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Seth Barker


Posted By: Deb barker (email)
Date: 11/6/2005 at 21:48:08

Pages 110-111
SETH S BARKER- is president of the Barker Poultry Equipment Company of Ottumwa, which he founded in 1921, and which has played its part in the business life of Ottumwa under its present name for a quarter of a century. Its production is varied, and attests to the versatility of its founder, for the firm manufacturers everything pertaining to the processing of poultry products. Mr Barker has other business and farming interests, and is prominent in banking and in political affairs, so that he has gained a considerable stature in the affairs of Ottumwa.
Born near Bloomfield in Davis County, on May 18, 1888, Seth S Barker is a son of John S and Elizabeth (Franklin) Barker. His father was a farmer all his life in Van Buren and Davis Counties, and died in 1920, at the age of 74. Elizabeth Franklin Barker died in 1923, at a like age. Thus Seth S Barker received at the beginning of his career the invaluable apprenticeship of farm life, with its emphasis on self-reliance and practical abilities. He attended Swamp Angel school in Davis County, and after graduation from high school entered Southern Iowa Norman school at Bloomfield, graduating with the class of 1906. He then attended Brown’s Business College at Peoria, Illinois, after which he took employment in furniture and undertaking business. This work held considerable interest for Mr Barker at one time; he seriously considered it as an occupation, and to this day keeps up his embalmer’s license in Iowa. For 10 years he was employed in a like capacity in Bloomfield for the firm of S A Lorenz.
Thereafter, Mr Barker spent some time in Canada, and bought property in Saskatchewan, near Tuxford, where he engaged in farming for 3 years. In 1919 he returned to Bloomfield and bought an interest in a furniture store, which he operated for about 2 years. In 1921, Mr Barker formed the Collapsible Coop Company, predecessor of the present firm of Barker Poultry Equipment Company. His firm continued a growing business, with its headquarters at Bloomfield, until 1924, when the young enterprise was moved to Ottumwa; and the following year its name was changed to its current title. In it, Mr Barker has found final expression of his abilities. The firm has made itself important and highly valued through its varied line of equipment, its products being retailed to poultrymen in every state of the Union and Canada, as well as doing an extensive export business in a number of foreign countries. It engages in the manufacture of such varied items as poultry packing benches, sanitary grading bins, candling lamps, egg case trucks, feed mixers, cooling racks, automatic pickers and eviscerating equipment, all types of equipment needed in dressing poultry, trucking and shipping coops, and feed troughs. Recently the Barker Company exhibited a revolutionary addition to the poultry processing industry- an egg-breaking machine which, with 2 operators (one to load the machine and one to inspect the eggs after they are broken) will break 14 cases of eggs per hour and separate the yolks from the whites. A policy of this progressive company is thus expressed in Mr Barkers own words The Barker Poultry Equipment Company has made it a practice to keep in step with this ever increasing production in Iowa, and in all the other states, by developing and manufacturing new machinery to more economically handle and process the poultry and the eggs. This we will continue to do, ever looking ahead.
The firm today employs 100 people, and is represented by 10 traveling salesmen, and its products are known throughout the country and in many foreign lands. As a factor in its public relations program, it issues a periodical, “Process Equipment News.”
Mr Barker has an interest in the Wapello Machinery Company at Wapello, being a member of its board of directors. This firm also manufactures poultry equipment. He is a member of the board of directors, and president, of the Barker Equipment Company at Keosauqua, which manufactures dairy equipment, wire cases for milk bottles being included in its line. Seth Barker is also chairman of the Iowa Developing Commission. He has farming interests, operating a considerable acreage in Wapello, Davis and Jefferson Counties, and specializing in purebred Hereford cattle. He is a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He belongs also to the Rotary Club, of which he was president; of the Ottumwa Country Club; and the Ottumwa Community Chest, of which he is past President. Politically, Mr Barker is a Republican and he has served his party as chairman of the finance committee of the county, and was district chairman in 1948. He is a Director of the Union Bank and Trust Company of Ottumwa; has always been active in businessmen’s organizations, being a member and director of the National Small Businessmen’s Association; and was president of the Ottumwa Chamber of Commerce in 1949. In connection with his specific manufacturing line, Mr Barker is a member of the National Turkey Federation. Locally, he belongs to the Iowa Manufacturers Association, the Wapello County Farm Bureau, and the South Side Boosters Club. He has always been vitally interested in the Young Men’s Christian Association, being a director, to which he donated a 240 acre tract which has been developed into a camp for the members of the organization and named Camp Arrowhead. In all, this is an impressive record of civic accomplishment by one who carries the chief executive responsibility for the operation of the world’s largest factory engaged in poultry processing equipment.
Mr Barker makes his home with his family on Agency Road, where he owns one of the section’s most pleasant country places. There, he has developed a lake covering 7 acres, which has been stocked with bass. Mr Barker and his family attend the Methodist Church.
Seth S Barker married, in January, 1945, Genevieve Bauer, daughter of Mr and Mrs L A Bauer, her father being a hardware merchant, for a number of years associated with the Haw Hardware Company of Ottumwa. He died in 1936, at the age of 68. His wife is still living in Ottumwa, now in her late 80’s. Mrs Barker is active in women’s organizations of Ottumwa. Seth Barker is the father of a child by a previous marriage: Barbara, who was born August 26, 1921, and who is now the wife of Clinton Stater, of Ottumwa. They are the parents of William David, born April 28, 1948. Vol III


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