top of page

The Barker Family

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

In my last post, I discussed the latest addition to my photography collection: Old glass negatives from 1900.

From the information written on the paper sleeves these all came in, I have been able to piece together who most of the people are in these photographs – one family, in particular, in fact.

Introducing Rhea Melissa Barker. Born in 1897, she is about 3 years old and she is sitting, apparently, in the patient chair in her father's doctor office in Troy, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

Rhea Barker in dad's office.jpg

Her father is Dr. Perley Newell Barker, born in 1856 in Belpre, Washington County, Ohio. He is listed as a dentist in the 1880 census, living with the Robert Kendall family in Troy but still single. At some point, he married Cora Knapp. They had a son, Frederick Stuart Barker, born 1885. Cora died a year later. Frank, it appears, was raised by Cora's mother, Lydia.

Dr. Barker, who eventually went into general practice, married Lillian Joralemon, daughter of Joseph and Melissa Enora (Hall) Joralemon, also of Troy. (An interesting side note: Lillian was born 16 August 1862, exactly 100 years before me.) She died 28 August 1945.


younger woman portrait.jpg

This is Lillian and, I'm guessing, her parents Joseph and Melissa Joralemon, with whom the Barker family lived according to the 1900 census.

people with roses small.jpg

This next photo shows Rhea standing on the stoop at Dr. Barker's office, which I would guess was part of their home. Lillian is standing in the doorway. She doesn't look to me like she's very keen on this new hobby of her husband's. ...

rhea on step 2 small.jpg

And here is what I believe is the interior of Dr. Barker's office:

docs office.jpg

Dr. and Mrs. Barker also had a son, Joseph Edmund, born in 1891. Joseph graduated from Yale University in 1918 and from Yale Divinity School in 1921. (Yale Catalogue, 1920-21) He wrote Diderot's Treatment of the Christian Religion in the Encyclopedie in 1941. ( According to his memorial page on, he married Jeanne Vincente Dorso (1900-1854). He died in Lynchburg, Virginia, 13 February 1962.

A photo of Rhea sitting on the lap of a young man, I thought, was a portrait of her and Joseph. But the boy in the photo is much older than Joseph would have been in 1900 ... and he also is wearing a wedding band on his left hand – something I hadn't noticed until today. Frank, her half-brother, would have only been 15. He didn't marry for at least another 10 years.

These two look so much alike. I guess it's possible this is Perley, himself, but in 1900, Perley would have been about 44, and I don't think this man looks to be more than 30.

joseph and rhea barker.jpg

At any rate, Rhea married Jonathan Knight Williams Woods, who also became a doctor. From information I've found on Ancestry, they had three daughters, Melissa B. (1923), Mary Frances (b. 1924), and Rhea Marguerite (b. 1927). Dr. Woods served in the U.S. Army in World War I. I have been unable to determine what type of practice he had, but he died in Bradford County, so the couple apparently lived there most of their lives.

So, I also contacted the Bradford County Historical Society, which has a collection of 190 glass negatives donated by a collector. Many of those include more photos taken by Dr. Barker. I would love to know more about them, and I plan to talk to the folks there some more. I wish it wasn't so far away, or I'd visit.

The fun part about finding these treasures, for me, is researching who these people are. I would love to get them back into the hands of their families, so if anyone knows anything about these folks, let me know. For now, I just plan to enjoy them myself.

49 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The Generation Gap: It's real, people.

Growing up in the 1960s and coming of age in the 1970s, I remember all the “old” people talking about the Generation Gap — how my parents’ generation couldn’t comprehend anything about the values, ide

bottom of page