Kansas Collection Books: The Abolitionist, by George W. Schiller

Chapter 10:
The Growing Barrett Clan

     Mary came out from Cadiz a second time in 1857, bringing the 4 children, Jane, age 12, William, age 9, Winifred, age 7, and Cyrus, age 3. Mary had given birth to another son named Thomas in 1855 who died as an infant in 1856.

     Their new home was nearly completed and was ready to be occupied. There were so many new situations to deal with that for a while the newcomers were overwhelmed. The prairie frontier was much different that their home in the mountains and offered new challenges and dangers every day. In 1858, daughter Phoebe was born and the family continued to grow. She was among the first white children born in the settlement. The new schoolhouse was soon completed and it was nearly filled the first year. Church services were held in the mill building. Twin sons, Albert and David, were born in 1860. Little Albert died in a few months while David lived a little over a year. Eight children were born to Albert and Mary but only five survived to adulthood.

     As additional members of the Ohio Town Company and other areas came, the village of Barrett's Mill grew noticeably. Several members of Albert's family came to claim parcels of land that had been set aside for them in the original plats. Thomas Barrett, the second son of David and Winifred (Kirby) Barrett, married Susan Perry and was disowned by the Society of Friends for marriage contrary to discipline. They came to Kansas with their three children, James, David, and Emily. Thomas and Susan settled on a farm near Winifred and remained there until their deaths. Both are buried in the Frankfort cemetery.

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     Elizabeth Barrett, daughter of David and Winfred Kirby Barrett, married Benjamin Hughes in Ohio in 1834. Elizabeth and Benjamin remained in Ohio and were parents of four children. Only one, Theodore Hughes, came to Kansas. He married his cousin, Rebecca Jane Walker, daughter of Winifred and Isaac Walker. After Rebecca died, Theodore married her sister Sarah Walker. Theodore and Rebecca were parents of nine children. All of them settled near Barrett.

     Uriah Barrett, third son of David and Winifred Kirby Barrett, married Nancy Beall. Uriah and Nancy came to Kansas in 1865. Uriah purchased his brother Thomas's farm in Vermillion township that later became known as the Cutshall place. They were the parents of seven children. Although Uriah and Nancy settled near Barrett, several of their children migrated to Oklahoma and settled there. One son, Seth, rode a mule, Old Tom, in the Cherokee Strip run and later named his first daughter "Oklahoma." Seth and his wife settled on a claim in the Cherokee Strip. Both Uriah and Nancy are buried in the Frankfort cemetery.

     Sarah Barrett, daughter of David and Winifred Kirby Barrett, born 1817, married Isaac Allen in Cadiz, Ohio. The Allens were parents of eight children; none of them came to Kansas. Sarah and Isaac remained in Harrison County Ohio until their deaths.

     Ruth H. Barrett, third daughter of David and Winifred (Kirby), was an invalid and never married. She came to Frankfort to make her home with her niece Elizabeth Hughes and help raise her children. She was buried in the Frankfort cemetery.

     David Barrett, son of David and Winifred Kirby Barrett, was born in 1821. The Friends church disowned David for marrying Mary Anne Luby. She died after one child and he

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remarried Eliza Jane Clifford. David and Eliza Jane were the parents of nine more children. None of David Barrett's family came to Kansas.

     Winifred Barrett, fourth daughter of David and Winifred Kirby Barrett, married Isaac Walker in Harrison County, Ohio. The family first moved to Iowa, to Illinois, and finally to Kansas, where they settled on a farm near Barrett's Mill. When the farm that Winifred and Isaac had settled on was contested, they moved upstream to the west branch of the Vermillion River and established another home. Several other pioneers settled nearby and the little village was named Winifred in honor of Mrs. Walker. Winifred and Isaac were the parents of six children, all of whom settled near Winifred or Barrett. Their two eldest children were boys, Thomas and David. Both sons served in the Civil War. Thomas died of measles while in service. David was wounded in service and carried his wounds to his grave. He was an authority on the Indian tribes in Marshall County and could recognize the different tribes easily. Three of their children married Barrett cousins.

     Joseph Barrett moved to Illinois when he was quite young. He later married Martha Chaddock. They moved first to Iowa and later to Kansas. They were the parents of ten children; four of them resided near Frankfort. After Martha's death Joseph lived with his daughter Mrs. David Walker. Both Joseph and Martha are buried in the Frankfort cemetery.

