Murray Barker and His Descendants

 

A biographical sketch of Murray Barker, a free black man who is one of the earliest homeowners in what is now Glover Park, and his descendants. 



The First Settler of Glover Park

One of the home buyers in the village of Wilberforce (east of Wisconsin Avenue, from Whitehaven Parkway up to about W Place) was the earliest settler in this neighborhood. (It is possible to know who the first homeowner was because a historian was on the scene, whose business it was to know when someone bought a house: Georgetown’s assessor of property taxes. Georgetown was a separate municipality at the time, and Wilberforce fell within its boundaries. Dates given for tax assessments are all we have, but they are authoritative, and can be assumed to reflect the sequence of settlement.) Although lots in Wilberforce started to sell in 1806, it was not until 1810 that someone was assessed for a two-story frame house on one of them. The taxpayer was a man named Murray Barker, and as we will see, he arrived here by a somewhat different route than the people who later settled in next door to him.

How Murray Barker made his living at that time is not known, but there is a clue: apprenticeship records of the District of Columbia tell that on May 17, 1814, a child named Jacob, about 8 years old, was apprenticed to Barker to learn the trade of shoemaker (Apprenticeship No.538, vol. II, 91). The fact that Thomas Hyde’s tannery was next-door to Barker, would certainly make more sense if it turned out that Barker was in an allied trade.

However, the next time the record shows that Barker took on an apprentice was not until 1848, and this time it was to teach William Burke the trade of huckster (Apprenticeship No.2046, vol. VI, 7).

The 1850 census describes Barker as a gardener. Generations of shoppers who want wholesale prices without getting up for them have given the huckster a bad name that it did not have at the time, and both terms require explanation, because their meaning has changed over the years. A gardener was someone who had a market- or truck-garden, in which he grew produce to sell. A huckster bought produce in the morning, and resold it during the day; he could have a shop, or a wagon, or both, but to do either he had to have a license, and a regular stand in the market. Buying from a huckster was more convenient than going to market early in the morning, but prices were correspondingly higher.

The connection mentioned earlier between Murray Barker and Thomas Hyde is, if anything, confirmed by DC Liber AD29, June 1812, f. 129/99: Thomas Hyde becomes security for Murray Barker, for payment of $262 with interest to Samuel B. Magruder; the three year loan is secured by Barker’s property, which Hyde may auction off to satisfy his debt. Barker wanted to buy slaves. This might seem a bit extravagant for a man of modest means, but it would not have struck Barker’s neighbors as in any way unusual; slavery was utterly routine in the District of Columbia, and only the occasional newcomer to town was troubled by the spectacle of people bought and sold in the nation’s capital. But the case of Murray Barker was in fact different: the first settler in our neighborhood had only recently been a slave himself, and the slaves he was now planning to buy were his own wife and children.

 

Murray Barker’s Freedom: The Methodist Connection

Frederick County records of the late eighteenth century show that local authorities routinely received reports of “tumultuous meetings” said to be taking place in the slave quarters at night. Frequently the cause for of these disturbances was the joyful response called forth by Methodist preaching. Methodism was gaining converts all over Maryland, among both black and white. While John Wesley intended Methodism primarily as a reform of the Anglican church, to slaves his teaching appeared as a gospel of freedom: slavery was wrong. This was as well-known to masters as it was to slaves, so when a slave owner advertised that his runaway had “taken up with the Methodist Society,” everyone knew why (Columbian Chronicle, May 12, 1795). A generation later this was still the understanding of many people: “$100 reward for runaway negro man, Jack Butler, about 21: pretends to be a Methodist.” (Intelligencer, March 6, 1820).

The slave-owning class of society naturally found little to admire in this, but sometimes even a slave owner was persuaded by Methodist preaching, and went on to prove the sincerity of his conversion by setting his slaves free. These were the circumstances in 1809, when a man named Murray Barker made his first appearance in District of Columbia records: Leonard Mackall of Georgetown manumits “a negro man Murry, or Murry Baker, about thirty years of age.” (It seems that Baker became Barker to mark his new station in life.)

Murray Barker’s owner freed him without explanation, but we can be pretty sure of the reason. Leonard Mackall was a convert to Methodism, and rose to be one of the leading Methodists in the District of Columbia. His high position in the church obligated him to free his slaves. In short, Murray Barker got his freedom because the man who owned him got religion.

Barker was free, but his wife and children were still slaves. Barker mortgaged his small property on Wisconsin Avenue to his neighbor Thomas Hyde (who owned the tannery where the Safeway is now) and bought his wife and three children in 1812. Owning his family removed the immediate danger of their being sold and separated, but the dates of the deeds make clear that he was not permitted to liberate them immediately. Five years (to the day!) after buying them, Barker recorded his family’s manumission. His wife was free, as were the children born to her thereafter. But, slaves who were too young to support themselves could not be freed, so Barker’s children became slaves for a term; his daughters would only get their freedom when they were sixteen, and his son, when he was twenty-one. In short, everything about becoming free was intended to be long and difficult, and the law, even when all of its requirements had been met, still had a parting shot: it made Murray Barker a slave master for two decades, with his children taxable as his property.

Whatever it took, Barker did. That he succeeded in pulling his family out of slavery is a testament to individual determination. Not that he was alone; though records are lacking, we can reasonably assume that Barker had the encouragement and support of fellow black Methodists, both slave and free. There were also white Methodists on Barker’s side, besides the one who freed him; William Hardy, his Methodist class leader, held one of his mortgages. (Barker was listed in Hardy’s class, April 15, 1822. Unfortunately, Mount Zion Church records are not complete, and we can only infer Barker’s earlier membership.)

Finally, an intriguing document survives to suggest that a prominent man involved himself in the case. It turns out that when Barker bought his children in 1812, he had been unable to buy them all; in 1813 four-year-old Mary Baker was bought instead by a prominent Methodist named Tiffin, who was Commissioner of the General Land Office. Edward Tiffin (1766-1829) was the former governor of Ohio, where his policy had favored the freeing of slaves. In the present case Tiffin was almost certainly acting on Barker’s behalf, so Mary was reunited with her family.

