Monday, October 22, 2012


As Michael John Neil recently said on Facebook, "If you weren't there, you
don't KNOW".  So I don't know exactly when or things started going bad for
Nathaniel Barker's family. However, if I had to pick an exceptionally bad
turning point, I'd pick 1884.

 As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was struck by the fact that Nathaniel,
Huldah, and their son Nathanel S. all died within a few months of each other
in 1884. First Nathaniel S. died on 20Mar 1884, cause unknown. His parents
followed shortly after. Cousin Mary Ennis found these lines about them
in the Oxford Democrat newspaper:

"April 15, 1884:  Died in Albany 12th inst Mr Nathaniel Barker age 90 and 3 mos.
A pensioner of the War of 1812
May 27, 1884:  Mrs Barker, an aged lady, who has been sick several weeks with
lung fever is but just alive.  No hopes for her recovery."

Huldah Barker died shortly after on 7 June 1884.

Nathaniel S, Barker left a widow, the former Lucy  Coburn and five children.
They would have been the following ages in 1884:
Huldah  22years old.
Lee 20 years old
Frank 19 years old (my great grandfather)
John 15 years old
Lucy 7 years old.

It would have been difficult but not impossible for the Barkers to pull through
the situation, and perhaps they did for awhile. And here is where I run into
the "I don't KNOW" part. Thanks to the infamous lost 1890 census, the next
record I have of the family is the 1900 census, and none of them were living on
the farm in Albany. Lee had died in April, 1891. Frank was working as a baggage
master for the Grand Trunk Railroad in Bethel, Me, and John was listed as a
lawyer. Lucy was married and had a family of her own, and I haven't found
any record of their sister Huldah's fate as yet.

I can only guess at what had happened with the farm. The period between
1873 and 1896 had a series of recessions and banking panics. It's sometimes
called the Long Depression by some economists. The Barker farm might
have fallen victim to the economic problems of the time. I'm hoping to
find some court or real estate record to shed some light on what happened.

There was one final bit of tragedy. My great grandfather Frank had married his
cousin Charlotte Barker, another grandchild of Nathaniel and Huldah. His
mother Lucy(Coburn) Barker was living with them in 1900. In the fall of 1904
she fell ill with "Le Grippe",  a fancy name for influenza, and died 15 Nov 1904.
My great grandfather contracted the flu as well and it developed pneumonia.
He died on 21May 1905 at age 40, leaving a pregnant wife with two children,
one of whom was my grandmother Cora Berthella Barker.

My thanks to cousins Chris Dunham and Mary Ennis for their help with
my Barker research!

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