Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Barbers' side of the story

Not too long ago, I posted some details of the Barber-Mizell feud.

My ancestors didn't have a dog in that fight, to borrow an old Cracker alliteration. In fact, we were the law and order types who stepped up to the plate after things got out of hand.

So, I want to perpetuate our history of neutrality. And, since I already gave the details on the Mizells buried in Conway at Leu Gardens, I feel it only fair to tell you rabbits something about the cantankerous Barber clan.

To do so, I take you down to Kissimmee today, to a little cemetery on Hilliard Isle Road, just a few blocks east of Boggy Creek Road. It's a small burial ground, hemmed-in by suburban sprawl. I don't think it contains more than a dozen or so graves . . . at least graves with markers.

The most impressive stone, in my humble opinion, belongs to Violett S. Barber (6 Sept. 1841 - 8 June 1894). It bears the following poetic inscription:

Thou art gone away, our loved one.
Life's toilsome journey is over.
Sweet songs shalt thou sing with the angels,
On the beautiful golden shore.

Violett (nee Roberson) was the first wife of Andrew Jackson "Jack" Barber, whose uncle Moses Barber was the head of the clan at the time of the 1870 feud. The two of them had to flee to Texas when the law clamped down on the violence, leaving their wives and children to fend for themselves.

While Moses never returned to Florida, Jack did come back to live with Violett by 1880. After her death, though, he married a girl from Orlando and is buried with her at Greenwood Cemetery downtown.

More to come, when I get back to Greenwood!
*1870 Census, Orange County, Florida, page 456a.
*1880 Census, Orange County, Florida, pages 456b & 457a.
*"The Way Hit Wuz," by Mary Ida Bass Shearhart.


Anonymous said...

Where can I read more about this family and the old Hilliard Island? I grew up within sight of this cemetary and was always told that yellow fever killed that family. Also there are many, many people buried in that cemetary. When I was about 7 or 9, that plot of fenced off area had a head stone every 3 foot or so, with about 4 or 5 rows. Some were even closer than that. In the front by the gate and to the right, was were most of the infant headstones were. They got as close as a foot apart. So there are either a lot of headstones missing or the grass has grown over them. Also, if this was such a prodominant family in orlando's history, why doesn't that grave site get better care?

Orange and Blue said...

First, the reading recommendations:
*Old Tales and Trails of Florida, by Myrtle Hilliard Crow. (Her family gave their name to Hilliard Island!)
*The Way Hit Wuz, by Mary Ida Shearhart.
I haven't figured out who has jurisdiction over this cemetery . . . is it still family-owned/maintained, or has it reverted to the county? Maybe, some local history/genealogy buffs could adopt it, clean it up, and find some of those other markers?

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in learning more details about the Barber/Mizell feud for history's sake. There are many conflicting stories.

Are there any contacts in the area I can speak to or write?

I currently live in Clermont.


wsmv said...

Yes, there are many conflicting stories about this feud! I think Shearhart's book "The Way Hit Wuz" gives the fairest treatment, as she was kin to both sides of the conflict. I haven't been in touch with her for several years, and don't know if she is still living in the area. I got most of my information from the late Ruth Barber Linton . . . of course, she tended to favor the Barber side!