BIOGRAPHIES of Madison County TN


Hon. Newsom Rayburn Barham, circuit judge, is one o^ Jackson's most prominent and substantial citizens. He was born on a farm near Saltillo Hardin county, Tennessee, on February 11, 1863, a son of William I. and Tennessee (Hawk) Barham, both of whom were natives of that county, and both are deceased. Although an invalid, the father was engaged in the mercantile business and other business enterprises at and near Saltillo, and also farmed until bad health forced his retirement a few years before his death in April, 1871. Fraternally he was identified with the Masonic lodge and was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal church, South.

As will be seen, the subject of this sketch was eight years old when his father died. He was the oldest boy and second child of five children, who with the mother survived. The mother died at the age of seventy-nine in the year 1920.

The ravages of the war together with the bad health of the father in the late years of his life, were among the causes which had reduced the family finances to near poverty. Newsom R., at the early age of eight, assumed the leadership of the younger two boys in the support of the family, by working on the farm in the cultivation of corn and cotton, and his early education was limited to a few weeks of public school in mid­summer and midwinter.

Later on the family removed to Saltillo, where the subject of this sketch had the advantage of about two or three years attendance at a fairly good small town school. It was while in school there that he began reading law under the instructions of the principal of the school, who was a law graduate. After quitting school, at the age of about eighteen, he worked as clerk in stores at Point Pleasant, Tennessee, and Saltillo, for about four years. Later he was traveling salesman in the Tennessee river territory for a wholesale grocery house in Paducah, Kentucky, for a short time. After these experiences he, with his brother, engaged in the mercantile business at the town of Parsons, Decatur county, Tennessee. He gave much time to the study of law during these varied experiences and in 1889, when he reached the age of twenty-six, he was admitted to the bar at Decaturville, where he began the practice of his chosen profession. The following year he located at Lexington, Tennessee, where he engaged in the active practice, being associated with his kinsman, the Hon. W. T. Logan, until the latter's death in 1894. Thereafter for fourteen years he diligently applied himself to the study and practice of law at Lexington, until in 1908, when, having proven his worth as a citizen and ability as a lawyer, the people overwhelmingly elected him to the position of judge of the twelfth judicial circuit of Tennessee, including the counties of Madison, Henderson, Decatur, Chester, Hardin and Perry. He has been several times reelected with little or no opposition, and his present term expires in September, 1926. His high standing as a judge is fully attested by the small number of cases which have been re­versed by the appellate courts.

Judge Barham was actively identified with all the civic improvements in Lexington through that period of the town's growth from a population of a little over four hundred to nearly two thousand, and although the greater part of his time and attention have been devoted to his profession, he has been active in financial circles, having been a director of the Central State Bank of Lexington until 1921, and he also has some banking connections in Jackson.

On the 4th day of February, 1891, at Lexington, Tennessee, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Barham to Miss Louanna Timberlake, a native of that community, and a daughter of E. J. Timberlake, a pioneer resident. He was cashier of the Bank of Lexington, the first organization of that kind established there. Later he was the cashier and chief officer in the Farmers Union Bank which is now the Central State Bank. He was cashier of that institution at the time of his demise in 1909. Mr. Timberlake was one of the developers of Lexington and his death came as a severe shock to his family and many friends. He was active in the public life of the community. In 1875 he was a member of the state legislature. To the union of Mr. and Mrs. Barham, one son and two daughters have been born: Mary, who is now at home, was educated at Nashville College, Union University and the Randolph-Macon College; and Celestia received her education in Union University and Sullins College. The son, Newsom R., Jr., died when about four years of age. Mrs. Barham and her daughters are socially prominent, being active in club, social and religious work.

Since attaining his majority, Mr. Barham has been a supporter of the democratic party and the principles for which it stands, although since being a member of the judiciary he has not taken an active part. Fraternally he is a thirty-second degree Mason and he is likewise affiliated with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and is past chancellor of Lexington Lodge of the Knights of Pythias. In 1918 he was delegate to the General Conference of the Methodist church, South, at Atlanta, Georgia, and he was a member of the Board of Church Extension of the Memphis conference from the Lexington district, for a number of years. He is a great believer in the brotherhood of man and he does all in his power to assist in the development and im­provement of the general welfare and the upbuilding of the' government. He is a self-made man in every sense of the word and he has succeeded where many a man of less strength of character and determination would have failed. His earliest ambition was to become a lawyer and the legal profession has become his life work, to which he is sincerely devoted. He has one of the best judicial minds in the state of Tennessee and well merits the esteem in which he is held by his professional brethren. Since 1918 he has resided in Jackson and during that time has wielded a great influence for good in this community.

Tennessee, The Volunteer State