 

Murray Barker’s Later Years

Before the Civil War, there used to be an annual Mayday procession of black drivers through Georgetown, their horses and wagons decorated with papers, ribbons, and flowers. It is a safe bet that the first homeowner in Glover Park was in the parade; according to an inventory of his assets, collateral for a loan, Murray Barker owned a market wagon with springs, and a bay horse to pull it.

Other items of value were three pewter and two Delftware plates, a coffee mill, a mowing scythe, and a hog. Humble possessions, but the Georgetown Ordinances show that Barker did not think of himself as being powerless. On at least one occasion he petitioned the Georgetown City Council for redress, arguing that he had been fined unjustly in regard to some market regulation. Another time he protested “the shutting up of Wilberforce Street,” which meant Georgetown was no longer maintaining it as a public thoroughfare. Barker’s record in fighting City Hall was one and one; the Council resolved the first petition in Barker’s favor, but he got no satisfaction on the street-closing.

Murray Barker, and all who knew him, are now long gone, and the scant records of his life and death require a considerable amount of inference to fill in the blanks. Barker would have been something over seventy years old when his name didn’t appear in the 1860 directory. Sophia Barker was still listed in 1863, and so would have witnessed the end of slavery in the District before she too passed on. It’s a good guess that they lie buried in Georgetown’s “Methodist ground”, near 27th and Q Streets, for which only partial records exist. Any marker has long disappeared.

In 1867 a small gathering took place to transact the sale of Murray Barker’s land on High Street. The sellers were the Barker children, and the buyer was Thomas Weaver. Born next door to the Barkers on Wilberforce Street, Weaver had probably known them all his life, but nothing in the deed reveals the human circumstances. All we know is, the Weavers were consolidating parcels of land along Wisconsin Avenue, and the Barkers were ending five decades on Georgetown Heights.

What happened to the children? Murray Barker, Jr. died in his house in Georgetown. His sister Sophia married a Pennsylvanian named West, and moved with him to his home state. Basil Barker settled on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, and like his father, grew produce for the market. A few grandchildren can be followed into the 20th century before we lose sight of them. Only one, who raised a family in Foggy Bottom, can be traced into the 1940s with any certainty, but there is no reason to doubt that he was descended from the slave freed in 1809, as he too was named Murray Barker.

 

 

 

 

Notes and Sources

Documentation on Leonard Mackall, Murray Barker’s owner; Murray Barker; two (possible) brothers of Murray Barker; nine children of Murray and Sophia Barker; and Murray Barker’s descendants.

 

 

Leonard Mackall

Leonard Mackall (1768-1843), was born at Mattaponi, Prince Georges County, and married Catherine Beall in 1789. In 1795 Catherine Beall’s father Brook Beall granted 200 acres in Montgomery County, part of Friendship, and of Magruder’s Purchase, to Leonard Mackall –– Springfield farm, off River Road, where Springfield Drive is today.

(Book F, f.209, Montgomery County Land Office)

In the 1800 census, Leonard Mackall is listed as having 11 slaves at Springfield. One of them is probably Murray Barker, probably born in Prince Georges County, a slave of either Leonard Mackall or Catherine Beall. When Barker reached adulthood, he met and courted Sophia, a slave on a neighboring farm.

 

Some time after 1800 Mackall became a resident of the District of Columbia, and the following transaction is recorded there: “Leonard Mackall of Georgetown manumits negro man Murry, (or Murray Baker) about 30 years of age.”

(DC Liber X23 ff.173-4/129, recorded 13/14 November, 1809)

 

(In the light of Barker’s 1808 assessment for property, it is possible that the 1809 document reflects a final step in his manumission. The manumission suggests Barker was born in 1779; the census of 1850, which points to 1785, seems a safer bet. The name Baker occurs frequently in the Barker family’s freedom papers. The purpose of the change may have been to signal changed status.)

 

Methodism and Slavery

By the first decade of the 19th century Methodism had gained converts all over Maryland, among both the black and the white populations. While John Wesley intended Methodism primarily as a reform of the Anglican church, to slaves his teaching –– that slavery was wrong –– was a gospel of freedom.

Slaveholders regarded Methodism as dangerous. When it was advertised that a runaway slave had “taken up with the Methodist Society,” everyone knew why. A generation later this was still understood: “$100 reward for runaway negro man, Jack Butler, about 21: pretends to be a Methodist.”

Columbian Chronicle, May 12, 1795;

Intelligencer, March 6, 1820

 

But occasionally even slaveholders found themselves persuaded by Methodist preaching. If a slave-owning convert had any expectation of achieving any standing in his new church he was expected to prove the sincerity of his conversion by divesting himself of human property –– either by direct manumission, or by selling for a term after which the slave would be free –– and of doing so in a way that assured that the manumitted slave could earn a living.

(Jane Donovan, historian, Dumbarton Methodist Church)

 

This is therefore the likeliest reason that Leonard Mackall –– convert circa 1804, steward, founding trustee, class leader, and a leading Methodist of the District of Columbia –– freed as many as eight other slaves by deeds of manumission in DC including Sciss, Luke Bowen, Sillar (Priscilla), Polly and Toby, Tom (alias Thomas Barker), a male named Delaware, and Abraham Shorter.

 

Deeds of manumission:

DC Liber L 11 1804 ff.280/258

DC Liber Q16 1806 ff.236/310

DC Liber R17 1807 ff.104/134

DC Liber S18 1807 ff.170/138,39

DC Liber V21-2? f.253, 10/15 February, 1809

DC Liber AC 1812 ff.486/345

DC Liber AT44 ff.424/254, 1818-9

 

Mackall’s name is also on several Freedom Certificates, which the law required freed slaves to carry.

 

A certificate of 1827 says Ben Wren has purchased his freedom from Margaret Beall, and refers to DC Liber AY49 1820 f.55.

 

In an 1831 certificate, Mackall affirms his knowledge of the freedom of Joseph Neverson (one of the founders of Mt. Zion Church).

 

(In the 1840 census Mackall still had two young female slaves in his house who were probably too young to legally manumit.)

 

 

 

Murray Barker Buys his Family

 

Murray Barker’s campaign to free his wife and children left a paper trail. There is, however, a limit to what these documents can tell us. Deeds are generally silent in regard to the motives of the parties involved.

