|Birth: ||Mar. 31, 1888|
|Death: ||Dec. 27, 1890|
Little Bessie Barker, two year old daughter of Charles D. Barker and Alice Ensign Stephens Barker, died a lonely death on the cold bleak prairie in Kansas.
Mrs. Barker and her children, who reside in Ness City, were spending Christmas with relatives just 12 miles away. On Friday morning Mrs. Barker stepped out of the house for a moment. Little Bessie missed her momma and ran out to find her. One of the children jokingly informed her that her mother had gone home; she replied that she was going too. This was the last time she was seen alive.
It was before breakfast as she took her "Christmas" doll and without a wrap or hood, set out in search of her momma. She was not missed perhaps a half hour when the house was thoroughly searched. Neighbors were informed and word was sent to town and many citizens joined in the search, no intelligence whatever could be learned concerning her whereabouts. The search kept up all night. On Saturday afternoon at about four o'clock, little tracks were discovered along the railroad; these were followed but soon lost. Night set in again, but the search continued until near daybreak when Bessie's little body was found on the door steps of a vacant farm house, which was about eleven miles from where she started. Bessie perished from cold and hunger, not having anything to eat since the past Thursday. Her clothes were wet up to the knees from wading across a nearby creek. After crossing the creek she lost her doll and circumstances justify the assertion that she then gave up all hope as it was a quarter of a mile further on where she was found. She sat down on the steps and placed her little hands over her face and went to sleep. She was found frozen to the ground.
Funeral services were held at the Methodist E. Church, officiated by Rev. Latham. A large crowd, a concourse of friends and neighbors congregated to pay homage to the brave little girl whose death caused the hardest heart to soften.
This story, in part, was from "Whispers From the Old West" By A.T. (Ted) Copeland.
These Precious words and thoughts of our blessed grandmother, Alice Stephens Barker, have been preserved in this letter written by her at age 20, in Ness City, Kansas on January 1, 1891. In the typical black rimmed envelope and written page of the day, she was notifying her sister of the tragic death and burial of her beloved little daughter, Bessie. Bessie, two years, and 9 months old, froze to death, December 26, 1890 on the Kansas prairie. I have type - written what she had written in 1891, one hundred fifteen years ago, just as she wrote it in longhand, to her sister Rebecca Stephens Wood, and her family residing in Chicago, Illinois
Gaye Turnbow Barker McPhee
January the first .
1891 Ness City
Dear Sister, I got your kind and welcomed letter. It found me sad and sorrow we had to give little Bessie up. She was too sweet for this wide world, she was going home to mamma, yes going home mamma, she said. She has gone home, sure enough, she is a little angel in heaven. It was hard to part with her. She left on Friday lost in the morning with out her breakfast and was not found until Sunday. She walked about twenty five miles and carried a rag doll weighing three pounds, that was her Christmas present. Carried it all the way from the distance a half mile from where she was found, she was found where she had crawled upon the door step of a vacant house. She crawled quite a distance, she wore a new pair of shoes pretty near out and her little feet were blistered all over. She was froze and starved and tired to death. We buried her as nice as we could. She had a coffin just like little Nellie's, just like it and Mr. Robbinson gave me a nice big wax doll and nice lace and ribbon to dress it in and we buried it with her. We took little Nellie up and buried Bessie and Nellie together beside grandma. That was father's request. Her coffin was white, it cost 15 dollars, all glass face. I was crazy for three days they had to hold me in bed. I pretty near flowed to death. I had to doctor her arm she carried her doll in. She grasped it so hard it was all black and blue. I will send you some of her hair and some of her dress. She looked just like little Nellie for all the world. Well I will send you a paper with all of it. It is horrible. It is the strangest thing that I ever heard of. We found where she had waded the creek. Oh, I will quit, I can't stand it. I will send you a paper. love to you all, write soon and often. I am pretty near crazy.
To all of you, Beckie and all
Created by: gerald farren
Record added: Jun 27, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14751736