Joseph Barker

After reaching Salt Lake City, Joseph and Mary Ann were sent to help settle southern Utah. Their second daughter was born on January 30, 1864 in a little town called Washington. She was named Mary Ann after her mother.

Not long after that they moved to Parowan, Utah where Joseph was ordained an Elder in the church on February 9, 1866. It was here that Emma Amelia was born on July 22, 1866. Catharine Maria, called Kate or Cassie was born on April 2, 1869, and Ellen Melissa, sometimes called Ella, was born on June 4, 1871.

Theirs was a difficult life living under pioneer conditions. Both parents worked at anything they could find to do. Joseph couldn’t find work as a tailor, so he herded sheep and hauled freight to the mining camps near Pioche, Nevada. Mary Ann would do a day’s washing on the wash board for a quart of molasses or a pan full of flour. In the fall, she would take the girls to pick up potatoes and to the grain fields to glean the heads of grain left by the harvesters. Dora wrote, “I have heard my older sisters tell that when they would go with Mother to glean, they would each pick their hands full of wheat, then Mother would call, ‘Bundle,’ and they would all run with what they had and she would tie it all together. Thus, she made play of it. She had a good sense of humor, making jokes many times.” This grain was made into flour for their bread. She also spun and wove the cloth for their clothes.

Stories were told of Joseph and Mary Ann’s daughter, Mary. Granddaughter Jeanie Weston Dawson wrote down some of those stories. One story about her said, “I was a sickly child and could eat very little. Once I felt a great craving for milk, but we had no cows. I prayed hard for some cows and sure enough, we got cows. But we didn’t keep them long. Pa had a chance to trade them for horses and that’s what he did. It made me mad. I just told him that he needn’t expect me to get him any more cows to trade off.”

Another story that Jeanie wrote, quoting Mary, said, “Once Emma and I were playing in a deep, dry ditch. All at once a shaft of light shot by our faces. Emma said, in an awed voice, ‘That’s a sign!’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘It’s a sign we’d better get out of here fast.’ We had hardly scrambled up the bank when a great head of water, enough to drown us, came down.” Jeannie added, “In speaking of this in later years, Emma always regarded it as a sign from Heaven. Mary held that it was the reflection of light on the advancing water. How right they both were!”]

Again quoting Mary, “Mother loved to go out in the evenings to social affairs. Pa usually preferred to stay at home with the baby. The rest of us would go with Mother. When we came home, we would find Pa reading by candle light. The book he read most was Shakespeare’s Complete Works in One Volume.” Jeanie adds, “What a strong man Joseph Barker must have been!” Mary said, “Mother was a great reader, too, but she preferred something of a lighter nature than the plays of Shakespeare.”

One of Mary’s most pleasant recollections was of her trips to Pioche, Nevada with her father. He would take a wagon load of supplies – chickens, eggs, butter, and other produce that he purchased in Parowan – and sell it to the miners. “Once a tire came loose,” she said. “It was miles to the nearest blacksmith’s shop. Pa didn’t want to leave me alone in the wagon, so he rolled the wagon wheel and carried me on his back all that way and back again.”

Another of Mary’s pleasant memories of this time was “Mother’s flowers. She had about every variety that was grown at that time. She had an arch over the front gate with morning glories trained over it.” Morning glories were always one of Mary’s favorites in memory of the ones that gave her such pleasure as a child.

When Ella was a baby, in 1872, they went to Salt Lake City to go through the endowment house and receive their sealings. While in the city, they bought their first stove and a Howe sewing machine. Until this time the cooking was done over the fireplace and the sewing was done by hand.