Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Paper on the Barber Family of Westerly, RI

I received this paper from a family member and have typed it up (with some corrections that I know about). I am posting it here so that maybe someone will please contact me about it's contents!

"A Paper on the Barbers, presented at the Westerly Historical Society Meeting, November 9, 1967 by Mabelle Burbine
[end of page 1]

So it was, that in 1633, two brothers…James and Thomas Barber emigrated to this country from Berkshire, England, first landing in Boston and later settling in Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1691, Moses, a grandson of James, moved from Newport to South Kingstown and purchased a large tract of land embracing what is not known as Glen Rock, where he extablished (sic) [established] the Barber homestead.

Two generations later from James, there was a son, Col. Moses Baber, whose mother lived to be 108 years old. At the age of 100 it is recorded “she was so hale and hearty that she walked to Usquepaug (a distance of two miles), passed the day with friends and returned at night.” What is even more noteworthy, perhaps is the fact that “she was blessed with 33 children, several of whom attained rpie (sic) [ripe] old ages.”

It is almost inconceivable to follow in the pattern of the descendants but it is interesting to note that, at the time of his death, his survivors included 54 grandchildren, 68 great grandchildren and 15 great, great, grandchildren.

Samuel Barber, one of the descendants of the emigrant Barber brothers came to Westerly sometime in the 1700’s and built a house on what is East Avenue, near the Pickering house.

They must have multiplied quite rapidly as records state the area where they settled was called Barbertown or Torytown, as they were Torys. As such the Barbers were the last settlers to secede from English rule even though they did swear allegiance to the Colonies and were “qccepted (sic) [accepted] by all residents of Westerly around 1776.”

One of their number, Eeorge (sic) [George], became a Notary Public for England, in America. He was appointed to that office by King Charles of England in the early 1700s and his seal of office is (was) on record at the Westerly Public Library. [end of Page 2]

Barbertown or Barberville, so called, encompassed all the land from the junction of Post Read to Thompson’s Corners.

In 1714, Captain Henry H. Barber Sr., whose brother Matthew, was my great-grandfather, built the home which became know as ‘Buttonwoords’ because of a large buttonwood, or sycamore tree “75 feet high which could be seen for miles at sea and was used as a beacon by sailors returning home.”

Captain Henry and his brother Matthew sailed on a schooner for many years carrying cargo from Maine to New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey ports. They built the schooner for that business at the old Burrel Thompson Cove at Thompson’s Corners about where the Westerly Yacht Club now is located.

His son Henry M. Barber, Jr. sailed on the Whaler Charles Morgan and told his family of the many hardships of the crew, many then were “troubled with scurvy from eating too much salty food, potato water being starchy was the only cure”…or so he wrote.

One of Henry’s daughters, Frances Barber…was the mother of Thomas L. Chapman who, for a number of years, was a frequent contributor to the Westerly Sun with his column entitled “Reminiscing with Tommy.”

Horace Sr.’s another son, was the father of Horace, Jr., Henry, Harry and James Barber…James being the father of Mrs. William Gallagher who still lives in one of the original Barber homestaeds (sic) [homesteads] on the east side of East Avenue., just south of Wells Street. Horace, Sr.’s. son Harry, lives not far from there on Franklin Street.

As I have mentioned before, this area between the Junction of East avenue and Post Road, all the way to Thompson’s Corners was called Barberville or Barbertown, and, at this point, it might be of interest [end of page 3] to go back into time and locate the homesteads of many of the Barbers who built their homes on or near “Easter” Avenue, as it was originally called.

The Horace Barber home, which is mentioned above, is one of the originals which still stand. Farther down the stree (sic) [street] on the opposite side of East Avenue, about midway between North and South Drive, stands “Buttonwooods”, which was the home of Henry M. Barber, Jr.

At the corner of Matson Lane lived a Samuel Mitchell whose daughter, Ann, married a Barber. Next to that was until recently, when it was burned, the home of Matthew Stanton Barber [Matthew Stillman Barber] He later sold it to the Pickering family and built another house on the west side of East Avenue. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pickering now live there.

Directly across the street from the Pickering home, Captain [Joshua] Frank Barber built the home now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Cyril Moore. Captain Barber married [Susan] Harriet Barber and after his death his widow married William Champlin. They became the parents of Edna (Cahmplin (sic) [Champlin] ) Northrup and Edith (Cahmplin (sic) [Champlin] ) Dunham.

