8 October, 2013
Written by daughter Dora Barker Burnham, July 28th, 1952 Information added in 2008 by great granddaughter LaVerne B. Merrill
her life was spared. During the trip Sarah threw their only comb overboard. After a stormy six weeks on the ocean they landed in New York in 1862. We don’t know which of the nine chartered ships carrying Mormon Saints the Barkers were passengers on. When they landed at New York it was hard to get trains to take the people on to Florence, Nebraska, because the Civil War was raging. They were put on cattle cars with little or no seating accommodations. After about nine days they reached St. Joseph, Missouri; then it took them a couple of days by boat to get to Florence, a busy Mormon camp on the west bank of the Missouri River. This was one of the years when President Brigham Young called for men and teams from throughout the Utah territory to go back to Florence and help the Saints. The Deseret News of May 21st, 1862, noted that 262 wagons, 293 teamsters, 2880 oxen, carrying 143,315 pounds of flour left Salt Lake City for the Missouri River to assist the immigrating saints. Over 5000 saints made their way West in 13 organized companies and several independent companies. Joseph Barker got a chance to drive a team of oxen for another man, probably in an independent company, thus providing his way to Utah. He had to leave immediately. This meant he had to leave his wife and child to follow as soon as possible, as there was not room for them in this wagon train. Mary Ann followed 3 weeks later with her baby, agreeing to do the cooking and washing for the captain of the company. When they reached Utah they stayed with some friends, the Moody family, until they were called by Brigham Young to help settle Parowan, Iron County, Utah--which had first been settled in January of 1851. They had a hard struggle to live. Joseph had been a tailor in England and wasn’t used to farming and cattle raising. In Parowan he herded sheep and worked at whatever he could find to do to make a living for his growing family, which now consisted of six daughters, namely: Sarah Jane, Mary Ann, Emma Amelia, Catherine Maria, Ellen Melissa and Georgina Madora. All children had blue eyes like their father and mother. His wife, Mary Ann worked gleaning wheat, washing, teaching night school and anything else that was available to earn a bowl of molasses or flour, or what ever she could to help feed the family. Mary Ann liked to go out to socials, which she did taking the older girls with her, but Joseph preferred to stay home, tending the younger children, and reading Shakespeare. Joseph was ordained an Elder 9 February 1866 at Panguitch, Iron County, Utah. In November of 1872 they traveled by team and wagon to Salt Lake City. They received their endowments and were sealed in the Endowment House, 25 November 1872. The children were not taken, as there were no sealings done for children at that time. Since then, individually they have been sealed to their parents. Our Grandmother, Georgina Madora, (Dora) was born in the covenant. While in the city they purchased their first stove and sewing machine, having cooked over an open fire, and having done all sewing by hand until this time. Their daughter Mary tells of being hungry for milk so she prayed that the Lord would send them some cows. Joseph was able to purchase one at a time until he had four so he could have milk and cheese for his family, but sold two of them to get a team and wagon to freight with. This upset Mary. She asked him “Why did you sell the cows. I prayed and got them for you and I soon would have had you a team of horses.” With the team of horses Joseph freighted from Parowan to Pioche, Nevada, a mining town, taking loads of salt, fruit, vegetables and grain to sell to help their meager income. Most of the Parowan men freighted to the mining camps to get the necessary cash to live on. Often on his trips to Pioche he would take one of the girls with him for company. The daughters enjoyed these trips very much. Mary tells of one trip when a wagon tire came loose. He didn’t want to leave her alone with the wagons, so he rolled the tire and carried her on his back most of the way for miles, to get the tire fixed and back again to the wagon. I, Dora, sixth daughter of Joseph and Mary Ann Barker, was only ten months old when my father and mother were separated so I never knew what it was to have a father. My parents had been very poor and my father had done freighting to Pioche to bring in a little income. Father had endeavored to increase his small earnings by playing cards for money in Pioche. There being expert gamblers there, Father lost everything he had including his team and wagon during one trip. He felt that he could not come home and face his family under the circumstances, so stayed in Pioche trying to reimburse his losses. Later he wrote to Mother, asking her to come to Pioche