David John Barker

David John Barker
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Harvesting The Past!

David John Barker and His Fathers

Author:  Elly Catmull

Research:  Shyrlane Barker Catmull

Note:  A special thanks to Elly for bringing to life our ancestors through the research and documentation that has gone on for many years.

Tall and thin with black hair, David John Barker called himself “a jack of all trades and master of none”. He farmed 40 alkaline acres in Taylorsville, Utah at the end of the nineteenth century but managed to provide for his eleven children by running several small businesses on the side—well digging, barn building, and running a threshing machine to name a few. His son Abe Barker said, “He dared to do anything and did it well.” By all accounts, David Barker was a happy, kind, hard-working man who—while not much of a regular church-going man—opened his home to all the neighborhood kids, providing them with sports equipment, swings and whirly-gigs, and was known to say, “Right is right and wrong is no man’s right.”[1]  

An obituary published in the Deseret News on Nov 30, 1918 states that David John Barker, “one of the best known farmers and business men in this part of Salt Lake county”, had died of stomach cancer the day before. It goes on to say that “Mr. Barker was born at St. George, Feb. 1, 1865, and a year later was brought to Taylorsville by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Barker.” Digging deeper into David John Barker’s origins through public and church records, family legends, and even DNA tests reveals a fascinating story.  

First of all, there is no actual record of David John Barker’s birth. LDS Church records for the St. George area do not contain a record of his birth (possibly because his father, Charles Barker, was not a member yet) and births were not recorded publicly in Utah until the 1890s.[2], [3] The chronologically closest and therefore best source for David’s date of birth and parentage is found with David John’s baby blessing, recorded in the North Jordan Ward records in Taylorsville, Utah on October 11, 1866. Besides the blessing information, the record states that David John Barker was born February 1, 1865, to “Chas. & Fanny Kitching Barker” in St. George, Utah.[4] Unfortunately, the blessing was given a full year and a half after David’s birth and 260 miles away, lending the document less credence as an indisputable source for any information except the blessing.  

Family stories indicate that shortly before he was born, David’s parents traveled from Salt Lake, Utah (where they had recently met and married) down to the St. George area to live with his mother’s uncle, Wilson Lund.[5] David was reportedly born at Lund’s home in Shoal Creek (a settlement now known as Enterprise, Utah about 40 miles north of St. George). Interestingly, LDS Church records show that Wilson Lund was in St. George helping to build the temple at the time.[6]  

The autumn before, Judge Elias Smith in Salt Lake City, Utah recorded in his journal on October 10, 1864: “In the evening, I joined Charles Barker and Fanny Kitching in matrimony. Both of them natives of England.”[7] When you count it out, this was only about four months before David was born on February 1, 1865. His mother, Fannie, was five months pregnant when she married Charles Barker. Why weren’t they married earlier? Why did Fannie wait until the middle of her second trimester—well past the month or two it takes to recognize a pregnancy—to marry the father of her child? Was he the father of her child?  

A family story whispered from generation to generation alleges that a wealthy gentleman paid Charles Barker “a good sum of money” to marry Fannie and take her away.[8] This remarkable rumor coupled with the evidence that Fannie was five months pregnant when she and Charles Barker were married brings to light all sorts of doubts and questions. Could this “wealthy gentleman” have something to do with Fannie’s unborn child? Could he have been the father? How did Charles Barker get involved? If there really was a “wealthy gentleman”, who was he? Could the family legend be true, after all?

Frances (Fannie) Kitchen came to the United States from England in 1861—four years before David’s birth.[9] Her family lived in Helsington, Westmoreland in northern England and Fannie was christened there on January 17, 1831—which date serves as a substitute for her birth since she would have been christened very soon after she was born.[10] When she was 27 years old, Fannie joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized on November 2, 1858 in the Sheffield Ward.[11] Although Fannie was the only one in her immediate family to join the Church, her mother’s brother—the same Wilson Lund at whose home David was reportedly born—and her mother’s sister, Ann Lund Hunter, had been baptized and left England to join the saints many years earlier.[12] When Fannie arrived in Utah, family stories say she went to live and work at a boarding house run by her aunt, Ann, and her aunt’s husband, Isaac Hunter.[13]  

Isaac and Ann Lund Hunter had been married on November 16, 1840 in Kendal, Westmoreland, England.[14] A couple of years later, in 1842, Isaac joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the same time as Ann’s brother, Wilson Lund.[15] While Wilson immediately headed to the U.S. to join the saints in Nauvoo, Illinois, Isaac and Ann remained in Kendal, England and on October 10, 1845, their eldest son, Jacob, was born. [16], [17] When he was just a little more than two years old, in early 1848, the Hunters joined the first group of saints to leave England bound for the newly established refuge in western America: Salt Lake valley.[18] After stopping over in Council Bluffs, Iowa for a year—where they saved up money for the final leg of their journey to Utah, Ann fell ill, and buried a 6-month-old baby girl—they finally made the trek across the plains in June of 1850. Isaac and Ann were part of the 2nd Division of the Warren Foote Company. William Wall was the captain of the 2nd Division. Peter Maughan was Captain of the 2nd Ten of which Isaac and Ann Hunter were part of. The Warren Foot Company entered the Salt Lake Valley 17, 18, and 26 of September 1850, almost 3 ½ months after starting their trek.  