The old house now owned b (sic) [by] the Silver family just south of Capt. Frank’s [Cap't Joshua Frank was the son of "Blind" Joshua] house was occupied by “Blind Joshua” and his maiden sister, Lucinda. They were brother and sister to my great grandfather, Matthew Stanton Barber [Matthew Stillman Barber] In a corner of the field near the farm was the Barber Burial Ground.

In the fields now used by the Westerly Airport was an old house occupied by George Barber and his family. George was brother to Matthew and they married sisters Susan and Rhoda Babcock.

On the lower part of East Avenue, two sons and a daughter of Matthew built there (sic) [their] homes; Isaac, then Agnes (Barber) Champlin and next door William and his daughter Lila (Barber) Clark (Mrs. William). [end of page 4] William’s son Earl and grandson, John Matthew Barber live there now.

At the corner of East Avenue and Thompson’s corners atood (sic) [stood] the old Bethel Church which was recently moved around the corner (facing East on East Ave.) and converted into a dwelling. The Bethel or Thompson’s Corners Community House as it was more recently known, was called Barber’s Hall. At one time, Hoxie and Sission held a “Singing School” in the building and a copy of the rules and regulations is most amusing to read.

Most renders of early Westerly history are aware that John and Mary Babcock were the first white settlers in this area. The embarked at Newport and landed at Mastuxet Cove just south of Thompson’s Corners. Since the Barbers appear to have been prolific and since they lived in close proximity to the Babcock descendats (sic) [descendants], it is not surprising that the two Barber brothers took unto themselves two sixth generation Babcock sisters. George married Susan Babcock and Matthew Stanton [Matthew Stillman]…my great grandfather…married Rhoda Ann Babcock. Now, if I have become too involved, it is correct to assume that this makes me a ninth generation descendant of those romantic elopers… John and Mary!

It may or may not be strange that two of their living descendants once more bear the name of John Babcock; my sister’s oldest child… John Stephan Babcock…and the name of his young son!

Great-grandfather, Matthew Stanton Barber [Matthew Stillman Barber] was first married to Phoebe Eliza Hall. To them were born two children; James A. and Sarah.

Children of the marriage to Rhoda Ann Babcock numbered nine. They are listed below with only brief notations as I should like to mention in detail some of the more famous later on: [end of page 5]

Ellery… grandfather
Rhoda Ann…married Dick Beebe
Isaac Gavitt… married Henrietta Greene
Charles Henry…married Lina Latham
Agnes Rosetta…married Otis Champlin
Edwin…married three times, 2nd wife Nora Barry,
mother of Ida May and Edwin
Phoebe Eliza…Married Benjamin Merritt
William…married Ida Murphy (he was killed in the 1916 Bradford Train wreck at the age of 61)
Matthew Stanton [Stillman] married Lula Palmer (he ran the Shore Dinner House at Old Harbor, Block Island)

Perhaps the most illustrious member of Matthew Stanton [Stillman] Barber’s sons was James A. Captain [Corporal] James enlisted in Co. G. 1st R.I. Artillery, where he served three years and seven months and participated in fifteen battles in the Civil War. “He was one of a detachment of twenty hand picked artillery men who voluntary accompanied an infantry assaulting party and who turned upon the enemy the guns captured during the assault.” For this act of heroism, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor…the only Rhode Island man to claim this distinction. The presentation was made after the Battle of Petersburg on April 2, 1865.

He later married Hannah Tourgee and they had seven sons. Many of his descendants were born on the Shore Road (across from the head of Crandall Ave.) and some still reside in this area. Among them are Earl Raymond, who operated a repair shop on Cogswell Street; Esther Crompton-Young and Jeannette [Barber] James.

Much has been published about their grandfather, Captain [Corporal] James A. Barber, and it is of interest o (sic) [to] mention that this writing, Prof. Robert H. George, professor emeritus of History at Brown University is writing a book on the Civil War and will include verbal and pictorial records of this event for posterity.[i] [end of page 6]

Captain [Corporal] James half-brother, Ellery…my grandfather…also enlisted in the Civil War at the age of seventeen. He served four years and 9 months in the same artillery company and took part in the battles of Bull Run; Antietam, and Gettysburg. One of the proudest recollections was of shaking the hand of President Abraham Lincoln when he was mustered out of the service.

Long before his military service, he sailed on the cargo schooner with his father and, at the age of nine, he was cooking for the crew.

When he returned from the war, he ran the Shore Dinner House on Block Island. He later sold his business to his brother …Matthew Stanton, Jr. [Matthew Stillman, Jr.] , or “Mott” as he was known.

