Friday, July 30, 2010

Chapter 26 - My Baker Ancestors Part 1

My great grandfather, Asbury Harpending Baker, began his book “Memories” which he published in 1930 with a description of what he knew about his great grandfather. He writes:

“My great Grandfather on my father’s side was John Baker whose birthplace or residence I do not know. His occupation was that of traveling shoemaker, which took him from house to house where he would remain as boarder and lodger until the whole family, old and young, were supplied with foot wear for the year. I do not know at what age he died nor where he is buried. He had seven sons of whom I know nothing with the exception of my grandfather whose name was Elijah, and who died at the age of sixty-five, in Seneca County.”

My great grandfather further writes about his ancestors on his father’s side in subsequent paragraphs: “One brother of my grandfather [Elijah Baker], named Schenck, was a powerful man and a noted wrestler”. About his great grandmother he offers us the following: “My great grandmother on my father’s side was of German parentage and spoke English imperfectly.” Obviously Asbury Baker did not know much about his great grandparents other than his great grandfather was named John Baker who worked as a traveling shoemaker and his great grandmother was German, possibly a recent immigrant, and because they named one of their sons Schenck, her maiden name may have been Schenck. All in all, that was not much to go on. One initial thought that I had was that perhaps my Baker ancestry was not English as I had always presumed, but was actually German or even Dutch and the name Baker was an anglicized version of the German Becker or the Dutch Bakker.

The first break that I had in the search to learn more about my Baker ancestry came when I discovered in an 1850 US Census record in Seneca County, New York a man with the name of Francis Baker who listed himself as age 63, born in New Jersey, and working as a “Shoemaker.” While this man was not named John Baker, the shoemaker occupation matched and from other census records I learned that Elijah was born in New Jersey in 1812 which would have made Francis Baker 25 years old when Elijah was born. While these facts were not much to go on to confirm that Francis was the actual father of Elijah, the data suggested that Asbury may have been wrong when he wrote that his great grandfather’s name was a John Baker. During another search of existing family trees on I found a tree listing a Francis Baker married to a Sarah Bogaert but with no details such as dates and places, however and because of Sarah Bogaert’s Dutch name I preceded very optimistically to list on my family tree that the parents of my 3rd great grandfather Elijah Baker were Francis Baker and Sarah Bogaert. This was in 2007.
My real break came in June 2010 when I received an e-mail from Fred Baker who had seen my family tree on Fred had been searching for over a decade for the parents of his Baker ancestor, his 3rd great grandfather Claudius Coan Baker, who he knew had been born in Seneca County in 1822. Fred had reason to believe that the parents of Claudius Coan Baker might be Francis and Sarah (Bogaert) Baker. Whereas I had more or less guessed as to the identity of Elijah Baker’s parents based on very circumstantial evidence, Fred Baker had been researching for many years for his Baker ancestry and he had the benefit of research reports from professional genealogists, area historians, and shared information that he had received from other Baker family members. Furthermore, Fred had a DNA test which confirmed that he was a descendent of Bakers from New Jersey and Massachusetts. Fred sent me copies of the numerous reports that he had obtained over the years and using this information I was able to conclude with an almost certainty that Francis Baker and Sarah Baker were my 4th great grandparents.

The evidence falls in three categories: names, places and dates. In a partial listing of burials in the Mac Neal Dutch Reformed Cemetery in Seneca County (sent to me by Fred Baker) are the names of Sarah and Francis Baker including their birth and death dates. Also on the list and buried nearby the Bakers are the graves of John and Ann Bogart and their death dates and their ages at their death. If Sarah Baker’s maiden name was actually Sarah Bogart then I concluded that John and Ann Bogart might very well be Sarah’s parents. Continuing my research, I located a site on the Web that contained an extensive listing by David Kipp Conover (over 200,000 names) of the descendents of one Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven. On the list I found that Ann SCHENCK was the 4th great granddaughter of Wolphert, the wife of John M. Bogart (Bogert), and the mother of five children including Sarah Bogart. The birth and death dates listed for Ann Schenck and her daughter Sarah Bogart matched the dates on their death records at the Mac Neal Dutch Reform Cemetery in Seneca County. As we learned from Asbury’s book “Memories,” his grandfather Elijah had a brother named SCHENCK and Elijah Baker named his first born son Charles SCHENCK Baker. The name Schenck is unusual enough especially to be combined with an English given and surname, as to suggest that it was a family name. In this case, my great, great grandfather Charles SCHENCK Baker was named for his great grandmother, Ann SCHENCK Bogart.

