Actor Justus D. Barnes

Justus D. Barnes (October 2, 1862 – February 6, 1946), named George Barnes in some sources, was an American stage and film actor. He is best known for his role in the 1903 silent short The Great Train Robbery, which the American Film Institute and many film historians and critics recognize as the production that first established the Western genre, setting a new “narrative standard” in the motion picture industry. Kim Newman says it is “probably the first Western film with a storyline”.


Justus Barnes was born in Little Falls, New York. His father was an immigrant from Scotland, while his mother was born in New York. He was a veteran stage actor before he made his screen debut in 1903 in The Great Train Robbery. In that film’s memorable ending, Barnes points his pistol at the camera and slowly fires all six shots at the viewer. The Great Train Robbery became one of the most successful and best known commercial films of the early silent era.

In July 1908, Barnes was hired as an actor in the stock company of the Edison Manufacturing Company, the film production company owned by Thomas Edison. In 1910, he signed on with the Thanhouser Company in New Rochelle, New York. Between 1910 and 1917, Justus appeared in more than seventy films for the Thanhouser, usually in the role of a villain. He played Ham Peggotty in David Copperfield, the earliest known film adaption of the 1850 novel by Charles Dickens. He also played supporting roles in Nicholas Nickleby (1912), Aurora Floyd (1912), and A Dog of Flanders (1914).

In 1917, he was released from the Thanhouser Company due to the company’s financial issues. Barnes made his final onscreen appearance for the Edison Studio in Cy Whittaker’s Ward, in 1917.

Later years and death

After retiring from acting, Barnes moved to Weedsport, New York, where he worked as a milkman. He later owned a cigar store. Barnes died on February 6, 1946, in Weedsport at the age of 83. He is buried in Weedsport Rural Cemetery, in Weedsport, New York.


Justus Barnes appears on a postage stamp issued in 1988 to honor The Great Train Robbery.[citation needed]

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1903 The Great Train Robbery Bandit who fires at camera Uncredited
1910 Young Lord Stanley The girl’s father Alternative title: His Only Son
1911 The Declaration of Independence Samuel Adams
1911 David Copperfield Ham Peggotty
1912 On Probation The Rich Old Widower
1912 Nicholas Nickleby Nicholas’ Uncle Ralph
1912 The Baby Bride The Minister
1912 When Mandy Came to Town The Father
1912 The Portrait of Lady Anne Lady Anne’s Father in 1770
1912 Cousins Father on Farm
1912 The Voice of Conscience Doctor Credited as Justice Barnes
1912 Aurora Floyd Aurora’s father
1912 The Star of Bethlehem Gaspar, a Magi
1912 With the Mounted Police Mounted Policeman
1913 When the Studio Burned Director
1913 While Mrs. McFadden Looked Out Mr. McFadden
1913 For Another’s Sin Bank Examiner
1913 A Victim of Circumstances The Father
1913 When Darkness Came The Senior Partner
1913 The Farmer’s Daughters Father
1913 He Couldn’t Lose Green, a lawyer
1913 A Beauty Parlor Graduate Uncle Bill
1913 An Amateur Animal Trainer Belle’s father
1914 Joseph in the Land of Egypt Undetermined role
1914 Percy’s First Holiday Undetermined role Uncredited
1914 A Leak in the Foreign Office Abdool – Trevor’s Afghan companion
1914 A Can of Baked Beans Mr. Morton
1914 Their Best Friend Jack’s Father
1914 Cardinal Richelieu’s Ward Huguet Credited as Justus Barnes
1914 A Debut in the Secret Service Abdul
1914 The Infant Heart Snatcher The Judge
1914 The Mohammedan’s Conspiracy Abdul
1914 A Dog of Flanders The Rich Miller Lost film
1914 From the Shadows Stage Manager Alternative title: Out of the Shadows
1914 His Enemy John Baird
1914 The Harlow Handicap George Carnes
1914 Arty, the Artist Mr. Miles – May’s Father
1914 Gold The Village Bully
1914 The Mettle of a Man John Ross
1914 The Harvest of Regrets Mr. Sheldon
1914 The Diamond of Disaster The Bandit
1914 Lucy’s Elopement Ezra Jenkins
1915 The Home of Silence Ralph’s father
1915 Helen Intervenes Store Manager
1915 The Smuggled Diamond Chief of the Secret Service
1915 The Adventure of Florence Mr. Clark – Florence’s Father
1915 The Final Reckoning Judge Granger
1915 Bianca Forgets Bianca’s father
1915 Love and Money The American Suitor’s Father
1915 The Heart of the Princess Marsari Paul’s Wealthy Uncle
1915 God’s Witness Judge Lost film
1915 Bud Blossom Bud’s grandfather
1915 The Country Girl The Squire, her Guardian
1915 Old Jane of the Gaiety Choreographer
1915 His Two Patients The Blacksmith
1915 The Marvelous Marathoner Ewing Webster
1915 Snapshots Henry Spear – Editor
1915 From the River’s Depths William Hewins – Dorothy’s Father Alternative title: A Call from the Dead
1915 Weary Walker’s Woes Lawyer
1915 Mr Meeson’s Will Mr. Meeson
1916 Outwitted The Contractor
1916 Fear Jasper
1916 Arabella’s Prince The Prince
1917 Her Life and His Political Boss
1917 Hinton’s Double Detective Denton
1917 The Candy Girl Officer Quinn
1917 An Amateur Orphan Dave’s Father Credited as Justus Barnes
1917 It Happened to Adele Vincent’s Uncle
1917 Cy Whittaker’s Ward Simmons Credited as J.D. Barnes

External Links

Actor Justus D. Barnes – Wikipedia

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