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Clubfeet and The Gift of Healing

Updated on December 10, 2015
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Ruth, aka Elayne Kongaika, was raised in the orchard town of Orem, Utah. She married a Polynesian boy and has had amazing travel experiences

Clubfoot | Source

Amongst my colorful ancestors, Jesse L. Barker was born in 1864 with a clubbed foot. His family lived in North Carolina. This poor child’s feet were so badly crippled that his toes were nearer to the back of his foot than the front. He walked on the extreme side of his foot and would often fall as his misdirected toes caught in his trouser leg. He fell on his face regularly and his ankles were always sore.

Rebecca Brinkley
Rebecca Brinkley | Source

His mother, Rebecca Jane Brinkley had married Jesse Lee Barker two years before the Civil War. Grandpa Brinkley sympathized with the South so he was usually wary of officers that were reported in the area. Meantime, he made shoes (from top to bottom) Rebecca also learned the trade. tried to her best to make his life as easy as possible.

In those days, they did not know how to straighten club feet. Jesse was nearly three and had never worn shoes. She took him to the shoe shop and made him a sheepskin hide moccasin which was wrapped tightly (with the wool side in) around his one leg. He and his little brother Rufus would play around the shop until she was finished.

Jesse, the father, became very sick with Typhoid fever and died leaving her alone with her two boys. One evening, Rebecca noticed a crowd gathering nearby. Two young men were speaking about a new religion that had been revealed to a young Prophet in answer to his prayers. She listened intently and they testified that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the true church.

Rebecca went up to the elders and in a bantering way said, “If you will straighten my boys foot, I will believe you are true followers of Christ.” Then the missionaries read to her from Matthew 15:4 “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall be no sign given unto it.” The missionaries gave her a pamphlet and a Book of Mormon.

Rebecca continued to investigate and study the Gospel and before long she converted and was baptized. When she was confirmed, her blessing included a promise that her boy’s foot would grow straight if she lived her religion. She was astonished by this, but with her new faith she traveled together with her sons on the Emigration Train to Ogden, Utah.

There she met a man named Enoch Daniels. He was kind to her. She would wake in the night and be inspired as to how to wrap Jesse’s leg. Gradually, his foot was becoming straightened by the touch of the Master Surgeon. By the time he was eight years old, after different several wrappings had been applied, it was completely straight. She thanked God for blessing in answering her prayers.


Jesse lived a long life and on a visit to a hospital, a Dr. Bernard who was a bone specialist visited him. He observed that Jesse had two anklebones and asked him who had corrected his club foot. He answered that it was done by the Master Surgeon. The only indication that he had once been a cripple was a slight limp.

I am lucky to have a paper entitled “The Gift of Healing” attested by Jesse L. Barker, himself in 1934. Jesse’s daughter passed away about a month after she was taped sharing this information with her great great granddaughter, Linda Barker. She shared that Rebecca Brinkley’s Great grandmother was full blooded Cherokee.

Jesse L. Barker eventually became a Police Officer in Salt Lake City. I enjoy very much learning about my ancestors and the trials and tests they have endured.

Lily Ruth with her braces
Lily Ruth with her braces | Source

My 12th granddaughter was born with spina bifida and clubfeet. She had casts and braces on her legs most of her life. We are grateful for continual improvements in medical help for those who suffer. My great great grandmother did not have any help except from the Lord who inspired her what to do for her son's feet. Here is a picture of Lily Ruth. She never was able to walk because her spina bifida was so bad that it paralyzed her from the waist down, but that doesn't stop her. She is very active, smart and talented and a great inspiration to our family.

© 2015 Elayne


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