Shelby County Indiana
The Adams County Free Press
A visit with Mrs.
M. Barker Saturday afternoon revealed the fact that Mrs. Barker was
looking forward most eagerly to a 90th birthday party to have been held
Wednesday of this week at the home of her son, W. B. Barker.
Unfortunately on Sunday a telegram came telling Mrs. Barker of the death of her
daughter, Mrs. Lethia Lawrence of Forsythe, Montana, who had
been in ill health for some time. Mrs. Barker was also taken quite ill
Sunday morning as she was preparing to come to town to Sunday School and so the
plans have been changed materially.
Corning, Adams County, Iowa
Thursday, January 27, 1938
Pioneer Reaches 90th Year
Mrs. Barker is a little
woman, (89 pounds with her heavy coat on) and her life in the community is one
of unusual importance. Seventy-seven of the ninety years have been spent
in the locality of Nodaway where she came in 1861 from Shelbyville, Ill. where
she was born. She was Eunice Jane Victor before her
marriage to Melchi Barker in 1869. She and her young
husband cut away the timber and brush and broke the soil to make ready for the
first plantings. The cradling and binding of the wheat was done by the
men, but Mrs. Barker worked right along with her husband, doing the shocking.
Mrs. Barker has always
been religious and loves her church. Her ealy religious life centered upon
the ministrations of Uncle Joe Peregrine and Rev.
Andrews, father of O. F. Andrews who did
practically all the preaching for the entire county riding about on horseback in
all kinds of weather to be of service. She is devoted to the Corning
Baptist church to which she belongs. She says at her funeral she wants the
whole congregation to sing and not just a choir.
She has never see a real
picture show but was persuaded by her grandsons recently to go with them to see
an agricultural picture which represented the different farm implements used
from the very early days. She thought it very wonderful. However,
even now other movies do not tempt her.
Mr. Barker died December
10, 1928 and since that time Mrs. Barker has lived in their old home and the
family insists she can still bake the best biscuits they have ever tasted.
Her grandson, Donal Barker, son of Mr. and Mrs.
William Barker, has stayed with her every night since the grandfather
Loves Her Home
There are many
things Mrs. Barker cannot do, but she loves being in her home and doing the
little chores which have become a lifetime habit. She still can see well
enough to sew, and the members of the family see to it that there is always a
great number of needles already threaded in the house in order that she can put
in her time sewing if she feels like it. She cannot easily thread a needle
now, and this is only one the the thoughtful arrangements made by the family.
Four sons live to make
glad the later years of Mrs. Barker's life: Frank of Canada; Beach,
Theran and Will of this locality. Mrs.
Lawrence died in Forsythe, Montana, Sunday, and a son, Emmett,
and a daughter, Hattie, died in early life. Ninety
years is a long time and the many friends of this dear old pioneer congratulate
her, and wish her health and strength for many more years.
Contributed by Brent Heeren
The Council Bluffs
CORNING, Ia., Aug. 15. -- There is something very inspiring about the
pioneers of early days -- they sturdy men who followed the trail of the
immigrant, who broke the broad, rolling prairies, and followed the
oxen-drawn single ploy with his gun by his side as a protection and in
case of unexpected game. These men have made history, but not
alone. By his side is the tiny slip of a woman who left the
comforts of the east and traveled across the color-splashed prairie,
daring unknown and undreamed of dangers with a high courage equal to her
companion, her courage all the more wonderful because she lacked much of
the physical strength which was his.
Life Story of Mr. and Mrs.
M. Barker of Adams Co.
Worthy of Emulation
HISTORY WORTH WHILE
And Passing of Such Characters
Suggest Need of Preservation of
Stories of Pioneer Life on
Iowa Virgin Soil.
(By Ora Claytor Moore.)
county is rich in these splendid men and women and the number is
diminishing as the years go by. Iowa should treasure every bit of pioneer
history coaxed from the memories of these splendid people.
In the old farm home just
off the federal road west of Corning, Mr. and Mrs. Malachi Barker will come from
the "chores" and tell the simple stories of that rugged life with a
charm which enthralls. Their story is rich in history, sweet in memories,
throbbingly vital in incident. They have known the terror of the prairie
fire, the peace of the early day, church service, the hardship of the terrible
winters and the fun of the pumpkin drying and the spelling school.
Romance and adventure
lurks in the tales she tells of the old stage coach line which used to run
through here from Quincy to Carbon, to Selola and thence to Red Oak and to
Omaha. She has cooked many meals for those adventure seekers who passed
through and the courage of these men who made the hazardous trips is still a
marvel to her. She has helped to pull many a poor fellow back to life who
was nearly frozen in those western blizzards which swept the prairies.
