Biography of William Ernest Barker, M. D.

William Ernest Barker, M. D. Prominent among the medical men of Southeastern Kansas is Dr. William Ernest Barker, who since 1881 has been engaged in practice at Chanute. During this long period of devotion to his profession he has built up a large and representative professional business, and is justly regarded in medical circles and by the general public as a thoroughly learned, skilled and reliable physician and surgeon. Doctor Barker is a native of Birmingham, England, and a son of William and Martha (Timmins) Barker.

William Barker was born in England, served in the regular army during his youth, and became the owner of an iron works and of several iron and coal mines. Some years prior to the Civil war he came to the United States and located at Cleveland, Ohio, where he was foreman of an iron foundry until his death. His wife died in England, and had been the mother of four children: William Ernest; Mary Ann, of England, the widow of Alfred Bridle, a railroad man; Martha, who is the wife of Professor Crosby, of Paris, France; and Eli, a resident of Birmingham, England.

William Ernest Barker received his early education in the Protestant schools of England, and after graduation from the high school commenced to read medicine, although at that time he was serving an apprenticeship to the general foundry business. Shortly after the close of the Civil war he came to the United States and first located at Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, from whence he went to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1869 he removed to Kansas City, Missouri, and not long thereafter went to a farm northeast of Burlington, Kansas, where he resumed his medical studies. He subsequently attended the St. Louis Medical College, where he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine and first practiced at St. Louis, from whence he went to Thayer, Kansas. After five years in that city, in 1881 he came to Chanute, and here has continued in a general medical and surgical practice ever since, with the exception of two years (1884-1886) when he was in England, perfecting himself in medicine and surgery at the London Hospital, under Superintendent Treeves. Doctor Barker is local surgeon for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, the Pacific Mutual Insurance Company, the Travelers of Hartford, and the State Life Insurance Company of Indianapolis. He belongs to the American Medical Association, the Southeastern Kansas Medical Society, the Kansas State Medical Society and the Neosho County Medical Society, of which last-named he was president for two terms in succession. The doctor is well known in fraternal circles, holding membership in Cedar Lodge No. 103, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Chanute Chapter No. 21, Royal Arch Masons; Chanute Commandery No. 44, Knight Templars; Topeka Consistory No. 1, thirty-second degree; and Mirza Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Pittsburg, Kansas; Chanute Lodge No. 806, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; the Fraternal Aid Union, and Blackfoot Tribe, Improved Order of Red Men. He also belongs to the Chanute Commercial Club. Doctor Barker has been successful in a material as well as a professional way. He is a stockholder in the First National Bank of Chanute, and the holder of much valuable property, including an 800-acre farm two miles north of Chanute; a farm of 160 acres south of the city; a sixty-acre tract five miles southeast of here; his own residence at No. 17 South Lincoln Avenue, a dwelling at 418 South Malcolm Avenue; another house at No. 15 North Central Avenue; his business office at No. 15 South Lincoln Avenue, and the business block at Nos. 11-13 South Lincoln Avenue. In political matters he is a republican, but his only office has been that of member of the school board. As a professional man and a citizen he has always been held in the highest esteem, and has been a leader in many movements for the city’s betterment.

Doctor Barker’s first wife died leaving two sons: Jesse W. and Frank. Jesse W. Barker is a graduate of the Chanute High School, studied for a time at Northwestern University, Chicago, in the medical department, and received his degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Kansas City Medical College in 1900. He began practice as a physician and surgeon at Topeka, went then to Las Cruces, New Mexico, for one year, and in 1902 came to Chanute, where he has since been engaged in practice in association with his father. He is one of the leading members of the profession in Neosho County among the younger generation. He married Jessica Eaton, of Chanute, and they are the parents of six children: LeRoy, a junior in the Chanute High School; William Ernest, who died at age of two years; Wilma, who died aged nine months; Eileen, who is attending the public schools; and Vivian and Ralph Ernest. Frank Barker received his education in Birmingham, England, and is now a baker in the employ of the Bon Ton Bakery at Chanute. He married Mary Costa, and they have five children: Jesse, who attended the Chanute High School and is now a drug clerk in an establishment at Coffeyville, Kansas; George, who is a junior in the Chanute High School; Gordon and Mary, who are attending the graded schools; and Rose.

Doctor Barker was married in 1900 to Miss Lillian Godden, who was born at Janesville, Wisconsin, a daughter of William and Anne (Rumble) Godden. She is a great-granddaughter of James Godden, who was a musician and passed his life in London, England. Mrs. Barker’s grandfather was Robert Godden, who was born in 1810, at West Lavington, England, and in that country was the owner of a small farm. About the year 1866 he came to the United States and located in the vicinity of Janesville, Wisconsin, where he was engaged in farming until his death in 1885. On the maternal side, Mrs. Barker is a granddaughter of John Rumble, who was born in 1804 at Beaching Stoke, England, where he died in 1879. He was the village schoolmaster and the owner of a small farm.

William Godden, the father of Mrs. Barker, was born in 1837, in West Lavington, England, and was there educated and reared. Shortly after his marriage, in 1862, he came to the United States and located at Chicago, where he became connected with the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. He was superintendent of several departments in this system and in that capacity was transferred to Janesville, Wisconsin, where he passed the remaining years of his life, his death occurring in 1899. He was a republican in politics, a member of the Odd Fellows, and an Episcopal in religion, holding the positon of senior warden of his church for a number of years. Mrs. Godden, who was born in 1836, at Beaching Stoke, England, died at Chanute in 1915. They were the parents of five children, as follows: Mary Rebecca, widow of Hans Lyche, who was an editor and Unitarian minister, Mrs. Lyche now being a resident of Ohristiana, Norway, formerly a minister of the Unitarian Church for eight years, and now a teacher of English in the University of Christiana; William Robert Edgar, who was a traveling salesman and died at Hartley, Iowa, in 1904; Lillian, the wife of Doctor Barker; John Henry, the proprietor of a wholesale and retail marble works at Emmetsburg, Iowa; and Ella Louise, who is the wife of Prof. George S. Parker, a banker and attorney of Anderson, Indiana.

Mrs. Barker is a woman of remarkable attainments and talents. She received her primary education in the public schools of Janesville, Wisconsin, and after her graduation from the high school there went to the Chicago Normal School, the Chicago Kindergarteri Association and the Chicago Art Institute, and in 1892 graduated from the Art Academy of Chicago. She taught school at Janesville and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, for several years, and holds a life teacher’s certificate for Wisconsin and Missouri and also in schools of Chicago. Following her experience as an educator she was retained by D. C. Heath & Company, of Chicago, and during the seventeen years which she traveled for this firm she had charge of its art department and visited every state and territory in the Union. She had charge of the state institute work in Washington, Oregon, California and other points in the country, and in 1899 secured the first state adoption for her company’s books in Kansas. In 1911 Mrs. Barker was appointed head of the art department in the Springfield (Missouri) State Normal School, where, as the first art teacher, her work was phenomenal. She succeeded in building up that department to a high state of efficiency, it now being the largest in the State of Missouri, and in 1915 enrolled over 800 students. In that year she was granted a leave of absence, and in 1916 resigned.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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