     John Kirby Barrett, youngest son of David and Winifred (Kirby) Barrett, first moved to Jasper, Iowa, returning to Harrison County Ohio until 1883 when John and his wife came to Kansas. They purchased a farm in Center Township, four miles west of Waterville, where he died in 1910. Susann, his wife, died in 1923. John and Susann were the parents of ten children; Four of the children farmed near Blue Rapids. Both parents are buried in the Waterville cemetery.

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     Albert and Mary Barrett's immediate family grew and matured to establish their own families. The Barrett clan developed two distinguishing characteristics. They nearly all had large families and there was a tendency to use the same names for their children, often without distinguishing second names. The combination of these two factors painted a confusing picture to those who attempted to trace Barrett lineage through the years.

     Albert was the most popular name for the men. Patriarch Albert Gallatin Barrett became AB, or sometimes A.G. Son Albert answered to Albert or sometimes Albert, Junior. Little Albert was called Little Bert, while his younger cousin Albert was known as Bertie. Then there was Brother Bert, Uncle Bert, and Cousin Bert, or Baby Bert.

     "Winifred" was the most common woman's name, although "Mary" came in a close second. First, there was Grandma Winifred, and her daughter was Winnie. Then there was Cousin Winifred and a granddaughter who became was known as Freddie. Aunt Fred was the older aunt, while her adopted grandson was called Frederic. There were at least three Mary Barretts living within shouting distance, who answered to Med, Mame, or Marcy.

     Somehow, the clan developed the knack of talking about the various relatives in running conversions that would include a dozen or more people and they could rattle the names off at random without ever confusing an identity. A conversation might sound like, "Grandma Winifred isn't feeling too well today Her arthritis is acting up again. Winnie sent over some of her joint liniment and Aunt Fred fixed up a poultice for her knee. Little Winnie stayed overnight with her last night to run errands. Cousin Winifred will come over tomorrow." Albert was affectionately called "Pap," while Mary was "Mother Mary."

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     To make a detailed count of the total number of Barrett relatives who lived in the Marshall County area was a difficult task, but the count the total numbers was impressive. If there was another characteristic the group developed, it was that they were clannish, inclined to stick together and be protective of one another. To quarrel or pick a fight with someone with a Barrett name was usually a losing encounter.

     Of all the Barretts who came to Kansas to settle and establish homes and communities on the prairie, it was Albert Gallatin who displayed the greatest dislike for slavery and displayed leadership in opposing the Border Ruffians that gained him the reputation and name of "AB, the Abolitionist," a man dedicated to leading Kansas to become a state free from slavery.

     While the village of Barrett's Mill continued to grow, so did the problems of the settlers. The summer of 1859 was extremely hot and dry with only a small portion of normal rainfall. As winter came, still with very little precipitation, the temperatures also fell well below normal. Many settlers were not prepared for the extremes of weather and some were found frozen to death in their crude cabins. Spring of 1860 brought little relief in the form of moisture. The settlers from Ohio and other eastern states were not prepared to deal with the extremes of temperatures and precipitation. Many of the settlers learned to depend upon vegetable gardens to supplement their diets. In years of abnormal temperatures and rainfall, their gardens withered and died or were drowned out. The drought was finally broken with thunderstorms of excess rainfall and flooding, sometimes with violent tornadoes. Barrett's Mill experienced disastrous floods about every seven years.

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     The pioneers soon learned that wild fruits and berries were abundant in the area and an excellent source of supplemental food. The woods were full of gooseberries and wild plums that could be picked during the ripening seasons. Berry-picking excursions were common, utilizing a large number of youngsters as pickers. Wild grapes, elderberries, and blackberries were also abundant in the woods and hillsides. The homemakers were busy all summer and fall canning and preserving these wild fruits and berries. Underground vegetable storage cellars were lined with shelves of canned goods and storage bins were filled with vegetables and garden produce.

     Horace and Minnie Parmentier were neighbors to the Barretts for many years. There were the parents to seven children and they were always busy planning food for their brood. One daughter, Maude (Jones), writes for the Marshall County Historical Society publication, The Magpie. In her article "Our Daily Bread," written in 1993, she tells how the family managed their lives to keep plenty of food on their table. With permission we quote some excerpts.