It seems safe to assume that few whites who had transactions with Murray Barker share Leonard Mackall’s qualms about slavery. Still, for a white man to extend credit to a newly-freed slave, whose clear intention was to free other slaves, suggests something like collusion with Barker’s mission. And, in the case of Edward Tiffin (see below), it seems that Barker had a white ally when he most needed one.

The following are the transactions by which Barker financed the purchase of his wife and three children:

 

DC Liber AD29, June 1812, f. 129/99:

In 1812 Thomas Hyde secures payment by Murray Barker of $262, with interest, to Samuel Magruder of Montgomery County. The three-year loan is secured by Barker’s property on High Street, bought of Stephen Bloomer Balch, which Hyde may auction off to satisfy his debt. Surplus from the auction would go to Barker.

 

DC Liber AD29 1812 ff.189/153:

for $30, Stephen Bloomer Balch of Washington County to Murray Barker of the same place, part of lot 253, near Wilberforce Street and Congo Lane, in Beatty and Hawkins’ Addition to Georgetown.

 

DC Liber AH33 1814/1815 ff. 440/377:

Samuel B. Magruder to Murray Barker.

Bill of sale, 15 Feb 1815,  Recorded Mar 9, 1815

Samuel Brewer Magruder of Montgomery Co., in consideration of $60 paid to him by Murray Barker, a colored man and father of Eliza, sells to Barker a girl slave named Eliza, who is about a year old, “in consideration of the natural affection I bear to my child Eliza, she being also my own proper slave”

 

DC Liber AO39 ff.89/71

recorded June 9, 1817

Barker releases from slavery “my beloved wife Sophia, whom I bought of  George B. Magruder” [Samuel B. Magruder?]  and “dear children Eliza, Murray and Doley.”

Samuel B. Magruder and BF Mackall witness that Samuel B. Magruder sold Sophia to Murray Barker, June, 9, 1812. They swear this June 5, 1817.

 

Sophia, age 30;

Eliza, age 7 to be free at 16;

Murray, age 3, to be free at 21

Doley, age 7 mos., to be free at 16

 

Sophia Barker was born circa 1786-1787, in Georgetown. Why Eliza appears in two transactions is unclear. Thomas Hyde was the owner of the tannery south of Barker’s property (where the Georgetown Safeway is now).  Rev. Balch was the Presbyterian pastor of Georgetown. Samuel Magruder of  Montgomery County, and George B. Magruder owned Stoneyhurst farm, and were neighbors when Leonard Mackall lived at Springfield, on River Road.

 

For Murray Barker, owning his family removed them from the ever-present danger of their being sold and separated. The dates of the deeds make it clear that he was not permitted to liberate them for five years.

 

Five years to the day after buying them, Barker recorded his family’s manumission. His wife was free, as were the children born to her thereafter. But Eliza, Murray Jr., and Doley became slaves for a term; his daughters would only get their freedom when they were sixteen, and his son, when he was twenty-one.

 

Did Barker own his children as slaves?

 

The census taker didn’t think so.

 

The census of 1820 shows his household, two adults and three minors, as free. The 1830 census shows Murray and Sophia and four girls and two boys, all free. The 1840 census shows the household diminished by one –– Murray Jr.? –– and all are free (and literate!)

 

On the other hand, the law did:

 

Bill of sale 15 Feb 1815,  Recorded Mar 9, 1815:

Samuel Brewer Magruder of Montgomery Co., in consideration of $60 paid to him by Murray Barker, a colored man and father of Eliza, sells to Barker a girl slave named Eliza, who is about a year old. She will be her father’s slave until she comes of age that he can free her: “in consideration of the natural affection I bear to my child Eliza, she being also my own proper slave”.

(DC Liber AH33, 1814/1815 ff.440/377)

 

 

 

The Methodist Connection

 

Barker undoubtedly enjoyed the support of black Methodists. There were also white Methodists on Barker’s side, besides the one who freed him. William Hardy, his Methodist class leader (April 15, 1822, re Carter Bowman) sold him land:

WB111 1844 ff.437/336.

 

Aside from Leonard Mackall –– the man who freed him because he got religion –– Murray Barker had another white Methodist on his side. It turns out that when Barker bought his children in 1812, he had been unable to buy them all. In 1813 four-year-old Mary Baker was bought instead by a man named Edward Tiffin:

 

Certificate of Freedom 963, vol. 2, p.184

recorded October 7, 1831:

Frederick Keller swears that Mary Baker, is the (person bought?) from Thomas Watkins, mentioned in a manumission deed from Murry Baker, and is the same person who was sold by Thomas Watkins in 1813 to the late Edward Tiffin of Ohio, who was then a resident of Washington.  Baker is a bright mulatto woman and is 24 years and 11 months old.

 

There is no deed of sale in DC index, for either Watkins or Tiffin,

so the sale was most likely in Montgomery County. Tiffin, a Methodist lay preacher, had been the governor of Ohio, an Ohio Senator, and was now Commissioner of the General Land Office; that he was acting on behalf of the child’s father is apparent from the outcome, and from the fact that Tiffin’s anti-slavery sentiments are well-documented.

 

 

 

Murray Barker and the Village of Wilberforce

 

There is substantial evidence that Rev. Stephen Bloomer Balch –– who sold Murray Barker land on what is now Wisconsin Avenue –– had “views” about slavery, but what they were remains obscure. Balch was one of the founders of the American Colonization Society, which advocated re-settlement of freed slaves in Liberia. He also named a farm he owned in honor of William Wilberforce, the English abolitionist.

 

This farm  –– on the east side of High Street (now Wisconsin Avenue), and north of Madison Street (now Whitehaven Parkway) –– he later subdivided into small lots, which were offered for sale in what he called the Village of Wilberforce. The names of its streets –– Congo Lane, Angola Lane ––refer to two of the leading sources of African slaves in America.

 

There were at least four free African-American buyers in and near Wilberforce: William Fealds (or Fields), Moses Thompson, John Swann, and Murray Barker, and all seem to have some connection to Mt. Zion Methodist Church.