It probably was not a coincidence that Elijah Baker and his wife Susan Osborn Baker named two of their children Francis and Sarah after Elijah’s parents and named another child George after Sarah’s brother George. Furthermore, it is also probably not a coincidence that Elijah Baker was named for his uncle Elijah Baker, Francis Baker’s older brother. Francis Baker and his father-in-law John Bogart both appear in the 1820 US Census records for Seneca County, New York. In these same records, Francis Baker is listed with three young males in his household under the age of ten one of whom was probably Elijah Baker who in 1820 would have been eight years old. It is possible and even likely that Asbury Baker simply mixed up the name of his great grandfather when he referred to him in “Memories” as John Baker. His recollections of the name John may have come from his hearing the name of his great, great grandfather John Bogart. The fact that Francis Baker listed himself in the 1850 US Census as a shoemaker is more evidence to prove that Francis and Sarah Bogart Baker are the most likely parents of my 3rd great grandfather, Elijah Baker.

As I previously stated, in June of 2010 I was contracted by Fred Baker. Fred was hoping that I might have documentation to confirm that his ancestor Claudius Coan Baker was also a son of Francis and Sarah Baker. He went on to tell me that through DNA testing and correspondence with others with the surname Baker, that he has proven that he is a descendant of Bakers in both Colonial New Jersey and Massachusetts. Fred further sent me a report from a genealogist that had been hired to uncover early historical documents relating to three generations of Bakers in New Jersey including three of the sons of a Timothy Baker: John, Matthes, and FRANCIS BAKER, who were known to have lived in Seneca County in the early 1800s. Fred Baker convinced me that I also should take a DNA test. The results of my DNA test proved that I am genetically related to Fred and we share common Baker ancestors in both New Jersey and Massachusetts. What follows is my story of our Baker family that begins with Edward Baker in the early 1600s.

Edward Baker (c. 1610 – 1687)

My 9th great grandfather Edward Baker first appeared in historical records on March 14, 1638 when he was admitted as a “freeman” in Saugus, (later Lynn) Massachusetts. The year of his birth and the year of his arrival in America have never been determined although some family historians write that he arrived with other Puritans under the leadership of Governor John Winthrop who sailed into Massachusetts Bay with a fleet of ships in the spring and summer of 1630. More recently, genealogists have uncovered historical documents of an Edward Baker who was baptized on 2 February 1613 in Staffordshire, England who they believe was the same Edward Baker who immigrated to New England. In fact however, the location of Edward’s birth in England is widely disputed ranging from Staffordshire in central England, to Suffolk County in southeast England, to Devonshire County in southwest England. His estimated birth year is also in dispute. Truth is we have no concrete evidence as to when and where he was born or when he arrived in America. We can only speculate using common sense and logic.

Edward Baker was probably born to a middle class English couple who owned land in southeast England very possibly in Suffolk or Essex County. Many of the earliest Puritans who immigrated to New England in the 1630s were known to have come from Suffolk and Essex Counties including Governor John Winthrop who was born and raised in Essex. Edward’s parents were probably Puritans. Furthermore, Edward was most likely not their oldest son and he would have known that upon the death of his father he would not be inheriting the family land. Edward was undoubtedly a young unmarried man when he immigrated to America, probably in his early or mid-twenties, and as such he was easily incensed (a trait of youth) by the harsh treatment of Puritans in England that began in earnest when King Charles I gained the throne of England in 1625.