     "Each spring my parents made plans for growing and preserving enough food to last the coming year. It took a lot of thought and planning just how much of each kind of food to plant and grow. The food supply had to last until the next growing year. In addition, we had to save enough seed to plant another year. The tomato, pepper, cabbage seeds were planted early in boxes of soil to sprout so they could be transplanted as the weather warm enough and the moon was right sign. If I remember right, all plants that bear their fruit above ground were must be planted in the light of the moon while all plants bearing fruit underground must be planted in the dark of the moon. Very little of our food was 'store-bought.' Wheat was taken
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to Barrett's Mill to be ground into white or graham flour. We had our own corn mill. The fine meal was sifted out and the coarse meal was fed to the chickens. Mom raised lots of chickens so we had plenty of chickens and eggs to eat, as well as some to sell, which paid for some of the things we couldn't raise. We had plenty of milk, cream, butter and cottage cheese, from our cows. About all we had to buy were sugar, salt, spices, soda and baking powder, rice, navy beans and kerosene for our lamps. We were quite self-sufficient and we never went hungry."

     It was common practice to butcher one or more domestic animals each fall as soon as the weather cooled sufficiently to allow the meat to be preserved and stored. Hogs and calves were most often available. Usually, one day was set aside as "butchering day." Neighbors would gather at one spot and spend the day butchering and processing the meat for future use. For the next several days, the homemakers would be busy processing and preserving the meat for winter use. Smoking and dehydrating the meats were usually preferred methods.

     Wild game was also a good source of food for the settlers. The men often organized hunting parties as a sport, but also to supplement the meat supply. Small game such as rabbits, squirrels, turkey, quail, and prairie chicken were plentiful in most locations. Larger game such as deer, buffalo, and antelope could be found farther west but required hunts lasting several days and extensive travel. These western hunts were sometimes subject to Indian attacks by hostile Sioux and Pawnee tribes who resented white men hunting their buffalo.

     Mary's kitchen was a busy place the year around. She often fed as many as twenty hungry people in shifts at her table In addition to her family she fed the mill crew

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and people that Albert employed. The children were always fed first, then the men, and finally the women. Mary usually had one or more domestic persons helping with the cooking and housework. Albert often employed Negro help at the mill and they were considered a part of the regular mill crew. Mary sometimes had Negro women in her home helping with the housework. Homemaking and raising children were a major challenge to the pioneer women and the burdens of bringing civilization to this new land often weighed heavily on them.

     Although Albert kept supply wagons on the road from Missouri River ports most all the time to replace his supplies at the general store, there were needs that had to be supplied by efforts of the settlers. While some ready-made clothing was available, the ladies spent long winter evenings spinning and carding wool into yarn and eventually into clothing. They learned to be self-sufficient in many areas. They often held quilting bees and exchanged outgrown clothing with the families who needed them. Many families learned to do without some of the things they had taken for granted in the past. In many respects, living conditions forced them to improvise and make-do with what was available.

     When the members of the Ohio Town Company came to Kansas they brought with them grain for planting. These grains, especially wheat, were well adapted to the climate of Ohio but did not do well in the harsh Kansas weather. The planting and harvesting of the grain, especially wheat, was backbreaking and discouraging. The Mennonites from Russia brought varieties of red winter wheat that did well in Kansas, finally making wheat production feasible. The advent of the McCormick reaper and later the field binder was a great improvement in the harvesting of wheat and oats and provided wheat supplies for

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the mill that J. Rodocker was now operating. Much of the sawmill production turned to making railroad ties for the new railroads in the area.

     Not all the memories were joyful. Albert made some errors in his judgment along the way. With his limited background knowledge of the Great Plains weather and climate, he did recognize the possibilities of widely climatic conditions that existed. He did not expect the potential flooding that took place in the Vermillion Valley at various times. Many of the houses were built on the banks of Gould's Branch or on the Vermillion River. It was an all too frequent occurrence for one or the other of these rivers to flood and cover a wide area of the valley. The floods often alternated with exceedingly dry periods that resulted in drought. Albert and the settlers learned to deal with the climate as it came, although it was so much different than the Ohio mountainsides they had left behind.

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