John W. Baker biography

JOHN W. BAKER. The Baker family has long resided in Texas. The father of our subject, Robert Baker, was familiarly known as Uncle Bob Baker, a term which also indicated then enviable position which he held in the esteem and friendship of those who knew him. He was born in Fayette county, Alabama, near Tuscaloosa, February 5, 1839, and in the paternal line came of Irish descent, while on his mother’s side he was of English lineage. His mother bore the maiden name of Miss Fore and the ancestry of that family can be traced back to four brothers, who came to this country from England, one of whom was a captain in the British army before his emigration to the new world. They settled in the south, probably in the state of Georgia. The name was originally spelled with an accent mark over the “e.” The Baker family has been represented in Alabama for about a century and a number of the Texas are now living in the southern part of this state. None of them have become wealthy but are all in comfortable financial circumstances and are regarded as valued citizens of the various localities in which they reside. Obed Baker was the grandfather of John W. Baker of this review. In 1851 he left Alabama and came to Texas with his family, settling first in Bastrop county, which was then a new and wild district with few settlers. His first home was a log cabin, in which the family lived in true pioneer style amid the environments of frontier life.

Robert Baker was twelve years of age when he came to Texas with his parents, and was reared in Bastrop county, where he remained up to the time of the Civil war. In 1862 he entered the Confederate service and was under such intrepid commanders as Colonel Kirby Smith and General Magruder, while Captain Hobson commanded his company. He served throughout the entire war, in the campaigns largely confined to Texas, especially in and near the city of Galveston. After his discharge from the army at the close of hostilities he returned to Bastrop county, where he made his home until 1882. He had been married in 1861 to Miss Mary Nancy Woods, who was born in Mississippi and came to Texas with her parents sometime in 1850. She was born November 30, 1843, and is now living in Taylor county. In 1882 Robert Baker removed to Williamson county, settling near Georgetown, where he made his home for fourteen years, when in December, 1896, he went to Taylor county, locating in Jim Ned Valley, just on the edge of the timber. There he spent his remaining days, his death occurring on the 12th of February, 1905. He was a minister of the Primitive Baptist church for thirty-five years and divided his time between his business affairs and his church work, attending regularly the church services each Sunday, his labors proving an effective element in the moral development and progress of the localities in which he made his home. In his family were twelve children, eight sons and four daughters, of whom nine are now living, six sons and three daughters.

John W. Baker, whose name introduces this review, was born in Bastrop county, Texas, May 27, 1871, and was there reared upon his father’s farm, while in the public school of the neighborhood he acquired his education. He afterward took up the work of the teacher’s profession in Williamson county, where he was actively connected with school work for two years, and then in 1896 went to Taylor county. In the following year he accepted a position with Clayton Brothers Company, whom he practically represented as bookkeeper until 1900 and on the 1st of January of that year he became connected with the Ed. S. Hughes Hardware Company in a similar position, remaining in that employ until April 6, 1904. He then resigned and removed to Lawn in the southern part of Taylor county, where he opened up a general mercantile business on his own account. This is a thickly settled district, and having an extensive acquaintance Mr. Baker succeeded in rapidly building up a fine and growing business and is recognized as one of the leading merchants of this part of the country.

On the 23rd of November, 1893, Mr. Baker was united in marriage to Miss Lora Shaw, a native of Williamson county, Texas, and their family numbers three sons and a daughter. Mr. Baker has been a member of the Baptist church for nine years or more and is a zealous worker in the cause. He likewise belongs to the Odd Fellows society, in which he has taken all of the degrees of the subordinate lodge and encampment and is likewise a member of the grand lodge of Texas. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and his life is in harmony with the teachings of these various fraternal organizations. An enterprising young business man, alert and energetic, he is making for himself a creditable place in the business world and is meeting with very gratifying success.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 368-369.