The Puritan movement in England actually began in the middle to late 1500s during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. At the time, the Church of England was the only authorized church in England and laws were passed to curtail the rise of other forms of Protestant ministries such as practiced by the Puritans. For example, laws were passed that required all English subjects to attend church on Sundays and the only authorized church they could attend was the Church of England. Fortunately for the Puritans the laws were loosely enforced and in fact during Elizabeth’s reign and later during the reign of her successor King James I, many of the prominent members of the British Parliament were Puritans. All of this dramatically changed when King Charles I ascended to the throne upon the death of James in 1625. While Charles’ efforts to curtail the growth of Puritanism in England was only a small part of his contentious history as King of England which ended abruptly with his execution in 1649 following seven years of civil war in England, it was enough for the future governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, to write “ . . . Evil times are coming when the Church must fly into the wilderness.” The evil times he was referring to was the harsh treatment of the Puritans and the wilderness that Winthrop chose to “fly into” lay on the Charles River and the future City of Boston. In the spring of 1630, Governor John Winthrop set out from England with a fleet of eleven ships and over 700 passengers bound for the New World. The majority of these passengers were Puritans.

Early Baker family historians have asserted that Edward Baker was a passenger on one of the ships traveling with the Winthrop fleet in 1630 although there is no evidence to support this assertion. While no original passenger lists exist from this time period, the more recent lists of likely passengers arriving in 1630 created by historians does not included the name of Edward Baker. Furthermore, no mention of Edward Baker appears in the early colonial records until he became a freeman in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1638. The principle requirement of becoming a freeman in the 1630s is that one had to become a member in good standing of a Congregational church. The vast majority of the earliest Puritan settlers arriving in New England in 1630 became freemen by 1631. The likelihood that Edward Baker arrived in the Boston area in 1630 and then stayed “under the radar” and avoided joining with his fellow Puritans the Congregational church until 1638, is extremely unlikely. More likely is that Edward Baker immigrated to the New World sometime between 1635 and 1637. While there is no way of knowing for certain, it is estimated that the population around Massachusetts Bay and the Charles River in the new towns of Boston, Charlestown Dorchester, Roxbury and Salem to the north was somewhere around 8 to 10,000 by the time that Edward Baker arrived in America. While the area where Edward Baker eventually settled near Saugus, Massachusetts was settled as early as 1629, it is probable that by 1638 when Edward was granted 40 acres of land near Saugus, this area was one of the closest areas to Boston where large plots of land were still available.

We have no way of knowing Edward Baker’s exact date of birth. What we do know is that he had to be at least 21 years old when he became a freeman in 1638. We also know that he is listed in a history of Lynn as one of its earliest settlers which might suggest that he may have settled in that area as early as 1635 and may have been older than 21 by 1638. If we arbitrarily give him an age of 28 in 1638, or born in the year 1610, then he would have been 47 years old when he moved to Northampton, Massachusetts in 1657 and 77 years old when he died in 1687. I believe that assuming that Edward Baker’s year of birth was around 1610 is a realistic assumption.

