Emery and Theodosia Barber


Theodosia M. (Underhill) Barber, my father's mother. I regret never meeting her. She and Emery were married late in life because she felt a duty to her elderly parents and cared for them until death. She was born in 1843 and died in 1926 or 1927. - Barbara Barber La Favre


Above is a photo of the gravestone for the Barber family in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Flushing, Queens, New York. It establishes the full name of Emery L. Barber (Emery Livermore Barber) and the year of his death (1904). It also provides the year of death for Theodosia Underhill Barber (1926). It is curious that her first name is spelled Theodotia. Emery Gardner Barber, son of Emery L. and Theodosia is also buried here (Nov. 26, 1879 - March 1, 1937). Elizabeth Barber (April 10, 1927 - March 12, 1938) was the daughter of Emery Gardner Barber and his wife Sara Woodruff Barber.

Web site for Cedar Grove Cemetery provides the following dates of death: E. L Barber August 1, 1904; Theodosia Barber March 8, 1926.

Theodore is not anxious to have his picture taken here. Gardner, 5 years his senior, seems more agreeable. Their father, Emery Gardner Barber [actually Emery Livermore Barber], is well here. He traveled up and down the eastern coast selling shoes. They lived in Brooklyn, New York. When Theodore was a teenager, his father had a stroke and never was the same again. - Barbara Barber La Favre

My father, Theodore Underhill Barber. He attended Pratt Institute for a time, but had to go to work to help the family after his dad's stroke. His father, Emery Gardner Barber [Emery Livermore Barber], was probably around 45 when Theodore was born [he was 48 years old]. Theodosia was 42. So Emery had his first stroke in his early 60s. Theodore was still a teenager. Theodore first was an office boy to a company president. His next job was as a courier because he was a fast runner. Eventually, before coming to California, he was head-teller in some bank. Here you see my father wearing his derby. He wore hats all his life - even to the very end. While my father was working for Hart, he and others invested in the lands they were developing. One piece he owned was Agnes Hughes' house in Hillgrove. He owned it with her father, Mr. Tupper. Mr. Tupper bought Theodore out some time in the 20s. [I can remember spending time at Agnes Hughes' home. She was an artist. - Jeffrey La Favre]

Theodore, my father, learned to ice skate in Central Park, New York. He played on an ice hockey team in high school. He was a fast runner and won several medals in track. Breaking trails with his horse, Buddy, in the San Bernardino Mountains along with his wife and daughter, Barbara, was a favorite pastime. My dad loved woodworking. When working as a teller in a New York bank where he started as an office boy for the bank's president, he made his own canoe.

- Barbara Barber La Favre

Research by Jeffrey La Favre

The ancestors of Theodosia M. Underhill have been of intense interest in the genealogy community. Many were of English origin, arriving in America during the 17th century. The Underhill line has been extensively documented in a multivolume work entitled Underhill Genealogy edited by Josephine C. Frost and published privately in 1932 by Myron C. Taylor in the interests of the Underhill Society of America (available at www.ancestry.com). The patriarch of the American Underhills was Captain John Underhill, who arrived in Boston in 1630 from Holland. In Underhill Genealogy we learn that "The English Ancestry of Capt. John Underhill has been established back to and including Hugh Underhill, keeper of the wardrobe to Queen Elizabeth in Greenwich Palace, examined, and passed, by the College of Arms in London and traced to armigerous Underhills of Ettington in Warkickshire and their predecessors of the thirteenth century. As to the year of his birth, legend varies between 1597 and 1600; as to place, tradition locates it at Baginton, near Kenilworth (Killingworth) in Warwickshire."

The family tree for Theodosia M. Underhill is available here.


Adin Ballou, in his History of the Town of Milford3 tells us that Hamlet Barber was an immigrant from England "...as I have always been told..." "I never chanced to learn any thing of his birth-date or antecedents, nor exactly when he first came here to reside. Indeed, I doubt if he was any thing more than an occasional and transient inhabitant within our limits. But several of his children were somewhat permanently settled here." Hamlet Barber married the widow Rhoda (Ware) Clark. Rhoda died Dec. 25, 1824 and Hamlet died July 6 or 7, 1834, age 83 years. "He was an ingenious shoemaker, and, I think, must have resided mostly in Holliston [Massachusetts]" There is a Hamblet Barber listed in Hopkinton, Middlesex, Massachusetts, US Census 1790, and a man of the same name in Holliston, Middlesex, Massachusetts, US Census for 1810 and 1820.