He went into business with Burrill Thompson. They were for a number of years, engaged in thriving fishing enterprise on the Pawcatuck Ri (sic) [RI] or from Thompson’s corners to Stonington. For many years during the winter, the meat chef at the Larking house in Palatka, Florida and summers he cheffed (sic) [was chef] at the Larkin House (hotel) at Watch Hill. He enjoyed the reputation of a great cook and it was said by some that he ‘could cook a roast to a turn’.

In 1888 he married Frances Emeline Hall and they went to live in what is now the Pickering home on East Ave. It was here that three daughters were born and raised. Fannie Nina (my mother), Rhoda Marion and Mercie Anna, who died in her 26th year.

During the period he lived on East Avenue, grandfather was the proprietor of a fish market which was located on the south edge of the Pawcatuck River Bridge. He ran the business until the early 1900’s. He served on the Westerly Police Force and was Director of Public Aid in the Town of Westerly for eleven years. [end of page 7]

In 1907 grandfather and grandmother moved to the Elias Brown known as the Hickox House…on the corner of Main and Beach Streets. Early records show that the house was built by John Lewis, one of the early settlers of Westerly, in the 1700’s.

It was in this house that their three daughters grew to womanhood. Aunt Rhoda married Donald Ferguson and they became the parents of Frances Jessie (Pasetti), Donald MacLean and Finlay Barber Ferguson. Mother married John Perry Ingham in 1913 and went to housekeeping in the old house and it was here that my sister, Frances Marion (Babcock-Berube) and I were born. A third child, John Lewis Ingham was born to them after they had taken up residence in a second old home at the rear of the Brown-Barber House. At the present time, my sister and family reside in this same house while Mother lives in a cottage just an arm’s reach away from her parents former home. The cottage was built by Mother and Dad on property that was originally part of the parcel of land on which the Elias Brown house still stands.

With this writing, this limb of the Barber family is nearly completed. Again, however, I would like to return to the past and give some pertinent facts about them and/or their descendants:

One, Samuel Barber (b. 1695-d. 1760) was the 5th son of Col. Moses and Susannah (Wait) (sic) [West] Barber. Samuel married Annie Corey and their daughter Susannah M. married Benjamin Perry. Commander Oliver Hazard Perry and his borther (sic) [brother] Matthew Galbraith Perry were great-grandsons of the latter couple. Oliver Hazard Perry’s sister Mary married Benjamin Barber whose son Benjamin Perry Barber was my great-great-grandfather. [end of page 8]

Daniel Babcock who was my great-grandfather (five generations removed) was the brother of the Honorable Joshua Babcock whose home still stands next door to the Westerly Credit Union building on Granite Street. Joshua is buried in the old Babcock burial ground on the Watch Hill Road near the junction of the Winnapaug Road in the same plt (sic) [plot] as John and Mary Babcock.

A certain village smithy with a reputation for strong words as well as muscular strength plied his trade at a forge long after the deman (sic) [demand] for horse shoes was exhausted. You may recall the name of the man…Bill Pendleton… and the location of his shop…hugging the south side of what is now Elite Cleaners on Main Street. Bill whose father was a first cousin of my grandfather’s is a direct descendant of the first Henry Barber whose granddaughter Josephine was Bill’s mother.

Isaac Barber, a brother to [my] grandfather, owned a candy store on Main Street near where the telephone office is today. The confections sold in his store were made on the premises. Isaac’s daughter, Etta Barber Taylor, still resides in Westerly. I won’t presume to tell you her age but she is either an acteginarian (sic) [octogenarian] or pretty close to it. Her daughter, Marjorie Teylor (sic) [Taylor] Collins, is well known for her sumptuor (sic) [sumptuous] banquets, which are served through her catering services. Leland (Ted), Adrian Taylor, her sons reside on Taylor lane near Carr’s Hill off High Street.

One, Uncle George Barber, of the early Barbertown residents, lived to be over 90, and the loud voice he was remembered for has been inherited by quite a few of the generation. [end of page 9]

One of the Benjamin Barbers mentioned previously was responsible for the Hiram Barber families now residing in Langworthy Road near Dunn’s Corners.

William A. Barber, brother of my grandfather was the projenitor (sic) [progenitor] of Earl Barber who is famous for his radio and hi-fi assemblies at the Barber and Howard Shop. Among William’s grandchildren still living in the area are: Norma Barber Stephanski [still living today]and Bernard (Snooky) Barber; William and Douglas Clark and Stanley Barber, who is U.S. Postmaster at West Mystic.

