17 October 2022

The story behind the "creepy barber" photograph

 The “creepy barber” photo from my last post stuck with me so I tracked down its story as part of October's Spooky Salt Lake City month. The photo is from the digital archives of the Utah State Historical Society, a direct link to it is here

 James Walker, barber and Parley Fullmer.  Mount Pleasant, Utah, 1892. George Edward Anderson Photograph. Image from USHS.

The barber is named James Walker (1831-1899) and when this photo was taken in 1892, he was living in Mount Pleasant, Utah. This image is an advertising photo that was taken in the studio of noted Utah photographer George Edward Anderson (1860-1928) (probably his Manti location).

James Walker was born in England and arrived in SLC in 1855, traveling in a Mormon emigrant wagon train from Kansas across the plains. He lived in SLC for a couple of years and in 1857, after his marriage to his wife Margaret, he traveled to Central Utah (Manti, Mount Pleasant) where he and his wife raised their 12 children.

Of note, his father crossed the plains in a handcart company a year later, in 1856, and was killed by a lightning strike in Nebraska.

James has similar creepy eyes in other photographs of himself, so it seems this is his normal appearance.

James Walker.  Image from FamilySearch courtesy Gerald Shupe.

Margaret and James Walker. Image from FamilySearch courtesy Nathan Coffey.

The other individual with the barber is Parley P. Fullmer (1876-1931) who would have been about 15 when this photograph was taken.

Parley also worked several different jobs in his life but his last one was as a miner for the Utah Galena Corporation mine in the Tintic Mining District (in Utah’s West Desert).

Parley P. Fullmer. Image from Ancestry courtesy Andrew White.

Utah Galena Corporation stock certificate, 1936. Image from eBay.

Parley’s death in 1931 was terribly gruesome and tragic. After the day’s work, Parley and another worker were being hoisted out of the mine, which was described as 755 feet deep.

After being hoisted about 30 feet, the clutch of the elevator engine became disengaged, but the engineer was able to prevent the elevator from falling by holding the brakes while he reengaged the clutch.

Unfortunately, Parley was scared and nervous and started climbing on top of the elevator’s overhead crosshead. When the elevator began moving upward again, Parley became trapped between the elevator and the walls of the shaft. His head was crushed, and his body mangled.

Detail of the mining scene from the Utah Galena Corporation stock certificate, 1936. Image from eBay.

Church History Biographical Database
Eureka Reporter April 9, 1931
Eureka Reporter July 23, 1931
Western Mineral Survey April 12, 1929

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