April 8, 1856 – Leonard “Len” Barnard was born in Maine, the son of Ira and Susan Barnard. In 1868, he moved to California with his parents, and the Barnard family came to Mendocino a short time later.
When he was 21 years old, Len started a stage coach business, operating stages north from Mendocino, first to Noyo, and later to Kibesillah and as far north as Bear Harbor. He continued in the stage business for more than 40 years, switching from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles in 1912.
William P. Stanton reminisced about Len in the Beacon in 1958. “As a boy, [William] had ridden Len Barnard’s four-horse stage to Westport to join his father, who as a sea captain frequently made the northern port to take out a load of lumber. Barnard was a number-one reins-man, but had very short legs and had to have a special brake so that he could reach it with his foot.”
Len’s stagecoaches carried the mail between Mendocino and Westport for many years. In 1910, he was paid $1250 for the annual mail contract, $520 more than the year before. The mail was delivered six days per week, and the distance, according to the Beacon, was 31.75 miles each way.
Len was also “closely identified with the building up of the coast section and Fort Bragg in particular. He served for twelve years as a city trustee, and for eight years represented the Fourth district as a member of the Board of Supervisors.”
Len passed away at the Fort Bragg hospital in 1923, after a long battle with kidney disease. Survivors included his wife, Lily Ann (King) Barnard, and son, Harold. He was buried in Rose Memorial Park Cemetery in Fort Bragg.
Walking Tours of Historic Mendocino – Join our expert docents for a stroll and lively commentary. You’ll pass by early pioneer homes, historic meeting places, and buildings that make up the the Mendocino Historic District.