WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
JOHNSON RICHARD BARBEE (aka JOHN BARBEE)
(miner, mine superintendent)
BIOGRAPHYJohnson "John" Richard Barbee was born January 1843 on a large planation in Green County, Kentucky. In 1847, the family moved to Weston, Platte County, Missouri.
John was 17 and in his first year at Liberty College when the Civil War broke out. Without asking his father, he ran away and became a standard bearer in the Confederate Army. He served four years. After the war, he decided to head west to start a new life. He arrived in Virginia City, Nevada. His vocal hatred of Yankees prevented him from getting a job, and he roamed over most of Nevada, prospecting. Then he heard about the strike in Silver Reef, Utah.
In 1880, John was living with his older half-brother, William Tecumseh Barbee, who was a mine superintendent in Silver Reef. John staked out a moderately successful silver claim in Silver Reef.
In 1881, John met and married Katherine Appleby, a Scotch girl who was twenty years younger than him. They had four children. One child evidently died at birth and a daughter died at age three of accidental drowning. After the death of this child, John began to drink heavily and threatened to padlock the Barbee mine shaft and get out of Silver Reef. But Kitty didn't want to leave her daughter's grave.
By the summer of 1892, John's mine in Silver Reef had stopped producing and about this same time he heard about the gold strike in Cripple Creek, Teller County, Colorado. Soon after hearing of that gold strike, he went to Cripple Creek to look for a claim and place to stay for his family. They joined him shortly thereafter.
At one point in 1902, John sold their home in Cripple Creek and decided to move back to Silver Reef. But upon their return, they discovered the town was abandoned, so they returned to Cripple Creek the following year. There they spent the rest of their lives. John became a mine superintendent and they became well established in the community.
Kitty died of pneumonia in May 1, 1904. John died in his sleep in August of 1906. Both were buried in Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in Cripple Creek.
FAMILYJohn was a half-brother of William Tecumseh Barbee.
REFERENCESJohnson "John" Richard Barbee
A research report by Elaine Young, PhD.
Biography of Mabel Barbee Lee
Find-A-Grave entry for Johnson R. "John" Barbee
Find-A-Grave entry for Kate Barbee
Find-A-Grave entry for Elias Barbee