This is the ending of our series of “In the Beginning.” This greatest find went from just a few handwritten pages to finding the whole amazing story!
Somervell, Hood and Erath counties played a great part in the setting for his story. However, the historical facts and personal life story of Wilson Hopkins Barker are a legacy to everyone.
Yes, Mr. Barker, our storyteller and historian for this series of tales of the early settlers of our area. Mr. Barker was blind the last 19 years of his life and tells us of using a “writing box,” which he asked his son B.F. Barker, to make for him.
The wooden box consisted of a wire across the box so he could roll the wire from one line to the next. The handwritten stories are the window into the life and times of Mr. Barker and the settling of our part of Texas. The history he recorded is priceless.
“SKETCHES” by Wilson H Barker begins with his biography on Oct. 15, 1901. His opening words is a short poem.
My paper and guide before me lie,
With pencil in hand and two blind eyes.
I have determined to write what comes to mind,
Although for 19 years being totally, blind.
I don’t write for glory nor pelf’, (money or gain)
But to employ my own dear self!
Mr. Barker tells of his birth, family and life from the beginning. He was born 1819 in Indiana to William Barker and Abiah Hopkins Barker. Wilson H. Barker was one of their 12 children. In his life stories, he tells of his family and their histories, but Wilson’s “story” really begins as he writes that he arrived in Texas the fall of 1846.
He married Miss Mariah, daughter of Col. Henry J. Mills, of Mills Prairie, Edward County, Illinois, May 10, 1839. They had three children. In the fall of 1846, he moved the family to Texas and settled in Hopkins County. “There I engaged in stock raising.”
We had another son and in July, my wife died with consumption. On August 25, 1852, I married Miss Eliza Jane Brumley and we had three children”
I’ll return to my cabin out on the frontier,
And tell about horse thieves, Indians, bear panther, and deer
The stockman was on the lookout:
When a man was caught stealing, he went up the spout.
The hunter had lots of fun,
With his pony, hounds, and old-fashioned bun.
"On September 5, 1859, we left Murphy Springs on the Paluxy where we had been for a week or two and started our trip to our new home, which is now known as Barker Branch. Winding around the foot of mountains and cutting through cedar brakes for a distance of four miles, we arrived in time to strike camp by dark.
"We were eight miles from any permanent settler, except Mr. William Taylor, who had stopped one and a half miles west for a few days before. One would suppose we were very lonely, but not so, with no Indians in the immediate vicinity we had no fear of danger, neither did we have time to get lonesome.
"Occasionally we would meet a home seeker or a cow hunter, and they always met us with a smile and a hearty shake of the hand.Before us in every direction, was the beautiful scenery just as it had been made by nature.
"I will not attempt to describe the grandeur in which it appeared to me. When I complete the woodwork for my house, the next important thing is to stop the cracks and build chimneys."
The story Mr. Wilson left us is priceless. It draws you a mind's picture of what it must have been like to be a pioneer. The stories Mr. Wilson has shared are a legacy to us who have a genealogical or interest in history to the settling of this part of the great State of Texas.
Think of how many unwritten stories are just waiting to be found. They make us who we are and how we got here, as we become a part of our own story. We do have a very limited number of copies of his book “Sketches” available for purchase.
Visit us at the Somervell Historical Library and Research Center, 108 Allen Drive, Glen Rose, Texas 76043. (254-897-9073).
We will work with you on finding your story. We now have Ancestry online at the computers in the library. This has been a great research tool for the public and it is free to use.