The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

 Martin Oliver Barnes

Photo added by Catherine Byron

Martin Oliver Barnes

  • Birth 1902 Great Falls, Cascade County, Montana, USA
  • Death 1985 Garfield County, Montana, USA
  • Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered, Specifically: The marker in Hearts at Peace Cemetery is a memorial marker for Oliver. His ashes were scattered over the Seven Blackfoot drainage.
  • Memorial ID 19648129


Martin Oliver Barnes was born in Great Falls in 1902. He came to Garfield County with his parents in 1906. Art and Ed Saylor came at the same time. Art had come the year before to build a cabin. It was in that cabin Oliver spent his early life.

In 1909, his dad purchased a team of black horses and Oliver at the age of 7, plowed 40 acres that fall. The plow was heavier than Oliver so it was quite a chore. The same year, some Indians came to call and saw the smoke house where Oliver's dad had been salting some pork hams and shoulders. They told him that they wanted them so he traded for three or four boxes of 30-30 shells. The Indians then went on to a neighbor who was boiling some beef. The Indians indicated they wanted it. He had a bottle of poison and put in the boiling beef. When they left with the beef, the neighbor followed them and they didn't even get sick. The boiling water had killed the poison.

Oliver and his sister, Mary, attended the Linebarger school along with the Looke, Trotter, Stafford, Phipps, Simmenon and Haney children. Mrs. John Trotter was the teacher.

In 1918, there was a lot of rustling going on. Oliver's dad and a neighbor had 500 head of cattle. In two years, their herd did not increase because of the loss. They also stole Oliver's horses.

The winter of 1919 was the worst winter Oliver remembers. There was snow and cold weather for six months. The snow was two and three feet deep, and for weeks, the temperatures hovered around 40 below at night and no more than 20 below in the daytime.

In 1920, he went to Lewistown and drove four mules and a Freszno helping build the road from Crane to Hilger.
He and Buster Knapp broke horses for Joe Reynolds in 1923.

April 15, 1942 saw him finally settling down when he married Opha (Kester Buffington) Barnes. She had divorced her husband "Fuzzy" (Wilton) Buffington. They had four children, two girls and two boys who were almost grown. However, Oliver felt lucky when on April 27, 1943, he and Opha had a son, Myron.

After they were married, Oliver carried the mail from Brusett to the John Mury Ranch for four years.

In 1944, he finally could afford to buy his first new truck and a Model M IHC tractor and he farmed about 600 acres for several years.

In 1960 Opha passed away leaving him at loose ends. Myron was almost old enough to leave home and Oliver was getting older, unable to do as much work as he was when he was young.

He served on the MidRivers Telephone Board from 1950 to 1962 during its infant years. It was a very busy time as telephones were installed all over the county for the first time.

He was appointed to be Justice of the Peace and served for many years.

Oliver loved to fish. Just days before he passed away, he had decided to go to Widow Coon and fish at Ft. Peck Lake. He had been gone a day or two when people got really worried about him as he had been seen going to the lake but had never been seen back in Jordan. The neighbors started to hunt for him and found his pickup and where he had eaten breakfast but he was not at the site. They checked the pickup and it didn't start. They became more worried and could see his tracks heading out of the lake site. They followed these until they found him. He had gone to sleep under a rock and had died as he would have wished, in his sleep, with an apparent heart attack. He was found on June 26, 1985.

Martin Oliver Barnes wrote this story of his life for an earlier edition of the They Came to Garfield County and Some Stayed which also includes Garfield County 1919-1969. This is a publication published by the Garfield County Historical Society and Garfield County District High School of Jordan, Montana – July of 2006.

NOTE: Oliver's remains were cremated and scattered over the Blackfoot drainge of the Missouri Breaks. It was country he worked in, fished in, and loved. A memorial marker is placed in the Hearts at Peace Cemetery between two of his fishing buddies and caretakers: Robert and Roy Phipps. Oliver's wife and son are buried at Butte Creek Cemetery closer to Snow Creek but still in the Brusett Community.

See more Barnes memorials in:





  • Created by: Catherine Byron
  • Added: 31 May 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 19648129
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Martin Oliver Barnes (1902–1985), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19648129, ; Maintained by Catherine Byron (contributor 46549719) Cremated, Ashes scattered, who reports a The marker in Hearts at Peace Cemetery is a memorial marker for Oliver. His ashes were scattered over the Seven Blackfoot drainage..