Saturday, February 11, 2012


As I mentioned before, Gipssy Barker was not the only person in her family
with an unusual name. Her older brother was named Benedict Arnold Barker.
Ever since I discovered this I wondered what possessed Daniel Barker and his
wife Roseanna to name their first son after the infamous Revolutionary War
traitor to the American side.  Daniel wasn't born until 1821, long after the War,
so he couldn't have served under General Arnold. If he wanted to name a son
after a famous war hero with local ties to New England he could picked Henry Knox
or Ethan Allen to so honor. Or was this some sort of Early American "Boy Named Sue"
strategy? How difficult a childhood did Benedict have growing up with a traitor's
name? I'll probably never know unless I stumble across a written account from
Benedict or one of his relatives.

Benedict was born on 14Jan 1850 in Weston, Aroostook, Maine where he lived
at least until sometime after the 1870 Census. He was listed as Arnold B Barker
on that and it began a pattern which shows how he might have dealt with the
problem of his name: he used different variations of it, sometimes just simply
changing his name to Benjamin. At some point after 1870 he moved to Minnesota
where he married Lilly Plaisted on  29Aug 1877. I haven't been able to find them
in the 1880 Federal Census yet but on the 1885 Minnesota State Census they
are living in Oneika, Washington, Minnesota with their two sons, Daniel and
Frank. Living next to them are Lilly's parents, the Plaisteds, who were also
from Maine. Benedict is listed as "B.A, Barker". The census doesn't give what
his occupation was so it's possible he was either farming or working in the
lumber business.

I next found him on the 1900 Federal Census  in the town of Shorts, Snohomish,
Washington. Oldest son Frank is no longer living with Benedict and Lily but there is
now a daughter, Pearl, along with son Daniel. Eventually the children grew up and
moved out but Benedict worked his dairy farm for the next 30 years and then
retired, He died in Snohomish, Snohomish, Washington on 26Nov 1934. I heard from
an contributor this morning in a message that Lily died on 26 Sep 1944
in Seattle. King, Washington while living with her daughter Pearl because the farm
had gone bankrupt. The family of the correspondent's  husband had purchased
Benedict's farm.

One of the things I discovered  researching this post was that Benedict’s son Frank
and Gipsy Barker’s daughter were living together on Frank’s farm. Frank is listed
as divorced but his two teenage sons are living with him, Natalie (Barker)Fisher
is listed as his housekeeper and as Frank’s cousin. Her marital status is married,
so sometime between 3April 1930 when the Census was taken and their wedding
in March 1931, Natalie’s divorce from Floyd Fisher was finalized.

The best thing about my interest in the stories of Gipsy and Benedict Arnold Barker
has been the discovery of another bunch of cousins to add to my family tree!

((518 words for Family History Writing Challenge))

1 comment:

Diane B said...

Well Bill, Benedict Arnold (1615-1678) was ALSO the first governor of Rhode Island - his descendant Benedict Arnold was the infamous Revolutionary War traitor. If your family had a good sense of history, they might have been honoring an important figure in New England history. Which would make them pretty different from my family, who were quite oblivious to all that!!