James A. Barber was the father of seven sons. One of his sons, Herman, who left these parts for Utah and there established his home, was the father of 10 boys and one girl. [two of whom are still living]

Many of you may still recall having tasted Barber’s Vermont (real cream) ice cream or vanilla bottled under the Barber name. Uncle Ed Barber earned a wide reputation for those products before and after 1900 and at one time ran an ice cream parlor at Watch Hill where they were sold. His son Edwin Barber, was the long time chief of the Watch Hill Fire Department, carried on this business in a building on Pasadena Avenue where his daughter now lives. Edwin, the older, also had a daughter Ida May Barber (Smith) who lives at the top of Granite Street hill.

Because of the preponderance of female offspring of Barber in the past decade or two, the family tree is rimmed with names such as: Hall, Lewis, Ingham, Ferguson, Babcock, Gallagher, Taylor, Collings, Clark, Pasetti, Pendleton, Ornberg, Merritee, Beebe, Smith, Lanphear, Berube, Burbine into infinity. Those names, we hope, have added a little ‘color’ to the tree. We know that the inborn appreciation for good cooking, plentiful eating and a tendency for healthy bodies and [end of page 10] longevity has been passed along, and will be unto generations beyond.

In view of the occupations and reputations f (sic) [of] at least two or three generations past, it is small wonder that the Barbers are famous…or infamous…for their enormous capacity for food. It is a reputation to enjoy, encourage and be proud of, as seldom is it written that any of their number passed away from malnutrition or gastrointestinal ailments. Instead it appears to be an ostablished (sic) [established] fact that the most of them lived to a ripe old age…hale and hearty like their appetites! [end of page 11]

Complied by Nina Barber Clark
Written by Mabelle Ingham Burbine
November 9, 1967
Typed with corrections and links by Midge Frazel, 2007 "

[i] No record of this book has been found at Brown University’s Hay Library


Brian Downey said...

Hi Midge, a couple of quick things on your James A Barber, Medal of Honor recipient. The medal was for his actions at Petersburg, Va (as you describe) in April 1865, but was not awarded to him til June 1866. Only a fiddly detail, I know. He's also apparently found in some records as James A Barbour.

BTW, all MoH citations are online.

More about Robert H George is also online from Brown.

I couldn't find a book about/including Corporal James A by Professor George either, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Thanks for posting about the Barbers. I need to get Corporal James Barber and his MoH citation up on my site about Antietam.

Do you have a photo of the corporal by chance? I always like to see their faces ...

Antietam on the Web, behind AotW

Brian Downey said...

Sorry Midge - I just scrolled down a little further and saw more about James A.

Please ignore my silly comments and question. You're all over it!

Anonymous said...

Hi,My name is Mary Ann Barber .My ancestors are the Barbers who settled in Rhode Island.Alot of the family had settled in the Steamburg,Ny area.There are hundreds of families in this area today.

rwestbrook said...

Hello I am Ronald Westbrook. My mom is maiden named Wyrick. Her Mom married a Wyrick and her moms maiden name was Ida May Barber. She lived in Cal. alot and I can't seem to get a handle on her Barber family name.Please contact me at if you have any info. about this Barber family name. Thank you,Ron

Anonymous said...

Hi Midge,
I am just coming across this now. My name is Nina Karash (McCarthy, now) and my mom is Nina (Berube)Karash, daughter of the late, Frances Marion Ingham. The list was compiled by my great-grandmother. I am so excited to read this, as I didn't know my ancestory well. I did know my great-grandmother was a direct descendant of the Mayflower, but that's about it. Thanks again for sharing this!

Micchelle Goik said...

Hi, Do you know if Samuel Barber (b. 1695-d. 1760) had a son named Thomas born 1742? My father (Lynn Michael Barber) through his research shows the same birthdates for Samuel (Thomas’s father) and it shows he was also from the RI area. He cannot seem to find any information before Samuel. If this indeed is the same this might be a big breakthrough for him. Thanks for any information, Michelle Goik

Midge Frazel said...


Look at

and type Barber for the surname.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. We know that Rueben Barbers father was Thomas but still not finding any information about him. We will keep looking. Have a nice day, Michelle

Midge Frazel said...

Go here:

Dr. Reuben Barber #95 b. 1788
son of Daniel #32
he son of Daniel #9
he son of Moses

jeremy said...

My name is Jeremy Barber, born in milwaukee wi. I have tracked my family back as follows laurence (father), henry(grand), ellery, charles d, preceeded by four nathans, benjamin, two moses, two james', thomas, roger, william. I found this information at Can anyone help me confirm or deny any of these facts? I recently found out I am going to have my second child and want to give them some good information on their rich family history. To the best of my knowledge, Charles D moved to WI sometime in the late 1800's. Than you so much. My email is

Anonymous said...