Neither the name Wilberforce, nor its streets, were adopted by the city of Georgetown, but they did fall within the boundaries of Georgetown, so it was Georgetown’s assessor of property taxes who recorded the name of the first homeowner in Wilberforce –– well, adjoining Wilberforce, to be precise –– was recorded by.. Although lots in Wilberforce started to sell in 1806, it was not until 1810 that someone was assessed for a two-story frame house on one of them: the taxpayer was Murray Barker.

 

Murray Barker assessed for lot 253

(Washington Federalist, November 8, 1808)

 

Georgetown Assessments, 1808 note, p.50:

as of Sept. 1810 Murray Barker was assessed for a house on part of lot 253,

Beatty & Hawkins Addition to Georgetown, fronting on High Street, taxed at $80.

 

Murray Barker pays off his loan:

DC Liber AD29 1812 ff.189/153:

for $30, Stephen Bloomer Balch of Washington County to Murray Barker of the same place, part of lot 253, near Wilberforce Street and Congo Lane, in Beatty and Hawkins’ Addition to Georgetown.

 

 

 

Trades and Transactions

 

Apprenticeship records of the District of Columbia show that on May 17, 1814, a child named Jacob, Patrick Magruder’s slave, about 8 years old, was apprenticed to Barker to learn the shoemaking trade. That obligation would have ended in 1824.

(In light of the frequency of the surname Magruder in connection with Murray Barker, it is possible that Jacob was related to Murray Barker.)

(DC Indentures of Apprenticeship No. 538, Vol. II, p. 91, May 17, 1814)

 

Murray Barker made his living as a shoemaker, and it is a reasonable conjecture that Barker had once been apprenticed in similar fashion. That is how trades were learned.

After Barker was freed he moved in next door to a source of leather. As early as 1797, Thomas Hyde owned a “tanyard just above Georgetown on the road to Montgomery Court House.” Georgetown tax rolls show that it was situated about where the Georgetown Safeway is today. Hyde’s tannery was the earliest industry on Georgetown Heights.

 

DC Liber WB2 (1821) ff.397/283:

Barker borrowed $190, taking out a mortgage on his house from Clement Smith

Paid back:

DC Liber WB27 (1829) ff.105/150

 

DC Liber WB5 1822-1823 ff.195-168:

For $100 from his neighbor William Kuhns, Barker sells, or uses as security for a loan, 2 beds, a stove, furniture, pots, wash tubs, 3 pewter and 2 Delftware plates, a coffee mill, a mowing scythe, and a hog.

 

Murray Barker appears in records on April 15, 1822, as a member of William Hardy’s class, Montgomery Street Methodist Church.

(Source: Carter Bowman)

 

At some point, perhaps to achieve greater independence, Barker changed professions, and became a truck gardener, growing produce for the market, and a huckster, an independent produce retailer, selling from a wagon.

The word huckster was not as loaded at the time. A huckster was a valuable person, you could get produce from him after the market stalls had closed, but he charged a higher price. Thrifty well-regulated houses got their produce in the morning at the market.

 

When Barker petitioned the Georgetown City Council for redress, arguing that he had been fined unjustly in regard to some market regulation, he may have already changed his calling. The petition was resolved in Barker’s favor. (Georgetown Ordinances, Board of Common Council, November 18, 1836)

 

Barker also protested “the shutting up of Wilberforce Street,” which meant either that Georgetown had condemned it, or that it was not maintaining it. Barker got no satisfaction on the street-closing. (Georgetown Ordinances, Board of Aldermen, October 27, 1837)

 

What this “shutting up” meant is unclear. It is possible that the action was a legal one, removing Wilberforce Street as a public thoroughfare; or it could have been physical, with something like the annual grading of High Street making it impossible to turn onto the older street.

 

DC Liber WB111 1844 ff.437/336:

Murray Barker’s class leader, William Hardy, Montgomery Street Methodist Church, sells Barker adjoining land in Beatty and Hawkins Addition to Georgetown, lot 252, to the south of Barker’s original lot.

 

WB129 (1846) ff.258/298:

Barker takes loan of $100 for 6 months, from William Howell of Washington City, with his market wagon with springs, a cart harness, and a bay horse as collateral. He signs his name.

Apprenticeship No. 2046, vol. VI, 7, February 8, 1848

William Burke, the mulatto son of Sarah Burke, who was born July 12, 1835, is apprenticed until age 21 to Murray Barker, to learn the trade of huckster.

 

In the 1850 census, p. 178A, this same William Burke, age 15, is in the house of Murray Barker, Jr., and is described as “bought on time”, meaning he was a slave at the time, and to be free when his apprenticeship ended in 1856?

Murray Barker is described as a gardener

 

Apprenticeship No.2183, recorded April 3, 1852:

Nin Bell  [Ninian Beall?] An orphan who was 11 years old on March 2, 1852, with the consent of his sister Cesilla J. Green, is apprenticed until the age of 21 to Murray Barker of Georgetown, to learn the art of a house servant. He may be a relative, as he was already in the house in the 1850 census, p. 237 A.

 

The 1858 directory of Georgetown gives Barkers address as 356 High Street, and lists his trade as “huckster”.

 

Generations of shoppers who want morning prices without getting up for them have given the huckster a bad name that it did not have at the time, and both terms require explanation, because their meaning has changed over the years. A gardener was someone who had a market- or truck-garden, in which he grew produce to sell. A huckster bought produce in the morning, and resold it during the day; he could have a shop, or a wagon, or both, but to do either he had to have a license, and a regular stand in the market. Buying from a huckster was more convenient than going to market early in the morning, but prices were correspondingly higher.

 

Before the Civil War, there used to be an annual Mayday procession through Georgetown of black drivers, with horses and wagons decorated with papers, ribbons, and flowers. Quite possibly the first homeowner in Glover Park was in the parade.  (William A. Gordon, CHS vol. 20, 1917)

 

Barker’s name didn’t appear in the 1860 directory of Georgetown residents. Sophia Barker was still listed in 1863, and so would have witnessed the end of slavery in the District before she too passed on.

