If you appreciate the work done on this blog, please consider making a small donation. Thank you!

If you appreciate the work done on this blog, please consider making a small donation. Thank you!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Barkers of Barker's Bridge -- Part I

The Barker House, c.1988
Over the nearly 350 years of Mill Creek Hundred history, many families have called the area home. Most clans currently within the MCH confines have arrived only within the last 60 years or so, mine included. But of course, some arrived much earlier. Of those older families, some had a major impact and then disappeared relatively quickly (like the Hadleys); some have been around for a long time, although maybe not prominent in MCH (like the Justis'); and some are just as visible as they were a couple hundred years ago (like the Eastburns). There's one family, though, that resided in and near MCH for over 150 years, then, with one notable exception, pretty much vanished from the area -- the Barkers.

The Barkers' history in Mill Creek Hundred may begin as early as the 1670's, in the early days of the English migration into the area. The patriarch of this branch of the family (there were several other closely related branches that sprang up in other areas) was Samuel Barker (1648-1720). Samuel hailed from Shropshire, England, in the west midlands near Wales. Exactly when he sailed for the New World seems to be in doubt, but one account has him making a petition for a parcel land before the court in New Castle in 1677. Scharf notes that he bought in 1680 and sold in 1682 land near Stanton. What seems to be more certain is that in March 1685, Samuel Barker was granted 200 acres of land in Christiana Hundred by the newly-arrived William Penn. This was before Mill Creek Hundred was created out of Christiana Hundred, so the parcel along Red Clay Creek was actually mostly in what would later be MCH.

Samuel Barker's 200 acre grant from Penn, which may or may not have been a confirmation of the earlier petition from eight years prior, was located along Red Clay Creek in the areas that would later be known as Wooddale and Mt. Cuba. It was primarily north of what's now Lancaster Pike, but did extend south of it a bit into what was until recently the Hercules golf course. An earlier road did run along here, continuing north along what's now Old Wilmington Road. At some point (maybe when the turnpike was constructed in the 1810's) a bridge was built spanning Red Clay Creek. The area came to be known as Barker's Bridge.

General area of settlement of the Barker family (not exact boundaries)

Samuel Barker had four children, the youngest of whom were daughters Mary and Anna. As usual though (sorry ladies), the more important children for our purposes were his sons, Joseph and Daniel. It seems that after Samuel Barker's death in 1720, eldest son Joseph inherited the family farm along the Red Clay. Younger son Daniel (1704-1750) probably stayed to work on the farm until about age thirty, at which time he purchased his own property. In 1734 he bought 270 acres just north of his father's (now his brother's) land. Daniel's tract included 100 acres on the west side of the Red Clay, and another 170 acres on the east side. Much of this land is now in the possession of the Mt. Cuba Society.

Daniel Barker married Elizabeth Nicholas at Old Swedes Church sometime in the early 1730's, and the couple would go on to have six children. Most of their children would also be wed at Old Swedes. Sadly, Daniel died in about 1748, which would have made him only about 44 years old. The children would all have been fairly young, and I have a feeling that Elizabeth may have remarried. Daniel's two tracts were both sold away, one around 1747 (which may or may not indicate that he was sick) and the second in 1752. The eastern section was sold to William Dixson in 1752, while the 100 acre western portion was sold to an Irishman named Con Hollahan. There will be much more about Hollahan and his land (which was located around and north of the current development of Ramsey Ridge) in an upcoming post.

While Daniel Barker's farm stayed in the family for only a few decades, the property acquired by his father Samuel stuck around a good while longer. As noted earlier, after Samuel's death in 1720 his property was inherited by his eldest son, Joseph. On September 27, 1716, again at Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, Joseph married Johanna Clayton. They would have four children -- Maria, Samuel, Rebecca, and Susanna. As the only son, Samuel Barker (1721-1803) inherited the farm when his father passed away in early 1755.

Just a few years before that, Samuel had married Rachel Ball, daughter of Jeremiah Ball (of the Milltown Balls). Samuel and Rachel would raise nine children at Barker's Bridge, three girls and six boys. Eldest daughter Mary married Moses McKnight, while the other two (Esther and Rachel) both married brothers of the noted inventor Oliver Evans. Rachel wed Joseph Evans, Esther married Theophilus. If the name Theophilus Evans sounds familiar, it's because he and Esther had a daughter named Mary, who most people know better as Polly Drummond.

