McLean County, Illinois
JOSEPH BAKER, a prominent and highly respected resident of Funk's Grove, came to the Prairie State in September, 1835, accompanied by his parents, after an overland journey from Ohio with horses and wagons.
Mr. Baker was born in McConnellsville, Morgan County, that State, Feb. 21, 1834. His father, Samuel C. Baker, was also a native of the Buckeye State, born in Washington County, in 1807.
The grandfather of our subject, Samuel Baker, Sr., was a native of Connecticut, born April 25, 1775, and removed to Ohio at an early day, being among the pioneers of that State. He first located near Marietta, and in company with other settlers made his home in a block house so as to be protected from the Indians.
After removing to Illinois he settled in DeWitt County, on a tract of wild land, from which he improved a farm and established a comfortable home, where he remained until his death, which occurred June 21, 1852, at the age of seventy-seven years, one month and twenty-one days. The grandmother died Nov. 3, 1870, aged ninety-six years and three days.
Samuel C. Baker, the father of our subject, grew to manhood in Ohio, and was there married to Miss Mary Murphy, a native of Virginia. He learned the cooper's trade in early life, at which he worked a part of the time, and when not in demand at that, chopped wood, and was employed at the salt works near his home.
In September, 1835, accompanied by his wife and two children, he removed from Ohio to Illinois, purchasing land in what is now known as Waynesville Township, DeWitt County. There were two log cabins on the land and the family took up their abode in one of these, which was equipped with homemade furniture. Mr. Baker kept the cabin in good repair, enlarged it as was necessary, and occupied it with his family until after the war, when he erected a frame house.
He was prospered in his agricultural and business pursuits, and at one time was the possessor of 280 acres of land. Both himself and wife are still living, and make their home with one of their sons near Waynesville. Four of their five children are now living: Rhoda A., the wife of Joseph Robb, lives in Waynesville Township, DeWitt Co., Ill.; Joseph, our subject, is the next eldest; William died in 1839, when six months old; Isaac and John live near Waynesville, Ill.
Joseph Baker was the eldest son of his parents, and was one year old when they removed to Illinois. After becoming of suitable age he attended the pioneer school at Rock Creek Grove. The school-house was built of logs with puncheon floor and seats; the chimney was built outside, of dirt and sticks, and light was let into the structure through panes of greased paper. His education was carried on mostly during the winter season and in the summer he assisted his father on the farm.
When seventeen years of age he bought four yoke of oxen and commenced breaking prairie. This he followed four seasons, and in the meantime was also occupied in assisting to grade the track of the Illinois Central Railroad.
He remained under the parental roof until his marriage, and afterward purchased a tract of school land in Barnett Township, DeWitt County, from which he improved a farm and lived there until 1860. He then sold out and purchased 120 acres on section 11, of Funk's Grove Township. This land was partly fenced, and upon it stood a small frame house into which he removed with his young wife and lived there until 1865.
He then sold out and purchased the farm which he now owns and occupies. This contains 209 acres all in one body, enclosed with good fences. Mr. Baker has also put up a good set of farm buildings and keeps every tiling in good shape. The homestead is a model of neatness and taste.
The wife of our subject was formerly Miss Margaret Taylor, and they were married on the 25th of September, 1856. Mrs. Baker was born in Perry County, Ohio, April 1, 1836, and is the sister of Mrs. H. Baker, of whom a sketch is given in another part of this volume.
Of this union there were born ten children. The record is as follows: Rhoda A., Mrs. W. J. Rayner, and Letha Ella, Mrs. Frank Stout, live in Funk's Grove Township; George C. married Miss Anna Larison, and lives in Funk's Grove. The remainder are John W., Samuel, Benjamin, Hattie, Arthur and Joseph Howard.
Mrs. Baker belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. B., formerly a Whig, now casts his vote with the Republican party. He has filled various offices of trust in his township and held the office of School Director many years. He has always taken an interest in educational matters and in every enterprise which has had for its object the welfare of his county and community.
He was Township Collector two years and a member of the Board of Supervisors for the same length of time. Besides the home farm he owns 200 acres on section 34 of Funk's Grove Township, and devotes his attention principally to the raising of grain and graded stock.
[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]
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