We know almost nothing about our 9th great grandmother, Edward’s wife, including her name. Early records are conflicting with respect to her name and she is listed in a few documents as either Joan or Jane. Her difference names may simply reflect the writer’s inability to spell the name Jane or Joan. Joan (we will call her Joan) was probably younger than Edward as 28 would have pretty late for her to marry and she was undoubtedly the daughter of a Puritan couple who had immigrated to America after 1630. They married in 1637 and together they had eight children born between the years 1638 and 1657. If Joan was 40 years old when her last child was born, her birth year would have been around 1617. If that is correct she would have been 20 years old when she married 28 year old Edward Baker.
The couple settled on a 40 acre parcel of land located about five miles south of the existing city of Saugus, Massachusetts now located in present day Essex County just north of the City of Boston. Edward’s land was largely on the south side of a hill that rose to an elevation of 180 feet above the nearby Saugus River and the Massachusetts Bay. Edward and Joan’s neighbors called the area of his farm, Baker’s Hill. Quite to my surprise, the name Baker Hill has survived for over 372 years and the site of the original Baker homestead which is still today a residential neighborhood, is identified on MapQuest as Baker Hill. [The photograph to the left was taken by Barbara Baker in the 1980s at the bottom of Baker Hill. Note the street sign identifying Baker Street.] In 1638, their land was probably covered with large pine trees and rock outcroppings. The soil since it was not along the coastline was probably largely clay embedded with numerous rocks and boulders. This was definitely not a land ideally suited for farming but they made it work and they raised their children most of whom survived to adulthood. The fact that Edward was granted only 40 acres of land which is somewhat smaller than the typical grant to an English “gentleman,” was probably a reflection of his stature or lack of stature in the community. While he was undoubtedly a man of some means since there is no record or suggestion that he immigrated to America as a servant and he no doubt paid for his own passage on the ship to America, his young age and his background probably did not make him in any way exceptional. Despite the term “Freeman,” the early Puritans in America did not treat all of their members equally. Grants of land with respect to size and location were determined by ones wealth and status in the community and as the historical records reflect, there was not always agreement among the Puritan settlers with respect to the land distribution. In any case, Edward Baker must have really struggled to make the land work. Nelson M Baker writes in his “Genealogy of the Descendants of Edward Baker” published in 1867 an eloquent description of Edward’s land and his efforts: “The hill to which his name was first given, has known no other, and yet stands, “rock-ribbed and ancient,” an enduring monument to the God-fearing, liberty loving and hard-working pioneer who gave us this godly heritage.”
As it was not uncommon at the time, it should not come as a major surprise to discover that Edward Baker in 1657, then in his late 40s, sold his property on Baker’s Hill and moved with most of his family to Northampton, Massachusetts. While Northampton had been settled only a few years earlier in 1654, the many other settlements located in the beautiful and fertile Connecticut River Valley had long been home to Puritans many of whom had moved from the Boston area as early as 1635. Hartford and Windsor located about 40 and 48 miles to the south of Northampton respectively were both founded in 1635 and Springfield, where the founders of Northampton first called home was first settled in 1636 and was located 20 miles south of the new village of Northampton. Even in the mid-1600s, the Connecticut River made travel between these four cities relatively easy. While Edward’s reasons for leaving his home in Lynn (formerly Saugus) may have been motivated by religious differences with the Puritan leadership in Lynn, as this was one of the major reasons for the founding of both Hartford and Windsor by earlier Puritans, another and maybe more compelling motive for his move may have been to take advantage of the opportunity both for himself and his sons to purchase excellent land in a new growing community for a fraction of the cost that he received when he sold his land in Lynn. In the above map of 1639 settlements in New England, Northampton was located just north of Springfield and just across the Connecticut River from Hadley. Lynn, Massachusetts was located between Boston and Salem on the east coast of Massachusetts.