Of the six sons of Samuel and Rachel Barker, four ended up moving out of the area (first to Pittsburgh, then to other places near and far), but not until the 1790's. We will be interested primarily in the two who stayed, but the other four boys deserve mentioning, if for no other reason than that they demonstrate the status and industriousness of the family. Eldest son Joseph (1754-1825) served with distinction in the Revolution, according to Runk as "captain of the ship General Montgomery (marines), 14 guns, 120 men, in 1776, and of the Artillery in 1777." He married three times, first to the daughter of Thomas Collins, Brigadier General of the Delaware Militia during the war and later President (Governor) of Delaware. His third wife was the daughter of a judge from Sussex County. Joseph eventually settled in Kent County along the St. Jones River, at a place called Barkers Landing. (It's basically just past the Route 1 bridge over the marshy area right after the Dover Air Force Base.)

See? There's even still a Barker's Landing Road

Abner Barker (1760-1829) stayed in Pittsburgh after moving there, and lived there the rest of his life. His wife was the niece of Revolutionary War General Richard Butler, and one of their daughters married the grandson of the Patriot Samuel Adams. Jeremiah Barker (1764-1842) married in Virginia and died in Kentucky, after apparently living for a time in Ohio. Youngest son Jesse Barker (1772-1852) even outdid that. After moving to Pittsburgh with his brothers, Jesse then emigrated to Paris, where he amassed a large fortune as a banker. He returned to the U.S. in 1842, settling in New York to live out his remaining years, never marrying.

That leaves us with Samuel Barker and his two remaining sons, William and Abraham. In the next post we'll take a closer look at them, the house that at least one of them lived in (hint: it's at the top of the page), and the small business that provided at least some of their income. I'll also introduce a bit of a family mystery (at least it's a mystery to me), with the hope that maybe someone can clear it up for us.

Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:

  • Later Barker family stories try to tie Samuel closely to Penn, stating that the two were friends, that Samuel was a Friend (Quaker), and that they sailed into New Castle together in 1682. I find this account dubious for several reasons. First, as already mentioned, there's reason to believe that Samuel was in Delaware at least five years before Penn arrived. Secondly, I've found no other indication that the Barkers were Quakers. Samuel himself and several close family members are all buried at Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, which by then was Trinity Episcopal Church -- the American branch of the Church of England. At least one of his sons was married there and many of his grandchildren were baptized at Old Swedes. Runk has a pretty detailed history of the Barkers prior to and after Samuel, and there is no mention of any Quaker Barkers. This doesn't necessarily mean that Barker didn't know Penn personally, but I have a feeling their relationship was exaggerated a bit by later family members.
  • The whole Barkers Landing thing has me a little confused, but since it's a bit off-track I haven't pursued it. Scharf has a piece on it mentioning Joseph Barker and Thomas Collins (no, not the drink inventor), but he also states that it was originally owned by a Thomas Barker. I don't know who Thomas Barker is, or if he's closely related to these Barkers. Heck of a coincidence if he's not. Also, Runk and Scharf say that Joseph was buried at Barker's Landing, but he's now clearly interred in Smyrna. Collins was actually from Smyrna, so I imagine that his body was moved at some point, as I think was Collins'.


  1. I am a direct descendant of Samuel Barker. I am 9th generation. My records show that Samuel came from England in 1682 was given a land grant in 1685 for the area of Barkers Bridge. Samuel's great grandson's [Also Samuel] family relocated from Lumberton NC to Georgia in 1830. My grandfather was Cauley Marqus Barker who later settled in an area then outside of Jacksonville Fl called Dinsmore. He invented and patented the ball valve shortly after my mother was born. Patent#1,555,934 dated Oct. 6,1925

    1. Thanks for checking in with us! As big as the Barker family is, I had a feeling that someone would find this and stop by. I didn't think it's be this quickly, though. Thanks for giving us another chapter of this fascinating family.

  2. Scott, Thank you for this post. It helped answer some nagging questions I had about my Barker ancestry which is by way of Daniel Barker and his wife, Elizabeth Nicholas - the branch of Samuel's family which you mentioned.