The following was found attached to a family tree at Ancestry.com:

Hamblet served as a British Officer in General 'Gentlemen Johnny' Burgoyne's army during the Revolutionary War. Burgoyne was defeated, and Hamblet was captured by the Colonists during the Battle of Saratoga in upper New York in the fall of 1777. Hamblet was paroled into the custody of a Massachusetts militiaman, named Ware, who had fought for the American cause at the Battle of Crown Point, New York. In 1778 he married the eldest Ware daughter, Rhoda Ware (Clarke), who was then a young widow with an infant daughter.

The children of Hamlet and Rhoda were:

James, b. May 16, 1779; m. Nancy Parks, April 11, 1803; settled in Milford
Hamlet, b. April 26, 1780; d. Aug. 7, 1783.
Hannah, b. May 5, 1782; d. Dec. 15 the same year.
Rhoda, b. Oct. 22, 1783; m. Amasa Fairbanks, Oct. 11, 1807.
Hamlet, b. June 24, 1785; m. Bathsheba Adams. He died at Bellingham [Mass.], 1870.
Hannah, b. July 17, 1788; m. Calvin Claflin, Holliston [Mass.], May 20, 1805.
Sally, b. May 25, 1790; m. Phineas Adams.
Polly, b. Aug. 20, 1792; m. Barzillai Adams.
Anna, b. June 29, 1794; m. Reuben Justin.
John, b. April 13, 1796; m. Mary Davenport. He died April 6, 1821.
Thomas, b. April 10, 1798; m. Betsey Rockwood; resided in Milford and Hopkinton [Mass.]
Betsey, b. March 24, 1800; m. Jason Gay; settled in Milford

According to a biography of Isaac Henry Barber1, his great-grandfather, James Barber, born 1779, came to America from Wales with four brothers, who settled in New England. It will become clear below that James was Isaac's grandfather, not great-grandfather. I am inclined to favor the information provided by Adin Ballou in his book. Then we should correct Isaac's biography to state that his great-grandfather was Hamlet Barber, who came to America from Wales [at the time the American author Ballou may have considered Wales part of England]. In Vital Records of Milford Massachusetts2 and History of the Town of Milford3, we learn the names of the children of James and Nancy Barber:

William, b. August 25, 1803; went to Amsterdam, N. Y., m. there [Amy Earnest b. 9 May 1807, Florida, NY, m. to William on 19 NOV 1828]; William d. Brooklyn, N. Y. [13 JUN 1863] [information in brackets supplied by Montgomery County Department of History and Archives - Florida, NY]

Sarah Parks b. October 20, 1804; m. Simpson Bixby, Nov. 4, 1832.
Maria, b. July 9, 1806; m. Seth P. Carpenter, Jan. 25, 1829; d. Feb. 13, 1831.
Diana, b. March 31, 1808; m. Seth P. Carpenter, Aug. 28, 1831
James Madison, b. June 20, 1810; m. Elizabeth S. Wiswall, March 17, 1834.
Ann Matilda, b. February 19, 1812; d. unmarried May 10, 1849
Nancy, b. April 22, 1814 d. January 27, 1815.
John Parks, b. May 29, 1816; m. Rhoda S. Hewitt, Sept. 2, 1841.
Hamlet Ellison, b. August 29, 1818; m. Mary Burbank; resided Binghamton, N. Y., 6 children
Willard Fisher, b. November 22, 1820; m. Mary A. Kendall, Nov. 1, 1842.
Gardner Parks, b. June 28, 1823; m. Abbie Holbrook, Oct. 24, 1848; no children.
Charles, b. March 28, 1828; m. twice; resided in Hartford, CT; d. Oct. 15, 1844, his widow Nancy d. April 27, 1864.

James Barber is recorded in Milford on the US Census for 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840. On the 1820 census for James, we learn that he made a living engaged in manufacturing. There were 2 individuals in his household who worked in manufacturing. William would have been almost 17 years old at the time of the census and would have been the second person engaged in manufacturing. In the History of the Town of Milford3 we learned that James' father was a shoemaker. James was also a shoemaker and there is no doubt that he taught his son, William, the same trade. The History also tells us that John Parks Barber, and his son John Waldo Barber, were bootmakers. Other members of James' family, particularly the sons, were undoubtedly also taught the trade of shoemaking. Later we will learn that William was a salesman in New York City according to the 1850 census. And his son, Emery L. Barber, was a shoe salesman, living in Brooklyn, New York. Thus, there were at least four generations of Barbers who made their living making and/or selling shoes and boots.