In Nelson M. Baker’s history of Edward Baker and his descendants and in a history narrative of Northampton written by James Russell Trumbull in 1898 we learn that Timothy Baker was a large landowner in Northampton. By the early 1660s he owned several grants of land that he had received from the town plus several additional lots that he purchased. His estate is identified as being on the south side of Elm Street running westward from the intersection of Elm and Prospects Streets. We also learn that his son, Joseph, owned land that he obtained from his father on both sides of Henshaw Avenue where it too intersects with Elm Street. [The Loomis homestead in the above picture was built around the same period that Edward Baker built his home in Northampton and it probably closely reflects the appearance of the Baker home. Joseph Loomis who owned this home in Hartford, Connecticut was the brother-in-law of Edward’s son Timothy.] Unless one is familiar with Northampton, the location of Edward’s property does not mean much until we realize that today his property forms a large portion of Smith College. Smith College in Northampton is a premier liberal arts college for women where many famous American women including Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Julia Child, and Gloria Steinem are listed as alumni. Another bit of interesting history about the early Baker family in Northampton is that they planted a lot of American Elms on their property. One very large elm planted at the intersection of Prospect and Elm Street was for many years referred to as “Baker’s Elm.” There is no doubt that all of the elm trees along the old roadway bordering the Baker land accounted for the street’s name, Elm Street.
Edward Baker is credited with being one of the earliest settlers in Northampton. During the many years that he lived in the village he held numerous important town offices and remained for years a “respected and influential” citizen of the community. Virtually all historians and family genealogists write that sometime before his and his wife’s death, Joan and Edward Baker returned to Lynn, Massachusetts. While this makes absolutely no sense from what we know about the exceptional life that Edward and Joan had made for themselves in Northampton, the fact that his Will was recorded in Lynn on 16 October 1685 and his burial on 17 March 1687, it is pretty hard to refute the fact that they had returned to Lynn. Perhaps his actions before his death will help us to understand why he and Joan returned to Lynn. First, before they left Northampton they made certain that both of their sons, Timothy and Joseph, were well situated and owned their plots of land in Northampton. While there is no record of what Edward provided to his other children still living in Northampton before they departed for Lynn, it is likely that he had transferred other items of value to the other siblings of Timothy and Joseph. Edward and Joan Baker may have returned to Lynn to be with their other children and grandchildren who continued to live in and around the Lynn area. While this is only a guess, what we do know is that Edward’s Will listed only a few of his children and the assumption is that he had provided for most of his other children not mentioned in his will prior to preparing the document. Nelson M. Baker writes in Edward’s biography with respect to Edward’s will: In his will “He exhorts his family to live peaceable and pious lives, and desires for himself a decent funeral, suitable to his rank and quality while living.” Edward Baker was clearly a man who placed a great value in his life on the importance of his family and on his religious beliefs. Joan Baker died on 9 April 1693, six years after her husband. The burial location of Edward and Joan Baker, my 7th great grandparents, is unknown although it is assumed that their remains lie in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Timothy Baker (1647-1729)
My 8th great grandfather Timothy Baker was ten years old when he moved from his home in Lynn, Massachusetts to his new home in Northampton. Timothy was the fifth child born to Edward and Joan Baker and the only home that he had ever known was their large clapboard sided farmhouse on the side of the hill that everyone was calling Baker’s Hill. His father had tried to explain to all of them, his brothers and sisters, why they were moving but Timothy did not understand. The Baker family planned their move for months and Timothy helped his family, although reluctantly, to pack the wagons with their family belongings, farming tools, seeds, and other implements that they would need to begin a new life. Timothy knew nothing about where they were headed. He did not know that they would be traveling with other families and with a guide to show them the way. He did not know about the hardships that they might encounter and he did not know that while the trail that they would follow was well worn by other families that had preceded them, it was a rough road filled with deep ruts, and that sometimes after heavy rains, the trail was virtually impassable. Furthermore, the possibility of encountering Indians or unsavory characters on the trail was omnipresent and required that his father and older brother Joseph carry their firearms at all times. The distance they had to travel was over 100 miles and even if the weather remained dry during the entire journey, the group with their loaded wagons, and their farm animals and young children most of whom walked, would move very slowly. Their guide expected that it could take as long as three exhausting weeks before they would arrive at their new home in the town of Northampton. Fortunately for Timothy once the trip began, the excitement of the trail even in the confusion of the wagons, cattle, horses, and people seemingly everywhere, made him soon forget what he was leaving behind.