    I believe I can clear up the confusion concerning the Quaker connection which so many researchers have gotten hung up on when tracing the roots of this family, myself included. I descend from Daniel and Elizabeth's son, Nicholas Barker. Nicholas removed to central North Carolina, where he joined The Society of Friends, sometime prior to 1760. I have not concentrated my research on his siblings but some may have made the move with him. This I do know; in the original Monthly Meeting minutes for Cane Creek Friends Meeting in central N.C. there is an entry dated the 6th day of the 9th month 1760 that states, "Nicholas Barker received into membership by request." This would mean that Nicholas, not previously a Quaker, made a request to join The Society and that they did accept him as a member. In 1763 he married Hannah Allen, a birthright Quaker via her parents, John Allen and his wife, Phoebe Scarlett. Evidently that marriage was not conducted in such a manner as to satisfy The Society's requirements for, in 1764, Hannah is required by the membership to submit a paper condemning her "going out in marriage" in order to remain a member in The Society (also found in original minutes kept by Cane Creek Monthly Meeting). In family records kept by the same Meeting Nicholas is identified as the son of Daniel and Elizabeth Barker; having been born on the 8th day of the 3rd month 1737. He died the 24th of March, 1826 in Randolph County, North Carolina. Records held in Raleigh, NC indicate that, during the Revolution, he aided the Continental Army with supplies. Many of his descendants were leaders in The Society and highly respected by the membership for their wisdom and commitment to their religion. Some still live in the Randolph County area and are members of The Society to this day. I guess we can credit this Nicholas Barker, son of Daniel, son of Samuel, as being the reason why so many family researchers look for a deeper Quaker ancestry when there is none.

    Again, my sincere thanks to you for sharing your knowledge of the Samuel Barker family. May you enjoy what you do and do it for many years to come.

    1. Thank you so much for clearing this up. I didn't think it sounded like they were Quakers that far back, but it does make sense that later on people might try to "backfill" a Quaker past into the family, even if they meant well and just assumed that the earlier generations were Friends as well.

      One of these days I'll have to look more into the MCH-Cane Creek connection, and try to figure out why so many went from here to there. Ther have got to be at least a half-dozen or more families who had members all end up down there. Couldn't have been a coincidence, but I don't think I've ever seen an explanation for it, like who was the first to migrate south. Seems like there was a Mill Creek Hundred South community there.

    2. Scott,

      I am the 2nd "Anonymous" in this thread. Henceforth I will identify myself by my first name, Lynette.

      Today I find that I'm connecting with your excellent blog again through the Cox family post you made last week. My mother is a birthright Quaker and attended, as a child, Providence Friends Meeting in Randolph County, NC. She descends from MCH's Samuel Barker, William Cox, and Simon Hadley. All of these gentlemen had descendants that settled in central North Carolina in the mid 1700s (mostly 1752-1760). When they purchased land here the area was known as Orange County but Orange was quickly divided into new counties as its population grew and the original county proved too large for administration. When the dust settled, most of these families' lands were in the newer formed counties of Guilford (created in 1771) or Randolph (created in 1779). William Cox's land was mostly in Randolph County, NC. Nicholas Barker's land (grandson of Samuel Barker of MCH) was also in Randolph County.

      It is my understanding, from readings, that many of the northern Quakers removed to North Carolina because of the lure of cheap land being offered by the 2nd Earl Granville and the promise of religious tolerance by then Colonial Governor Johnston. The British Colony of North Carolina was, at the time, sorely in debt and in need of a larger tax base to pay off that debt. In the end, the need for increased income through taxation and the deplorable means used to wring every drop of money from its new citizens brought on the Regulator Movement (c1765-1771) in central North Carolina. Quaker Meeting minutes and historical NC documents prove that the aforementioned Nicholas Barker, William Cox, and William's son, Harmon/Herman Cox were all Regulators. The movement culminated in what is known as the Battle of Alamance in 1771 when then Colonial Governor Tryon's forces fought the Regulators and won. William Cox (Sr.) by that time was deceased but his son, Harmon/Herman Cox, did battle with the British forces. His 1st cousin, Herman Husband, was a well known leader in the movement. Governor Tryon pardoned most of the Regulators (best not to anger the tax base too much) but he also executed a few. Harmon/Herman Cox was one that faced execution unless he signed a document swearing his allegiance to the British Crown. This he did and the British never forgot that oath. In the early years of the American Revolution he was forced to allow the British to use his mill in Randolph County as a military base although I believe his sympathies were with the Patriots.

