In doing research for this biography, it became apparent early on that the Bushnell name was an old and venerable one, but it was less clear where the Barkus family originated. The Barkus surname related to the current lineage with a "c", i.e., Barcus, is first found in the US census of 1840 when Henry Barnes is listed as living in Marshall Co., Indiana, and having 6 children under 20 years of age living with him and his wife Ann. It is known that Ann was born in 1797, so it is likely that Henry was also born at about that time. That Henry Barcus was listed as "Barnes" in the 1840 census is a common problem as one tries to find Henry's relatives in the records. It seems that the Barcus/Barkus name can be easily misinterpreted and misidentified. Henry may have been born in Pennsylvania or Ohio. No more distant Barcus family members are known.

The Barcus families' country of origin or date of emigration to the United States is unknown. To confuse matters further, within the next generation following Henry Barcus,some descendants began to spell Barcus with a "k". By the time Louis A Barkus was born, the spelling transformation was well established for that branch.

The Barcus/Barkus name may be either English or German, and a reference noted that the surname is likely locational in origin, meaning a dweller in or at a house made of birch wood. Given that the earliest name existent in the available records is Barcus, I would speculate that emigration occurred from England and not Germany. Interestingly, there is also a commune in France that is named 'Barcus', so a possibility is that someone emigrated from France to England and to what would become the United States.

By contrast, the Bushnells from whom Edith is descended were in Salem, Massachusetts, before 1643. The progenitor, William Bushnell I, was born in Sussex, England, about 1610. Edith belongs to the tenth generation of Bushnells in what would eventually become the United States.

From Wikipedia, many famous people are noted to have "Bushnell" as a middle, or
last name:

  • Albert Bushnell Hart, American historian
  • Asa S. Bushnell (Ohio), American politician and president of the Warder, Bushnell and Glessner Company, which became one of four companies that merged to form International Harvester
  • Candace Bushnell, American journalist and author
  • Cornelius Scranton Bushnell, entrepreneur, founder of the Union Pacific Railroad; helped build the USS Monitor for the Union Navy
  • David Bushnell, American inventor (included the invention of a submarine during the Revolutionary War. The "Turtle' was the world's first submarine used in battle.
  • David P. Bushnell, American entrepreneur
  • Dennis M. Bushnell, NASA scientist
  • Emily Bushnell, Tufts University psychologist
  • Helen Gilbert (artist) (1922-2012), American artist
  • Horace Bushnell, American theologian
  • Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, U.S. Congressman from Iowa
  • Kenneth Wayne Bushnell (born 1933), an American visual artist
  • Nehemiah Bushnell (1813-1873), American attorney, businessman, politician
  • Nolan Bushnell, video-game entrepreneur
  • Prudence Bushnell, American diplomat
  • Thomas Bushnell (once Michael Bushnell), BSG, programmer, GNU contributor

By contrast, Wikipedia does not have a similar history or listing of persons with the surname of Barcus or Barkus.

One wonders what the Bushnell family thought about Edith Bushnell marrying Louis Barkus. Was there a difference in social status in Malvern, Iowa, in the early 1900s that mattered to families involved? What caused Edith to delay marriage to age 28 and Louis to age 31?

There are many other questions that will remain unanswered as neither Louis nor Edith left diaries or other letters that might have revealed insights into their lives.