At the time of the next US Census in 1830, there was no male listed in the proper age category to fit William on the entry for James Barber in Milford. This is consistent with William's presence in Montgomery County, NY, where he married Amy Earnest on 19 NOV 1828. They were married at the Presbyterian Church of Amsterdam. Amy was the daughter of William Earnest, born about February 1762 and Magdalene Shoots. William Earnest and Magdalene Shoots were married 25 NOV 1792 by Rev. James Dempster, Town of Florida, Montgomery Co., NY. William Earnest died 22 JUL 1840, age 78 years, 5 months and Magdalene died 15 JAN 1853 in her 80th year. They are buried in the Earnest Cemetery in the Town of Florida.

The 1840 US Census for the township of Florida, Montgomery Co., NY contains the following data for the household of William Barber: 1 male under age 5 [Emery L.], 1 male between age 5 and 9 [Willard A.], 1 male between age 10 and 14 [Isaac H.], 6 males between age 20 and 29 [identity unknown], 3 males between age 30 and 39 [William plus two unknown], 1 female under age 5 [Martha Barber?], 1 female between age 10 and 14 [perhaps Nancy M. Barber birth date unknown or Mary Ann Barber, born 1833, both reported to be children of William and Amy], 1 female between age 30 and 39 [Amy, wife of William]. In addition, there is the number 9 listed in the column for employed in Manufacturing and Trades [presumably the 6 males 20-29 and 3 males 30-39] and the column for Agriculture is blank.

An assessment roll for the town of Florida in 1841 lists William Barber owning 1/2 acre of land, not sufficient to make a living as a farmer. The presence of a number of additional adult males in the household, who were engaged in manufacturing and trades, suggests that William owned some type of manufacturing business. Was he manufacturing shoes there? Sometime after 1841 William moved to New York City, where he is found on the US Census for 1850. But in 1855 William was back in Montgomery County, where he was enumerated in the Village of Port Jackson, Town of Florida. In 1856 William was a taxable inhabitant of Road District #22, described as beginning at the Amsterdam bridge dyck and running down the canal to the bridge east of Barney Quiri and up the hill to the south line of William Barber. Thus, it appears that William Barber lived very near the Mohawk River and Erie Canal, a perfect location for someone engaged in manufacturing.

It is not hard to imagine that William could have owned a shoemaking business. In 1855 there were 7 individuals living in Port Jackson who gave their occupation as shoemakers. Under the business listing on the census, Port Jackson had 4 shoemaker shops that employed a total of 7 men. William Barber must have been a man of some means because he sent his oldest son, Isaac Henry, to be educated at the Academy of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NY.

According to the US Census of 1850, Ward 16 District 1, New York, New York, Emery L. Barber [his name spelled Emory L.], age 13, was born in the state of New York and was living in the home of William Barber, age 47, born in Massachusetts, a salesman, and Amy Barber, age 43, born in the state of New York. Considering all we know about the Barbers, it is clear that William and Amy were Emery's parents, although the 1850 census did not include a specification of the relationships between members of a household. In the US 1900 Census, the state of birth for Emery's father was listed as Massachusetts and for his mother, New York. These places of birth help substantiate the identity of Emery's parents. Emery's brothers and sisters were [in 1850]: Isaac H. [Henry], age 20, a student; Willet [Willard] A., age 18, a carver [carpenter]; Martha, age 10; Jane, age 7; Hannah [Hannah Maria], age 3; and all children were born in the state of New York.

Emery's oldest brother, Isaac Henry Barber, became a prominent surgeon in Brooklyn, New York. His biography, published in The Brooklyn Medical Journal1, is very helpful in deciphering his entry in the 1870 census. This passage from the biography is key:

"In 1851 he obtained the degree of M.D. from the College of Physicians and Surgeons [Columbia University].

