Joseph Barker

They were finally allowed to go to school after Mary Ann again began taking in washings and was able to get suitable clothes for school for them. It was cold in winter with deep snow. Their mother would wrap their feet in burlap to keep them warm.

Dora writes, “At our new location, everyone worked. Brother Dunton grubbed the brush to clear the land with a common grub hoe, and we girls piled it in big piles for burning in the evening. The colorful flames leaping into the dusk which had fallen over the valley were a source of enjoyment for all family members as they ran from one pile of brush to another igniting the dry wood.

“That was one of our few sources of recreation in those days. When the grain matured, Brother Dunton would cut it with a cradle, an implement consisting of a long knife and several wooden fingers. The fallen grain would be tossed into a clump by the cradle fingers and my sister, Ella, and I would bind it by making a band of the greener stems to wrap the sheaf, the ends of which were twisted to tie the bundle.

“Mother planted a garden including fruit bushes as well as vegetables. She soon had a lovely flower garden, also, in our front yard.

“She took in washings from town folk to help support the family. The clothes had to be brought out to the farm on an old yellow mare, which would often mire down in the swamps which dotted the road between our home and the community. Mother was always glad to get the work.”

About Ellen, it was remembered that “she loved to dance and take part in sports. Many times after dancing nearly all night, she would go home and put on her house dress and help her mother in doing washing. She and her sister would ride horseback to gather and deliver the clothes which they washed for others.”

Dora said, “From the home, we children walked to school in town part of the time and rode a horse when the roads were bad. We had a cow and chickens to help provide the living, and with the extra money Mother brought in, we faired pretty well.”

In 1882, two years after Mary Ann had left Parowan, the four older girls went to Colorado. They were taken as passengers with a group that was going to Colorado. Progress was so slow that they covered most of the distance on foot, keeping behind the advance guard of horsemen and ahead of the slow-moving wagons. Mary considered this trip the adventure of her life. She never tired of telling about it and of the thrill of crossing the Colorado River on a ferry boat. They crossed the river at Lee’s Ferry and it was said they enjoyed the crossing so much that they went back on the empty ferry and crossed a second time. Kate said of the trip, “Emma and I rode with Marius Dunton, Mr. Dunton’s second son. Sade and Mary paid $20.00 each to ride with a family named Rolly. I had an easy trip, because I got to sleep in the wagon nights with Mrs. Rolly and her baby. It was my job to keep him in bed mornings, while Mrs. Rolly prepared breakfast. He was a cute baby. The entire trip took us about a month.” They arrived in Mancos shortly before Christmas.

Kate said, “Mr. Dunton met our wagon train at Bluff City. When we got close to home, Mr. Dunton told me of a turn-off ahead and said to follow it till I came to a big gate and that was where we were to live. I ran on ahead, found the gate, went through and ran to find Mother. The first side of the house had a chimney on it. I ran to another side and there was a window level with the ground. I could look through and there was Mother with the three younger children. She had the table set with some lovely china with gold bands around the edges. Everything was so clean and comfortable, it looked like heaven to me. I ran back around the house the way I had come, to the other end. There was another window, but no door in sight. I could wait no longer. “I can see my mother,” I called, “but where is the door?” It did not take long to find the door then. Mother and the children ran toward it from the inside and I ran around to meet them. I was never so happy in my life.” The girls had to sleep in a wagon box as there was no room in the house for them.

The girls soon obtained work to make their own way and to help their mother. Kate said, “The next three years were happy years. We attended many dances, magic lantern shows, amateur plays, and many kinds of parties. In this small town, girls were scarce and we were very popular.”

The girls stayed in the Mancos area until they married. Emma was first to wed, on May 19, 1884 to Joseph Willden. Kate married Charles Pinkerton in June 1885. Sarah was married to William McDonald Devenport on December 15, 1885. Ellen married William Halls on June 11, 1888, and Mary married Roy Weston on January 1, 1889. Dora was married to Lewis Burnham on May 16, 1897. Mary Ann’s son, John Dunton, stayed with his mother as long as she lived, and never married. Dora stated that his not marrying “was sad for him, as he was alone and went from place to place, like a lost sheep.”

