Frederick L. Barker

Frederick L. Barker was born 1843 in Oakland, Oakland County, Michigan, son of Jesse A. (b. 1820) and Caroline (b. 1821).

New York native Jesse and English-born Caroline (in Kent) were probably married sometime before 1843, possibly in New York or perhaps in Michigan. In any case they had settled in eastern Michigan by 1843 and Jesse may have been living in Manchester, Washtenaw County in 1845. They moved to the west side of the state, eventually settling in Green, Mecosta County, where Fred grew up on his family’s farm. By 1860 Fred was working as a farm laborer and lumberman and living with his family in Green, Mecosta County.

Fred stood 5’10” with black eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was 18 years old and living with his family in either Green or in Big Rapids, Mecosta County when he enlisted with his parents’ consent in Company K on May 13, 1861. He reenlisted as a Sergeant on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Sparta, Kent County, and was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864. He probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Although the details are sketchy, Fred was reportedly treated for syphilis from February 23 to March 5, 1864, and again on March 10, 12 to 21. In any case, he was sufficiently well enough to be on duty with the regiment and was shot in the right arm or shoulder on May 6, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia, resulting in the loss of the use of that arm. Fred stated in 1866 that “a musket ball passed through the right lung and shoulder shattering the shoulder blade & cutting the muscles & nerves in such a manner that the right arm hangs perfectly powerless & useless by the side.” He was subsequently admitted to Finley hospital in Washington, DC, on May 26 with a gunshot wound to the right shoulder, and was still absent in the hospital when he was transferred as a Sergeant to Company I, Fifth Michigan Infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He was absent on furlough from June 25.

Fred returned from furlough on August 17 and although probably still absent wounded, in August he was promoted to First Sergeant, then to Second Lieutenant on August 12, 1864, and commissioned as such August 10, replacing Lieutenant Theodore Hetz. In fact, according to the Mecosta County Pioneer, Fred was promoted sometime in July. “The new Lieutenant,” wrote the paper on July 22, “was quite surprised to hear of his good fortune, as it was entirely unexpected. He has gone to Grand Rapids for the purpose of getting his furlough extended, we believe, as his wound yet entirely disables his right arm although improving.” The editor of the paper added that “We heartily congratulate Lieut. barker on his promotion, as it is an evidence that his services have been such in the army as to merit the compliment.”

In September he was still listed as absent wounded, but was present for duty the following month. In November he was reported as First Lieutenant of Company H, commissioned on October 14, 1864, replacing Lieutenant Winans, and promoted to Captain in February of 1865, near Petersburg, Virginia, commissioned November 7, replacing Captain Wakenshaw. He was mustered out of service on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

In 1865 Fred applied for and received a pension (19296?).

After the war Fred returned to Michigan and attended the Agricultural College in Lansing following which he went to Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York, where he took a commercial course (according to one report his parents sold a cow to help pay his tuition). He was living in Poughkeepsie in September of 1866. Fred quit school however and engaged in various businesses in New York and Pennsylvania.

He eventually returned to Michigan (his parents were living in Green, Mecosta County in 1870), probably in the late 1860s or perhaps early 1870s when he reportedly came to Big Rapids and opened up an iron works which proved to be less of a commercial success, and which failure caused his parents to lose their farm in Mecosta County. They eventually settled with Fred and his family in Crawford County probably in 1877 (he may have moved to Crawford the previous year). Fred eventually became deeply interested in timber lands in northeastern Michigan and was a member of a lumbering firm in Lewiston.

In 1875 he acquired 160 acres of land through the Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, land office and in 1881 another 80 acres through Reed City in Osceola County.

He was married to Michigan native May M. Hoskins (d. 1891) of Lansing on October 11, 1871, in Lansing, Ingham County, and they had at two children, Flora and Helen May (b. 1885).

By 1880 Frederick was working as a surveyor and living with his wife in Frederic, Crawford County. They were living in Frederic in 1885.

According to the Fifth Michigan infantry Regimental history Fred died on November 30, 1888, but in fact was living in Frederic, Crawford County in 1890. His wife May died in April of 1891 in Frederick and Fred was reportedly in Albert, Montmorency County in 1894. During the Twenty-third annual reunion of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association held on December 20, 1894, it was noted that he had died recently. Indeed, Fred died on October 12, 1894, in Grayling, Crawford County, “by wounds received in service,” noted one source. He was presumably buried in Grayling, or possibly in Big Rapids.

His daughter Helen became the ward of one C. B. Seymour of Crawford County, Pennsylvania (not Michigan). She received a minor’s pension (no. 418553).