By the time Timothy Baker had reached his early twenties he could barely remember leaving his home in Lynn and the hard overland trip to their new home in Northampton. Much had changed since their arrival in Northampton in 1657. With the help of their new neighbors their land had been cleared, crops planted, and their new home built. Timothy’s father had become a prosperous farmer and a well respected member of their church and community. In early 1663, Timothy’s older brother Joseph married Ruth Holton, and Timothy’s father built for his son Joseph a new home located near his parent’s home on Elm Street. Timothy, as was required by all young men in his community joined the Northampton militia and he was quickly elected by his peers to the position of ensign. In the early years of our country local militia leaders were elected rather than appointed. This arrangement usually resulted in either a respected member or a wealthier member of the community being elected. Unfortunately the results of an election did not always end up with the most qualified and knowledgeable person left in charge. Timothy probably had little to no training leading a militia unit especially in a fight against the Indians, however the fact that he was elected reflects that he had become at his early age a respected member of his community.
In January of 1672, Timothy then around 24 years old, married Grace Marsh age 17. Their marriage united two important families in the Northampton area. Grace Marsh was the granddaughter of John Webster one of the original founders of Hartford, Connecticut. John Webster had moved to Hartford in 1636 and he soon became one of its principle leaders serving in many important positions between 1639 and 1659 including being elected governor of the Colony of Connecticut in 1656. In 1659, John Webster following a dispute with the Congregational Church leaders in Hartford, led a group of fellow dissenters who were called “withdrawers” (as they withdrew from the church) to the recently settled town of Northampton, 40 miles upriver from Hartford. John Webster and his wife Agnes Smith are my 7th great grandparents as well as bring ancestors of Noah Webster who is known for having a “way with words”. John Webster later settled in Hadley, Massachusetts located across the Connecticut River from Northampton, where he died in 1661.
Also a member of the “withdrawers” was the Webster’s son-in-law, John Marsh who had married their daughter Ann Webster in 1640. Grace Marsh, their youngest daughter born around 1655, traveled with her parents, siblings, and grandparents in the move to Northampton. John Marsh was also a prominent citizen in Hartford and he is recognized along with his father-in-law as one of the Founders of Hartford. Both of their names are engraved on a monument in downtown Hartford commemorating the founding of the city in 1635 and honoring its original settlers. Incidentally, many of the other names on the “founder’s monument” are also my direct ancestors mostly on my fraternal grandmother’s side of our family.
In would be nice to believe that the young 24 year old Timothy Baker met and fell in love with the lovely 17 year old Grace Marsh and following a whirlwind courtship they married in front of hundreds of friends and relatives in a picturesque white clapboard church in the center of town in Northampton. If Timothy and Grace were members of the Church of England this scenario might have been possible, but they were Puritans and for Puritans getting married was a civil union not a religious one, and marriages were officiated by a town magistrate usually in the home of the bride or groom’s parents. Furthermore, it was not considered an occasion, the marriage, worthy of celebration and as such the wedding was not usually followed by a large gathering of family and friends honoring the new couple. Sadly, it is possible that Timothy and Grace may have hardly known one another before they were married. Their fathers both prominent members of the community may have decided that it was time for their children to wed so they prepared a (marriage) contract between their two families that spelled out important matters such as financial issues between the families and the couple, when and where the wedding was to take place, and so forth. As a matter of tradition the bride was permitted to reject the proposed groom but she rarely exercised this right. The Congregational church unlike the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church did not believe that marriage was a sacred rite administered by the church. Puritans believed that the only holy sacraments were those mentioned in the Bible, baptism and communion, and therefore they believed that marriage despite its importance in Puritan life, was purely a civil function to be performed by the local magistrate. And so they were married on January 16th of 1672.
