Joseph Barker

On June 19, 1873, Georgina Madora, called Dora, was born.

Sometime before 1874, Joseph’s mother, Sarah Pickersgill Barker, came to Utah. She died in Parowan on September 3, 1874.

One man who herded sheep with Joseph said that he had never known him to lose his temper, but he was always kind and patient. Another man who had hauled freight with him said that he was “a good man.” A later newspaper article describing his death said, “Joe was a quiet, kindly man, who made no enemies.” Dora recalled that she had “never heard my mother speak unkindly of him, so I am sure she loved him.”

Emma related that when she went to Pioche with her 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 the gambling dens. Dora says that “No doubt he had learned to play cards in England.” She said that their mother used to play cards, too, and told the neighbors fortunes with cards for entertainment when they called in to spend the evenings. She said, “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 he stayed in Pioche trying to reimburse his losses. Later he wrote to Mother asking her to come to Pioche to live since he could find work there as a tailor. She consulted with her bishop about this matter and he advised her not to take a family of girls into a mining town to raise, so she was obedient to counsel at the cost of becoming separated from my father.”

In 1874, Joseph left the family and went to Nevada to stay, sending money to them when he could. So when Dora was a baby ten months old, Mary Ann was left alone to raise her family. She started a school in her home. She was one of the first teachers in Parowan. Evenings she had a writing school for adults. Mary said that her mother was “a lovely writer and she used to stay up long after the adult pupils had gone home setting copies for the next night’s classes. It was the task of us older girls to clean up the school room between classes.” As pay, Mary Ann would take any commodities her pupils could give – wood, foodstuffs, leather for shoes – anything she could use for her family. “She would receive a piece of leather from one patron while another would sew it into shoes in payment for his children attending school.”

It was remembered that “one cold Christmas Eve, after the little girls had retired and their stockings were hanging for an expected gift, Mary Ann scraped the last flour from the bin to make some sugar cookies as a surprise. She had made a rag doll for each girl. A knock came on the door and she opened it to see a neighbor lady with small baskets for each girl made from molasses candy. Each one was filled with sweets. The girls remembered this as one of the happiest Christmas they ever had.”

Finally she had to let the four older girls go into other homes to work and earn their own living. Sarah, who was fourteen, went to Washington to work in a weaving factory. Mary, twelve, went to Cedar City to work for Mr. and Mrs. Cory. Emma went to Summit to a family named Hullett. Before this she had worked in Parowan for Bishop Dame and his two wives. But they said, “We would like the little fat one.” This was Kate. So at eight years of age, Little Cassie went out to earn her own way.

Kate remembered some of her experiences when she was working for the Dames. “Brother Dame was the president of the stake. Many of the officials of the church came to visit. I remember Brigham Young and ‘Young Brig’ as we called his son. I believe my favorite visitor was Wilford Woodruff. He came on a visit once, while I was reading his book, Leaves from my Journal. He took the book and went through it with me, telling me many interesting facts which he had not put in the book.” She said, “All the Mormons in our community brought their tithing to President Dames. The times were hard and there was little money, so most of it was in produce. The nearest to a spanking I ever received during my five years at the Dames was on an occasion when I let a ‘tithing rooster’ out of its pen.”

Later Emma went to Paragonah to work. She even helped with the farm work. Her wages were fifty cents a week and every week, the money was sent home to her mother. Because of the necessity of working out, these older girls were deprived of much of their education.

About 1878, four years after Joseph left, James Harvey Dunton, who already had a wife, four grown children, and a young, adopted Indian girl asked Mary Ann to marry him. So, after divorcing Joseph, she was remarried, thinking she would have help to raise her children. Mr. Dunton was forty-nine years old at this time and Mary Ann was forty-one.

Kate said that “after Mother married Mr. Dunton, they moved to Paragonah, about six miles from Parowan. Every Saturday, Mother would ride back with Mr. Topham, a butcher, and spend the day with me. I was always homesick, and after Mother left I would go upstairs and cry. The Dames wanted to adopt me, but Mother would not let them. She said I could stay as long as they were satisfied and I was satisfied and she was living close by. The Dames put money into the ‘Co-op’ herd of cattle for me. I drew this money out after I married, and it was three times the amount of the original investment.”

