THE BARKER FAMILY
Llewellyn Manville Barker is a direct descendent of Edward Barker, one of the original founders of the colony of Branford, CT. Edward was born about 1625 and:
“was said to have come from England in 1640, and was a well known merchant in 1650 in New Haven, Conn., where he carried on an extensive trade with Barbados, West Indies. Not being in accord with the church government in the colony of New Haven, forty seven men of whom Edward was one, drew up and signed a New Plantation & Church Covenant 1-20-1667” (Barker Genealogy, Branford Library).
Edward’s name can be viewed on a list of the “Founders of Branford” on the current Branford website.
Llewellyn is also a direct descendent of Benjamin Barker (great grandson of Edward) who was a private during the Revolutionary war and fought in the 2nd Co., 5th Battalion along with his brothers Papilion and Edward.
In the absence of his diaries, Llewellyn’s life would most likely be left to a few paragraphs, a few dates and some census data references. A good synopsis of his life can be seen at right in his obituary in the New Haven Journal-Courier on April 12, 1937. Through his diary entries, however, Llewellyn comes to life through his own words and he shows us his life’s meaning as he struggles to live a good life in the 19th and early 20th century.
Llewellyn Manville Barker wrote in his diaries for 72 years from 1865 when he was 14 to the day before he died in 1937 at the age of 87. The books he used were preprinted for each year with spaces for daily notations. There are 57 volumes with only 15 years unaccounted for. These volumes have remained in the family’s possession since his death, most recently in the home of Llewellyn’s youngest daughter Anna Barker Field at 30 South Montowese Street in Branford. They remained there until her son Richard’s death in 2007. They then came into the possession of Richard’s children, Llewellyn’s great grandchildren. Jane Bouley, Branford Town Historian, has stated how unusual it is to have such a complete set of diaries that are so well preserved from so long ago.
This website uses Llewellyn’s own words from his diaries to describe his life and times. Primary candidates for diary entries were those that give a historical reference, a view of typical activities, or unique events. Of additional interest were those entries that give insight into Llewellyn’s internal life, thinking or emotion. Where appropriate, explanations and expansion of content is provided to enhance the reader’s perspective and understanding of the material. See section “Intro” for further details.
For “The Formative Years” (1865-1875), approximately 40 representative entries from each year were chosen. The content is arranged in a year-by-year format.
For “The Middle Years” (1876-1905), given the volume of years and the slower pace of Llewellyn’s life transitions, a different format was chosen. Here his life is being told as a collection of stories, some of which unfold over multiple years.
This “Diary Project” continues to be a work in progress. Your feedback is encouraged and appreciated.