 

It is recorded that Murray’s son Murray Barker, Jr., who probably died before his father died, was buried in Georgetown’s “Methodist ground” –– now Mt. Zion Cemetery –– it is possible that his father was buried there as well.  But Murray and Sophia Barker are not listed by Sluby or by Birch. Also, only partial records exist for this burial ground. If there was a marker it has long disappeared.

 

In 1867 a small gathering took place to transact the sale of Murray Barker’s land on High Street. The sellers were Barker’s son Basil, and daughters Catherine Barker, Sophia (Barker) West, and Sarah (Barker) Bias Toler.

 

The buyer was Thomas Weaver. Born next door to the Barkers on Wilberforce Street, Weaver had probably known the Barkers all his life, but nothing in the deed reveals the human circumstances. All we know is, the Weavers were consolidating parcels of land along Wisconsin Avenue, and the Barkers were ending five decades on Georgetown Heights.

DC Liber ECE28 1868 ff.90/95

indenture made December 14 1867, recorded February 8. 1868

Barker, Basil & Catherine, to Thomas Weaver

 

What happened to the children of Murray and Sophia?

 

Murray Barker, Jr. died in his house in Georgetown.

 

His sister Sophia married a man named West, and moved with him to Pennsylvania. Basil Barker also went to Pennsylvania, settling on the outskirts of Pittsburgh; like his father, Basil sold produce from a wagon.

 

A few grandchildren can be followed into the 20th century before we lose sight of them. One, who raised a family in Foggy Bottom, can be traced into the 1940s: he too was named Murray Barker.

 

 

Additional Notes on Murray Barker’s Family

 

Notes, and documentation of sources, on two (possible) brothers of Murray Barker; notes and documentation of Murray and Sophia Barker’s nine children, and of their descendants. Surnames appearing below:

 

Jackson

Burke

Campbell

West

Berry

Bias/Buyers/Byers

Toler/Tolar

Green

 

 

Possible Brothers of Murray Barker

Thomas Barker may be related to Murray Barker, but no confirmation has been found.

 

DC Liber V22 f.253, 10/15 February, 1809

On the 1822 list of William Hardy’s Methodist class there was, with Murray Barker, a Thomas Barker.

 

Though Thomas Barker is described in some subsequent deeds as “of Georgetown,” his deed transactions generally refer to land in Washington City, lot 22 square 5 (about 26th St. NW and K) in 1813 from Alexander Suter

DC Liber AF31 1813 119/80;

DC Liber AX48 531-3).

 

This could be the Barker referred to in Hines’s Early Recollections, p. 92, who lived in an old tobacco warehouse between F and G Streets, and 18th and 19th Streets NW.

 

Barker, Thomas, (a colored man)‘s wife,

November 28, 1816, stained coffin

William King’s Mortality Book

 

Collectors sale of Wash City lots, for taxes up to and including 1823;

F. Coyle, Collector for wards 1 & 2.

Assessed include: Thomas Barker

(National Intelligencer, Apr. 19, 1825)

 

Insolvent Debtor, applied to be discharged from imprisonment:

Thomas Barker

(National Intelligencer, Feb. 27, 1827)

 

Collector’s sale of Wash city lots for taxes due through 1827, wards 1 and 2:

Thomas Barker

(National Intelligencer, March 1, 1828)

 

Thomas Baker (colored) 3/25/1838

stained coffin

William King’s Mortality Book

 

 

Isaac Barker

 

There was in 1820 a free colored man in DC deeds  named Isaac Barker;

since the given name Isaac reappears in descendants of Murray Barker, Sr., it is possible that he was related.

(DC Liber AZ50, ff. 110/84)

 

His wife was named Charity, who had been a slave of Samuel Harwood in Montgomery County, and was freed by him as of her 25th year.

 

 

 

 

 

Children and Descendants of Murray and Sophia Barker

 

Between 1810 and 1860 Murray and Sophia Barker raised a family in two frame houses on the east side of High Street, in what is now the 2100 block of Wisconsin Avenue.  The following is an attempt to follow what happened to this family after Murray and Sophia died.

 

1

Mary Baker, child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born November, 1808?

Manumitted 1816

 

Certificate of Freedom #963, vol. 2, p.184

recorded Oct 7, 1831:

Frederick Keller swears that Mary Baker, is the [person bought?] from Thomas Watkins mentioned in a manumission deed from Murry Baker, and is the same person who was sold by Thomas Watkins in 1813 to the late Edward Tiffin of Ohio, who was then a resident of Washington.  Baker is a bright mulatto woman and is 24 years and 11 months old.

 

In many cases the first legal mention of a Barker gives the name as Baker.

This was also the case with Mary’s father, Murray Barker:

DC Liber X23 173-4/129 recorded, 13/14 Nov., 1809

“Leonard Mackall of Georgetown manumits negro man Murry, (or Murray Baker) about 30 years of age.”

 

The name Baker rather than Barker occurs frequently in this family’s freedom papers,

perhaps suggestive of a desire for the free Bakers to signal changed status?

 

 

There is no deed of sale in DC index, for either Watkins or Tiffin,

so the sale was most likely in Montgomery Co.

 

Edward Tiffin apparently bought the child on behalf of the child’s father. Who was Tiffin?

 

Born 1766 in England

first state governor of Ohio

opposed slavery in the new state,

encouraged manumitted slaves to settle in Chilicothe

April 1812, General Land Office created, President Madison selected Tiffin to head it

Tiffin was in DC in 1814 during British attack. (Sprague, Ohio Cues for Ohio Youth, vol. 13 No 4, Jan 1964, pp. 207-9)

 

Tiffin freed slaves that he inherited.

He and his brother-in-law manumitted all of them:

DC Liber AO39 1813 f.134

Edward Tiffin certifies that Negro woman Sukey and her daughter were born slaves to me in the state of Virginia, and I have emancipated them, and they are at liberty.

given Sept. 1813, recorded 1817

 

 

2

Eliza Barker Jackson, child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born circa Feb 1814?

