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Chicago: Chapman Bros., Publishers


JOSEPH W. BAKER, a veteran of nearly seventy-one years, is one among the oldest living settlers of this county, and may be found usually at his well-regulated home on section 34, township 16, range 12. He was born in Middle Tennessee, July 1, 1818, and is the son of Francis and Mary (Killabrew) Baker, the former a resident of North Carolina, and the mother also probably born there. The Baker family is supposed to be of English descent, while the mother of our subject traced her ancestry to Wales. A maternal uncle, Elijah Hancock, served as a soldier in the War of 1812.

The subject of this sketch was the fifth child and fourth son of his parents, and continued a resident of his native State until 1835. In the meantime his mother had died when he was sixteen years old. During the year mentioned he and his father set out for the West, coming to Morgan County, this State, and the elder Baker located in Bethel Precinct, where he died in 1840. Joseph W. attained to man's estate in Morgan County. He at an early age began to look out for himself, and never received any financial assistance in making his way in the world. He had, however, been trained to habits of industry and economy, and with this excellent capital he battled with the difficulties of life in a new country, and came out of the struggle with flying colors.

Mr. Baker, however, acknowledges that in the accumulation of his property he was greatly assisted by his estimable wife, who in her girlhood was Miss Mary Rowe, and to whom he was married June 5, 1855, at the bride's home in Morgan County. Mrs. Baker was born in Scott County this State, and by her union with our subject became the mother of nine children, five of whom are living: Melina is the wife of George Brookhouse; Lavonia, Allen, Edwin and Charles are at home with their parents.

Mr. Baker made his first purchase of land in 1846 or '47, and began in earnest its development and improvement. While witnessing the march of progress he has contributed as he was able to the general good, and is numbered among the most reliable and praiseworthy citizens of this township. He is not a member of any religious organization, but aims to follow the maxim of the Golden Rule, and do unto others as he would be done by. He believes in the establishment of schools and churches, and has given of his means and influence to this end, as he has been able. He cast his first Presidential vote for Van Buren, and has since been a stanch supporter of Democratic principles. He was a School Trustee for eleven years, and has served as School Director and Constable, but further than this has never sought office, preferring to give his best labors to his farm, and his chief attention to his family. Mr. and Mrs. Baker have made many and warm friends during their long sojourn in this county, and now, sitting under their own vine and fig tree, are reaping the reward of their early toil and sacrifices. They endured many difficulties and hardships at the outset, but now that the season of rest has come are fully prepared to enjoy it, and look with satisfaction upon well-spent lives.

1889 Index
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