Some Tidbits About Richard Barrington

Among Dr. Williams’ papers was a file with Richard Barrington’s name on it. Inside were copies of some sheets of paper with info written on them.

Richard W. Barrington

The first document was a paragraph which relates Mr. Barrington’s dates of birth and death, along with some info about how he became a slave of Senator Solomon Downs:

“Richard Barrington was born May 28, 1820, in Norfolk Virginia, owned by Dr. Butts. Sold to Hon. S.W. Downs of Ouachita Parish La. at the age of sixteen. Served in the capacity of body servant and private secretary. Died Nov. 19th, 1904.”

The second paper seemed to have been written by his daughter, Grace Barrington Burr? The handwriting is difficult to read in spots. However, it states a tidbit as to how Mr. Barrington became literate:

“Richard W. Barrington was not married when (illegible) to this country. He met Letitia, his wife here in Ouachita Parish on Col. Downs? Plantation, his education was the result of careful study under the supervision of Perin Cook, Mr. Pargould’s body servant.

Grace Barrington Burr (?)
His Daughter

The other papers were the contents of the legal proceedings granting freedom to Richard, his wife and children and permission to stay in the state.

I found several articles in the Ouachita Register before the civil war (1859) where Henry Kindermann was advertising that “Dick the Barber” was now employed as a cook at his establishment. Another article in a May 31, 1860 Register crows, “He comes nearest to perfection in matieres de cuisine than any cook we ever saw.”

Several state papers carried his obituary, including the New Orleans Times-Democrat (November 20, 1904, Page 9):

Death of an Old and Respected Negro.

Special to The Times-Democratic.
Monroe, Nov. 19. – There died to-day at his humble home near this city a notable character, a negro respected by all who knew him, white and black alike. Richard W. Barrington, aged eighty-five years, was the best and highest type of negro. Before the war he was the body servant of Gen. Solomon W. Downs, and while his master represented his State in the United States Senate during slavery days, he always accompanied and tended him. With his master, he met all the celebrities, Webster, Clay, Calhoun and others, and many were the interesting anecdotes he told of them and Washington life. his demeanor toward the whites was always respectful. The funeral will take place to-morrow at 12 o’clock from his home, east of town, the burial to be in his family burying ground.

3 thoughts on “Some Tidbits About Richard Barrington

  1. I’m looking for any descendants of The Jonah Meyer Franks family. They left and went towards Houston. Anything is appreciated


  2. So cool to see this. It was on FB and Linda Barrington was tagged on it. We graduated together from the same HS in 1979. Both of our dads were Tuskegee Airmen, we are in the same Sorority and were Debutantes together! I learned of a possible new connection from your blog. It’s through the connection with Mr Barrington and Senator Solomon Weathersbee Downs. My Great Grandfather, Edmond Downs, b abt 1843, was listed on the 1870 census as being born in LA. He settled in Pike County, MS where he was a homesteader. The Magnolia Gazette listed him as an Engineer for boilers and grist mills. It also stated he was wealthy and respected by both whites and blacks in Pike County. How could this be? Might he have had some influence- and protection because of a link to the Senator? He was enumerated as a mulatto. He had light eyes and a narrow face- like the Senator’s. I often compare their features. Very similar. 🤔 I’ve always wondered if he might be related to Senator Solomon Weathersbee Downs. Might you have any documentation or oral history on the Senator’s enslaved relatives? Do you know of any of his formerly enslaved people who kept the Downs surname?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have never heard about any of the other enslaved persons of the Downs’ family, except for one man who was killed for attacking the second husband of Senator Downs’ widow. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out there were those related by blood to the Downs family either through the Senator or his adopted son.


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