Tomorrow afternoon the descendants of Ray Herman Barker and Ruth Elizabeth Lloyd Barker will gather for a family reunion. I missed the last one so this will be my chance to catch up with the cousins I’ve known all my life and to meet a lot of younger cousins once and twice removed.
I’ll also be able to share the results of my research this week into Samuel Barker, Ray’s grandfather. He had six wives over the course of his 87 years and the family story that was passed down was that he would go to Indianapolis and convince some pretty young thing that he was a wealthy gentleman farmer, get married and bring her back to the farm. She would quickly realize that he wasn’t wealthy and that being a farmer’s wife was hard work and she’d leave.
I can now report that anecdote is true but only in a single case. Samuel had six wives but he was a widower four times and his final wife out lived him by only a year.
However, there was Edda May South, a 28 years old who met and married the 45 year old Samuel in Indianapolis in 1891. I don’t know exactly what happened but two months later Samuel divorced Edda May in nearby Hamilton County and less than six months later he married wife number five.
As with most family stories, there is a kernel of truth around which is built the legend.