As I researched the history of the Barker family, I have come to view them as exemplifying the families of South Wellfleet who lived through the economic changes of the 19th Century.
I started my family research with the Barkers, since my great grandfather purchased his original lot of Cape Cod land from George W. Barker in 1892. Note my correction from my first blog where that purchase was dated 1906. A family member corrected me — the 1906 date was the date of the purchase entry onto the Barnstable County database, although the true purchase was in October 1892. George Washington Barker was the second son of Isaiah Barker, the link to the Arey family.
In an earlier blog, “more on the Arey Family”, Asa Packard Arey, Richard Arey (2)’s third son, widowed, and then married Betsey Allen Higgins. They had four children, three of whom lived. Asa Packard Arey died of consumption in 1839. He was one of the Captains noted in Cole’s memoir as one of the generation of 1830s sea captains sailing from the South Wharf on Blackfish Creek. His house, on land he purchased from his neighbor John Witherell in 1828, is to the west of Old Wharf Road. The house is still there, facing the morning sun as old Cape houses do. Captain Arey added to his holdings with later purchases from Theodore Tarleton.
Mrs. Betsey Arey, daughter of Captain Thomas Higgins and Martha Swett — both old Wellfleet families — was the executrix of her husband’s estate. She took in a boarder, perhaps because the South Wharf was becoming a busy place by the late 1830s, and there was no hotel in South Wellfleet. Isaiah Barker, the boarder, was from Londonderry, New Hampshire. We do not know why he traveled to the Cape, but he was a cooper, and was perhaps seeking an employment opportunity in that growing town where the mackerel fishing had taken hold. He and Mrs. Arey married on November 11, 1840. Isaiah and Betsey had three more children: Isaiah Jr., George Washington, and Lewis Cheever Barker. The Arey and Barker children grew up together.
In addition to the land around the Arey homestead — referred to as the land of the “heirs of Asa P.Arey” in South Wellfleet deeds — Isaiah Barker acquired more land in South Wellfleet during his lifetime. John Newcomb who was Hannah Arey’s guardian, sold Hannah’s interest in Asa’s property to him. Barker bought land from Nathan Paine and John Doane. Most important to me, he and his son, George Washington Barker, bought what is now Prospect Hill from John Stubbs in 1866. The deed descriptions mention nearby property owners: John Cheever, the Witherell family, Josiah Lincoln, and David Wiley. Cheever must have been a respected neighbor, as the Barkers gave his name to their third son.
The Barkers, living near the South Wharf during the heyday of the fishing years, must have lived relatively comfortably. Isaiah lived to a remarkable age for a man born in 1808; he died in 1885 at age 77. Betsey Arey Barker died two years later, in 1887. I have not researched Isaiah’s earlier life; in his death certificate, his parents are listed as Levi and Polly Barker of Bradford, Vermont. Both Isaiah and Betsey are buried at the South Wellfleet Cemetery.
As noted above, Asa Packard Arey’s first child, Hannah, did not come under the guardianship of Isaiah Barker as the other Arey children did; her guardian was John Newcomb, her grandfather. She married Seth Crowell first, and, then second, Nathaniel Myrick. She died in 1910; her step-sister, Betsey Arey, stayed in touch with her, and visited her in the Boston area, as noted in the Barnstable Patriot. Hannah is buried in the Dennis Village Cemetery.
Mary Arey, Asa and Betsey’s oldest daughter, married Benjamin Newcomb, a mariner, and lived in Wellfleet most of her life, finally as an old woman with her son Cecile Newcomb. She also had two daughters.
Asa Packard Arey Jr. lived in the Barker household, became a mariner, but died of consumption at age 24. He is buried in the South Wellfleet cemetery. There is no evidence that he married.
Betsey Allen Arey, born in 1838, shortly before her father died, never married, and lived with Isaiah and Betsey until they died. The Barnstable Patriot reported on her comings and goings, as it did for other South Wellfleet residents. She stayed in Wellfleet, but in the winter would visit her Barker relatives who had moved to New Hampshire. In 1895, she and her step-niece (Lewis Barker’s daughter) are reported as living in the nearby Scotto Foster home. She is shown on the 1910 map as the resident of the original Arey home near the County Road.
Next: reporting on the lives of the Barker sons.
Massachusetts Vital Records, online at the New England Genealogical and Historical Society
Federal Censuses online at www.ancestry.com
Barnstable Patriot (various) online archive: http://www.sturgislibrary.org
Barnstable County Deeds available at www.barnstablecountydeeds.org.