Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jackson Barnett and Phoebe Napier

I recently heard from a cousin who contacted a now-deceased cousin's husband. He claims he visited the graves of Jackson and Phoebe Napier Barnett, my 3rd great grandparents, "in a cemetery in Lincoln County [Oklahoma] with a bunch of other Barnett's." As two of Jackson's children from his first marriage, Amanda Barnett Roberts and Thomas Barnett, and one of he and Phoebe's two children together, Louvica, are buried in Davenport Cemetery in Lincoln County, I think it's safe to assume that that was the cemetery he was referring to. While a few years ago, I lived only about 45 minutes from that cemetery, now I live in Michigan, so I have not yet had a chance to visit. But next time I am in central Oklahoma, I plan on it.

Since for the first time since embarking on my Barnett genealogy quest I had a good clue of where Jackson and Phoebe were buried from a person who claims to have visited their graves himself, I decided to make FindAGrave pages for the two of them, and I wrote up biographies for them. I decided I would post them here, as well as on their FindAGrave pages. My hope is I'll one day have pictures of their headstones for their pages.

Jackson Barnett

He was the son of Joshua Barnett and Jane Hays. His given name appears to have been Andrew Jackson, based on the records of his son, Andrew Jackson Barnett, and his 1890 marriage record for his marriage to Sarah Clemons.

He married first to Louvica Back in about 1869 in Breathitt County, KY. They had five children, namely Armina Catherine, Mary Elizabeth, Martha A., Thomas Jefferson, and Amanda J. Louvica died 21 Jan 1890, according to family records.

He then remarried to Sarah Clemons, the widow of Jeremiah Clemons, on 26 Sep 1890. What became of this marriage is unknown. We do not know if Sarah died shortly after prompting him to remarry, or if they divorced, or if he simply left Sarah.

Jackson was involved in some capacity with the Little-Jett feud which ravaged the Breathitt County area in the late 1880's and early 1890's. In Charles Mutzenburg's "Famous Kentucky Feuds & Tragedies" (1917) on page 276, he is mentioned as a participant in the feud who was wounded in the fighting in 1888. An original, first edition copy of this book is in possession of Barnett descendants, and it originally belonged to Tom Barnett, Jackson's son, and after his death passed to another of Jackson's sons, Andre Jackson Barnett. A handwritten message on page 276 of this copy states "This talks about dad's trouble".

Whether or not this "trouble" with the feuding became a reason for him to depart for Arkansas is unknown, but it seems likely as it was a common occurrence for people to vacate the Breathitt County area at the time due to all the violence. Sometime around 1893, he left Breathitt County for Arkansas along with Phoebe Napier Barnett, the widow of his 1st cousin James Barnett, who died around 1890 and whose death may also have been attributed to the feuding, but this has not been proven. Phoebe (daughter of Patrick Napier and Rhoda Campbell) and James Barnett had had five children together.

For reasons that are still unclear today, Jackson and Phoebe left all of their collective 10 children behind in Kentucky, including the youngest children. Jackson's 9 year-old Amanda and 13 year-old Thomas were left behind, as were all 5 of Phoebe's children, who were all below the age of 15, including 7 year-old Nathan. Theories have been abound for years regarding why the children were left behind.

No marriage record for Jackson and Phoebe has been found in Kentucky or Arkansas, so one theory has been that they "ran off" together and may not have been formally married. As we don't know what happened with Jackson's marriage to Sarah Clemons, we don't know if he departed Kentucky as a widower, a divorced man, or if he simply left her behind to be with Phoebe.

Another theory is that Jackson and Phoebe left Kentucky on the run for feud-related reasons. Jackson had clearly been involved in the violence, and it is likely Phoebe's husband James had been as well, so perhaps they feared for their lives and believed they needed to escape and left their children behind for safe-keeping with relatives. This rumor is supported by the fact a rumor spread among many of the Barnett's who remained in Kentucky that Jackson, Phoebe, and the two children they had had together, Louvica (1893) and Andrew Jackson (1894) died of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Arkansas. Phoebe never saw her children in Kentucky again, and it was presumed by the descendants of her family for years that she had died in Arkansas with Jackson and their children.

This rumor was untrue, however, as the four survived and are residing in the Cherokee Nation in the 1900 Census. Andrew Jackson Barnett, Jackson's son, claimed he was born in Boston, Arkansas, which is in Madison County, so we believe that is where the family lived before moving to Oklahoma.

Jackson and Phoebe were clearly deceased prior to 1910. Louvica and Andrew are living with their sister, Amanda Barnett Roberts, the youngest child born to Jackson's marriage with Louvica Back.

Exactly when and where Jackson and Phoebe died has yet to be determined. The family knows that every year on Memorial Day, Andrew would travel alone to visit the graves of his parents, but no one seems to know exactly where he went. According the husband of a cousin who knew much about the family before she died, Jackson and Phoebe are buried in Lincoln County, Oklahoma in a cemetery with multiple other Barnett's. It is implied he has visited their graves himself, but no records for Jackson and Phoebe have appeared in cemetery records or indexes in Lincoln County. Amanda and Thomas, children of Jackson's first marriage, along with Louvica, his daughter with Phoebe, are all buried together in Davenport Cemetery in Lincoln County. It appears likely this is where Jackson and Phoebe are buried as well, but their headstones have not yet been discovered at the time of this writing.

It is our hope that we will eventually locate Jackson's and Phoebe's headstones and find out precisely what years they died.

Phoebe Napier

Phoebe was the daughter of Patrick Napier and Rhoda Campbell.

She married James Barnett on 1 Mar 1876 in Breathitt County, Kentucky. Together they had five children, namely Jessie, Angeline, Armine Bell, Elvira, and Nathan.

James died about 1890; it is unknown why he died at such a relatively young age, but it is believed he died for reasons connected to the Jett-Little feud which had ravaged the Breathitt County area for years.

In about 1892, she went to Arkansas with a new husband, Jackson Barnett, a cousin of James, leaving her 5 young children behind in Kentucky. They would never see her again.

She and Jackson had 2 children together, Louvica and Andrew Jackson. They eventually moved to Oklahoma, where she died sometime before 1910.

It has not been determined precisely when and where Phoebe died, but she is likely buried in Davenport Cemetery according to the husband of a cousin who claims to have visited the graves of she and her husband "somewhere in Lincoln County" where several other Barnett's are buried. As 3 of Jackson's children, including Phoebe's daughter Louvica, are buried in Davenport Cemetery, it is assumed she and Jackson are buried there as well, but this has not been proven yet at the time of this writing.

A family story states that after Jackson died, Phoebe was so heartbroken and depressed that she remained almost entirely bed-ridden for the rest of her life, dying about a year after Jackson.

Lastly, here is a picture of the two of them found among my great grandmother's possessions.

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