      Sorry, I didn't mean to ramble on. I need to return to your posts about the Cox family to see what I've missed.

      Again, a sincere thanks for the history of MCH - the history that preceded mine.

    3. I also am a Randolph County Barker descendant through my great great grandmother who was a Barker. Thanks for sharing information. I have my Quaker geneology well documented back to the 1500's through my maiden name, but have only recently began to search for the Barkers. Our family was in the Cane Creek Meeting and later formed the Holly Spring Friends Meeting. Many of these names are still on the membership at Holly Spring (Allen, Cox, Hinshaw, Pugh, Craven Stout, etc.)

    4. My husband was a descendant of the North Carolina Barkers. Daniel Barker's wife Elizabeth remarried a Thomas Berry and moved to North Carolina. William Henderson Barker married Anstis P Vestal and the Vestals were Quakers.

  3. Hello. Thank you for this piece of information about my history. I am new to the family search. I am a decendant of Samuel, via his son Daniel, his son Nicholas, his son Enoch, his son Daniel, his son Daniel, his son Elwood, his son Earl and his son Kenneth. (Got it?!) As my Grandfather Earl passed away when I was young, we don't have a lot of family history going back very far. In fact, the fact that there was such a strong Quaker connection was a vague memory for my father. I look forward to the day when I can visit the area named after my 7th Great Grandfather. Thank you for the great research.

  4. Here's some info on Abner Barker line - Pittsburg and then New Brighton, PA. Abner picks up at generation 4 and beyond below.

    Family in America
    1. Samuel Barker (1648-1720) of Claverly, Shropshire, England m. Rachel (1662-?)
    Anna, Edward, Joseph, Daniel, Mary

    Settled in New Castle, DE

    2. Joseph (?-~1755) of Mill Creek Hundred m. 9/27/1716 Johanna Clayton
    Maria, Samuel, Rebecca, Susanna

    3. Samuel (1721-1803) of Mill Creek Hundred m. ~1750 Rachel Ball
    Mary, Ester, Rachel, Joseph, Abner, Jeremiah, Jesse, William, Abraham

    4. Joseph (1754-1825)

    4. Abner (1760-1864) m. Ellen O (1780-1833)
    Maria B (1801-1802), Horatio N (1805-1864), James B (1809-1827), J Woods (1811-1835), Jean A (1814-1815), Jesse E (1816-1817), Thomas A, George S

    Moved to Pittsburg and then New Brighton

    Above (except Thomas A and George S) from Grove Cemetery marker in New Brighton. Presuming Thomas A and George S to be children born in Pittsburg or New Brighton

    5. Thomas A (1821-1859) m. Eliza Oakley (1820-1862)
    George O (1844-1849), Frank A, Harry T, Charles A

    Harry T and Charles A were twins

    In 1855 (and some years before), Thomas A was a New Brighton city councilman

    6. Frank A (1847-1879) m. Emma Hobbs (1852-1918)
    Harry N (1873-1936)

    See bank entry under George below

    6. Harry T (8/28/1849-?) m. Annie McClenan
    George M, Adele

    In 1887, Harry T helped create White Township in Beaver County

    6. Charles A (1849-1928) m. Jean D (1852-1929)
    Annie F (1877-1904), Jean D (1882-1888)

    See bank entry under George below

    In 1886, Charles A was a trustee for First Christian Church in Beaver Falls

    5. George S (1824-1892) m. Rebecca H (1826-1899)
    Louis H (1851-1939), Frederick G, Caroline H (1860-1937)

    In 1859, George S helped found Grove Cemetery and was Secretary of the board

    In 1863, Captain George S (Company C, 56th Militia) led two companies to the front with the Union Army.

    In 1870, George S founded GS Barker & Co (bank) with his two nephews, Frank A and Charles A. Later the bank became the Beaver County Trust with Frederick G (George’s son) as President.