Even though Isaac and Ann Hunter were in poor health and poorer financial condition when they arrived in Salt Lake, they possessed skills highly valued in the new city and soon provided well for their family. Isaac was an accomplished stone mason and helped build the old Salt Lake Theater, the first State Capital Building at Fillmore, Utah and the Salt Lake Temple as well as several other local buildings. Even President Brigham Young thought highly of his masonry skills, recommending, “Get Isaac Hunter. He is the best.” Three weeks after arriving in the valley, Ann set up housekeeping in an old adobe house and started feeding boarders.[19]  

After one more temporary home, Isaac finally built his family a stone house in 1852 at 500 West and North Temple in Salt Lake City.[20] Ann continued caring for boarders and it was here that they welcomed Ann’s niece, Fannie, in 1859.[21] By 1857, Isaac had amassed enough cash to purchase the Golden Carrie Mine in Carson Valley while he was there on a colonizing mission.[22] In the ten years between Isaac and Ann Hunter’s arrival in 1849 and Fannie Kitchen’s arrival in the Salt Lake Valley in 1859, the Hunters had prospered.

 Charles Barker, a forty-year-old miner from Butte, Montana, stayed at the Hunter’s boarding house in Salt Lake City when he came to purchase supplies probably sometime in 1864.[23] There he met Fannie Kitchen, who had been helping her aunt for five years, cooking and cleaning and caring for the boarders. But instead of acquiring mining supplies and heading back into the hills with his burro, Charles Barker acquired a wife—a wife already five months pregnant—and headed down to southern Utah with Fannie. What caused the change in plans? A whirlwind courtship? A bribe? Maybe both?  

Could Isaac Hunter have been the “wealthy gentleman” who encouraged Charles Barker to marry the pregnant Fannie? With his personal affluence and high-standing in the local community, he would have qualified for that role. But why would he allegedly pay off Charles to take the girl for a bride? Both this rumor and the hasty trip south—possibly to obscure the short time between the marriage and the child—suggest that people were trying to cover something up.  

Did Charles and Fanny leave Salt Lake merely to hide the fact that their first child was born too soon? Or did someone else father Fannie’s child and the marriage was also part of the cover-up? Interestingly, in their remaining photographs Isaac Hunter and David John Barker share a remarkable resemblance. Could David be Isaac Hunter’s son?  

Modern science gives us a way to find the answer: DNA. Every man has a unique Y-chromosome which he received from his father and which he will pass to his sons. This distinctive Y-chromosome can be traced back through the generations from son to father to grandfather and so on. Occasionally there will be a slight change—mutation—in the DNA, but usually a man will have the exact same Y-chromosome as his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.[24] Just like a last name—which is also passed from father to son through generations—the Y-chromosome can distinguish family lines. But it cannot be arbitrarily changed like a surname can. A father can refuse to give his son his last name, but he cannot help giving him his genes.  

At certain places in the Y-chromosome, called markers, sequences of DNA are repeated. It is the number of repetitions that are unique to each man’s Y-chromosome. Bradley Richard Barker—a direct male-line descendant of David John Barker (notice the same surname)—and Doug Hunter—a direct descendant of Isaac Hunter through the eldest son, Jacob—both had their Y-chromosomes analyzed. By comparing their results, we find that their Y-chromosomes match exactly, marker for marker.[25], [26] While a direct male descendent of Charles Barker’s second son, Charles, should be analyzed for the sake of comparison, the matching Y-chromosomes of Bradley Barker and Doug Hunter verify that David John Barker shared the same male DNA as Isaac Hunter.  

Isaac Hunter was most likely David John Barker’s father. Short of an unknown long-lost journal turning up, there is unfortunately no way to tell what the exact circumstances were surrounding David’s conception. Fannie Kitchen may have been an undocumented polygamous wife to Isaac Hunter but left when the relationship went sour (she was well-known for her temper, after all). There are many other ways a child can be created and regretted, as well.  

While we cannot know the details surrounding David John Barker’s origins, we do know the facts. His mother was five months pregnant when she married Charles Barker. A rumor exists in the family about a wealthy gentleman paying off Charles to marry her—only a legend, after all, but all legends are based in some fact. And now DNA evidence proves that David John Barker had the same male genes as Isaac Hunter, genes that are only received by a son from a father.  

