Sunday, April 23, 2006

Claim To A Big Fortune Dies With Sailor Bill

April 1912--"Sailor Bill" Barker died and with him went a chance for recovery of a fortune that he always declared to be worth more than a million dollars.

According to the Coshocton Daily Age, no man in Coshocton was more widely known than "Sailor Bill". Everyone knew him by that name. He was born in England and his real name was William Barker. No one knew how Sailor Bill ended up in Coshocton, but it was certain he was born in an English seaport town. He didn't know his exact age, but guessed it at 74. He ran away from home at age 12, leaving behind a wealthy father.

Sailor Bill sailed around the world eight times and served in the Union Navy during the Civil War. It was said he served under Farragut when he stormed Mobile Bay. When the war ended, Sailor Bill disappeared since he figured the fight had ended. He had no intention of deserting, but reckoned the fight done.

He ended up in Coshocton about 25 years before his death and worked the Conesville coal mines. He married but his wife died in a few years. He left the mines and performed odd jobs around the community. Bill talked of his claim to his father's fortune, but the claim died with Sailor Bill. According the Age, the news of Sailor Bill's death was a shock to Coshocton, for everyone who knew him had a kind word for him.

A few months after Sailor Bill's burial, a group of friends throughout the county raised $65 to put a marker on Bill's grave. He's buried in the Blissfield Cemetery in rural Coshocton County. It's a picturesque drive to the cemetery. Stop by and say hello to Sailor Bill.


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