Memories of Martha Barnes Conner

Nelson Barnes and Mercy Eliza Taft

Amanuensis Monday
By Don Taylor

It is always amazing when you can find the voice of an ancestor. Thanks to Timothy Foulkes’ contribution to Family Search of the “History of Martha Barnes Conner,” we can read the words of Martha Barnes Conner, the youngest daughter of my 2nd great-grandparents, Nelson and Mercy Eliza (Taft) Barnes. The document posted appears to be a transcript of the original but seems to be faithful to the original because of the archaic spelling and other features of the transcription, such as Hridge (instead of Bridge) and Heron (instead of Merom).

Covered Wagon from period

I can so visualize the plight of Nelson and Mercy in 1842 — Living in their covered wagon with their young child, out of money and relying on the credit from others. Just a rocking chair, a bushel basket for a stool, and a trunk as both a table and to hold their bedding, it was clearly a bleak life. Yet, over the years they purchased their own property and added to it. A true story of pioneer success. There are side stories: One about the wagon that carried mail (and presumably) supplies the 31 miles from Terra Haute and one about a man who dies and was buried near the old Dodd school house.

Document Image

Nelson Barnes and Mercy Eliza Taft

Transcription of typed image transcription.

Nelson Barnes and Mercy Eliza Taft were married Oct 31, 1839 in New York 
state and came to Indiana with their baby in a covered wagon in 1842 and 
camped near Fairbanks they were out of money  he ask a farmer for work 
and went in debt for a bu of corn and a side of bacon, they had sold 
their household goods a piece at a time untill they had nothing left
but a rocking chair a chest that they kept their bedding and clothes in 
and used it also to eat their meals on and a half bu measur that my 
father sat on and also fed his horses in.  he worked for farmers for 
several year and then bough a little piece of land near Dodds Hridge
he kept adding to the farm untill he had a good sized farm at the time of 
his death  I am the youngest child of nine children and the only one 
living  I hays 80 achers of land that my father gave me that he entered 
from the government he rode on horse back to Vincanzes to make the
deed. at the time they only got mail once a week a hack pulled by 
two horses made the trip from Terre Haute to Herom ever other day 
down one day and back to Terre Haute the next and in winter and the roads 
were bad  they stooped and changed horses at a farm house that was 
owned by Hessie Rigs also travelers got their meals there. there 
was where we went to get our mail. I remember hearing my father 
telling of a sick jentle man that was on this stage coach.  that he 
was put off with a man that was taking care of him  the man had a 
contages diseas but was too sick to travel  he died and was burried on
the bluff north of the Dodd school house  my father and a neighbor by the 
name of Mckee made a rough box and took it in talking distance to burry 
him  I remember when I went to school at the old frame school house how 
we children put flowers on the grave  it is marked with a rough stone. 
The frame school house was replaced with a brick and now is not used 
any more 

written by Martha Barnes Conner

(from handwritten note by Martha Barnes Conner, wife of Frank Conner and mother of Garland Conner)

[Note: Martha Ellen (Barnes) Conner died on 16 Feb 1949.  This transcription of the transcription image is by Don Taylor.]


I would love to see the original document if Mr. Foulkes or anyone else has it available. Also, I have been unsuccessful in finding information or photos of the Dodd School House. I would be very interested in learning much more about it as well.


“History by Martha Barnes Conner”
CONTRIBUTED BY Timothy Foulkes to Family Search

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