Ann Bligh 1802 Biography

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
  • 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
    Book.

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.”