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Celestia Lee Barker papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0246

Scope and Content

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. There are only occasional entries after 1866. These later entries, written on birthdays or anniversaries, relate to the Barker's marriage and family.


  • 1860-1987, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


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.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 half-document box)


The collection is organized in Chronologically.

Acquisition Information

Provenance: This collection was given to the Department of Special Collections in 1988 by Dorothy Jean MacLean, Celestia Lee Barker's granddaughter.


A digital reproduction of Celestia Lee Barker's Civil War journal, contained in Box 1, Folder 5, is available electronically. Please see the the Electronic Resources section section for a link. This digitized collection also includes other Civil War letters and diaries from the James Robertson Civil War diaries, the Mather Family papers, the Charles W. Chapman Civil War diary, the Cyrus Bussey Civil War reminiscences, and the L. Stone Hall Civil War diary and transcript. Please see Related Materials for links to those collections.

Items in related collections

MS-0646. James Robertson Civil War diaries, circa 1860-1862 MS-0213. Van Zandt Family papers, 1838-1990, undated MS-0258. Vincent E. Rossiter, Sr. papers, 1927-1991, undated MS-0519. Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies records, 1961-1992 MS-0246. Celestia Lee Barker papers, 1860-1987, undated MS-0606. Cyrus Bussey Civil War reminiscences, circa 1864 MS-0587. L. Stone Hall Civil War diary and transcript, 1864-1865

Collection Files

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

MS-0246. Celestia Lee Barker papers, 1860-1987, undated
July 17, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672