    In 1871, George S was the Treasurer of Beaver Falls Gas Co

    6. Frederick G (1857-1944) m. Gertrude Townsend (1868-1896)
    Gertrude (1892-1896), Rebecca, Richard B, Dorothy (1895-1975), George S (1895-1975), Frederick G
    Dorothy and George were twins
    m. Juliette Townsend 1863-1957
    Margaret B. (1897-1960), Juliet (1903-1993)

    In 1896 both Gertrude T and her daughter, Gertrude, died during what was likely a cholera outbreak. Frederick G later married Gertrude’s sister, Juliette.

    In 1876, Frederick G was Treasurer of Beaver Valley Building and Loan Association

    Frederick G was President of Beaver County Trust (bank)

    In the late 1800s, Frederick G’s company bought Enterprise Pottery company

    Sometime between 1910 and 1920 the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio (US Census)

    NOTE: The Townsends were a very influential family in New Brighton. In the early 1800s, David Townsend owned around 700 acres of what became New Brighton.

    7. Dorothy (1895-1975) m. Richard M Bourne (see History of Richard Bourne – Barnstable, MA)
    Dorothy M (1922-1977) (see East Cleveland Prasse family at http://prasse.org)

    Gertrude Townsend’s silver service dating back to about 1890 was kept in this family

    NOTE: In England, the Bournes were from Worcestershire, just south of Shropshire; Sir John Bourne was a minister of Parliament and a Secretary of State for Mary, Queen of Scots)

    7. Frederick G (Jr) m. Sarah C
    Frederick G M (1931-?)

    4. Jeremiah (1764-1842) died in Kentucky

    4. Jesse (1772-1852) died in New York. Banker in Paris, France

    2. Daniel (1704-1748) of Mill Creek Hundred, m. ~1730 Elizabeth Nichols
    (offspring unknown)

    In the Grove Cemetery in New Brighton there are the following additional Barker grave markers. Exact relationships to the Barkers above not yet determined.

    Ellen (1837-1901) Possibly mother of John C and Joseph H below
    Eliza (1847-?) gravestone badly weathered
    Samuel (1850-1922)
    John C (1864-1887) Most likely brother of Joseph H below
    Joseph H (1867-1906)

  5. Thank you for all this information. Especially to Lynnette, who explains WHY everyone moved to NC. I have wondered, and never found such a clear explanation. William Cox/Katherine Kinkey were my 5 great grandparents.

    Does anyone know why William's father, who was granted land by Penn and WAS a Quaker, would be buried at Swedes? If at the time it was Church of England, that still makes no sense to me. Ideas? Linda Rowntree

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. I am a descendant of Samuel Barker through his youngest daughter Mary. I was born in Ohio and now I live in Wilmington, DE kinda full circle. lol

  8. Hello! I am a descendant of Samuel John Barker and Rachel Greenfield.

    How it goes for my end of the family is Samuel's son Daniel had kids with Elizabeth Nicholas. Of those kids Daniel had Samuel (Nicholas) Barker. Samuel the 2nd had William Barker Sr. who had kids with Mary Polly Jordan who had Isaac Barker. Issac had kids with Charlotte Ann Mason and of those kids James Williamson Barker (Indiana) had kids with Martha Ann Kiser. James and Martha had a lot of kids - Ha. Charles, who is Jame's oldest, had my great grandfather Cecil Vern Barker. Cecil married my great grandmother Laura Marie Liffick and between the two of them they had my grandfather Eugene Vern Barker. Unfortunately the Barker name on our side of the family died with my grandfather. (Born In Los Angeles). Eugene met my grandmother Barbara Diane Brown and had two daughters Victoria Diane Barker and Valerie Barker. Victoria had myself and five other kids. We currently live in Portland, Oregon though.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Eugene Vern Barker also had Eugene Barker the 2nd and a daughter.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I'm over the moon to find this information! I just so happen to have relocated to Delaware as an adult after never having had "roots" anywhere. My mother is a Barker descended from the original Samuel. Thank you so much for sharing this, my grandpa barker died before I was born and I've always wanted to know more about his family.

  11. Thanks! I just found this information today. It has been a big help. I am a descendant of Daniel Barker