts of property, mostly waterfront land for development.  Because of his work, he became one of the most well-known, and most recognized, members of his community and Reon Barnes did more than any other person in Richmond County, at that time, to the development of Staten Island.

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