 

DC Liber AH33, 1814/1815 ff.440/377

Bill of sale 15 Feb 1815,  Recorded Mar 9, 1815

Samuel Brewer Magruder of Montgomery Co., in consideration of $60 paid to him by Murray Barker, a colored man and father of Eliza, sells to Barker a girl slave named Eliza, who is about a year old.  Legally, she will be her father’s slave until she comes of age that he can free her: “in consideration of the natural affection I bear to my child Eliza, she being also my own proper slave

 

Eliza married John Jackson,

 

Freedom Register, Manumission Records II, # 894,

National Archives, Record Group 21

recorded  30 July, 1831:

Barker records having manumitted daughter Eliza, now Jackson,

(and Eliza’s daughter, Julia Jackson, about 4 or 5 years old)

having purchased her from Samuel B. Magruder,

Feb 15, 1815, sale recorded March 9, 1815, DC Liber AH f.440.

 

Eliza Jackson was probably a Methodist, as her father had been, but her husband John Jackson was probably a Catholic:

Holy Trinity Death Register, Feb. 20, 1835:

Eliza Jackson,  converted to Catholicism on her deathbed

Eliza Jackson, about 20 yrs of age, the wife of John Jackson, (both free),

conditionally and simply baptized a Catholic.

 

Holy Trinity Death Register, Feb. 21, 1835:

Jackson, Eliza, (Col’d) wife of John Jackson, (Col’d), age 20,

buried Trinity Church Upper Grave Yard (now Holy Rood).

 

 

 

 

 

3

Murray Barker, Jr., child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born about 1814-1815, died 1857

 

mentioned in DC Liber AO39 1817 ff.89-090

as 3 year old son of Murray Barker Sr., to be free in 1835

 

Married Matilda Campbell in DC, April 10, 1841. (Sluby)

They lived at 92 Market Street,  two-story frame house purchased of George and Catherine Bohrer

DC Liber WB144, f. 442

The house was in the family until about 1895, when 1543-5 33rd Street NW were built

 

Murray Barker, 1850 census: “a smoker of Herrings”

New York Times April 14, 1895 says these are alewifes, caught by net, 9 oz. to 1 lb. each,

hawked in the street when in season. (River Shad is another fish that he may have dealt in.)

 

The profession sounds humble, but there is evidence that Murray Jr. made a good living. It also appears that Barker would have had a stand in the market, and or sold from a wagon, as a huckster:

 

Apprenticeship #2046, Feb 8, 1848

William Burke, the mulatto son of Sarah Burke, who was born 12 July, 1835,

is apprenticed until age 21 to Murray Barker to learn the trade of huckster

 

1850 census, p. 178A, shows this same William Burke, age 15, born Va.,

in the household of Murray Barker, Jr., and is described as “bought on time”,

presumably meaning he was a slave at the time, and to be free when his apprenticeship ended in 1856?

 

DC Wills: Murray Barker Jr. feeling his time was short, made his will in 1857, and died that year.

His heirs included two sisters:

Sarah Buyers (Byers) of Georgetown.

Sophia West of Beltsville

(which probably means Beallsville, PA)

 

Murray, Jr. died March 22, 1857, and was buried March 24, 1857,

in “Methodist Episcopal Ground”,  by Joseph Birch.

 

Barker’s handsome stone suggests that his family was fairly prosperous.

(It now lies, broken in half, at the NW edge of a pile of headstones in the cemetery we know as Mt. Zion)

“SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF MURRAY BARKER, JR.,

WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE IN THE HOPE OF A BLESSED IMMORTALITY,

MARCH 22, 1857, AGED 43 YEARS.”

Above that: “PARTED BELOW, UNITED ABOVE.”

 

 

Notes on Murray Jr.’s wife, Matilda Campbell Barker:

 

Born Maryland, ca 1815 (1850 census)

Manumission, 19 March, 1830:

Malbro Cammel, in consideration of $5, frees from and after 1 January, 1831, his negro girl Matilda, about 15 years old.

signed Malbro (X) Cammel

PG Free Negroes, Martin Luther King Library:

Matilda’s family, some of whom were owned by the Wilcoxen and Prather families,

was named Cammel or Campbell:

 

Marlborough Cammel is the reputed child of Elender (Eleanor) Cammel, a free woman of color,

Marlborough Cammel, manumitted 1818, 41 yrs of age.

His sisters are Cate (Kitty) Cammel, and Cassy (Cassandra) Cammel

Marlborough buys Kitty free in 1823

Marlborough buys Cassy free in 1823, when she is 36

 

1824 Elenor Campbell buys David Riely from Mr. George Noa.

 

DC Liber WB 17 26 June 1827:

Henry Prather of PG Co for $275 paid by Cassandra Campbell,

a free black woman of Washington,

sells to her Caroline Matilda Campbell, her daughter, aged between 19 and 20 years old;

 

June 30 1827 Cassandra Campbell, in consideration of one dollar, frees Caroline Matilda Campbell, aged about 20.

 

In 1836 Caroline Matilda gets a new Cert. of Freedom because her old one has been stolen.

 

April 28,  1829 Marlborough Campbell manumits his son David.

 

Marlborough and Cassandra Campbell sold David Riely, bought by their mother Elenor Campbell from Mr. Geo. Noa in 1824, to their sister Kitty Campbell. Kitty then freed her boy David Riely, Sept. 25, 1833.

 

Matilda Barker, widow

 

Matilda survived her husband and carried on the family business:

 

1858 directory: Matilda Barker, widow of Murray, 92 Market St.

 

Matilda Barker was ordered to appear before the DC Orphan Court

to render an account of “Murry Barker, deceased” on July 26, 1859

 

1865 Directory

Barker, Matilda (c) smoked fish

241 Centre Market

house on Market St, Georgetown.

 

Joseph Birch burial journal:

“Mrs. Barker“ (June 12, 1872) was buried at Holmead Cemetery,

May be Matilda Campbell Barker, since Sophia was dead by then, and Rebecca Lee Barker still alive

 

DC Liber 1995, f.390, April 1895

shows Murray Barker Jr.’s land passing to Julia Harrington under decree passed in Equity court,

Oct 16, 1894 in Eq. 13514:

John Francis Buyers vs. Comfort Sisco Jones et al.

Are any of the following –– besides John Buyers –– related to Murray Barker Jr.?:

Henry S Matthews

Simon Lyon

John Harrington

Julia Harrington

John Buyers

Comfort Sisco Jones

Catherine Nolan

 

 

 

4

Doley Barker, child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born about 1817?

