Albert Barber was born March 24, 1842 in Pittston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. He was the second oldest of five children born to William and Harriet Newell Davis. In the 1850 census of Pittston, we find Albert with his parents, William and Harriet, and siblings Peter, Edward and Josiah. When Albert was thirteen years old, his father passed away and his younger brother, Josiah, died around the same time. The 1860 census of West Pittson has Albert’s occupation listed a laborer and he is living with his mother, Harriet, and siblings Peter, Edward and Mary. Prior to his enlistment in the Civil War, Albert Barber was a clerk.
Albert Perry Barber enlisted in Schooley’s Battery on July 24, 1862 at Pittston, Pennsylvania. He was initially a 1st Sergeant but was quickly promoted to 1st Lieutenant on December 17, 1862. (This promotion was necessary because of the passing of 1st Lieutenant Urban Cook at Fort Delaware on October 17, 1862.) He was promoted to Captain of Company M, 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, the regiment which Schooley’s Battery had become, on May 18, 1865. He was actually serving as the “acting” Captain of his company since July 1, 1864, when Captain David Schooley became a Prisoner of War at Petersburg, Virginia. Captain Barber was also appointed Provost Marshall of District of the Nottaway on August 30, 1865 and then Acting Assistant Inspector General of the District of the Nottaway on November 11, 1865. He was discharged from the War at City Point, Virginia on January 29, 1866. The Captain returned home to Pittston with the surviving members of Company M in June of 1865. In an article from the Pittston Gazette dated June 29, 1865, Captain Barber was given cheers of “three times three” by the crowd. At a supper prepared for the Battery by the ladies of Pittston, a sword was presented to the Captain as “It set forth most happily the respect and love which the men cherished for their commanding officer.” The Captain responded “In sentiments of deepest gratitude, and assured that their magnanimity towards him had so filled his heart that no language he could summon would express his feelings. He felt the more satisfied, he said, that this sword had been given to him at the close of the service, for now he might in some measure, be supposed to have conducted himself as became a true soldier. Had it been given him at an earlier period there would not been the assurance of it either on his own part or on that of his men. The sword and belt were beautiful and cost $120. The affair which, while it must be a source of gratification to Capt. Barber, is scarcely less so to his friends. He was young when commissioned, and it was not unnatural that he should have been the object of deep concern lest the allurement and peculiarities of military life might lead him astray.’
During his years in the military, Captain Barber returned to Pittston and married Helen Francis Jenkins (1845-1904). The ceremony was performed by Reverend N. G. Park on February 12, 1863 at the home of Mrs. Hyde Jenkins, who was the mother of the bride in Pittston. Helen was the daughter of Jabez Hyde Jenkins and Mary Larned. Francis had two brothers (John Kirby and Charles W.) and a sister, Evelyn. Francis was born in the Exeter/West Pittston area of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Her father, Jabez, passed away in 1850 when Frances was only 5 years old. In the both the 1850 and 1860 census, we find Helen Francis Jenkins in Pittston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. In 1850 she is residing with her mother (Mary) and siblings (John, Charles and Evelyn) and Daniel G. Larned, whom I presume is a brother of Mary. In 1860 Helen Francis is again living with her mother (Mary) and siblings, Charles and Evelyn. The following is an affidavit supplied to the Pension Bureau, proving the marriage of Albert Barber and Helen Frances Jenkins. Helen had to provide proof of her marriage to the soldier to procure a pension after her husband had passed away.
