The BARBER surname belongs to my maternal grandmother's biological mother. My grandmother was an adoptee, and I will be highlighting both her biological and her adoptive families' surnames in my Surname Saturday posts.
The BARBER name is an very old one. Barbers in the medieval times were not just haircutters; they were also surgeons and dentists. The root word "barb" means to cut. In the days before the common man was literate, barbers would place a red and white striped pole outside their establishment to mark their business. The colors were representative of white surgical cloths stained with blood. That ancient practice is now manifested in electronically revolving red and blue striped poles affixed near the doorways of modern barbershops.
My BARBER line cannot yet be traced back very far. As I said, it was the maiden name of my great-grandmother, and I can only go back two generations before I lose the family in Ontario, Canada with the knowledge that my 3rd-great-grandfather came from England (no more specific locations are available).
Stories and History:
Ahnentafel #44 - James W. BARBER (1839 - 1912) - The earliest record I can find on James is the 1871 Canadian Census, in which he resides in Amabel, Bruce Co., Ontario with his wife Elizabeth "Betsey" COLE and the first four of their 10 children. The family had two more children in Canada before removing to Lapeer, Lapeer Co., Michigan around 1876. There the remaining children were born. There are other BARBERs from Canada and England in the area and they are probably related; however, not being able to find earlier Canadian records nor having James's parents missing from his death certificate has presented challenges. A printed history of the COLE family has not yielded further clues. I do have one photo of James; a reprint of an original owned by a family cousin.
Ahnentafel #22 - Orlando BARBER (1868 - 1910) - I have often discovered that the most challenging family lines have poverty and a lack of education associated with them. This makes sense, because literate, middle-class families tend to keep and preserve family documents, photos, traditions and oral histories better. They are not in survival mode in the way that families in poverty are. Orlando seems to fall in to the former group. He is nearly always listed as a day laborer (once as a teamster) in census records as an adult. He also did not own a home, but rented instead. He and his wife, Mary Jane FREDENBURG, had eight children. The first three died very young, probably as stillborns or infants, since they do not even have birth records (the information came from census records where Mary Jane was asked how many children she had borne and how many were yet living). The youngest of his children was Mary Jane BARBER, my great-grandmother. Orlando died of smallpox just five days after Mary Jane's first birthday, and was laid to rest in an unmarked burial plot owned by a man that later became Orlando's widow's second husband (Fred SMITH, perhaps a family friend?). Although smallpox wasn't really eradicated from civilized countries until later in the twentieth century, I do find it unusual that Orlando died from it as late as 1910. I have no photographs of Orlando and do not know if any are in existence.
Ahnentafel #11 - Mary Jane BARBER (1909 - 1975) - read her AnceStory here
Ahnentafel #5 - my paternal grandmother (living)
Ahnentafel #2 - my father (living)
Ahnentafel #1 - myself
More about the BARBER family:
1. Online database (I update this at least once a month): BARBER ancestors and relatives (no info on living persons available)
2. Some BARBER obituaries
3. Posts about BARBER ancestors and relatives on this blog
4. Some scanned BARBER documents
5. My BARBER Virtual Cemetery on Find A Grave
My BARBER immigration trail:
England > Bruce Co., ONT > Lapeer Co., MI > Genesee Co., MI > Kent Co., MI > Ottawa Co., MI > AK > Stevens Co., WA > Spokane Co., WA