Rufus “Orrin” Barker was married to Ella Isadora Bushman, the youngest child of Jacob and Charlotte Bushman. He died on this day in 1941.
RUFUS ORRIN BARKER
Compiled by Linda Rae Barker, Granddaughter
The year 1882 was probably no different than any other year that had come and gone or that would come and go, to most people, but in the home of Rufus W. Barker and his wife Lillie Oranna Searle it marked the coming of a very special event. One that would be for the good and joy of all those to follow. It was the year of the birth of their first born son, Rufus Orrin.
Rufus Orrin Barker was born in Payson, Utah, on January 11, 1882. There was great joy in the Barker household that day. It was decided that he would be named after his father. An honorable name brought all the way from Surrey, North Carolina.
Life in those days was not easy and so at an early age he learned the value of work. It was not his privilege to have the love and companionship of his father, as most boys do, for very long. At the age of seven his father passed away and he became the man of the house. He once stated that for them Christmas was very sparse in the material things of life. Sometimes his mother would knit them a pair of socks and that would be their only gift. The candy in their socks would consist of dried fruit, much like that done in fancy dryers today.
He was quite a scholar and loved to go to school. He attended one year of school at Snow College. Many think he would have made a wonderful teacher. His schooling was to come to an end when he fell in love with a lovely girl by the name of Ella Isadora Bushman. Up until that time he had taken care of his family even after his mother remarried.
Jesse Lee Barker and Rufus Orrin Barker (brothers) 1884
Orrin and Ella sealed their love in the Manti Temple on October 23, 1901, and began their own home. Seven special children were to bless their home. Times were not easy for him in his occupation as a farmer and poultry man, but he raised some of the finest chickens around. He was not blessed with the riches of life in material ways, but he left and taught the richness of spiritual things wherever he went.
One of the things his children remembered him most for was his love of music and singing. He had a very nice voice and was very active in the ward choir. He was active in the Church and enjoyed the positions in which he was called to serve. He was a Sunday School Teacher and served 10 years in the Sunday School Superintendency, part of which was as Superintendent. He was a counselor in the M.I.A., Scoutmaster for 3 years, active in the Seventies quorum, home missionary work and ward teaching. He had a very special way with words and loved his work in the Church as is shown in the following letter he wrote to the Bishopric and Superintendency when he was ill and it was necessary for him to be released.
Dear Bishopric, Sunday School Superintendents, Officers, Teachers and Sunday School members:
For weeks and months I have been trying to write this letter, but I find the task greater than I had anticipated. I find my inward emotions coming to the surface and a lonesome feeling creeps over me. I trust you will not think me too selfish for not taking this step before sometime ago.
I arrived at the crossroads of life, and found I had skidded over into the road of ill health. I have traveled this road for a considerable distance. So far it seems to be straight, narrow and slippery. Some people tell me there may be a turning place somewhere ahead in the Valley of Summertime and Sunshine, but even that seems too far away for me to make the trip back to efficient Sunday School work.
So Brothers and Sisters, as much as I love you, and Sunday School, I feel it my duty to relinquish my position as Superintendent. “Please accept it,” with my sincere thanks and appreciation for your faith and prayers offered in my behalf and for your splendid cooperation in Sunday School work.
In closing I wish to pay tribute to the three Superintendents whom I have labored with for ten and one half years, Brother Sidney Brady, Brother Urbin Bench and Brother Thomas Rigby. The love and devotion they have shown to me is seldom found among men.
May the Lord Bless and prosper them and all Sunday School workers. Amen.
Sincerely, Superintendent, R. O. Barker
Below: Ella and Rufus Orrin Barker with daughter, Ella Gladys.
It has been said by his children many times, “that he was such a great example of everything that is good.” He spent all of his married life in Fairview, Utah, except on occasion when he worked in the mines and had to be away from home. He owned a farm on the north side of Fairview and you could see it for several miles because of the great large poplar trees that grew near the house along the ditch bank. It was everyone’s sign that they were nearing the farm. Even his grandchildren use it today.
He was preceded in death by his son Lloyd Wells, who died at the age of 13, on August 21, 1926. Then on March 5, 1941, after being ill for many months, (his son’s mission homecoming was wired by special line to the house, unusual for those days), he was needed on the other side and he left his family for a time to go to the Valley of Summertime and Sunshine. The following poem appeared in the town paper at the time of his death. It was borrowed from his son Arthur Eugene.
Bernice B. Hulsbrink
I’m not going to sing his praises,
Or tell of his wondrous ways;
I’m not going to brag of his prowess,
As I did in childhood days.
