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The History of Barker Realtors

In 1909, soon after the opening of the Twin Falls Tract, young Hadley Barker of Echo, Oregon, moved his family to the Magic Valley and homesteaded in Buhl. He cleared the land of sagebrush and farmed for a number of years. Later an opportunity opened up in the financial field and he became a banker in Buhl and was the Manager of Idaho 1st National Bank at the time of his retirement.

Hadley’s son, John M. Barker, after graduating from Buhl High School attended the University of Idaho. After graduating in 1938, John purchased Harry W. Barry’s real estate and insurance business. Harry Barry previously had been the coach of the Buhl girls’ high school basketball team which had won the state championship three consecutive years from 1925 to 1927. Harry Barry was also at one time the editor of the Buhl Herald and a state legislator. Harry Barry’s agency had been in business in Buhl since about 1928. The agency was licensed as a Real Estate brokerage on January 1, 1939, the longest licensed brokerage in Twin Falls County.

John M. Barker operated the business until 1942 when he joined the US Navy where he saw action in the invasions of Africa and Sicily. He was discharged from the Navy as a Lt. Commander in 1945. During the war years, Hadley Barker operated the agency on behalf of his son. When John returned from his Navy service, he took up the reins of the business again, operating a combination real estate, insurance, bookkeeping, mortgage loan and tax service business. In July 1959, the agency was incorporated as the John M. Barker Agency, Inc., handling all lines of insurance as well as continuing the real estate business and real estate loan brokerage business.

An interesting historical event in the real estate portion of the business occurred in 1961. Realtors Roy Hopkins and Virginia Patch had sold an 80 acre farm southeast of Castleford. The balance due after initial payment and assumption of mortgage was $11,700, a sizable sum of money at that time, as you might imagine. John Barker, the broker, along with Hopkins and Patch, drove out to the buyer’s farm near Castleford to collect the money and close the transaction. When the agents presented the closing statement, they expected a check for the amount. Instead, the farmer told his wife to fetch the money. The farmwife went from drawer to drawer, room by room bringing five, ten and twenty dollar bills. As she brought the money, the Realtors counted it. If it was short, she looked again, finally going upstairs and even to the back porch for more until she finally came up with the total $11,700 in cash, new and old currency, some badly wrinkled.

After thanking the buyers, the three Realtors started for Buhl with a sack of cash. Virginia, continually voicing her worries that they might be held up by robbers, made John a nervous wreck before they got to the office with Roy offering no help at all. It was the largest amount of cash ever handed to the office in any transaction up to that time.

In May 1979, Jim Barker, son of John M. Barker and grandson of Hadley Barker, joined the agency as a real estate salesman. Jim became the Broker in 1981. The insurance business was spun off in 1983 and thereupon John M. and Jim Barker began their real estate partnership known as Barker Realtors. This is how the business is known today.

Two business concerns currently occupy the same Buhl location at 123 Broadway S. in Buhl. Barker Realtors share office space with Welch-Obenchain Insurance. Barker Realtors concentrate on real estate sales, property management, rentals, and development. Welch-Obenchain offers fire, casualty, liability and life insurance services.