By Richard Copeland
Alexander Barnett owned and ran a hotel in Logansport when the Wabash and Erie Canal ran through Logansport. The Michigan Road was a main artery from the south to Michigan City and stops were necessary for travelers. The stage coaches would travel the Michigan Road and had special stopping places for travelers. The Barnett Hotel was one of the most noted stops on the long trip from the Ohio River to Lake Michigan.
Alexander Barnett brought his wife, Caroline, and three children from their home in Catskill, Green County, N.Y., to Logansport in 1844. Alexander built his first hotel in 1847 at the northeast corner of Third and Market Streets. It was a four-story brick building with beautiful porches and balconies. The building was 20 feet wide and 82 feet long giving space for a lot of rooms. It was considered by many to be the most beautiful building in Logansport when it was built. In 1855, Alexander ordered an omnibus (a large wagon to carry several people and luggage) from New York City so that he could transport passengers from the train stations to the hotel. He also used the omnibus to take passengers to their homes in the surrounding area.
The Barnett family lived in the hotel for a while and then moved to a farm on the west side of Logansport where Alexander farmed some and did a lot of gardening. He went into the saloon business in a building right behind the hotel on Third Street with Coe Blizzard.
Alexander gained control of the Logansport and Rochester Plank Road in 1850. The conditions of the transfer were that he be responsible for the upkeep of the road. Apparently, he did not keep the road in repair, as the citizens of Logansport and Rochester met and passed a resolution that they would not pay any more toll because the road wasn’t fit to travel over.
Besides operating a hotel, omnibus and a saloon, Alexander also operated a stable at 317-19 S. Third St. John F. Gilbirds was co-owner and did most of the daily work.
In 1870, Alexander became the director of the Athletic Baseball Team. This team became quite famous as an amateur team throughout central Indiana.
Alexander was very interested in horse racing. He even had a trotting race track built one mile west of Logansport. One of his horses “Cooley” won an important race at the Wayne County Horse fair on May 26, 1860. From that time on, Alexander Barnett was called by the name, Colonel Alexander Barnett. In 1869, the Cass County Fair was held at the Barnett Race Track. He became so involved in raising horses for racing that he leased the Barnett Hotel to his son to run. That operation did not work out so he had to take back control of the hotel.
The old Barnett Hotel was razed in 1885, and a new four-story brick building was built at the corner of Second and Market Streets on the northeast corner. Later an annex was built that remained until just a few years ago. The new Barnett Hotel burned in 1919 and was not rebuilt.
Colonel Alexander Barnett died Nov. 10, 1889.
The material for this article came from Powell’s History of Cass County, the Arthington papers, the Pharos-Tribune and This Changing World, by Will Ball.
By Richard Copeland