On September 9, 1884, a branch of the church was established in Mancos and James Harvey Dunton was set apart as Presiding Elder. On July 5, 1884, the first Relief Society in Mancos was held and Mary Ann was assigned as secretary. She also served as President of the Relief Society in Mancos from May 1891 until November 22, 1892. Kate said, “Mother taught school in Mancos for a while. School was held in the church and Mother rode sidesaddle on a horse called ‘Old Yellow’ to and from school.”

A book called A History of Montezuma County which includes the picture above, says, “. . .in 1883, the whole Mancos valley, Mormons, Gentiles and all, met at the old Log School house in Mancos for a big Thanksgiving feast – dinner, supper and an all night dance. . . . Will Wilden furnished the violin music.

Photo Detail: The Mancos Meeting House (shown below) was a building that made history. The first Mormon Church in the Webber Community and the first in the county. Original log building in the rear, front section built on later. The original log building was built in July 1886. The picture was taken sometime after, and the number of people shown indicates a considerable population.

“Sentiments for a church building grew and a meeting was called and the suggestion made that a meeting house be built. The call was responded to with a will. Land was donated and work was started at once, although it was the busy season of summer. . . . An effort was made to get the building finished by July 24, 1886 so the annual Pioneer Day celebration could be held there, and so great was the interest and enthusiasm that the building was finished, all but windows and doors, although the time allowed was but a few short days. Nevertheless they held their celebration in the new building. The house was completed before winter so that thereafter they had a comfortable building and plenty of room for any and all meetings.

“This was the first church building erected by and for the Mormons in Montezuma County. Here all church affairs, dances, and social meetings were held. The old building resounded to the noise and music of many a good time as the people made life in the new land merry and decidedly worthwhile. Some time after the first building was completed an addition of lumber was built on making the structure a T shape. This building also served as a school house for a time. The first teacher was Mary Ann Barker Dunton.”

The family stayed on the farm in the Webber area near Mancos until part of the land became swampy, then sometime after 1886, James Dunton left them and went back to Utah. Mary Ann, her daughters, and her son, John, moved to Thompson Park in the mountains eight miles northeast above Mancos where Sarah’s husband, Will, had taken up a farm. Will was always a good friend to Mary Ann and offered her part of his land, so they built her a frame house there. In the Park, Mary Ann and her family raised some crops, but mostly Mary Ann made cheese. She had a big tub where the milk was curdled with rennet, then the whey dipped off. The curds were scalded with hot whey, then salted and put in the press overnight, encased in cheesecloth, rubbed with sweet butter, and put up on high shelves in the milk house. Every day the cheese had to be rubbed and turned, and the shelves were kept spotlessly clean. She never had enough cheese to supply her many customers, but every tenth cheese went for tithing. In winter they would move back to their home in Webber.

Even after Joseph had been in Nevada for some years, he still cared for his daughters and his wife. He wrote to his daughters and Dora wrote that “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.”

After Joseph Barker 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.

On Saturday, October 31, 1896, an article appeared in the Eureka Sentinel which described Joseph’s death on October 29, 1896. It said, “Unfortunate Fire. Sad Death of Joseph Barker in the Burning Opera House Thursday Morning. The Eureka Opera House was discovered to be on fire Thursday morning at about two 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.

The fire started in the tailoring establishment of Joseph Barker, better known as ‘Mormon Joe.’ The doors were broken in, and part of the main stairway chopped out to give the firemen a better chance to save the burning building. They worked valiantly for an hour and a half, and were finally successful.

It was generally believed on the street that Barker was not in the tailor shop, as it has been his habit to sleep in his home in Godwin Canyon, but at about four o’clock, when the fire had been effectually checked and the smoke had somewhat cleared away, 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 so badly burned as to be almost unrecognizable, and in all probability must have been smothered some time before the firemen gained an entrance into the 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.

It will probably never be known how the fire originated. The most plausible theory advanced is that it started from some charred wood that he was seen to take Wednesday morning from the ash heap left by the bonfire which had been built Tuesday night in front of the Courthouse. He carried these into his shop and they probably smouldered during the night, and finally broke out into a blaze.

The Opera House is owned by Governor Sadler, Mrs. M. Winzell and the Foley estate. The Governor estimates the damage to be in the neighborhood of three thousand dollars. An insurance has been carried for many years, about $2,900 having been paid in premiums, but it was allowed to run out on the first of this month, hence the owners suffer a total loss.

