Marilyn Small is deacon of the Barney Prairie Christian Church in Friendsville, Illinois. She's also a descendant of the eponymous Barney.
The 67-year-old woman says the land was donated by William Barney, who farmed this area in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
"He's my ancestor. That makes me a part-Barney."
Apologizing in advance for being sacrilegious, I tell Marilyn my first thought was that the church was somehow linked to Don Knotts' character on "The Andy Griffith Show."
She's not surprised and says I'm not the first person to make the link. Then she produces a Virginia-based publication called the "Barney Society" that trumpets the achievements of folks from all over the country with that first name. [Link]