John Scott Barker (July 8, 1881 – August 16, 1946) was an engineering draftsman, but he's probably best remembered for his drug rehab clinics in the 1910s and 1920s, and his subsequent run-in with the law.

Barker was born July 8, 1881, in Cache County, Utah. Records of his early life are difficult to find. One source says he was born in northern Idaho, moved to Ogden with his mother, then received a grade school education in Salt Lake City; he worked as a bellboy at the Knutsford Hotel, and later worked as a draftsman for the city and for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. 9 Later records all list Utah as his birthplace, and state his father as being born in England and his mother (maiden name Jensen) being born in Denmark. It may be that he changed his name some time before 1908. [ A possible match is Henry Barker in the 1900 census. That lists Henry Barker, born July 1881 in Utah, working as an elevator boy in a hotel, living with mother Johanna Anderson (born in Denmark) in Ogden, and brother David Barker, born January 1884 in Idaho, working as a bellboy. ]

The story becomes a little clearer in 1908. John Scott Barker married Emily Belle Raleigh (Barker) on July 2, 1908. The 1910 census shows them living with Emily's parents in Salt Lake City, and lists John's occupation and industry as "draughtsman - city engineer." The Barkers had two daughters, Georgia Rose Barker and Helen Theresa Barker, both born in Utah. It's unknown when they moved to Oakland, but John S. Barker is listed in the 1914 Oakland directory.

1915 11921 21921 3

In July 1915, an ad appeared for the John Scott Barker Hospital, at 812 Fifth Avenue. The small hospital treated "Mental Afflictions, Alcoholism, and Drug Addictions", "Under the management of John Scott Barker, Pyscho-therapist." 1 [ NB: This may be the Fifth Avenue Hospital listed in some of the obituaries of Sydney Ayres. ] After a few ads including some for "free clinics", Barker's name disappears from the Tribune for a while. Barker's WWI draft card from 1918 and the 1920 census show the family living at 431 - 28th Street, and John Scott running a sanitarium there.

Then in 1921, an article in the Tribune, "Hypnotism Medicine and Used to Cure Dope Victims in Jail" announced his return to the public eye. It says:

"Professor Barker deserted a theatrical career as a hypnotist, and for twelve years he has been quietly treating drug and liquor addicts and mental cases in Oakland." 2

It also notes that the story of Barker's career "reads like a romance." A later article in the Salt Lake Telegram says Barker worked with Rev. Dr. Elmer Goshen in Salt Lake City on curing addicts. Local doctors said Barker was not a doctor, but took the title after claiming to cure addicts with hypnosis. 9

Later that year, the same Tribune writer, George Henderson, wrote "The Madhouse—The Dope Fiend's Finish" telling the story of Barker saving a doctor, and describing the rough existence that many addicts faced. 3

Los Angeles Evening Express 1923 8

But in 1923, federal officers arrested Barker on charges of violating the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. Much was made of it in Hollywood when it was discovered Barker had treated film star Wallace Reid. Reid later died while trying to recover from his drug addition. 8

After a grand jury investigation, Barker and co-defendant Howard R. Parker plead not guilty. 5 In the trial, Barker was found guilty in March 1924. 6 The conviction was upheld after an appeal, and in 1925, Barker was sent to Leavenworth to serve a 5 year sentence. 7

The 1930 census shows Barker living in Emeryville. He was divorced, and working as a draftsman. The 1940 census shows the same thing, but curiously, he's living with Emily B. Olson, his ex-wife, who is listed as a widow. Barker's WWII draft card lists his boss, Albert Vander Naillen, as the person who would always know his address. Vander Naillen was working as the chief deputy county surveyor.

Barker died August 16, 1946, and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery along with Emily.

Links and References

  1. ad Oakland Tribune July 22, 1915
  2. Hypnotism Medicine and Used to Cure Dope Victims in Jail Oakland Tribune June 8, 1921
  3. The Madhouse—The Dope Fiend's Finish Oakland Tribune October 16, 1921
  4. Social Worker In Dope Trap Oakland Tribune September 10, 1923 (p2)
  5. Not Guilty, Say Barker, Parker Oakland Tribune February 4, 1923
  6. Barker Is Found Guilty Upon One Narcotic Charge Oakland Tribune March 21, 1924
  7. Barker Sent To Leavenworth By Supreme Court Oakland Tribune November 17, 1925
  8. Wally Reid Doctor Arrest In Drug War Los Angeles Evening Express January 2, 1923
  9. Man Facing Drug Charge Formerly Practiced in S.L. Salt Lake Telegram January 4, 1923