I’m not going to say he’s a hero
Or a talented master of art;
I’m not going to say he’s a genius
Or that he’s unusually smart
I’m just going to say that I love him,
And here’s the reason why:
He’s always been what I want him to be–
Just a pal and a regular guy.
Upon his death he left the things that were more priceless than gold; a good name held in honor; love for our Father in Heaven; a strong testimony; and a clean life lived in righteousness and honor and love for his fellow men. It is a heritage that I, as his granddaughter am so proud to have.
Below, Ella Isadora Bushman Barker with her grown children.
Although I did not have the privilege in this life to know my grandfather, it has been a joyful and uplifting experience for me to put together this history and some of the experiences his children remember most about their father. The following remembrances are taken from their own writings:
The first experiences were written by his only daughter, Ella Gladys Anderson. (In the letter she refers to Orrin Barker, her father, as Grandpa and to Ella Barker, her mother, as Grandma.)
It was nice to visit with you folks, too. And I am happy that you are going to write a history of Grandpa Barker, because he surely deserves to be remembered that way. I might ramble a bit and some of the stories are what others, mainly his sister Laura has told me; some are first hand and some from Grandma Barker.
Grandpa was almost 8 when his father died. And because he was the oldest of the five children, and his mother had to prepare for some employment, it was up to him to care for his little brothers and sisters. Of course he had his grandmothers Searle and Daniels to help. Grandmother Barker, his mother, became a very good seamstress or dressmaker as they called them in those days.
Aunt Laura told me that when it was time for his mother to come home, Grandpa would have all the children sitting on chairs with their arms folded. Aunt Laura told me of one incident when she was four or five and Grandpa around twelve. Aunt Laura got a wood tick on her in a rather private place, so Grandpa had Aunt May cover her up so he could just see the tick. Then he proceeded to remove it. Many times Aunt Laura has told me he was the best man in the world.
Grandpa moved to Fairview with his mother and brothers and sisters when he was sixteen. My mother, Grandma Barker, liked to tell how Grandpa was such a proud looking young man and walked so straight. He would pass the schoolhouse where she was completing the 8th grade. Being quite a mimic she would strut along behind him, to the amusement of her friends, but in three years she married him.
Grandpa went to school at Snow Academy one winter and wanted to go the following year, which would have made it possible to teach in those days, but Grandma didn’t want him to go. And these are her words, “I was afraid he would meet another girl.” I think it was unfortunate because he would have made a wonderful teacher.
I remember as a little girl up on the farm how in the winter evenings , Grandpa would pop corn and sing to us and Grandma would read to us. Every night was like family night. There was something which always puzzled me as a young girl about my father. He had a terrific temper when he was younger and still he was the kindest most compassionate and gentle man you could imagine.
But as I have grown older I understand. His mother’s people, the Searles, were very quiet spoken, gentle, shy people. (I’ve known quite a few of them.) The Barkers were hot tempered, just as good but different, and explosive. In his later years I think the Searle temperament took over more and more. He was always very considerate and loving with Grandmother and he loved his children.
He was also a tease and a great story teller. Uncle Hugh used to say, “there were two men he would rather hear tell stories of their experiences more than anyone else, Grandpa Barker and Uncle Que Tucker.” I felt the same way.
He was a very proud man. That is, he took pride in being clean and neat. There was one luxury that he allowed himself. He pampered or rather took care of his feet. He didn’t like wearing the heavy work shoes that most men wore in the fields. He liked the finer, softer shoe.
He was very honest and would give away food or clothes to someone in need and was always willing to help out in times of need. He was proud but kind. Grandma Barker told me that once at a dance when the Relief Society was celebrating their Birthday Party, the 17th of March, it was ladies choice. One older lady, quite a homely person named Mealy (Amelia) Briggs, asked quite a few men to dance with her, but none of them would. But when she got to Grandpa he danced with her and really showed her a good time.
It was the custom in the earlier days of the Church for just a few of the well-known speakers to do all the preaching or talking at the meetings (Sacrament). Grandpa Barker told us that he had never been given the opportunity to speak until after he was 40 years old. So when he became Superintendent of the Sunday School, he asked young people and couples to speak in Sunday School, long before the Sunday School started the two and a half minute talks that were outlined in the Sunday School Manuals. Many young people came to him for help in preparing their talks.
Incidentally, I visited the North Ward when Grandpa was President of the Sunday School. I had never seen such reverence. The officers were all on the stand ten minutes before starting time. This was the secret of reverence. I remember your father, Linda, carried on in the same way when he was President.
Grandpa was a man of many talents. He had a beautiful voice and could sing either Tenor or Baritone. Uncle Hugh’s sister Birdella told me once that when she was a young girl, the most popular singing quartet in town was grandpa and his two sisters, May and Laura and his brother Lee. Uncle Henry didn’t sing with them too much, but had a lovely solo voice, as your father knows.
He was a good barber. He cut Grandfather Bushman’s hair from the time he married Grandma. All of his boys knew how to cut hair and he even let me practice on my little brothers.
He was a good mechanic. Once, while in Manti, he was fixing his car and a lawyer came up and talked to him. He asked Grandpa what he considered an educated man to be. Grandpa answered that an educated man must be able to converse intelligently on any subject and be able to do or fix any of the little problems that come up in life and to be at home with any group of people. The lawyer was very impressed with his answer. Grandpa told of this incident himself. He was very good in arithmetic and a beautiful penman.
I think I will go back to when Grandpa and Grandma were first married. His three stepbrothers lived with their father and step-mother. Two of them were quite lazy and didn’t help with the chores or help Grandma Terry with the housework, but expected her to wash their clothes and get their meals. All they wanted to do was toot their horns. One played the coronet, the other the trombone. Grandpa Barker went to see his mother one day and found her in tears. The older boy who was about three years younger than Grandpa, had thrown his clothes down the stairs for her to wash. When she told him she wouldn’t unless he helped, he became abusive and even struck her. Well this is where Grandpa’s temper showed. He was not going to have anyone abuse his mother, so up the stairs he went and got his brother and brought him downstairs and outside. Then he proceeded to give him a licking. When we realize that Grandpa was a much smaller man, it must have been interesting to see. But his brother learned a lesson that day that he will never forget.
Another incident concerning Grandpa and our Bob. In the North Ward they had a “talent night.” People from the north end of the county, mostly Fairview, competed in songs, dance and other entertainment. Bob was only about twelve or thirteen, but he and Grandpa sang a duet. It was quite unusual because in the first verse Grandpa sang the Tenor, Bob the melody. In the second part they traded parts. Grandpa was quite disgusted because even though he and Bob did very well a little girl with curls won, but that’s life.
I asked Florine what she could remember about Grandpa. She said she remembers most going to their place when he was ill and combing his hair. All of us know how well he liked that. A little humorous incident, Grandpa had to go to Manti to get his driver’s license. He had Aunt Hazel and her kids, me and my kids and Grandma, all in the car it could have been Marlene anyway. He went in the courthouse for an oral interview. I don’t think it was a written exam then. Then the Examiner came out with him to give him the road test. He looked at the car loaded with people and said, “Well, if you got them down here I guess you can drive them back.”
I hope I have given you something you can use. Linda, it has been a pleasure to write them down for you. Grandpa was a great and good man and above all, he was an honest man. I wish you could have known him.
May 24, 1977
Linda, I am sneaking a little more information for your history in Glenna’s card. When I was sixteen and going to High School, I came down with the smallpox while staying with Grandma Terry. I guess she didn’t want to bother with me, so I had to go to the farm, which meant that all the family had to be vaccinated with the exception of Grandpa. He had already had the smallpox. Well, Grandma was very ill and some of the children. Lee fainted. If I remember right, Gene’s vaccination didn’t take. Anyway, Grandpa took care of me and I was very, very ill. I was completely covered with pox, on my face and everywhere. For three days I was completely deaf. Dr. Rigby came up to see me. He told the folks if I lived I would be deaf and terribly pocked. Well, he didn’t know Grandpa. As the pox got to the right stage, he lanced each one and swabbed them with olive oil. As a result of Grandpa’s tender patient care, I never had a pox scar on me and I’m still here.
I was out of school for a month. I’m quite sure the picture your mother sent of me feeding the lambs was at that time. I was so skinny and weak Grandpa let me name his four new calves. I named them after my girl friends.
Another time while living on the mountain for the summer, I came to town with Grandpa for supplies. I was eight and a half years old. When we were almost back to camp, somehow, a fish hook he had in his hat got loose and caught in the fleshy part of my upper arm. He very patiently and carefully got that hook out of my arm without tearing my flesh.
Another time about his teasing. He got a big kick out of teasing the city nieces and nephews. Once he had my cousins from Salt Lake City standing behind a cow pumping her tail. He had told them that was how the milk came. Once he took some of the nephews on the mountain and gave them certain berries to eat, which were awful tasting. Then when they would make a face with the bitterness of them, he would give them another kind telling them they would take the taste out of their mouth and they did, with a worse taste. But the cousins all loved Uncle Orrin.