History of Thomas Barber of North Carolina
By Paul Barber, Great Grandson of David L. And Great-Great Grandson of Thomas
Copyright © Paul Barber, 2009
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This history of Thomas Barber is based on known facts and reasonable assumption. The information is collected from multiple sources and where possible, is backed with documents that show proof that the information matches the history and movements of Thomas throughout his life.
My intent is not to end all searching for Thomas by researchers, but to provide a possible path for additional study that may lead to new understanding of his life during the time that he lived.
This is a history of Thomas Barber, but to understand him and his life, I must start with a brief background and some information about his ancestors.
I am a third generation researcher, and the latest member of my family to do genealogical research. My Uncle Voyd Barber began his research in the early 1970’s after being encouraged by his Uncle Thomas G. Barber, who was a Grandson of Thomas. My Uncle Voyd had the advantage of being able to talk to some of the children of Thomas. This information passed through the family and is accepted as acurate family history.
In 2009, DNA testing through the Barber DNA Project proved that I am a direct descendant from the Moses Barber of Rhode Island line of Barbers. This information places my line of ancestors in Rhode Island in 1652. The line spread from Rhode Island to other locations in both the north and south. Today our line is found throughout the United States. The DNA testing also indicates which lines of Barber I am not related to, and other Barbers that are related to me. The information opened new areas of study and provided some links that had been speculated, but never proven.
The history of Thomas begins with his grandfather, Captain John Barber. Family history and DNA indicate that Thomas was the son of one of Captain John’s eight boys.
Thomas Barber was born in 1805 in Anson County, North Carolina. He is the only known son of John Barber, the third son of Captain John Barber.
The Federal Census of 1850 indicates that Thomas was born in Virginia. I do not agree with this for the following reasons. First, his grandfather and father both were born and died in North Carolina. Second, in the 1860 Census, Thomas indicates that he was born in North Carolina and all of his children also state that he was born there in all U.S. Census records for the remainders of their lives.
Captain John was born in about 1738 in Anson County, North Carolina. Until his death on November 10, 1802, he was very active in business, politics, and the militia of the area of North Carolina in which the family lived. All of his children were born in North Carolina.
Records indicate that Captain John joined the North Carolina militia under William Curlee as a private at a young age. By the beginning of the American Revolution, John had made his way to the rank of captain. During the years leading up to the American Revolution, and after independence, he served on the Provincial Congress for North Carolina. Also during his life he served on the Committee of Safety for Tryon County, and in many positions in the local courts as juror and witness for cases of grievances brought before the elders of the community.
The distribution of his property in April 1803, lists the names of his wife, eleven children and the location of each lot of land that was distributed to them. John’s son William died sometime prior to 1802 and his land went to his wife and children. Between 1803 and 1819, much of the land was transferred or sold to family members and others. In about 1811, Capt John’s oldest son Abraham died in North Carolina. By 1818, most of the Barber land was in the hands of James.
John’s third son, John was born in 1761 and died in about 1819, also in North Carolina. Very little is known about the life of John. Most researchers agree that this son of Captain John is the father of Thomas. By following the family history and movement, this would appear to be very possible.
In January 1818, James and John sold much of their land holdings. In February 1819, Mary, wife and widow of John, sold most of her dower lands for cash. The remaining land holdings were sold for unpaid 1820 taxes in 1824. At that time, there was no property or buildings of any value on the remaining land.
In 1819, five Barber families moved to Hickman County Tennessee to homestead the newly opened territory in the state. One of them was Mary Barber, widow of John, and her son. They settled into an area that was also settled by three families of Edwards, including the family of Martha. The five Barber families and three Edwards’s families were neighbors.
In evaluating the family information from the 1820 census, it appears that Mary was most likely to be mother of Thomas, and Eve Edwards was the mother of Martha. Being neighbors on the new frontier, and both being widows, it is speculated that Thomas may have helped Eve clear and farm her land. Even if he did not work on the farm of Eve, he would have spent time with the Edwards as the families on the new farms worked, prayed, and played together.
Sometime between 1820 and 1825, Thomas and Martha met, and in about 1826, they married. After marriage, Thomas may have lived with Martha on the farm of Eve. Prior to 1830, it appears that Eve died, and the land on which she was living passed into the hands of one of the other Edwards. This may mean that Eve did not own the land, but had a small farm on a section of land owned by a brother or son. In either case, Thomas and Martha did not have their own land until 1836.
In 1836, new land opened for homesteading in the western section of Perry County Tennessee. This section would become Decatur County in 1845. Thomas packed his wife and three children and settled on a 124 acre tract. Between 1836 and 1855, Thomas and Martha had four additional children. In June 1848, the homesteaded land was surveyed by the state and Thomas was granted a deed to the land now located in Decatur County. This section remained their home until 1855 when Thomas took his entire family except his oldest son, Ziba, and moved to Independence County, Arkansas.
