Volume 9, Number 4 - Summer 1986

My Mystery Ancestress Gladys Carison

Mary Barber—my "Stone Wall,"—my frustration after years of research on my family tree. She must have been an extraordinary woman for her time, based on what I have learned of her.

Mary was born Ca. 1832-1833, based on U.S. Census information, in Missouri. She was the first wife of William Newton Brumley, who was the son of James M. Brumley and Diannah Bilyeu. The 1860 census of Christian County, Linden Twp. shows William and Mary, with their son, Isaac, living near the family of William’s Parents. Also in the household is a male, listed as A. Barber, age 18. The census, under ‘relation to head of household,’ says "son," which is unlikely, since William and Mary are both age 27. I believe this was Mary’s younger brother, but have no clue as to his name other than the initial "A."

The Brumley marriage must have been a stormy oneit ended in divorce sometime between 1860 and 1866. A family letter in my possession says "Mary went up to Nebraska to her brother and divorced Bill." I have been unable to find the divorce record, but both William "Bill" and Mary remarried in 1866; William to Eliza Atwell in Miller County, Missouri, and Mary to Job Karney in Otoe County, Nebraska. I have both their marriage records, but not the record for Mary’s marriage to William.

Mary and Job, with Job’s children from his first marriage, are on the Nebraska Census in 1870. By 1880 they had moved to Osborn County, Kansas where Job homesteaded land. By this time also, Isaac, the son of William and Mary, had married and moved to Osborn County with his young family. My father was born there in 1885. He remembers that the Karneys sold butter, and that he and his sisters didn’t like eating the old butter she saved for the family. My Aunt Jane Wilson (wife of John Leander Wilson of Christian County) remembered turning a wooden barrel churn to make the butter for sale. Isaac’s home in Kansas was a "dug-out" where my father and some of his sisters were born. Possibly Job and Mary also lived’ in this type of home. The 1880 census says that Mary was bedfast, suffering from rheumatism. Evidently the pioneer lifestyle was taking its toll, and she may have not been physically strong, since she bore no children except my grandfather, Isaac and another son for William, named Daniel and an infant mortality.

I have learned that Mary’s brother in Nebraska was Joshua Barber, and that Joshua moved to Kansas with the Karneys. Sometime before 1900, Job took his family to Linn County, Oregon, where Mary died on 28 May 1906.

Still we have the question: "Who was she? My cousin says the family used to say the Barbers were from "around Garrison." If this is true, is she the daughter of the J. W. Barber who is listed in the Taney County Census for 1860, a doctor, born in Virginia— with a daughter age 18 (Mary’s age) identified only by the initial "M", whose birthplace says Indiana? But the 1880 and 1890 census records show that Mary’s father was born in Scotland, and that she was born in Missouri. And brother Joshua, in the census records, says he doesn’t know where he was born. The 1830 Tax Lists for Greene County show an Arby Barber. An Arba Barber is in Taney County in 1840, with a female under age 10, who could have been Mary.

Still—she is my mystery ancestress. Who was Mary Barber?


This volume: Next Article | Table of Contents | Other Issues

Other Volumes | Keyword Search | White River Valley Quarterly Home | Local History Home

Copyright © White River Valley Historical Quarterly

 Springfield-Greene County Library