 

DC Liber AO39 ff.89/71 recorded June 9, 1817

Barker releases from slavery “my beloved wife Sophia, whom I bought of  George B. Magruder” [Samuel B. Magruder?]  and “dear children Eliza, Murray and Doley.”

 

Doley, age 7 mos., to be free at 16

 

Could this be her:

Murray Barker’s child (no given name listed)

September 3, 1818, stained coffin

(William King Mortality Journal)

 

 

5

Sophia Barker West, child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born circa 1820

born in Maryland (1860 PA census)

 

Married around 1849, to John West

a Pennsylvanian related to a white Pennsylvanian named Robert N. West

and before the 1850 PA census had moved with him to Somerset Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania. p. 890, roll 1192

(She had a son named Isaac, possibly named after her uncle?)

 

Few black people where he was from, so it looks like West was obliged to go to DC to find a bride

 

In the 1860 census the couple were in Bentleyville, Pa., (NW of Beallsville) living side-by-side with a white farmer who was also named West.

 

There were no other black families in the township, but nearby Beallsville (called Beltsville in DC wills) had a small black community in 1860, and several households seem to be descended from freed, or runaway, Virginia slaves.

 

Washington County was relatively safe:

Slavery existed there in 1779, but in 1789 the county saw establishment of a

Society for the Relief of Free Negroes, and Others Unlawfully Held in Bondage.

 

As of 1820 Pennsylvania would not assist Maryland Slave-catchers, or kidnappers of free black residents.

 

Beallsville is 27 miles south of Pittsburgh, in West Pike Run.

In 1860 there was a small black community, 4 households, descended from Va. slaves

in an area of all white farmers

Noah West was a black coalminer, b. PA age 34

 

Sophia and Johns children:

Elizabeth b 1849 in Md.

Comfort (f) b 1852 in Pa

Seshbazzer (m) b 1853

Isaac b 1856

Hanna b 1858

 

DC Wills:

Murray Barker Jr. feeling his time was short, made his will in 1857, and died that year.

His heirs included two sisters:

Sarah Buyers of Georgetown.

Sophia West of Beltsville (which probably means Beallsville, PA)

 

 

6

Lucinda Barker, child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born about 1823

 

(Another Lucinda Barker appears in records, but is probably not the one born about 1823.

This other Lucinda married Ignatious Dodson in DC, Nov 1, 1832.

Judging by the name and surname of the groom, this may have been a Catholic Lucinda Barker.)

 

In 1840 Henry Kengla, a white neighbor of Murray Barker, Sr., swears Lucinda is born free, 17 years old.

Registration No 1726, vol. 3 167, certified 21 May 1840.

 

A Lucinda Barker (black) married Gabriel Berry in DC, 24 January, 1868

In the decade before the Civil War a free black tanner named Samuel Berry was a neighbor of Murray Barker.

Members of the Berry family were freed in 1824 by Methodist John Eliason, similar to Murray Barker being freed by Methodist Leonard Mackall.

The  Eliasons are buried just inside the gate of Old Methodist Burial Ground (Mt. Zion).

 

 

 

7

Sarah/Sally Barker Bias, child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born circa 1828

 

Married around 1846 to a man named Bias (also written Buyers and Byers),

very likely John Francis Bias, called Frank, with whom she had 4 children.

 

March 1856 Holy Trinity (Catholic) baptism,

“colored child of Francis and Sarah Bias.”

 

DC Wills:

Murray Barker Jr., feeling his time was short, made his will in 1857, and died that year.

His heirs included two sisters:

Sarah Buyers (Byers) of Georgetown.

Sophia West of Beltsville

(which probably means Beallsville, PA)

 

 

Frank and Sarah Bias (“or Tolan” see below) had accounts with Dr. Hezekiah Magruder 1856-1863.

 

An Eliza Jackson was placed with John Francis Bias of Georgetown until she was 16, to learn “the art and mystery of housewife.”

 

John Francis Buyers, John J. Harrington, and Julia Harrington and Comfort Sisco Jones are all mentioned in connection with the estate of Murray Barker Jr. in 1895 (DC Liber 1995 (1895) f. 390).

 

A Murray Bias (1899-1942) and a William F. Byers (1889-1943), both were buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery, and could be grandchildren of Sarah.

 

Sarah A. Bias married a second time, to William H. Toler (also written Tolar), March 26, 1863.

He bought a house on 53 Frederick Street (1410 34th NW), and Sarah had two more children. She was widowed soon after that, after which she and children sometimes went by Bias, sometimes Toler.

 

R.P. (Richard Plummer?) Jackson trustee, to William H Toler

DC Liber NCT32 f.413, April 1,1864

William H Tolar died intestate, leaving widow Sarah A Tolar, and 2 children, William Tolar and David C Tolar.

Wm. may have gone to Illinois.

David’s children are Evelyn Parrott, Edith Milliner, and David C Tolar Jr.

Equity 33476 Col Title notes

 

 

R.P. (Richard Plummer?) Jackson trustee, of William H Toler

DC Liber NCT32 f.413, 1864

rec. 22 April 1864

$300

a house on Frederick street on part of Beatty & Hawkins Addition 69 (53 Frederick Street, or 1410 34th NW) In 1868 Sarah at sale of Murray Barker Sr.’s land on Wisconsin Avenue

 

The 1870 census p 513 Georgetown Ward 1 in Georgetown

shows Sarah Toler, 42, keeping house, and interesting for the times, she could read and write, but her oldest 3 children couldn’t.

had a house worth $3000

 

Children of Sarah Barker Bias Toler in 1870:

John T. Toler, 23, beef butcher

Murray Toler, 22, laborer, named after his grandfather

Lucinda Toler 20, named after an aunt

Sarah 16, named after an aunt, domestic servant

(gap in ages of children here)

David 7,

Henry 4

all born DC between 1846 and 1866

 

Jan 13, 1890

Sally Bias, owner 1410 34th

 

In 1890

John Toler, waiter 916 24th Street NW

David Toler, driver, still lived 1410 34th St.

Henry Toler was a waiter, , 1130 26th Street NW

 

John Buyers, 1895 Georgetown (changed name back from Toler?)

