Stories From The Grave
The William Henry Barron Family
Final Resting Place Row 5, Plot 92
William Henry Barron, the eighth and also youngest child of Joseph and Sarah Allen Barron was born at Tywardeath, Cornwall, England on March 21, 1848. He had five sisters and two brothers.
Shortly after Williams birth the economic condition of Cornwall became unstable when the bottom began to fall out of the market for mining tin and copper. Copper had been found in Victoria and tin in Malaysia, which lowered both the labor and production costs in Cornwall. In the mid nineteenth century there had been some fifty thousand Cornishmen working in the tin and copper mines. Now hundreds and thousands of miners found themselves out of work. There only alternative to starving was a mass emigration. Before the end of the century a third of the mining population left Cornwall for America, South America, or Australia. Their homes and villages were abandoned. The land reverted back to barren waste and scrub.
William’s older brother Joseph came to America in 1863 to search for work in the mines. He found his first job in the Mother Lode mining area. The prospects of making a living looked good, so he wrote his brothers and sisters suggesting that they join him in California.
William Henry Barron left Cornwall in September 1866 and went directly to Soulsbyville. After a short stay he went to Forest Hill in Placer County and then to Amador where his brother Thomas was a mining engineer. Within two years he returned to Tuolumne County. He settled in Confidence where his brother Joseph was superintendent of the Confidence Mine. Joseph encouraged his brother to engage in the mercantile business due to his lack of robust health. William mined for a short time and in 1871 he opened a store in Confidence.
On July 12, 1873 William Henry Barron married Mary Jane Crocker at Confidence, California.
Mary Jane was the oldest daughter of Thomas and Mary Crocker of Soulsbyville. She was born on February 27, 1856 in Tywardreath, England. In 1867 her family left England and moved to Soulsbyville. William Henry Barron & Mary Jane had two children, William Charles Barron born in Soulsbyville on July 15, 1875 and Garnet Thomas Barron, also born in Soulsbyville, on August 8, 1978. Three years after they married William Henry and Mary Jane built a new mercantile store in Soulsbyville and operated it for the rest of their lives.
For many years William was the Vice President of Tuolumne County Bank and, after its consolidation with First National Bank of Sonora, he served as director of both institutions. He was a member of the Soulsbyville Methodist Episcopal Church since 1866, and for twenty years was Superintendent of the Sunday School. He was also trustee of the church and in all of its work he took a great delight. Both he and his wife were charter members of the Good Templar Lodge of Soulsbyville, which was organized in 1880. He was also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Both Mary Jane Barron and William Henry Barron were highly successful in life and they were extremely popular in the community. Quotations from their obituaries beautifully portray their success and their dedication to Jesus Christ. William Henry Barron passed away at his home in Soulsbyville on November 10, 1912 at the age of 65. He had been in ill health for almost a year, suffering from a heart ailment that finally caused his death. His obituary read “In passing of William Henry Barron Tuolumne County loses a citizen who had for nearly 50 years has been an honor to her. His life was peaceful because he was honest with himself and with the public. His faith in Christianity was firm and his conduct was based upon and controlled by it. His deeds were always in perfect accords to his profession. His gentlemanly habits and considerate intercourse with friends and neighbors were attuned to a consistency of the golden rule. Knowing that an angel of the spirit land was coming to have him answer the last call, he calmly awaited the summons and had no fear of the passage through the dark valley and across the silent river. His welcome, for a surety from the Father will be ‘Well done good and faithful servant’. ”
Mary Jane Barron lived to be 77, passing away at the family home in Soulsbyville on April 19, 1933. Her obituary read “As a pioneer of the county Mrs. Barron’s life was closely identified with much of its history. She saw the first depression in our first industry – gold mining. Later she saw this industry revive when the lode mining became the great enterprise in every section of the county and later still, she saw this same industry go into a total eclipse. Tuolumne County, in her younger days, was one of the big factors in State politics and affairs. Mary Jane Barron was a most lovable disposition. All residents of Soulsbyville for years looked to her in trouble and in pleasure. She was one of pillars of the Methodist Church and, with her husband, was always a staunch prohibitionist.”
The Barron Children:
William Charles, the eldest son of William Henry and Mary Jane, was known to many and his sterling traits of character as exhibited in his noble disposition, strict attention to business, pure life of temperance in all things, remarkable social attainments and Christian acts of goodness, made him a model hundreds of young men can pattern after with much good to themselves. He was a member of the Good Templar Lodge and played in the Soulsbyville band, which he was the leader. At the young age of 22 years and 9 months William Charles was stricken with an obstruction of the bowel, later to be known as appendicitis. He passed away in San Francisco on May 12, 1898. His funeral services were held in the Good Templar Lodge in Soulsbyville with music by the Soulsbyville Cornet Band. William Charles was buried in the family plot at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Sonora. His epitaph reads, Past Chief Templar at the Soulsbyville Lodge No. 340 I.O.G.F., Asleep but not forgotten.
Garnet Thomas Barron, William Henry and Mary Jane's youngest son, married Edyth Harry at New Almaden, California on August 8, 1900. At the time of their marriage Edyth’s father, Richard Harry, was the superintendent of the New Almaden Quicksilver Mine, which was one of the largest producers of mercury in the world. After their honeymoon the bride and groom returned to Soulsbyville. Garnet joined his father operating the Barron’s Mercantile Store. When his father, William Henry, retired in 1911, Garnet took over managing the store. He operated in this capacity until he retired on April 1, 1952 when the store closed.
With the announcement of the store closing, there was a feeling among the community residents that a landmark had passed. The general store which was founded by William Henry Barron at Confidence in 1871 and moved to Soulsbyville two years later was, like the father, and later the son, who operated it, a solid substantial factor in the life of Soulsbyville. The store had served the needs of the community for 81 years and its closure was a sad moment for many friends.
Today the Barron Store sits vacant and in disrepair on Soulsbyville Road just down the street from my home. Now when I drive by the old store I try to imagine what it was like back in the day.
Thank you Linda Townsend for sharing the Barron Family History with me! Linda is not only my friend; she is a descendant of the Barron family.
Written By Denine Urquhart
Buried in the Barron Plot: Row 4, Plot 92
William Henry Barron – shares a headstone with his son William Charles
William Charles Barron
Mary Jane Barron
Garnet Thomas Barron
Edyth Harry (Crocker) Barron
Thomas Crocker – shares a headstone with his wife Mary Crocker (Edyth’s Parents)