Joseph Barker

In Devonshire, Mary Ann met and learned to love Joseph Barker. Joseph was baptized on June 5, 1860 and a few days later, they were married at Stonehouse, Devonshire on June 11, 1860.

Nearly a year later a baby, Sarah Jane, was born to them on April 24, 1861. For some time they had greatly desired to emigrate to the United States. Joseph Barker was having a hard time making a living as a tailor and they were unable to save the money necessary to emigrate abroad. Finally, Mary Ann decided to wean her baby, and putting her on a bottle, she nursed the baby of some rich people to earn the money for their ship transportation. They crossed the Atlantic in 1862, taking six weeks to make the voyage. During the trip, baby Sarah threw their only comb into the sea. It was while this voyage was being made that Mary Ann’s mother died. Sometime after reaching America, she received a letter from her father. In harsh, unforgiving words, he wrote “You have killed your mother. She died of a broken heart. May the Lord bring judgment upon you.”

Dora wrote, “The big problem after reaching America was to find a way to cross the plains and join those of their faith in Utah. Joseph found a chance to drive a team of oxen, but there was no way for Mary Ann and the baby to come at that time, so he went on ahead. Three weeks later, Mary Ann found she could have her baby and few possessions taken by agreeing to do the laundry for the captain of a company and his family. As there was no room for her to ride, she walked all of the one thousand miles from Missouri to the Salt Lake Valley. They were three months on the journey. The days seemed endless with the hot sun burning into her back and her only shoes worn to shreds. At night she was so tired she could have slept on a rock, as well as on her solitary comforter. It seemed that for weeks there would not be a tree or a shrub of any kind to break the endless monotony of the dry prairies, and both the eye and soul became famished for a haven of rest. But in the evening, when they gathered within the circle of wagons for song and prayer before retiring, she received a new strength and courage from an unknown source to carry her through yet another day. At times when she felt as though she could not take another step, she would softly sing one of her favorite songs, ‘Come, come ye saints, no toil nor labor fear, but with joy wend your way.’

“One especially hard day, everything seemed to go wrong. In the early morning she had washed for the captain’s family and herself and baby, by rapidly rubbing the soiled places between her hands, in the water of the stream by which they had camped. When they came to a stop at noon, she stretched a line between two wagons and hurriedly hung the clothes to dry, while the others were eating. But as no water could be found for the horses, the call came to move on. So, weary and faint, she gathered in the wet clothes and trudged on all afternoon without the sustenance of food. In the evening she again hung up the clothes, then helped prepare the evening meal. Just as they were ready to eat, the call came to gather for prayers. During this day she had been more depressed than ever before. She was tired, hungry, and discouraged. She had been shocked to hear the President’s son swear at his cattle. She had never had definite proof that this she followed was the truth, nor that there was a future existence. Had she been wise in giving up her family, friends, her home and way of life, everything she possessed, to come to this wild, unbroken country not knowing what she had to meet? Such thoughts had gone through and through her mind during the day. Could it be she was following a false delusion? While she was going to join the evening session of prayer, she was completely overcome by hunger and fatigue. Every thing seemed to go black and she fell to the ground. Her spirit seemed to leave her body, and she was taken by the hand of a girl companion who had died some time before, and led to the spirit world. There she saw relatives and friends, all of whom she knew had passed away. Everyone there seemed to be engaged in school, some of them learning the rudiments of education they had missed in this life. It was so very pleasant and peaceful that she longed to stay with them. But she knew she must go back to fulfill her mission upon the earth.

“When she opened her eyes, her clothes were wet with the water that had been used to try to revive her. ‘Oh, Mary Ann,’ her friends exclaimed, ‘You gave us such a fright; you have been unconscious for over an hour. We thought we could never bring you to.’ This experience gave her a testimony of a future existence, and that progression goes on after this life. The next morning she again trudged on her weary journey, but the way seemed easier knowing for sure that there was a hereafter when she would again meet her people and be free from earthly cares. Never again did she waver, but went on to the end of her journey with a steadfast heart. ”