The doctor's first office in New York City was on Twenty-fourth street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues. His sign had been up only a few weeks when he received a call to go as surgeon on the Vanderbilt Line of steamers running to the Chagres River [now Panama City and Panama Canal]. This position he accepted, and in the fall of 1851 he left New York for Chagres. ... After the doctor went to sea, his mother, being in poor health, returned to Amsterdam [NY] to reside. At her death she left a family in which were several daughters young in years. The doctor, being the eldest member, felt it incumbent upon him to go home and care for them. To this end we find him opening an office in Amsterdam in 1856. In the spring of 1857 the doctor came to Brooklyn to practice, opening an office on Willoughby street.

September 13, 1857, Dr. Barber was married to Miss Jane M. Fremyre of Amsterdam, N.Y."

Another important part of the biography: "His father, William Barber (born 1803) moved from Milford, Mass. to New York State."

[Amy Earnest Barber died 26 AUG 1853]

The complete biography is available here.

From Isaac's biography we could assume that his father was not living when he returned to Amsterdam. However, the 1855 census for the Town of Florida, Montgomery Co., NY contains the following entries:

William Barber, widow, age 50, salesman, in the town 4 years, owns land
Isaac Barber, physician, age 26, in the town 7 years
Martha Barber, age 15, in the town 4 years
Jane Barber, age 11, in the town 4 years
Hannah Barber, age 8, in the town 4 years
Sarah Senette, sister-in-law, age 48, in the town 48 years

The statement that Isaac was in the town for 7 years must be in error and needs to be checked.

To date I have not been able to find William Barber or his children on the US Census for 1860. The 1870 US Census for the household of Isaac H. Barber, Brooklyn Ward 11, Kings, New York is provided below. From the 1850 census we learned that Isaac was a student, age 20, living with his parents. Twenty years later the census revealed that he was a physician. But this census listed his age as 35. In his biography his birth date is listed as August 3, 1829, consistent with the 1850 census. Additional age data for the 1870 census entry are also at variance with the 1850 census and 1880 census. In 1880 the age of Isaac was listed as 50, consistent with a birth date of August 3, 1829. The 1880 census also listed Jane's age as 50. Assuming 50 to be the correct age, her age in 1870 should have been 40, not 30.

Earlier we learned that Jane M. Barber's maiden name was Fremyre. The US Census for 1850, Florida, Montgomery Co., New York lists the household of a John Fremyre, age 60. Living with John, among others, was Jane M. Fremyre, age 24 and Mary A. Barber, age 19. It is clear that by 1870 Isaac had taken into his home his 80 year old father-in-law and Mary A. Barber, who used to live with the Fremyres. In fact, I believe that Mary A. Barber was a daughter of William and Amy as they have been reported to have had a daughter Mary. Apparently Mary stayed behind in Montgomery County when William moved his family to New York City.

On the list above there is a Maria Barber, age 20, which I believe is Hannah Maria Barber, daughter of William and Amy. As we shall see soon, Maria must be Maria B. Ives, age 60, wife of Alfred E. Ives, and sister-in-law of Theodosia Barber, on the 1910 census. Another person of great interest on the above list is Emery L. What was his last name? Since there is a line to the left of his first name, we should assume that he had the same surname as John Fremyer listed above him. But if we look back to the 1850 census in John's household, there is no Emery L. listed. Considering the other information we have for Emery, it is clear that the census worker made an error on the 1870 census entry (or we are mistaken in assuming that the worker intended to associate Emery's last name with John). The last name of Emery L. was surely Barber. His age was listed as 29 years old and his occupation a salesman. His age should have been closer to 33 years old but we have already seen that other ages were not reported accurately on this 1870 census entry.

According to a marriage notice in a newspaper (obtained from ancestry.com, name of newspaper not listed), Emery and Theodosia were married January 7, 1879 by Rev. J. B. Thomas. Theodosia's father was Peter Silleck Underhill, who was born March 25, 1807 (Underhill Genealogy).

My mother's account of Theodosia given earlier is confirmed by further investigation. Theodosia's father, Peter S., died May 10, 1877 and her mother, Catherine Matilda (Mannell) Underhill, died June 5, 1878. Seven months after her mother died, Theodosia married Emery. The US Census data for 1870 and 1880 suggest that Emery and Theodosia lived in the same house in 1880 that was occupied by Peter Underhill, (Catherine) Matilda Underhill and Theodotia Underhill in 1870. The 1880 census listed the address of the house but no address was provided in 1870. However, it seems likely that the two locations were one and the same because in both years the family of Daniel and Catherine Silleck occupied the other unit of this apparent duplex (Catherine Silleck was Theodosia's older sister). The street name is difficult to read on the digital copy of the 1880 census but looks like Duffield and the number is clearly 178. In Lain's Brooklyn Directory for 1884 the home street address for Emery L. Barber was listed as 178 Duffield. The same directory for the year 1889 listed the same home address and a business address of 19 Warren, New York. The 1889 directory also listed Emery as a shoe dealer, which confirms my mother's story. A directory for 1890 listed the home address as 770 Putnam, indicating that sometime during 1889 or 1890, Emery moved his family to 770A Putnam Avenue, where he was listed in the 1900 US Census [I have not been able to locate Emery on the 1890 US Census. Unfortunately, most of the 1890 census was destroyed in 1921 during a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C.].

