Transcribed by: Mary Ann KaylorPage 123
ABIEL M. BARKER was born in Monroe county, Illinois, May 3d, 1840. His father, Asa M. Barker, was a native of the state of Vermont, and came to Illinois in 1820. He married Cynthia De Val. She was of German and French ancestry, and was a native of Ohio. She came to Illinois while the state was yet under territorial government, and was married while a resident of Monroe county. The father died in Edwardsville, Madison county, May 11th, 1848. The mother died January 6th, 1874, at the residence of the subject of this sketch. He is the eighth child in a family of nine children, three of whom have survived the parents.
He attended the common schools until his thirteenth year. Not being of a robust constitution, he concluded to adopt the printer's trade as the business of his life, and at the age of thirteen years entered the office of the Monroe Advocate, and served an apprenticeship of three years. He then worked in the Telegraph office in Alton and in the winter of 1855-56 came to Carlinville and worked in the office of the Spectator. He remained there one year, and then entered the office of the Carlinville Free Democrat, where he continued until 1859, after which he tried farming, and continued so occupied until the breaking out of the war.
In August, 1861, he enlisted in Company "C," 32d Regiment Illinois Volunteers, commanded by Col. John Logan. He was elected sergeant of the company. The regiment rendezvoused at Camp Butler, and from there was ordered to Bird's Point, Mo., and from there to Pittsburg Landing, where the regiment was brigaded and attached to the Fourth Division, Gen. S. A. Hurlburt commanding. The regiment received its first baptism of fire at Pittsburg Landing, and afterwards participated in the battles of Shiloh, siege of Corinth, Metamora, Hatchie creek, siege of Vicksburg, second siege of Jackson, Kenesaw, and siege of Atlanta, and went with Sherman on his famous march to the sea. In the winter of 1864 he re-enlisted while detached from the regiment on recruiting service; he rejoined the regiment in 1864 at Huntsville, Ala., and was mustered out September 25th, 1865, having been in the service four years and one month. He was with the regiment the entire time, except when on detached service.
After his return home he entered the Democrat office, where he remained until he organized and started the Virden News, which publication he continued for three years. He then returned to the Democrat again, and has remained there in the capacity of foreman ever since.
On the 12th of October, 1859, he married Miss Harriet C. Otwell, a native of Carlinville, Illinois. Her father, Rev. S. M. Otwell, was a native of Georgia. Six children have been born to them, three boys and three girls. All are yet beneath the parental roof.
In politics Mr. Barker is a strong adherent of the republican party. He cast he first vote for Lincoln. As will be seen by the foregoing brief sketch the greater part of Mr. Barker's life has been spent in the printing office. As a man and a citizen his life has been quiet and above reproach.