- "Home, I thought. But I could not say that word. For inside of me, I know it is not home. Not yet. It will not be home till Caleb comes. But it is almost a home."
- —Elizabeth Barker
Elizabeth Mary Barker (born October 1599) was the daughter of Mr. and Mistress Barker. She had a twin brother, Caleb, and a younger sister, Abigail. Elizabeth and her family sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Jamestown, Virginia. She went through many hardships during her first year in the colony.
Elizabeth Barker and her twin brother, Caleb, were born sometime during October 1599 in England. In 1609, their parents decided to sail to the "New World", but had to leave Caleb behind for medical reasons.
In August 1609, they reached Jamestown, Virginia, after a long journey of seventy-one days. On board the Blessing, she met her best friend, Jessie Bolton. Elizabeth's and Jessie's family began building a house within a week of landing. During this time, Elizabeth gathered reeds, searched for herbs and food, and thatched the roof of their house.
The following month, Captain John Smith invited Elizabeth to visit the Indians with him to promote peace. Two days later, Jessie's mother passes away, followed within weeks by Claire and Abigail, friends of Elizabeth. Soon, the men become desperate for food and leave to trade with the Nansemond tribe. After several days, Captain Smith went to look for them, but returned injured with most of the men still missing
The Barker family settled into their finished house in late September. Elizabeth's mother went into labor a few days later and had a daughter named Abigail on October 7, 1609. The following day, Jessie's father announced his plans to return to England with Captain Smith. Elizabeth and Jessie, both heartbroken, said goodbye to one another. On the day of departure, Elizabeth asked Mr. Bolton to give her journal to Caleb, which he agreed to.
The Starving Time
- "We are all hungry all the time now. Yet at supper time, Papa says he is not hungry. He puts what little food he has onto Mama's plate. She shakes her head. She says she is not hungry. She puts her small portion of porridge or dried meat on my plate."
- —Elizabeth Barker
After sending her first diary to Caleb, Elizabeth began a new one. She missed Jessie and decided to make new friends, therefore was friendly with Mary Dobson. They became good friends within a short amount a time by talking about everything. Elizabeth continued to live with her parents and younger sister in Jamestown during the following months.
The colony's meager supply of food dwindled in November 1609 with a long and cold winter ahead of them. Elizabeth and her family lived several days with little or no food. Eventually, Elizabeth's father set out into the forest with Elizabeth to find food. The following day, they woke up and found that their food stolen, possibly by the Bridgers. Later, the Barkers managed to celebrate Christmas, despite Elizabeth, her mother, and sister falling ill.
As the winter wore on, the settlers numbers dropped as the sickness continued to spread. Elizabeth made up her mind to ask her friend, Pocahontas for help. However, she fell ill again and two Indians guided her back to Jamestown. After recovering, Elizabeth found out her sick mother and stayed by her side, until her mother passed away in late March. Elizabeth's brother Caleb and a supply ship finally arrived that summer.
Lord Delaware's rule
- "I am most happy to have good, hard work. I wish to show Caleb all that I have learned here. Girls work every bit as hard as the men. Well, some girls do. I even helped build our house!"
- —Elizabeth Barker
In the spring of 1610, Lord Delaware became the leader of the Jamestown colony. He made several new rules for the colonists to follow, including one saying "girls may no longer work alongside the men." Elizabeth was instead forced to sew, cook, and gather herbs at Mistress Bartlett's house with Mary and her new friend, Temperance Flowerdew. Many of his other rules included harsh punishments, all of which Elizabeth thought to be unfair.
One day, Elizabeth accidentally crashed into Lord Delaware and knocked him off his feet. After several days, he called her to visit him. Elizabeth feared punishment, but instead received praise for her actions from last year. Meanwhile, Elizabeth would take Abigail to Mistress Whistler to be nursed everyday. She quickly began to suspect that Mistress Whistler wanted to marry her father. Her suspicions were confirmed when Mistress Whistler gave her a message for her father, which Elizabeth waited many days to give.
That October, their father approached Elizabeth and Caleb about marrying Mistress Whistler. Elizabeth replied, "If you wish, Papa." Preparations for the wedding began shortly after and they married on November 1, 1610. As winter began, Elizabeth became busy harvesting crops and gathering herbs. The next few months passed by quickly and Elizabeth's stepmother showed signs of pregnancy in February 1611.
Personality and traits
Her mother often told Elizabeth to "be proper". Elizabeth tried, but she was not always successful in acting the way her mother wished. She was impulsive and would "blurt out things [she] should not say." Elizabeth was also hardworking and became "strong and agile" during her time in Jamestown. She was resourceful and brave, even venturing into the wilderness to find food or help.
|(1) Mistress Barker|
|Mr. Barker||(2) Anna Whistler||Mistress Collier||Mr. Collier|
Behind the scenes
- Elizabeth is the main character of Elizabeth's Diaries: Our Strange New Land, The Starving Time, and Season of Promise by Patricia Hermes.