The whole front of the building is badly damaged, and the inside of the hall burnt and blackened by the fire and smoke. The scenery is also damaged.

It is not yet certain that it will be repaired, as the owners have not been able to consult in regard to the matter.”

News of Joseph’s death reached Mary Ann and her daughters when a letter written to him by Kate was returned to her marked “deceased.”

Mary Ann lived in southwestern Colorado until her death on June 29, 1910. She remained faithful to the church, paid her tithing, and was staunch to the end. She was at the home of Sarah and Will Devenport, at Redmesa, Colorado when her summons came. She was ill for many months. Her daughters shared in helping to care for her with assistance from the Relief Society.

Dora wrote, “Some time before her death, she said, ‘I’ll fight it till the last.’ ‘What will you fight, Mother?’ her daughter asked. ‘This old death,’ was her grim reply. She was ever a fighter for what she knew was right. Had she not been, she would have returned to her home in England when her brothers wrote her after she was left alone with her small children. ‘Just give up that church and come home. We will send you money and care for you and your children the rest of your lives.’ Had she not been of the tougher fiber, she would not have followed the road that proved to have the greatest resistance.”

“Always, a love for the fine and beautiful things remained in her nature. It was once said of her that she never stayed overnight in a place that she did not plant some flower seeds in the ground.”

Kate said, “My testimony to Mormonism is the example of my mother’s life. She told me many times that before joining the church her life was very pleasant and easy. Up to that time she had never as much as washed a pocket handkerchief. Then when I think of all the hardships she went through and how faithful and earnest was her belief in the face of all these hardships, I need no other proof of the truth of Mormonism.”

Dora wrote that when her mother was lying ill before her death, Sarah’s husband, Will, asked her who she wanted for her husband in the next world. She answered, “Joseph Barker, of course.”

Dora wrote, “May it be that we, who follow in the civilization which was wrought at the hands of such true pioneers as Joseph and Mary Ann Barker, when our summons comes, be there to say, ‘I see my mother, where’s the door?’”

Joseph Barker and Mary Ann Doidge Barker Dunton

29 September 1835 – Joseph born
11 April 1837 – Mary Ann born
5 June 1860 – Joseph and Mary Ann baptized
11 June 1860 – Joseph and Mary Ann married
24 April 1861 – Sarah Jane born
1862 – Came to Utah
30 January 1864 – Mary Ann Barker born
9 February 1866 – Joseph ordained Elder
22 July 1866 – Emma Amelia born
2 April 1869 – Catharine Maria born
4 June 1871 – Ellen Melissa born
25 November 1872 – Sealed in Endowment House
19 June 1873 – Georgena Madora born
April 1874 – Joseph left the family, went to Nevada
2 March 1878 – Mary Ann baptized again
About 1878 – Mary Ann married James Harvey Dunton
15 April 1879 – John Harvey Dunton born
1879 – Mary Ann, Ellen, Dora, and John left Parowan
1880 – Hole-in-the-Rock to Montezuma Fort
May 1881 – left Montezuma Fort to move to Durango, Colo
Fall, 1883 – moved to Mancos
About 1882 – Four older girls came to Mancos
19 May 1884 – Emma married to Joseph Willden
9 September 1884 – James Harvey Dunton set apart as first Presiding Elder, Mancos branch
5 July 1884 – First Relief Society in Mancos held. Mary Ann secretary
June 1885 – Catharine married to Charles Pinkerton
14 December 1885 – Sarah married to William McDonald Devenport
About 1886 – James Dunton returned to Utah, Mary Ann built a home at “the Park” where she lived in the summer
11 June 1888 – Ellen married to William Halls
1 January 1889 – Mary Ann Barker married to Roy Weston
May 1891 – 22 November 1892 – Mary Ann President of Relief Society.
29 October 1896 – Joseph died in Eureka, Nevada
16 May 1897 – Dora married to Lewis Burnham
29 June 1920 – Mary Ann died in Redmesa, Colorado
20 February 1924 – Ellen died in Huntsville, Utah
1 April 1939 – Sarah Devenport died
11 0ctober 1941 – Emma died
11 April 1954 John Harvey died in Pueblo