Theodosia's father was a shoe and boot maker and was likely the first of his family to become acquainted with the shoe salesman Emery L. Barber. Peter S. was probably the person who introduced Emery and Theodosia. When exactly that introduction occurred is difficult to establish. As my mother indicated, Theodosia was devoted to the care of her elderly parents and Emery may have waited a number of years until Theodosia was ready to marry.

My mother identified her grandfather as Emery Gardner Barber but Underhill Genealogy lists his middle initial as L. The US Census for 1850 and 1870, several Brooklyn city directories, a bank account register, and a marriage notice in a newspaper also list his middle initial as L. My mother's confusion may have been due to the fact that Emery's oldest son was named Emery Gardner Barber.

The US Census of 1900 for Ward 23, borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, enumerated on June 12, 1900, contains the following data for a family living at 770A Putnam Avenue: Emory A. Barber, head of household, born March 1837 in the state of New York, married 21 years, his father born in Massachusetts, his mother born in New York; Thocodosia, wife, born February 1843 in the state of New York, married 21 years, mother of 2 children, both living, her father born in New York, her mother born in New York; Gardner E., son, born November 1879 in New York, single; Theodore U., son, born May 1885 in New York, single. It is interesting to note here that Emory's middle initial was given as an A. Whether this was an error made by the census worker or was actually the initial reported for Emery is not clear. Also note that Emery and Theodosia's oldest child was listed as Gardner E. My mother also named the older brother of her father as Gardner. Because Emery's son was also named Emery, the most likely explanation is that the family used the boy's middle name to avoid confusion. Later documents list the name of the son as Emery G. Barber.

The 1910 US Census registers the widow Theodosia Barber living with her brother-in-law, Alfred E. Ives and his wife Maria B., at 403 Hancock Street, Brooklyn, New York. Theodosia's family connection was clearly with her sister-in-law, Maria B. (Maria Barber). Alfred had two wives, one named Lina, who was listed living with him in the 1880 census and then Mary B. in the 1900 census and Maria B. in the 1910 census. We can conclude that Maria B. (aka Mary B.) was Emery's sister because the children of Peter S. Underhill are listed as Frederick Augustus, Elizabeth S., Catharine A. and Theodosia M. in Underhill Genealogy. The 1870 US Census also supports Emery and Maria as brother and sister.

Emery Barber, born March 1837, was listed on US Census for 1880 and 1900. His name was not found for any subsequent census year. However, Theodosia, his widow, was living with relatives according to the US Census for 1910. Therefore, it is apparent that Emery L. Barber died between the years of 1900 and 1910. According to my mother, Emery suffered a stroke sometime in his early 60's and was never the same after. Emery probably died of another stroke a few years later in the first decade of the 20th century.

The US Census for 1910 and 1920 establish that sometime between those years, Theodosia moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey to live with her older son, Emery G. Barber. The 1930 US Census for the household of Emery does not list Theodosia, which is consistent with her death in 1926 or 1927 according to my mother. Emery Gardner Barber, beloved husband of Sara Woodruff, died at Ridgewood, NJ on March 1, 1937 (New York Times, March 2, 1937).


1. Isaac Henry Barber, MD The Brooklyn Medical Journal, vol. XI, January-December, 1897, p. 212 - 217.

2. Vital Records Of Milford Massachusetts, To The Year 1850. Compiled by Thomas W. Baldwin, A.B., S.B., Member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Boston, Mass., 1917.

3. History of the Town of Milford, Worcester County, Massachusetts, From Its First Settlement to 1881, by Adin Ballou, Franklin Press, Rand, Avery, & Co., Boston, 1882.

Last update November 5, 2014


Jeffrey La Favre - jlafavre@gmail.com