My belief is that the family moved to Arkansas to be able to obtain a larger farm that could support the growing Barber family. The 124 acres in Hickman Tennessee could support the Ziba Barber family, but would not be large enough to support the additional seven children as they grew and needed land of their own.
Thomas, Martha, and their children farmed the land and life went on until the Civil War.
In 1857, Nancy married A. B. Duff. In 1859, Francis married Patrick Mayhan. Prior to 1860, John J. died.
Land that was homesteaded at that time required the homesteaders to clear the land, build a dwelling, make improvements to the land, occupy the land for at least five years, and pay a fee before title was granted by the U.S. government. Normally, the homesteaders could wait seven to ten years before a claim was made and the land transferred into their name. Since Thomas homesteaded in 1855, and the Civil War broke out in 1861, it appears that he may never applied for title, or been granted title to his land.
At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Thomas, Martha and four of their children; David, Alsey, Martha, and Amos lived on the family farm in Independence County, Arkansas. David joined the Confederacy in August 1862. About 1863, Alsey married J. B. Henderson. This left Thomas at home with Martha and their two youngest children, Martha, age 20, and Amos, age 18.
During the Civil War, Arkansas was a very unpleasant place. Although there was no major battles fought in the area around Independence County, there was constant fighting between the Union and Confederate soldiers. Fighting also occurred between the soldiers of both sides and the local people. Both sides would attack and kill local people, or burn buildings that were suspected of supporting the other side. Additionally, there were Jayhawkers (outlaws that played both sides for their own gain) which would rob or kill any local people that would not, or could not pay them a ransom.
In this environment, Thomas, by then almost 60 years old, lived with his wife and two children. It is my belief that sometime about July 1863, Thomas’ farm was visited by troops from one of the armies, or by Jayhawkers. During their attempt to defend themselves, or because they were unable to pay a ransom, Thomas, Martha and his daughter were killed. Amos managed to escape. He may have hidden, not been home, or was wounded and recovered. History does mot record what happened. It is known that David joined the Confederacy in 1862 for the duration of the war, but came home in September 1863. It is my belief that he came home to attend to family affairs after the death of Thomas, Martha, his sister Martha, and Uncle Jacob Edwards. David never returned to the war. Amos joined the Confederacy early in 1864, and remained in the army until the end of the war in 1865.
Family history indicates that Thomas and Martha are buried in Edwards Cemetery in Independence County Arkansas. In the cemetery, there are four graves side by side with unmarked sandstone tombstones. Since the graves are together and all have the same sandstone tombstones, the graves most likely contain relatives or people that died at the same time. These have been identified to be the graves of Thomas and Martha, and the brother of Martha, Jacob Edwards. The other grave contains an unknown person. It is my belief that the four graves are Thomas, Martha, their daughter Martha, and Jacob Edwards. If I am correct, that would account for Thomas, Martha, their daughter and, Martha’s brother, Jacob.
If the grave is not Martha’s then most likely there was another person at the Barber farm at the time of the attack that died with the Barbers. The unknown person may have been one of the attackers, or a farm hand that was killed during the battle. This would mean that the missing daughter may have been taken, married and moved away, or killed at a unknown location at a later time.
With the exception of the unknown person in the grave and the movements of the missing Barber daughter, this should close the life of Thomas and Martha, and allow researchers to look for the connections between the Barbers of North Carolina and the Moses Barbers of Rhode Island.
1850 Federal Census, District 1, Decatur County, Tennessee
1860 Federal Census, District 1, Decatur County, Tennessee
1860 Federal Census, White River Township, Independence County, Arkansas
1870 Federal Census, District 1, Decatur County, Tennessee
1870 Federal Census, White River Township, Independence County, Arkansas
1870 Federal Census, Black River Township, Independence County, Arkansas
1880 Federal Census, White River Township, Independence County, Arkansas
1880 Federal Census, Griggs Township, Van Buren County, Texas
1900 Federal Census, Precinct #2, Grayson County, Texas
1900 Federal Census, Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas
Tennessee Records of Decatur County, Survey Book #1, 1846 – 1860, Published 07/16/1937
Francis Barber Mayhan Obituary, The Newark Journal, Independence County, Arkansas, 12/06/1912
38th Arkansas Infantry Regiment Roster, Confederate States of America, Civil War Soldiers and Sailor System
Civil War Personnel Records, National Archives
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, William Saunders, Walter Clark, The N.C. State Archives
The North Carolina Office of Archives & History
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Arkansas History Commission & State Archives
Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records