I am a Presbyterian Minister. Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittston, Pa. I was Pastor of that Church in 1863. On Feb. 12, 1863 at Pittston, Penna. I married Mr. Albert P. Barber to wife Helen F. Jenkins. The ceremony was performed at the house of Mrs. Hyde Jenkins, the mother of wife Helen F. Jenkins, at Pittston, Pa. I keep a record of all marriages performed by me. This marriage appears on my record as preformed on Feb. 12, 1863. — N. G. Parke (November 30, 1889)
There were five children born to the marriage of Albert Barber and Helen Jenkins, four daughters (Helen, Josephine, Laura and Mary) and one son (Theodore.) When Albert retuned from the Civil War, he removed to nearby Plymouth Borough, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. That is where we find him in 1870, with his wife Helen and two children, Helen and Josephine. His occupation is listed as an U.S. Assessor (He was indeed a Prothonotary of Luzerne County) with real estate valued at $2,500 and personal estate valued at $5,500. In 1880, Albert is living at 154 Center Avenue in Plymouth with the occupation of a Lumber Dealer. He is living with his wife and all five of his children. In July of 1884, Albert Barber moved from Plymouth, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania to nearby Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. A letter of transfer was accepted by the First Presbyterian Church of Scranton on July 9, 1884. The family lived at 616 Adams Street in Scranton. The two youngest children of Albert and Helen Barber were baptized in Scranton, as the following proves;
I am now and have been for more than twenty years Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Scranton, Pennsylvania. I am well acquainted with Mrs. Helen F. Barber, widow of Albert Barber, deceased, and her whole family. Her youngest children, Laura and Mary Barber, were baptized in the said Church. I keep a record of all baptisms in the Church separate from the record kept by the Clerk of the Sessions. That record in the cases of said Laura and Mary Barber is as follows; “Laura Barber, daughter of Albert P. Barber and Helen F. Barber, born June 22, 1875 and baptized July 12, 1884. And Mary Barber, daughter of Albert P. Barber and Helen F. Barber, born April 17, 1880 and baptized July 12, 1884.” The said Church has no seal. Reverend S. G. Logan (April 19, 1890)
After Albert Barber removed to Scranton in 1884, he applied for a Pension as a result of his service in the Civil War. The soldier applied for this Pension on December 14, 1888 and was accepted by the Pension Bureau on December 17, 1888. As fate would have it, the Captain died December 26, 1888 from “disease of the lungs.” Mr. Barber was only 46 years old when he passed and left behind his wife and five children, ages 23 to eight. In Albert Barber’s Pension application, he very fittingly writes the following;
Was taken with violent inflammation of the lungs, so that I could hardly breathe. The Headquarters Surgeon was not there and Mrs. Captain Brown, the wife of an aid, had me taken to her quarters and with the aid of servants, hot water and flannels, I was relieved from the attack but have never recovered from the effects of it. My lungs have always been weak since that time. This attack was brought on by exposure in trenches and otherwise in and before Petersburg at and before the time stated.
The Captain would pass away from this disease in two weeks. After Albert had passed away, his wife filed for a Widow’s Pension. In this application, she receives the testimony of Francis G. Hughes, who was a Private in the same Company. Francis Hughes writes the following;
I remember that said Albert P. Barber had a very severe illness in the nature of heavy cold upon the lungs, sometime, I think in the early spring of 1865 at Petersburg. My recollection is that this illness was contracted by exposure in and about Petersburg. He was so ill as to be unable to attend to duty for some time, but I do not remember whether he went to the hospital or not. (I) was a member of the same Company as Albert P. Barber and was present and on duty at Petersburg at this time. This Company was Company or Battery M of the 2nd Penna. Artillery or the 112th Regiment in Line. The Company was otherwise known as Schooley’s Independent Battery. Albert P. Barber was, to the best of my recollection, at that time First Lieutenant of the Company and acting as Captain, by reason of Schooley, the Captain, being a Prisoner of War confined in Libby Prison at Richmond. The said Albert P. Barber was also, at that time, acting as Provost Marshall.
The following is the obituary of Captain Albert P. Barber as it appeared in the Scranton Republican on December 30, 1888. I have no idea why this paper refers to the Captain as Col. Albert Barber.
The funeral of Col. A. P. Barber took place at 9:00 yesterday morning from his late residence on Adams Avenue. The attendance was large and included delegations from Lodge No. 322, F and A. M. of Plymouth, where Barber formally lived, De Leon Commandery No. 117, K. and T. and Ezra Griffin Post 139, G. A. R. of this City. The pall bearers were Capt. Wm. Davis, Major J. A. Opp, J. W. Eno, S. L. Branch, J. R. Lee and G. N. Shafer, members of Plymouth Lodge F. and A. M. After the services, which were conducted by Rev. Dr. S. O. Logan, of the First Presbyterian Church, the remains were conveyed to the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg train to Forty Fort, where interment was made and Masonic services conducted at the grave.
Biography compiled by Allan Arnold