In The News, August 5

Bayfield Woman To Stick By Her Husband

Washburn Times August 5, 1920

When Mrs. Emma Barningham left Bayfield for California, accompanying her husband Vern, in the custody of the sheriff from San Diego, California, and charged with a statutory crime, she told Barningham’s parents that she would help support the unborn child of her husband’s alleged affinity.

His “alleged affinity” – now, that’s an interesting euphemism. Also interesting to see that the San Diego authorities would send a deputy all the way to Wisconsin on a paternity case. I guess in a town with a big naval base, they were used to it.

Although she did not claim her husband to be innocent of the charge, she did say she would stick by him no matter what happened, and that some California girls have adopted this way of making easy money.

Ooh, those California girls!

Barningham was arrested by Police Chief J. B. McLucas, at the farm of his parents, three miles from here, about a week ago, on complaint of a woman in a San Diego maternity hospital.

When the Bayfield County Sheriff took Barningham to Washburn, county seat, and lodged him in the jail there, until an officer from the California city arrived, Mrs. Barningham would not be comforted until she was allowed to see her husband.

“If they take you back to California,” she said, “I’ll go back with you to help you fight your battles.”

Anybody else hear Tammy Wynette about now? “Stand by your man….”

Vern Barningham has an interesting biography, spanning several eras of the Apostle Islands’ history. He spent his first few years on Hermit Island, where his father was a stonecutter in the Prentice quarry, then later lived on Stockton Island, working as a hired hand in one of the fisheries. Barningham joined the U.S. Navy in 1911, and served until 1920– at which time he apparently hustled home a few steps ahead of the sheriff! I haven’t found out how the paternity case worked out, but I do know that he and Emma stayed together until separated by death many years later.

In 1926, Barningham took the position of Assisant Keeper at the Thunder Bay, Michigan, lighthouse, beginning a career which would span Lighthouse Service and Coast Guard eras. A year later, he returned to the Apostles as Second Assistant at the LaPointe light station on Long Island, then followed up with Assistant stints at Raspberry and Outer Islands.

In 1941, with the Coast Guard taking over the lights from the USLHS, he enlisted to become Boatswain’s Mate First Class, effectively Keeper, at Outer Island. Barningham retired on a medical disability discharge in 1946 after an accident involving a fall between a boat and the dock. Returning to civilian life, he became Chief of Police in Bayfield for a while, and eventually passed away in 1980.

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