In spite of the mystery that surrounds David John Barker’s beginnings, he was a lucky man. His own children used to quote him, saying, “Many hands make light work.”[27] And indeed, many people had a hand in making David the good man that he was. Not only did he have a father who gave him life, he also had a father who raised him. Although he was not his biological father, and most likely knew it, Charles Barker brought David John up as his son. He gave him his last name. He left him 1/4 his acreage located in Taylorsville at 4365 South 2200 West to 4100 South after he died. And most importantly, he claimed him as his son. In every document, from David’s baby blessing to his death certificate, Charles Barker is listed under “father”. So while David John Barker may have received his genes from Isaac Hunter, he received everything else that makes fathers important to a child from Charles Barker. If it weren’t for the contributions of both men, David John Barker would not have become the man that he was—that tall man from Taylorsville, Utah who loved his kids, loved life, and loved work.  

Sometime between David John Barker’s birth in St. George in early 1865 and his blessing in Taylorsville in the fall of 1866, Charles and Fannie Barker traveled up from southern Utah to settle in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1869, Charles filed papers to homestead 160 acres in Taylorsville, Utah, where he built a one room log cabin.[28] The Barkers lived in this 256 square-foot cabin with one door and no windows for about 20 years, raising their four children there, including David John. One day, the family legend goes, Charles told Fannie that he would build her a nice house. When she laughed incredulously at him, he went out to the backyard and dug up a can full of money. Could this money, in whole or in part, have been that “large sum” from that “wealthy gentleman” that Charles had saved all these years and finally brought out to give Fannie a beautiful new home? The beautiful two-story brick house was built in about 1890 and Fannie and Charles Barker lived there the rest of their lives.[29]


[1] Mildred June Lindley, “The Barker Family of Taylorsville Utah”.

[2] Utah Government Division of Archives and Record Services “Birth Records, Pre-1898”. http://archives.utah.gov/research/guides/birth.htm#pre

[3] Utah Government Division of Archives and Record Services “Birth Records, Pre-1898”. http://archives.utah.gov/research/guides/birth.htm#pre

[4] Taylorsville Ward, Salt Lake, Utah – Church Records FHL US/CAN Film [ 27359 ] Record of members [1877]-1923 Page 3, No.12.

[5] Lindley.

[6] Wesley W. Craig and Roberta Blake Barnum, “Pioneer Indexes Washington County, Utah”.

[7] Judge Elias Smith’s Journal. FHL US/CAN Film [ 1697278 ] Items 1 – 3 August 25, 1864-April 9 1867 Journal, Monday, 10 October 1864, Page 17-18.

[8] Shyrlane Catmull, family member.

[9] Emigration records, European Mission; 1849-1885, 1899-1923 BMR Book #1407, pp 17-44 FHL BRITISH Film [ 025691 ].

[10] Church of England, Chapelry of Helsington, Bishop’s transcripts, 1813-1886.  FHL BRITISH Film [97369 Item 2] Baptisms 1831, Entry No. 150.

[11] Early Church information file FHL US/CAN Film [ 1750691 ].

[12] Carolyn Coats McDougal, “History of Jacob Hunter”.

[13] Lindley.

[14] Parish Records Kendal, Westmoreland, England FHL BRITISH Film [ 97370 ].

[15] Baptism Isaac Hunter. Baptism Wilson Lund. FamilySearch indicates Ann Lund was baptized in 1852, but this is probably a typo and so she was most likely baptized at the same time as her husband.

[16] McDougal.

[17] McDougal.

[18] “Mormon Immigration Index” Church of Jesus Christ of  Latter-day Saints, 2000.

[19] McDougal.

[20] McDougal.

[21] Lindley.

[22] McDougal.

[23] Lindley

[24] “Surname DNA Test”, http://www.dnaheritage.com/ystr.asp.

[25] Certificate of Y-chromosome analysis for Bradley Richard Barker, issued by DNA Heritage, August 28, 2008. Certificate of Y-chromosome analysis for Doug Hunter, issued by DNA Heritage, August 28, 2008.

[26] Marker DYS464a is one number of repeats less on Doug Hunter’s Y-chromosome than at the same marker on Bradley Richard Barker’s Y-chromosome. On further inquiry, a representative of DNA Heritage, the company that performed the DNA analysis, stated that a slight difference on one marker—especially that particular marker which is usually thrown out in comparisons, anyway—is normal and not an indication of non-relationship.

[27] Lindley.

[28] Declaratory statements, 1869-1876 Utah (Territory) Probate Court (Salt Lake County) June 4, 1869 Application 502 FHL US/CAN Film [ 1654542 ].

[29] Lindley.

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