Green Lawn Abbey

Barker, Jas. K. P.

James K. Polk Barker
Born 1847
Died 2/24/1946 in Columbus, OH

A military funeral was being planned Monday for Franklin County’s “oldest soldier” –James K. Polk Barker, 98, who died of a heart ailment at his home, 1633 S. High St., Sunday. Franklin County’s last surviving Civil War Veteran, Mr. Barker was a native of Belmont County but had made his home in the South Side of Columbus for many years.

Although too young to enlist when the war between the states broke out, he traveled to old Camp Chase near Columbus in 1863 and enlisted in the Union Army and was assigned as a private in Company F, 15th Ohio Volunteers. He was one of 16 survivors of his company following the battles of Chickamauga. He was discharged on Oct. 29, 1864 following an attack of small pox and returned to his native state. His work had included coal miner, plumber, farmer and paperhanger but for years he was known more for his love for parades and heated discussions on military tactics. Many of his long walks in the South Side would end with a stop at the barber shop for a shave and discussion on the latest military operations.

Parade days were very important ones for Mr. Barker. He not only was certain to be there to represent the “Boys in Blue” but he would walk over all or most of the parade route, either with the Civil War veterans or those from the Spanish American War.

His last public appearance was made last October when he attended the national encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic. He was the commander and last survivor of the J. M. Wells post of the GAR. At the national meeting he rode over the entire route of the parade for the first time in his life, having walked at least part of the route in previous years. He was named after President James K. Polk, chief executive when the veteran was born, and he lived through the administration of 23 presidents. Known to his friends as “J.K.”, residents in the South Side will remember him with his white cane and a tiny American flag attached to the top, and his familiar black slouch with his regimental colors.

Surviving him are his sixth wife, Mrs. Etta D. Barker, and two sons, Bruce E., 39 Welch Av. and Edward, 116 Berger St. Seven years ago Mr. Barker made all his own funeral arrangements declaring that although he was in good health “I believe in getting prepared.” In addition to purchasing a casket and a crypt at Green Lawn Abbey, he named his pallbearers and expressed his desire for a military funeral, saying “I’m a soldier and a soldier should have a military funeral.” Services will be held in the Cook and Son Chapel Wednesday at 10 a.m. and entombment will be made in Green Lawn Abbey. A firing squad from Fort Hayes will fire a volley over his body and bugler will sound taps. Friends may call at the chapel until time for services.
Burial Location
Mary (Widmaier) Barker