Special Collections Department
403 Parks Library
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2140

MS 246
Celestia Lee Barker
Papers, 1860-1987, undated

Descriptive summary

creator: Barker, Celestia Lee
title: Papers
dates: 1860-1987, undated
extent: 0.21 linear feet (1 half-document box)
collection number: MS 246
repository: Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.


Administrative information

access: Open for research
publication rights: Consult Head, Special Collections Department
preferred citation: Celestia Lee Barker Papers, MS 246, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library


Biographical note

Celestia Lee was born April 23, 1846 in Springwater, Livingston County, New York. She was the daughter of William Dunton Lee and Elizabeth Shepard Lee. The family moved to Macksburg, Madison County, Iowa in April of 1855. In September 1863, Celestia Lee left home to attend a seminary at Indianola, Iowa. While in Indianola, she lived in and helped to run a boardinghouse. In November 1863 she went to stay with her sister and brother-in-law, Huldah Lee Bennett and Gorton Bennett, at Fontanelle, Iowa. There she taught school for five months at $20.00 per month. She continued to teach school until 1866, the year of her marriage to William Beeson Barker.

William Beeson Barker was born September 14, 1842 in Bellville, Indiana. He was the son of Beeson Barker and Mary Moffitt Barker. In 1853, the Barker family moved to Union County, Iowa. William Barker served four years in the Civil War. He first enlisted in Company H, 4th Regiment, Iowa Infantry, July 25th, 1861. He was discharged due to disability caused by measles and pneumonia July 7, 1862. He then reenlisted in Company H, 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry on August 20, 1862 and was discharged at the end of his term of service on July 26, 1865. William Barker was wounded in the hip at the engagement of Big Black River Bridge in Mississippi on May 17, 1863. He also suffered a head wound at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana on June 7, 1863.

After their marriage, Celestia and William Barker farmed in Iowa. William Barker also worked as a carpenter and cabinet maker, often working away from home. Later, after the family moved to Lamar, Colorado, William Barker owned a business which sold bicycles, guns, ammunition and jewelry. The couple had five children: Leon Ettien, Artis William, Sylveen Celestia, Lester Clyde, and Merle Lamar (Lee). They also raised their great-niece, Effie Valentine Shannon, after the death of her mother, Eliza Bennett Shannon. The family eventually moved to Denver, Colorado, where Celestia Lee Barker died on December 10, 1913. William Barker died in Riverside, California on April 24, 1924.


Collection description

The main focus of this collection is Celestia Lee Barker's journal, which she began in 1863 at the age of 17. She wrote consistently in the journal from 1863 to 1866, documenting the events of her daily life including work on her family's farm, social activities, attendance at church meetings, and visits to family throughout central Iowa. She also describes her attendance at a seminary in Indianola, Iowa and her efforts to assist in keeping a boarding house. Entries after 1866, usually written on a birthday or wedding anniversary, focus on her marriage and family. There are only occasional entries after 1866. These later entries, written on birthdays or anniversaries, relate to the Barker's marriage and family. The collection also includes letters written by William Barker while he was serving with Company H, 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry during the Civil War.


Container list







Biographical information regarding William Beeson Barker

1905, undated



Correspondence.Copies of Celestia Lee Barker's correspondence.(These letters use the name she went by, Etta).Includes letters written by William Barker while he was serving with Company H, 23rd Regiment, Iowa Infantry during the Civil War




Genealogical information on the Barker family.

1927, 1929, undated



Genealogical information on the Lee family

1908-1987, undated



Journal of Celestia Lee Barker




Journal inserts.Includes a news clipping regarding a reunion at the home of her sister and brother-in-law, Diadama Lee Bennett and Sylvester Bennett.




Journal transcription




Journal transcription (will be completed as time permits)




Practice writing




Teacher's certificates.Certificates authorizing Celestia Lee to teach in Adair and Madison Counties in Iowa