A prominent New England family converted to Catholicism in the early 19th century. Daniel (b. Simsbury, Conn., Oct. 2, 1756; d. St. Inigoes, Md. March 24, 1834) was a soldier in the Continental Army and left the Congregational Church to become an Episcopal minister. In 1818 he terminated a 24-year career as resident Episcopal minister at Claremont, N.H., and entered the Catholic Church. He wrote Catholic Worships and Piety Explained (1821) and The History of My Own Times (1827). His son, Virgil Horace (b. Simsbury, Conn., May 9, 1782; d. Georgetown, D.C., March 27, 1847), was educated at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H. He entered the Episcopal ministry and became the highly regarded resident pastor (1807–14) of St. John's Episcopal Church, Waterbury, Conn. On June 1, 1814, Virgil resigned his position at Waterbury to become principal of an Episcopal academy at Fairfield, N.Y. After his conversion to the Catholic Church in 1816 with his entire family, Virgil and his wife received permission to enter religious societies, and he was ordained in the Society of Jesus at Boston, Mass., Dec. 3, 1822. While assigned to Claremont, N.H. (1823–24), Barber opened the first Catholic church and school in that area. After a period of missionary work in Maine, he returned to varied assignments at and in the vicinity of Georgetown, D.C., until his death. His wife, Jerusha (b. Booth, in Newtown, Conn., July 20, 1789; d. Mobile, Ala., Jan. 2, 1860), entered the Visitandines and made her vows at Georgetown, D.C., Feb. 2, 1820, selecting the name Sister Mary Austin (or Augustina). She served her community with distinction at Georgetown, Kaskaskia, Ill., St. Louis, Mo., and Mobile, Ala. It is fairly certain that the children of Virgil and Jerusha Barber, with the exception of the youngest, were born at Waterbury, Conn. All of them, four daughters and one son, eventually entered and achieved prominence in religious societies of the church. Mary (b. Jan. 31, 1810; d. Quebec, Canada, May 9, 1848) entered the Ursulines, as did her two younger sisters, Abigail, Sister St. Francis Xavier (b. Feb. 5, 1811; d. Quebec, Canada, March 2, 1880) and Susan, Sister Mary St. Joseph (b. 1813; d. Three Rivers, Canada, Jan. 24, 1837). Samuel Joseph, the only son (b. March 19, 1814; d. St. Thomas Manor, Md., Feb. 23, 1864), was a priest in the Society of Jesus. Josephine, the youngest child (b. Fairfield, N.Y., Aug. 9, 1816; d. St. Louis, Mo., July 17, 1888) was a Visitandine nun.
Bibliography: l. de goesbriand, Catholic Memoirs of Vermont and New Hamspshire (Burlington, Vt. 1886). h. mitchell, "Virgil Horace Barber," Woodstock Letters 79 (1950) 297–334. f.j. kingsbury, A Narrative and Documentary History of St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church … of Waterbury, Connecticut (New Haven 1907).
[j. w. scully]