William Barker moved to Nelson in 1779 and, occupied the farm first cleared by Richard Newton (C-4-16). There is no deed evidence of his purchase of lot #3, range 12 in the Northeast Quarter, but road records and a subsequent transfer of a half interest to his son, Leonard, are proof that he built the place and lived here. Deacon Barker came from Acton, Massachusetts after service in the Revolutionary War. He came with his second wife, Anna, five young children from his marriage with Rhoda Wheeler (d. Acton 1769) and their nine-year-old son, Leonard. * He founded the family in Nelson still represented by the Walter family now in their 9th generation. He was influential in early town affairs. Anna died in 1801 and he married (1802) Phoebe, a widow living on the road toward the meetinghouse
In 1803, aged 75, he sold his farm to his son, Leonard with a lease for his life and that of Phoebe. Phoebe died in 1818 and William in 1821. William, Anna and Phoebe are buried in the Village Cemetery.
Leonard’s disposition of the farm following his father’s death in 1821 is unclear, but the place became part of the Burnap farm in the 1830’s. It was probably used to house farm workers while part of the Burnap Farm. The road was closed in 1868, but the 1892 map of Nelson shows a house at the location owned by A. (Alphonse) Gauthier who bought 260 acres of the old Burnap farm from Henry O’Dowd in 1874 with buildings. There followed a series of owners the longest being Gauthier (1874-1893) and Phillip Trombley (1898-1906.) Will Story was the final occupant for a few years after that.
Readers of Parke Struther’s History will notice several discrepancies here. William Barker’s first wife was Rhoda Wheeler. She died in Acton before the family moved to Packersfield. The stone in the Village Cemetery ascribed by Struthers to her actually has Phoebe Barker’s name on it. Leonard’s existence escaped Struthers investigations.