The Barker Family of South Wellfleet — George Washington Barker and Lewis Cheever Barker

Isaiah Barker’s second son, George Washington Barker, was born in September 1844. In the 1860 Federal census, he is at home, and a mariner, like other South Wellfleet boys. He married Clara Bell, daughter of Edward Bell and Ruth Rich, in 1864. The marriage certificate lists his occupation as “seaman.”

George and Clara are not in Wellfleet in the 1870 census as I searched all the pages – both of George’s brothers are married by then, and they are living in separate homes in Wellfleet. His parents are in South Wellfleet, living with Betsey Arey, the unmarried daughter of Betsey Arey Barker. George and Clara cannot be found; the census may be poorly indexed or perhaps they are listed under another name.

In 1880 George and Clara are in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, with their first five children. By 1889, they would have two more children. George’s occupation in 1889 is “fish peddler.”  George and Clara’s oldest son, Scott Foster Barker, appears to have been named for a respected South Wellfleet sea captain, Scotto Foster. While he is referred to as “Scottie” in the census listing, when he married his formal name “Scotto F. Barker” is on the marriage record. Perhaps his father, George, sailed with Captain Foster.

George Washington Barker is an example of a South Wellfleet son who leaves the fishing business – he became the son who took the family land holdings and made them available for the “new” Cape Codders who would visit the Cape only in the summer, for recreation, or for “gunning” expeditions in the spring and fall.

In 1892 the Barker brothers and their spouses, along with the two living Arey daughters, disposed of their shares of the family property, giving all to George W. Barker. The deed does not reveal the amount they were paid by their brother. George already owned what became “Prospect Hill”, which he had purchased with his father in 1866. This was the land that Tully Crosby surveyed and laid out in lots which George Barker sold.

In the 1900 Federal census, George is living alone at the family homestead, while Clara is with the youngest children in Pittsfield. In the 1910 census, George and Clara are living in South Wellfleet, visited by various children as reported in the Barnstable Patriot in their short articles about the visitors to local families.

Barker Homestead front view

George W. Barker died in 1917. Clara Barker lived with her son, Dr. Ralph Barker, and his wife – also a doctor – and children, until1933 when Clara died. Both George and Clara are buried in the South Wellfleet Cemetery.

The third Barker son, Lewis Cheever Barker, born July 3, 1850, also started his work life as a mariner, but the records available about him and his work are less revealing. His life seemed to have a great deal of sadness. He married Ella F. Snow in 1869. She died of cholera in 1874, leaving Lewis and a young daughter, Leila. This child was living with her grandparents, Isaiah and Betsey Barker, in the Federal census of 1880.

Meanwhile, Lewis Barker remarried in 1876 to Emma Hamblett of Newburyport. His occupation in that record is “mariner”. There is an article in the Barnstable Patriot in October 1884, reporting that “Miss Leila Barker who has been living with her grandparents for some years has gone to her father’s in Philadelphia”.  Lewis and Emma Barker had another child by this time, Bertha Evelyn Barker. There is a record of her marriage to Carl Hurd in July 1905.

In May 1885, the Barnstable Patriot notes that George D. Brown of Philadelphia came to stay with Isaiah Barker in South Wellfleet “for a few days before he goes to Coney Island in New York to run a skating rink”. Leila Barker married George Brown in 1887 in Wellfleet. At that time he is a “mariner”. Leila May Barker Brown died in August 1895 of “abcess of the liver.” Her death record says that she was a widow. She is buried in the South Wellfleet Cemetery.

Two other facts about Lewis that tell more of his life: in the transfer of the Barker property from the sons to George W. Barker in 1892, Lewis is listed as “of Australia”. Finally, there was an article in the Barnstable Patriot in April 1905, that Miss Betsey Arey of South Wellfleet had received the sad news of the death of her brother, Lewis C. Barker, in California.

Two of the next generation of Barker children played a role in the ownership of the family’s South Wellfleet property. George Washington Barker, Jr. appeared to take over his father’s role in selling the land in the Prospect Hill development. He married Harriet Werts of New Jersey, a woman who came to visit one of my great grandfather’s cottages. She was a legal secretary and an unmarried “older’ woman and the daughter of a governor of New Jersey. George was either divorced from his first wife or widowed.  He and Harriet built a lovely home on Prospect Hill that is still there. George died in 1947, leaving much of his property to Harriet. When she died in 1952, she left it to a nephew.

The Barker homestead and surrounding property passed along to a granddaughter of George W. Barker – her father was Dr. Ralph Barker – and remains with that part of the family today.


Massachusetts Vital Records, online at the New England Genealogical and Historical Society

Vital records and census information at

Federal Censuses online at

Barnstable Patriot (various) online archive:

Barnstable County Deeds available at


Family history researcher living in New York City.
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