 

1899 assessments: Sarah Bias, owner 1410 34th

 

House was listed under Tolar in 1902.

 

In 1913 an upholsterer named John L. Toler, and wife Kizah, laundress, lived at 924 24th Street NW, a few doors away from Murray Barker III, at 936.

 

1920 John Toler, upholsterer, 924 24th Street NW

 

Murray Bias 2 August 1899 to 4 August 1942

buried Mt. Zion Cemetery

 

There was a Toler on 26th Street NW as late as 1943.

 

Sonya Toler, DC Metropolitan Police, 1997

 

 

 

8

Basil Barker, child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born circa 1829

 

About 1850 he married a Virginian, born circa 1820, named Susan, and they moved up to Pennsylvania by about 1853, and settled on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, in Reserve Township.

The area is characterized by dairy and truck farms, and mostly German immigrants, no blacks.

 

In the 1870 census (reserve township, Allegheny co, p. 269, rolls 1292-94)

he is described (like his father) as a gardener, born DC

growing produce for the markets of Allegheny City and Pittsburgh.

real estate worth $5000, $500 personal.

 

 

 

9

Catherine Barker, child of Murray and Sophia Barker

born circa 1831

 

Present at the sale of her fathers land in 1867, signs with an x, apparently unmarried at the time of the sale.

 

Is this a daughter, or a daughter-in-law, or other?

 

Feb 4, 1869, Andrew T. Barker, Jr., married a Catherine________ in DC.

and they lived at 1723 34th St. NW.

 

One of my notes says her maiden name was Barker.

This may be a potential juncture of the two branches of Barkers?

 

Needs clarification.

 

 

 

 

Grandchildren of Murray and Sophia Barker

 

 

Catherine Barker

 

Born 1845-1860?

relationship uncertain

 

In 1890, Catherine Barker, seamstress,

614 Bates Alley (G to H St. NW, between 6th and 7th NW),

had fifteen-year old Murray Barker, porter, living with her.

 

This Murray Barker might be the grandson or great grandson of the first Murray Barker.

 

 

 

Eliza Jackson

 

Born about 1843, orphaned c. 1850

 

In 1851 there was, in DC Apprenticeship records,

Eliza Jackson, colored orphan child, age 7 on 25 Feb 1850.

she was apprenticed with [her uncle?] John Francis Bias of Georgetown

until she is 16 to “teach her the art and mystery of a housewife”.

 

This could be the Eliza Jackson, born about 1847, who appears in the 1860 census,

living with  [her grandmother?] Murray Barker’s widow Sophia

 

 

 

Eliza Jackson, probably unrelated to Barker

 

Eliza Ross and William Henry Jackson,,

free coloured people of DC,

married at Holy Trinity, Georgetown,

March 17, 1862

 

1890 directory entry:

Elizabeth Jackson, widow of Henry H Jackson,

2620 Dumbarton

 

Henry Jackson’s 1885 DC Will, box 92

 

daughters:

 

Mary H

Caroline S

Martha A

Lizzie

Kitty

 

sons:

 

George

William

Robert

Charles

 

Wm H Jackson, was the owner, in 1943

1216 28th St NW

 

 

 

Murray Barker III

 

Born in Maryland, probably to Catherine Barker, ca 1875

Grandson or great-grandson of Murray Barker Sr.?

In 1890, Catherine Barker, seamstress, 614 Bates Alley

(G to H St. NW, between 6th and 7th NW),

had fifteen-year old Murray Barker, porter, living with her.

 

Murray Barker married Mary Louise ________, around 1895.

Lived in Foggy Bottom.

 

They had a daughter Edith

and six sons: James, Robert, Richard, Thomas, Lewis, Fred.

Two sons attended M Street High School, about 1910-1925

 

Mr. Keys, at MLK Library, remembered some Barker brothers,

thought this family had all passed by 1970

 

Murray Barker, porter 1897

936 24th St NW

near St. Stephens Catholic Church

 

1913

Murray Barker, porter

2223 G St NW

Sherman’s Directory, Colored Population of Washington

 

1920

Murray Barker, porter, furniture store

house 2410 I St NW, near gas works

wife Louise, clerk, War Dept.

 

Murray Barker III died by 1943

 

Mary Louise Barker lived at 818 24th , near Francis Junior High

until 1956, or until it was torn down circa 1962

Her sons Richard and William sometimes lived with her

She died around 1972.

 

 

Edith I. Green

 

Oldest child of Murray III and Mary Louise Barker,

 

Sherman’s Colored Directory, 1913,

Miss Catherine Barker, child’s nurse, 2223 G St.,

and Edith Barker, maid.

Grandmother and grand daughter?

 

Married Chester Green, born DC 1896

 

1943, Mrs. Edith I Green, rooming, 1225 28th NW

 

1948, clerk, US Treasury, rooming, 1724 14th St

 

1954, 4528 4th Street NW

 

1956, typist, Bur Pub Debt

 

1962, typist, Bur Pub Debt, rooming, 5112 Kansas Ave NW

 

(But I also have a note that, in 1962, Edith I Green lived in an  apt at 1312 22nd Street NW,

with her mother, Mary Louise Barker, and her brother, William Barker.)

 

1964, 1255 Kearney St NE

 

1973, clerk typist, Bur Pub Debt, 1414 Upshur Ave NW

 

 

1943 addresses of possible descendants of Murray Barker III and (Mary) Louise Barker:

 

Chester Green, Helper, rooms, 125 H St SW

 

818 24th St NW

Mary L Barker

Richard Barker

Fred Barker

 

487 Cullinane Court SW (between H and I)

Thomas Barker

 

26 Defrees NW (between North Capitol and First)

James Barker

Lawrence Barker

 

 

1948 addresses of possible descendants of Murray Barker III and (Mary) Louise Barker:

 

Chester Green, Helper, rooms, 125 H St SW

Lewis Barker, Soldier’s Home, possibly WWI vet

 

 

Related?

 

A Thomas L. Barker was an employee of the White House, from about 1948-1956

whose wife Margaret worked for C&P Telephone into the 1970s.

 

1954: 1514 Kearney St NE

his widow was still there in 1990