On April 15, 1879, a boy, John Harvey Dunton, was born to Mary Ann and James, the only child of that union. In the fall of that year, they were called by church authorities to go with others to southeastern Utah to settle the San Juan River territory. Early in 1879, James Dunton went with an exploring company by way of Moab to find a place for settlement on the San Juan River and build a cabin. The members of that first group started a settlement which was called Montezuma Fort. After starting a cabin, James returned to meet up with the main party of “Hole-in-the-Rock” pioneers. He left all his foodstuffs with the few people who were staying at the fort but were nearing starvation, saying, “I won’t need it. I have my gun and I won’t starve.”

In October 1879, Mary Ann and the three youngest children, Ella, Dora, and John joined up with the main party of “Hole-in-the-Rock” pioneers, probably traveling with the families of James’s grown sons from his first marriage who also made the trip. They traveled in a lumber wagon, bringing what few household belongings they could, including the stove and sewing machine that she so valued. The pioneering group headed for the Colorado River not really knowing where they were going to be able to cross the river. Eventually it was determined that a crossing might be made where a crevice in the steep cliffs was widened with dynamite, pick and shovel and much hard work before the wagons could pass through. The descent was so steep, the men blocked the wheels and then held back on the rear of the wagons to keep them from rushing into the horses. They finally crossed the Colorado River on January 28, 1880 by driving the horses and wagons onto a ferry boat. After crossing the river, they still faced difficult travel over very rugged country before they reached the San Juan, arriving at their new home in April. The trip that was supposed to take six weeks instead took six months.

While traveling on this trip, eight-year-old Ella developed a special fondness for her little half-brother who was less than a year old. Being the oldest child, she was allowed to ride in the wagon to care for him. She was a motherly type and spent many hours caring for him and carrying him on her hip even though he was a husky child.

By the time most of the “Hole-in-the-Rock” pioneers got to the San Juan River at what is now Bluff, Utah, they had had enough and they established their new community on the San Juan River there, instead of traveling on to Montezuma Fort. Since James had already built a cabin at the fort, however, he took his family on and they spent the winter there. In telling the story, Dora says, “I don’t know how we lived through that bleak winter. I remember toward spring, we children gathered twigs and leaves from the greasewood bushes for greens. The fort was built for protection from the Indians. The houses were touching each other in the form of a square, with the fronts facing inside. The children were not allowed outside of the square. During the winter the men dug ditches and made large frame waterwheels for the purpose of lifting the water from the river to irrigate the farms. This work was all in vain and the experiment failed, as when the high waters came in the spring from the melting snows above, the waterwheels were washed out of the sandy soil and down the river. The people were obliged to leave there and look for new wilds to conquer. Later when I went back over the same route, the river was running through the place where the fort had stood.”

In May of 1881, when Dora was eight and Ella was ten, they again loaded their belongings into the wagon and started for an unknown destination. They moved north of Durango, Colorado, where James Dunton hauled lumber from a sawmill to Durango. Here, Mary Ann found work doing laundry for others. The first house they lived in there was a dugout and the children helped clear and then plant and harvest crops. Dora says “We helped Mother make tallow candles which we used for light, and soap for our laundry. We helped with the laundry and gleaned in the fields to get money to buy our school clothes. Mother, through it all, never looked on work as a drudgery, but was always glad to do anything she could to help make our way, and we learned to do the same. Always, it seemed she was able to look on the bright side of life.”

In the fall of 1882, they moved to Mancos, Colorado and took up a farm on land that they homesteaded, living in a tent until they could build a dugout home for them and then later a log house. It was remembered that, “The girls were unable to attend school at first because of a lack of clothes to wear. They had received some schooling in Parowan and also had instruction from their mother. The school in Mancos was two miles away and it was necessary to cross a river on a plank.” Dora remembered that the second spring, their mother “told Ella and me that we might go to school if we could go to town and get some rose bushes and other things we had sent for by mail, without falling in the river. The bridge had been washed out by high water and there was only a narrow foot bridge without a railing, across the stream. We went in high hopes of having the privilege of going to school. So far we had not been able to get much education. We went across bravely enough and obtained the things we were to bring home, but on our return journey, I got dizzy and called to Ella, who had already made it across, to come and help me. She came back for me, but she fell into the rushing torrent. A woman and her son, who lived close by, had been watching us and when they saw her fall, the young man ran to the stream and rescued Ellen, who was able to grasp a willow on the bank. I dropped to my knees and crawled on across the bridge, which I should have had sense enough to do in the first place. No school for us that year.”