The E.T. Webb Home, at Broadway and Liberty Street, was the residence and office of Dr. Jesse Barnes from 1945 to 1955.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

Dr. Barnes held his license for a long time

Picture of Jeanne Newby

Jeanne Newby

April 17, 2024

Doctor Jesse M. Barnes was a man of distinction in our area. At the time of his death in 1955, Dr. Barnes had the oldest license of ophthalmology in operation. He had opened his first office in Carthage in 1902.

Jesse M. Barnes was born Dec. 26, 1871, in Poplar Bluff to Mr. and Mrs. John Barnes. They were a fairly normal family, one son, Jesse and one daughter, Laura.

Jesse graduated from Zock College of Ophthalmology, Topeka, Kan., in 1898 at the age of 27. It is a wonder of how Jesse chose this college – or did the college chose him? It was quite a ways from his hometown. Then after graduation, he settled in Carthage and after a bit of working for someone else, he opened his first office in 1902. His business in Carthage was in existence from 1902 to 1926.

Dr. Barnes, seeking a new adventure, in 1926, at the age of 55, opened two offices; one in Webb City and the other in Joplin. He worked out of those two offices from 1926 to 1941. He lived out by the Jasper County T.B. Hospital (currently the site of Webb City Rehabilitation).

Taking a more leisurely look at his career, at the age of 71, Dr. Barnes closed both of his offices and began practicing from his home. The change did not seem to discourage his patients, as his business continued to flourish.

At the close of World War II, at the age of 73, Dr. Barnes purchased a landmark in Webb City, the E.T. Webb home at 4 S. Liberty St. He and his wife, M. Viney, took up residence there, and he established his office in the home as well. This office was in operation from 1945 to 1953, when Dr. Barnes retired at the age of 81. But he kept his license active, so when he passed away in 1955, he had the oldest active ophthalmology license.

Dr. Jesse Barnes had another secret passion in his life besides working… he loved to write. He centered on writing religious books.

Dr. Barnes and his wife had one daughter, Mary.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.