to live. She consulted the Bishop about this matter (who at that time would have been Charles Adams) and he advised her not to take a family of girls into a mining town to rear, which caused a permanent separation. Brother Alvin Decker of Mancos, Colorado, told me that he had herded sheep with my father and that he had never known him to lose his temper, but that he was always kind and patient. Joe Hadden also told me that he had hauled freight with Father and that he was a good man. I have never heard my mother speak unkindly of him, so I am sure she loved him. My sister, Emma, related that when she went to Pioche with Father on one of his trips, he told her that the reason that he took one of the children with him was to help him resist going down into the basements where the bright lights shone, which were gambling dens. No doubt he had learned to play cards in England. Mother used to play cards too, and told the neighbors' fortunes for entertainment, when they called in to spend the evening, so I believe it was an English sport. After we went to Colorado, he corresponded with us. I wrote to him occasionally when I was young. When I was in high school he sent me a large shell with the Lord's Prayer engraved on it and a five-dollar gold piece inside as a Christmas present. He wrote to my sister Kate once that he was coming to see his children and "my wife too, for she is my wife." This showed that he loved Mother and still claimed her. I am glad that it was not hatred that separated them. However, he was never able to come and visit. After he had been in Pioche for a while, he left and went to Eureka, Nevada, and there he set up a tailor shop, which was located at the corner of the opera house. He lived in a cabin in Goodwin Canyon. It was in this tailor shop where the fire started which caused his death. The account of the fire and his death was given in the local paper, The Eureka Sentinel, 29 October 1896 (which was the fall before I was married. The news of his death made me very sad although I had never known him.) The article stated that Joseph Barker had been seen carrying some wood from a deserted campfire during the afternoon so it was supposed that it was this partly burned wood which started the fire in his shop. He was found in a kneeling position apparently having suffocated from smoke in trying to put out the fire. He was burned quite badly. The article stated that he was called "Mormon Joe" and was a quiet, kindly man and made no enemies, a good epitaph for any man's tombstone. When Mother was lying ill before her death, Will Devenport, my sister Sarah's husband, asked her whom she wanted for her husband in the next world. She answered, "Joseph Barker, of course." One night in her delirium she seemed to be searching all night for her husband's grave. Her last word before she died was “Joseph.” Mary Ann always spoke well of him, as did his daughters, and all loved him to the end. May God grant that the errors of this life will not keep my mother and father separated in their life after death. ”Unfortunate Fire” “Sad death of Joseph Barker in the burning Opera House Thursday morning.” Taken from Eureka Sentinel dated Saturday, October 31, 1896. This Eureka Opera House was discovered to be on fire Thursday morning at about 2 o'clock. The fire bells were rung and it was but a few moments before three companies were on the ground and doing excellent service in controlling the flames. It was generally believed on the street that Barker was not in the tailor shop, as it has been his habit to sleep at his home in Goodwin Canyon, but at about 4 o'clock, his body was found near the south side of the room in which the fire had evidently started. He was in a kneeling position with his head between the legs of a small table against the wall. The poor fellow was badly burned as to be almost unrecognizable, and in all probability must have been smothered some time before the firemen gained an entrance into his shop. This room was broken into immediately on their arrival, but the smoke was so dense that several minutes passed before they could get a few feet beyond the doorway, and they moved along the opposite side of the room from where Barker was found, as the fire was raging most fiercely on the north side. Joe was a quiet, kindly man, who made no enemies.
Additional sources used in Joseph Barker’s life story:
1. Life of Mary Ann Doidge, My Grandmother by Myrtle
Melissa Devenport Dean. Printed on 4/11/2008.
2. History of Joseph Barker by granddaughter Ida May Devenport Dean, made available by the International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
3. Life of Sarah Jane Barker Devenport by her daughter, Myrtle Devenport Dean. Printed on 2/8/2005.
4. Joseph Barker and Mary Ann Doidge Barker Dunton written by Kristine Halls Smith December 1998. Made available by the International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers.