Ann Bligh (1802)

History submitted by Virginia Woodward to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.

Nora H. Lund Historian, South Center Salt Lake County

Ann Bligh (Blygh) was born 8 Feb. 1802 at Tibenham, Norfolk, England. She was the daughter of Daniel and Sarah Pease or Pearse Bligh. We know nothing of her early life in England.

When she was 20 years old, on the 18th of Feb. 1822, she married Fredrick Barker in Diss, Norfolk, England. He was 2 years older than Ann, having been born in Feb. 1800 in Shelfanger, Norfolk, England. His parents were William and Jane Barker.

Ann was the motherly type, and welcomed with love, every one of her 11 children into her heart and home. First was Matilda—b. 14 June 1823, followed by Mary Ann—b. 18 Feb. 1825 James—b. 7 April 1827, Sarah—b. 7 Aug. 1829. All these were born in Diss.

Ann’s husband, Frederick was a farmer and worked with his brothers, George and James. They had a very close relationship with each other, which naturally influenced the lives of their wives.

America held a beckoning hand to those of adventurous nature in the Old World. This challenge of opportunities in a new land finally was so strong in the lives of the Barker families that they decided to immigrate to New York State.

Thus it was, on March 23rd, 1830 that Frederick and Ann with their 4 children, George and Sarah Gerrard Barker and 2 sons, James and Hannah (don’t know the extent of their family) and a sister Harriet Barker Jarrall (perhaps husband, nothing more is heard of them) left England to make a new home in America.

They had passage on an old armored War vessel called the “New Brunswick”. A severe epidemic of smallpox broke out on board ship. The barkers were hard hit. All of them suffered with the disease with the exception of George’s’ son, James. However, George’s wife, Sarah, succumbed to the disease and her body was weighted and slid over the side of the ship into the sea. Ann almost despaired that her tender care would not save the life of her husband, Fredrick, but he did live.

New York harbor was indeed a welcomed sight to the weary travelers on the 22nd of June 1830. The “New Brunswick” had been their abode for 13 long weeks.

Up state New York is a rich and productive farming area. The Barkers soon found a farming set-up to their liking in Le Rayville, Jefferson County. Here Ann’s new life began. Being a farmer’s wife in America was about the same as being a farmer’s wife in England, there was always plenty to do. And she went right on having children.

Her first child born in Le Rayville was William on 23 Nov. 1831, but he was not permitted to live. When the next child, a son was born 26 Dec. 1833, she names him William after the child that had died. Harriet was added to the family on 29 Aug. 1835 and Daniel in 1837. He died young. The group sheet shows that Jane Isobell was born 17 May 1839 in Watertown, the large town close by, as was Henry 6 Oct. 1840 and Byron 16 Nov. 1842.

Mormon missionaries were proselytizing in New York State and when they visited the Barkers, and told their message, George became interested. IN fact, the truth of the gospel seemed to be just what he was waiting for and he was baptized in September 1842.

It took Ann and Frederick a little longer to be convinced that they really wanted to give up their (Methodist) religion in order to join the Mormons, who were so unpopular at the time. But down deep in their hearts they knew that Mormonism was true and they were baptized in 1844.

James and Hannah would not joint the Mormon Church. But still, when George and Frederick decided to take their families and move to Nauvoo, Illinois to cast their lot with their chosen people, James persuaded Hannah to go along with them.

It was 1845 when the Barkers arrived in Nauvoo, and they found a very unsettled condition among the Saints. They were having so much trouble with state and government officials who feared that the Mormons were becoming too numerous and strong in Illinois. The mobs were persecuting the Saints in a terrible manner. The Mormons were working hard to finish the temple so the sacred endowment and sealing work could be performed therein.

During the last part of 1845, Brigham Young realized the Saints must vacate their home and city if they were to survive. Hence, we have the Barkers crossing the Mississippi River during the bitter cold winter of 1846, to take up temporary quarters in Iowa. The suffering of Ann Barker and the rest of the homeless refugees can not be described in this sketch.

According to the writings of Don Barker, a descendent of James (a non-mormon) the Barkers made Lebanon, Iowa their place of residence until the spring of 1849 when Frederick and Ann, with their seven children traveled to Council Bluffs to prepare to cross the plains to Utah. (Her daughters Matilda and Mary Ann married and stayed in the East.)

George Barker and his two sons, James and Simon, left Lebanon with them to start to Utah also. This was the parting of the ways for the life-long association of the Barker brothers. It was the end of the trail, as far as James and Hannah were concerned. They refused to go off into the unknown wilds of Mormondom just to be with his brothers.

Perhaps Ann, at a47 did not relish the long trek over the plains, but the thought of a new home in the Rocky Mountains, away from their enemies, gave her the necessary strength and courage to carry on.

In Vol. 10, Heart Throbs of the West, we find listed the following as members of the Allen Taylor company—Frederick Barker—49, Ann Blygh Barker—47, James—22, Sarah—20, William—16, Harriet—14, Jane—10, Henry—8, and Byron—6. The Allen Taylor company left Council Bluffs, July 12, 1849 and arrived in the “Valley” Oct. 20th. This was a large group, consisting of 510 people, with only 100 wagons to haul the necessities for camp use. The people were expected to walk most of the way, and they did. On the trip west some of the closest friends of the Barkers was the David Moore family. David was the captain of their ten.

In looking for a suitable place to make permanent homes, the Barker and Moore families went north into a new area called Weber. They joined a few families at Mount Fort, (later North Ogden) the last of October 1849.

May we quote from the book “Beneath Ben Lomond’s Peak” to give the reader a picture of the conditions of Ann Barker’s first home in Utah. “Pioneer life was hard in this frontier settlement and the families suffered many privations, some of them lived in dugouts, and some moved into log houses that had been abandoned. They slept on piles of straw or straw ticks, and had little more than ground grain to eat. Yet, the white people fared better than the 75 families of Shoshones and 60 families of Utes who spent the winter in the Big Bend of the Weber when measles broke out in their camp.”

Hazel Garner tells a story which had been handed down in the Barker family that Ann was much afraid of her numerous, scantily clothes and half-starved Indian neighbors when she first arrived at Mound Fort. She felt that the first thing to do was to make friends, but of course, she couldn’t communicate with them because she could not talk their language. As she stood by her wagon viewing the situation, she was suddenly given the “gift of tongues””and was able to talk to them in their own language. This experience made a bond of good will between them that lasted through the years.

As Frederick and the other men worked clearing the land, making ditches to bring the water out upon the parched ground, more families came and the little settlement took on a progressive atmosphere

Ann was kept busy with the duties of a pioneer wife and mother. On September 6, 1850 in Salt Lake City, her daughter Sarah married David Moore as his plural wife. Her oldest son, James, married Polly Emeline Blodgett, 2 March 1851. On 13 Oct 1855 William married Mary Ann Holt. Harriet married Elisha Wells Chase, 20 Feb. 1857, Jane married Henry Dennison Durfee 26 March 1857, Henry married Marguerite Staleyl 30 November 1867, and Byron married Julia Cynthia Hubbard 7 Dec. 1867.

In the meantime, the matrimonial ship of Ann and Frederick was not sailing too smoothly. We of this generation cannot even try to guess what was the trouble. But members of the family say, “Frederick left Ann”. Just when we do not know. We can only state the facts that have been searched out by Mr. And Mrs. James Davis and appear on the group sheet submitted by Hazel Garner. It gives that Frederick Barker was married and sealed to Jane Barber on the 26th of July 1853. There is no date given when he married Elizabeth Thomas. He died 4 Nov. 1866 at North Ogden.

The record shows that Ann was married and sealed to George Barker on 3 Nov 1855. This is the same George Barker, Frederick’s older brother, whose life had been so closely associated with that of Frederick and Ann in England, in New York State, in Nauvoo, across the plains and making their first homes in Ogden, Weber County.

Perhaps George saw the injustice of his brother’s behavior toward Ann who had undergone every hardship to be a helpmeet for him. Ann would naturally have a lot of respect for her brother-in-law and would certainly appreciate his desire to look after her in her time of need. Ann was 53 and George was 62 when they were married. He lived to be 76, passing away Nov. 21, 1869 in Ogden. Ann died 18 Sept. 1876 in Ogden. She was 74 when she died. (Hazel says, “I have always heard what a wonderful woman great grandma Ann Barker was.”)

Sources used in this history:

  • Records searched by James and Zola David, Harrisville.
  • Barker Odessy—by Don Barker, Lebanon, Iowa
  • Person knowledge—Hazel Garner and William Moore
  • Vol. 10 and Vol. 12, Heart Throbs, P & P. M. Weber County

Facts arranged by Nora Lund, CUP historian for Virginia Woodward, descendant of Sarah Barker Moore.

Note: A possible cause of Frederick and Ann’s separation, proposed by Family History major, Jana Darrington, also a descendant of the Barkers, is that perhaps Frederick and Ann were asked to take another polygamist wife for which Ann was not willing to give her consent. Another history (The Immigrant Barkers, compiled by Gary Hansen) indicates that Frederick and Ann were separated after they moved to Mound Fort. However, he stated that in February of 1853, Frederick and Ann and several of their children had their patriarchal blessings given to them. Then Frederick was sealed to Jane Barber in President Brigham Young’s office in July of 1853. If this is indeed true, reason suggests that Frederick was in good standing in the church at that time.

Another note of interest in The Immigrant Barkers, compiled by Gary Hansen, says that,

“It is recorded that years later Byron Barker, Frederick and Ann Blye’s youngest child, went to his brothers and sisters with an account of a dream in which his Uncle George Barker and his mother Ann Bligh Barker appeared to him and asked that their sealing to each other be cancelled and that Ann be sealed to her first husband, Frederick Barker. Henry and James Barker argued against it and said their parents had done what they wanted. It is understood that the sealing between George Barker and Ann Blye Barker has been cancelled, and Frederick and Ann and all of their children have been sealed as a family.”