• Joseph Barker
    Mary Ann Doidge Barker Dunton

    Edited by Kristine Halls Smith

    This story was compiled by Kristine Halls Smith in December 1998 from material printed in a booklet called History of Joseph Barker and His Family, published in 1954; from Miller, David E., Hole-in-the-Rock, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1966; and from Freeman, Ira S., A History of Montezuma County Colorado, Johnson Publishing Company, Pueblo, Colorado, 1958.

    Joseph Barker was the oldest of five children born to Henry and Sarah Pickersgill Barker. He was born at Bramley, Yorkshire, England on September 29, 1835. He had one brother, John Barker, and three sisters, Mary, Amelia, and Sarah.

    Joseph was trained in England for work as a tailor. Sometime during the late 1850’s, he met missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and became converted to the message they brought about the teachings of Joseph Smith who had established a new church in America. His contact with the church led him to meet another young convert, Mary Ann Doidge.

    Mary had been born on April 11, 1837 at Brayshop, Cornwall, England to John and Mary Nepean Doidge. She had three brothers, William, Richard, and Edward, and two sisters, Susanne and Emma.

    Joseph and Mary Ann’s daughter, Dora Barker Burnham, wrote about Mary Ann’s life. She said, “Charming and one of leisure, was the girlhood life of Mary Ann Doidge before joining the L.D.S. Church in 1857. Living in the little town of Brayshop, Cornwall, England, she spent many happy hours roaming the hills and downs, close to her hometown, gathering the wild flowers that grew in such abundance there. She was once crowned “Queen of the May” in May Day festivities. This day was celebrated by the people who gathered from all the countryside for dancing, braiding the Maypole, and picnicking.

    “She was the daughter of a prosperous merchant and had always lived a carefree life, having only to work as she desired. She was never an idler, however, but assisted in clerking in the store and in preparing lunches for miners.

    “She had a fair education for her time, being well versed in Bible scripture as that book was used as a text for reading. She was also a good writer and speller.

  • “Her parents, John and Mary Nepean Doidge, provided well for their family, having hired help to do the heavy work of the home and giving them all a fair education. So, in sheltered comfort, Mary Ann grew up, learning to cook, sew, and perform the small duties of the household, under the guidance of her mother. Her people belonged to the Church of England and taught their children that faith. She learned to read the Bible well and learned the teachings of that church.

    “When yet in her teens, Mary Ann was attending the funeral of a relative. While standing with her own group, she was attracted by beautiful singing coming from another part of the cemetery, where the funeral of a small child was being held. Out of curiosity and appreciation of the lovely music, she edged closer to the other assemblage. The words and melody of the song ‘Oh My Father’ floated to her on the breeze. As she came nearer, she could hear them singing:

    ‘For a wise and glorious purpose,
    Thou hast placed me here on earth.
    And withheld the recollection
    Of my former friends and birth.
    Yet oftimes a secret something
    Whispers ‘You’re a stranger here,’
    And I felt that I have wandered
    From a more exalted sphere.’”

    Dora wrote, “Mary Ann had often felt just that way, and had spent much time wondering and meditating about it. Listening to the sermon which followed, she learned the service was being conducted by a group of Mormon missionaries. Inquiring further, she found where she could attend their meetings. When her people called her to return home with them, she reluctantly pulled herself away. She attended the Mormon meetings, more to hear them sing at first, but later she became interested in their message. Because she knew her family was very set against the Mormons, she attended the meetings in secret, and gave the missionaries money from her own allowance to help carry on their work. Finally, after much deliberation, she asked to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was baptized in Devonport, Devonshire, England on August 4, 1857. She was well aware of what it would mean to her. But she knew the message to be the word of God, by the continued uplifting of her spirit, of the enlightening principals taught. Things that had been shrouded in darkness were now clear to her mind. As she expected, her parents outrageously disapproved of this ‘preposterous act’ of their daughter. Her mother pleaded with tears in her eyes, and her father stormed and angrily threatened to throw her out of the house if she did not give up this fanaticism. However, she had the courage to stand by her convictions and left her lovely home with nothing but the clothes she wore. She went to another town where she procured work to earn her living. This was an added cross as she was not accustomed to hard labor; but never once did she consider giving up the inner joy she had exchanged for the outward labor.”