Company Dainties of the Day.
almost forgot the taste of wheat bread and grew weary of cornbread and
hominy. But after all, they had venison, prairie chicken and other
dainties of which we never knew. Salted and dried prairie chicken
breasts! Can you imagine it? Mrs. Barker assures us that they were
delicious and figured in the company dainties of those days.
Mrs. Barker is such a
little person one can't imagine her ever hauling logs and plowing corn behind
the oxen. But she has, and many times she left this kind of work when it
needed to be done so desperately, to care for sick neighbors whose need was even
Mrs. Barker loves to talk
about those long, happy evenings of the sixties when the wool which had been
taken from the sheep's back and carded by Chris Harrigon of
Eureka, was spun, woven, and dyed and made into warm garments. And, with a
sly twinkle in her eye, Mrs. Barker adds, "Those dresses came below the
knees and had sleeves."
Their First Oil Lamp.
All this was done by
the flickering light of a candle which had to be constantly snuffed out to
brighten up a bit. Mr. Barker didn't have a bit of luck with the first oil
lamp. Dr. Walker, the "storekeeper" at old Quincy, persuaded
them to buy one of the new fangled things, but it simply wouldn't work.
Mr. Barker threw it in the yard and when he found the next morning that it was
still intact he took it back to Dr. Walker. With wonderful salesmanship
for a professional man, Dr. Walker convinced them that it really would work if
not turned too high. They tried again with fine results, this is, fine
until electricity came along.
||Two Interesting Iowa Pioneers|
Their first school house,
"Prairie Gem," was a tiny affair with only one inch boards between the
pupils and the cold winter blasts. This little building was a community
center for miles around. Their spelling schools and singing schools were
social events as well as improvement centers. L. V. Richey led
the voices of these happy young people in songs and note reading. Mr.
Richey was the father of Mac Richey who still lives in the
neighborhood and who also has contributed much in a musical way to the
The First Sky Pilot.
Pilot" of those days was Uncle Joe Peregrine. His spiritual
ministrations will ever by insolubly linked with those early days with loving
memories. This neighborhood only heard him every fifth Sunday as he was
needed in other localities, but preaching day was a great day and everyone went
regardless of the weather. One winter is especially remembered when people
came to revival meetings through two or three feet of snow and came for miles
every night. Many were baptized in water from which the ice had been cut
to provide nature's baptistry.
The old United Brethren
church where these people worshiped had to give way to progress when the federal
road went through. The dirt scrapers actually took a corner off the
steps. The building was sold and the material went into the home of their
son, William Barker, who lives across the road from the old
home place. As Mrs. Barker sat in the home of her son recently and
listened to three sermons and sacred music, she said, "Good for the old
church, it can still be a place of worship."
And still this worthy
couple live in the home which they built in 1863 and where they reared their
family. They have, in a sense, retired as the farm activities have been
turned over to their son, William, but Mr. and Mrs. Barker prefer to retire on
the farm, and they still have their chickens and cows and garden without which
they would be quite miserable.
Proved Home Builders.
Both Mr. and Mrs.
Barker came to Adams county in the early sixties, settling here about the same
time. They were married April 18, 1869.
Three of their children
live within two miles of the home place. They are William,
Theodore and Beach. Frank lives at Newton,
Manitoba, Canada, and Mrs. Frank Lawrence at Forsythe, Mont.
This worthy couple are
home builders and citizens of whom Adams county is justly proud. Their
loyalty to the old farm is very beautiful. No wonder they lover
every acres of the 200 which they own. Those wheat fields were one time
cut with a scythe, and raked with a hand rake. Their first pigs were
driven to the St. Joseph market on foot. What a long way they have
traveled, hand in hand, in farm development. Is it any wonder that town
life offers nothing to this pioneer couple who have toiled, loved, sacrificed in
the development of their acres. No other home could be so fraught with
memories as the home which they built fifty-six years ago. True it was
then only "18x21" and the new rag carpet made the only partition, but
it was and is "Home Sweet Home."
Contributed by Brent Heeren
The Shelbyville Democrat
Miss Bertha Barker,
of Boggstown, has gone to Blue Ridge to care for Mrs. Martha Willey,
an aged resident of that place, who is lying at the point of death from
paralysis and dropsy.
Monday, January 15, 1912.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming
The Shelbyville Republican
Mrs. Lon Barker
has gone to Martinsville, having been called there on account of the illness
of Mrs. Baldwin.
Monday, March 6, 1911
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming
The Daily Evening Democrat
James Barker, of Boggstown, was a welcome caller at this office to-day.
Tuesday, January 3, 1882
Page 4 column 1
L O C A L N E W S.
Contributed by Phyllis Miller Fleming
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