Hi Midge;
Thanks for posting the paper on the Barber Family. I had to laugh at the last paragraph about their "enormous capacity for food." We have such an appreciation for food in this family, and I always wondered where it came from. My dad was an amazing cook, and my childhood friend still mentions how much fun it was to visit my house because of all the great food! And yes, it appears the Barbers frequently married Clarks. There are three such marriages in my direct lineage.

carl cantrell said...

hi midge,
my name is Carl Cantrell II. my great grandmother wrote this paper. My grandmother is Joanne Burbine Cantrell, daughter of Mabelle Ingham Burbine. Just thought I would say hi. I have read all the papers from her research that she had done over the years and find it fascinating that I am related to one of the first settlers in my hometown.

Midge Frazel said...

Hi, Carl, I saw your message. Bill and Jean Barber gave me a copy of that paper so I could correct the errors.

I'd like to know more about this line. email me at

Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Joanna Barber and I am a decedent of James Barber ( arriving in 1633) with clear and direct citations of relation to Col. Moses Barber. My family has spent a lot of time researching and traveling to document our family and I'm so thankful to have come across your blog. Wondering if you have any documentation or could help confirming James Barber's brother Thomas' birth date. I recently came across records of a Lt. Thomas Barber in CT and would like to compare the two . Thank you very much!

Midge Frazel said...

I hope you return to see this comment as you did not put any contact information in your comment.

All Barber sources are listed on this page:


Anonymous said...

Whoops!! Joanna Barber here again. So sorry feel free to email me at if needed . thank you

Nina Karash McCarthy said...

Mabelle is my mother's aunt. Hello distant relative.

Anonymous said...

So happy to find your blog. I've been doing some genealogy after my aunt told me my ancestors came from RI when I moved here. It's exciting to find all this Barber information. This weekend my family went and explored all the barber gravesites. So amazing to live 20 minutes from where my ancestors settled this land. James barber is my 8th generation grandfather. I was hoping to find some of the westerly ties. We've gone there the three last summers and seem drawn to the place. It's amazing to think that my kids are riding the same carousel that several of my ancestors must have ridden. Thanks for providing that link!


loribarberbarnes said...

Hi ,
My name is Lori Barnes ( daughter of Beatrice Barber Barnes) i'm looking for a connection to my ancestor Holden Barber, born 1787 in RI......he was also called Olin , married Sarah Latham.Is there a connection to your tree? I found his grave in Bolton NY, cannot find his parents names! Any help would be appreciated. Lori

andrew barber said...

Hi Midge,

I am Andrew Barber grandson of Edwin Barber. I found this blog a few years ago and have wanted to thank you for the opportunity to read the Barber paper. I own and operate the same garage on the watch hill road that my grandfather and father had operated. I also live off of East Avenue near Thompsons Corners "Barberville" Thank you, Andrew Barber

Midge Frazel said...

I am so glad to see your message about being my Barber cousin. I love going to Watch Hill. I'd like to know morea bout your garage. Do you have old photos of it and a photo taken today?

Midge Frazel

Jacob Barber said...

Hello, I'm Jacob Barber a decendant from Moses Barber, Thankyou for this letter. Some errors or at least questions. Moses Barber married Susanna West. Col Moses another later man. Moses born 1652, daughter married Mr. Benjamin Perry (grandfather to Oliver Hazard Perry). My line traces from Moses, Ezekial, Benjamin, Ezikial, Solomon (moved to Western Ny.) The homestead of Ezekial was on Punch Bowl Trial and burial ground is identified as Richmond 054.

Midge Frazel said...

See the link: for more information about your Barber line.

FranD said...

I am Frances Cole Denoncourt also descended from Moses Barber and Susannah West.

I have submitted my application to the DAR for my ancestor Patriot Benjamin Barber who m. Susannah Boss.

My line:
Moses, Ezekiel, Benjamin, Benjamin Spencer Barber, Jesse Crandall Barber, Marion Augusta Barber, Arthur Clemence Cole, Francis Crandall Cole, Frances Dian Cole.

Lisa Lang said...

Hello Lori. I am the proud owner of a gorgeous home on church street in Bradford. A previous tenant who raised her children there told me that the home used to belong to "Beadie" Barber, a farming woman who she later cared for there. She had one borde, an English gentleman, who managed or owned a mill nearby. If you could direct me to any history regarding the original owners, I would appreciate it. Thank you
Lisa Lang

Midge Frazel said...

I have found someone who can help you with your house history. Her name is Barbara Fallon and she can meet you at the Westerly Library. Email her at