  • In Devonshire, Mary Ann met and learned to love Joseph Barker. Joseph was baptized on June 5, 1860 and a few days later, they were married at Stonehouse, Devonshire on June 11, 1860.

    Nearly a year later a baby, Sarah Jane, was born to them on April 24, 1861. For some time they had greatly desired to emigrate to the United States. Joseph Barker was having a hard time making a living as a tailor and they were unable to save the money necessary to emigrate abroad. Finally, Mary Ann decided to wean her baby, and putting her on a bottle, she nursed the baby of some rich people to earn the money for their ship transportation. They crossed the Atlantic in 1862, taking six weeks to make the voyage. During the trip, baby Sarah threw their only comb into the sea. It was while this voyage was being made that Mary Ann’s mother died. Sometime after reaching America, she received a letter from her father. In harsh, unforgiving words, he wrote “You have killed your mother. She died of a broken heart. May the Lord bring judgment upon you.”

    Dora wrote, “The big problem after reaching America was to find a way to cross the plains and join those of their faith in Utah. Joseph found a chance to drive a team of oxen, but there was no way for Mary Ann and the baby to come at that time, so he went on ahead. Three weeks later, Mary Ann found she could have her baby and few possessions taken by agreeing to do the laundry for the captain of a company and his family. As there was no room for her to ride, she walked all of the one thousand miles from Missouri to the Salt Lake Valley. They were three months on the journey. The days seemed endless with the hot sun burning into her back and her only shoes worn to shreds. At night she was so tired she could have slept on a rock, as well as on her solitary comforter. It seemed that for weeks there would not be a tree or a shrub of any kind to break the endless monotony of the dry prairies, and both the eye and soul became famished for a haven of rest. But in the evening, when they gathered within the circle of wagons for song and prayer before retiring, she received a new strength and courage from an unknown source to carry her through yet another day. At times when she felt as though she could not take another step, she would softly sing one of her favorite songs, ‘Come, come ye saints, no toil nor labor fear, but with joy wend your way.’

  • “One especially hard day, everything seemed to go wrong. In the early morning she had washed for the captain’s family and herself and baby, by rapidly rubbing the soiled places between her hands, in the water of the stream by which they had camped. When they came to a stop at noon, she stretched a line between two wagons and hurriedly hung the clothes to dry, while the others were eating. But as no water could be found for the horses, the call came to move on. So, weary and faint, she gathered in the wet clothes and trudged on all afternoon without the sustenance of food. In the evening she again hung up the clothes, then helped prepare the evening meal. Just as they were ready to eat, the call came to gather for prayers. During this day she had been more depressed than ever before. She was tired, hungry, and discouraged. She had been shocked to hear the President’s son swear at his cattle. She had never had definite proof that this she followed was the truth, nor that there was a future existence. Had she been wise in giving up her family, friends, her home and way of life, everything she possessed, to come to this wild, unbroken country not knowing what she had to meet? Such thoughts had gone through and through her mind during the day. Could it be she was following a false delusion? While she was going to join the evening session of prayer, she was completely overcome by hunger and fatigue. Every thing seemed to go black and she fell to the ground. Her spirit seemed to leave her body, and she was taken by the hand of a girl companion who had died some time before, and led to the spirit world. There she saw relatives and friends, all of whom she knew had passed away. Everyone there seemed to be engaged in school, some of them learning the rudiments of education they had missed in this life. It was so very pleasant and peaceful that she longed to stay with them. But she knew she must go back to fulfill her mission upon the earth.

    “When she opened her eyes, her clothes were wet with the water that had been used to try to revive her. ‘Oh, Mary Ann,’ her friends exclaimed, ‘You gave us such a fright; you have been unconscious for over an hour. We thought we could never bring you to.’ This experience gave her a testimony of a future existence, and that progression goes on after this life. The next morning she again trudged on her weary journey, but the way seemed easier knowing for sure that there was a hereafter when she would again meet her people and be free from earthly cares. Never again did she waver, but went on to the end of her journey with a steadfast heart. ”

    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.

    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.

    Photo Details: The pictures (see below) from David E. Miller’s book Hole-in-the-Rock show the rugged country that Mary Ann, Ella, Dora, and John, along with the two hundred other Hole-in-the Rock pioneers, traveled through on their way to their new home. The pictures can give us a better appreciation of the sacrifice they made to follow the directions of their church leaders.

  • 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.”

    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

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