The next four years for Timothy Baker and his family was pretty much a nightmare filled with disappointments. Timothy and Grace’s new life together began with great hopes for the future. As promised, following the marriage, Timothy’s father, Edward Baker, deeded his home and land over to Timothy with the understanding that the parents would remain living in the home along with the newlyweds. Then in late spring of 1672, Grace announced that she was expecting their first child. In early 1673, a baby daughter who they named Grace after Grace’s grandmother, was born but the baby was not well, maybe born prematurely, and she died on a cold winter’s day in February 1673. The family was devastated but they knew that early childhood deaths were not uncommon and they forced themselves to look to the future. Timothy continued to stay busy both running the farm, serving on various civic committees, and several times a week engaging himself with the other local Northampton men in military training and sentry duties. Finally in early 1675, Grace again announced that she was pregnant with their second child.
The period between 1675 and 1676 was a frightening time for everyone in the southern New England colonies. Many of the Native America tribes finally fed up with their ill treatment by the white colonists who were gradually taking their land and their food supply, waged a fierce rebellion against the English communities across the entire region. The rebellion or war is called by historians the “King Philip’s War” named after the Indian leader who the colonists were calling King Philip. From a statistical standpoint this war that is rarely studied in schools today, was one of the bloodiest and costliest wars in the history of North America. Not only were more than half of New England’s ninety towns including Northampton assaulted by the Indians but of the 52,000 English colonists in the area approximately 800 were killed or about 1.5% of the total English population. The Indians fared even worse in the conflict for they lost about 15% of their estimated population of 20,000 with around 3,000 warriors and their families killed. Northampton and the nearby communities of Hadley across the river, and Hatfield about 5 miles upstream from Northampton were all major targets of the Indians during the approximately 12 to 13 months of fighting. This was not a conflict in the traditional sense of war for both colonists and Indians indiscriminately killed women and children in addition to the male combatants. Numerous English towns and Indian villages were burned and food supplies destroyed. In the end, the English colonists were declared the winners but in reality, no one was the victor and the economy was left in shambles.
Through much of the latter half of 1675, Grace Marsh Baker, pregnant with child, faced weeks at a time not seeing her husband for as an ensign in the militia Timothy was often away. Attacks against the local towns near Northampton began in September of 1675 when the Indians ambushed and killed about 70 militia men near south Deerfield (just north of Northampton) in a conflict now called Bloody Brook. Another battle occurred at Hatfield about six miles from the Baker home on October 19th and it is likely that Timothy was with his militia during this fight. For the Baker family however, the war really hit home when on October 28, 1675 a surprise attack by Indians in Northampton resulted in the brutal slaying of Timothy’s older brother Joseph as well as Joseph’s young son. They were killed while working in the fields by their farmhouse. Joseph was 35 when he was killed, his son was only 9. It is hard to know how often Timothy Baker was home during this period or whether or not he was home when his son, Timothy (my 7th great grandfather), was born just before the end of the year 1675. Unfortunately, the war, the cold weather, the constant threat of an Indian attack, and the shortage of food all took their toll on Grace Baker who, probably already weakened from the birth of her second child, was unable to gain the strength needed for her recovery and she passed away on February 10, 1676. Timothy was no doubt devastated. He was exhausted from the war and the experience of watching his comrades slain, he had lost his daughter, he had lost his brother and his nephew, and now he had lost his wife of only four years. It was much to endure although as history records, Timothy Baker continued to serve in his local militia and serve his community.
Conflicts between the colonists and the Native Americans continued in and around Northampton (as well as other areas within Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) during the entire first half of 1676. Timothy Baker’s name is listed as one of the 150 or so combatants in a battle known as Falls Fight (sometimes called the Turners Falls Massacre) that took place on the morning of May 19, 1676. This particular conflict is one of the low points of the war but it profoundly illustrates the deep hatred that the English colonists felt towards the Indians (and the feeling was no doubt mutual.) In the early morning of May 19, 1676 a contingent of militia from the towns of Northampton, Hadley, and Hatfield surrounded an Indian village near the present day town of Turners Falls, Massachusetts, and in a surprise attack they killed approximately 200 defenseless Indians mostly women and children. There was apparently no attempt at mercy. Following the killings the soldiers then burned the Indian village and destroyed the food supplies. The Indian warriors were not at their village at the time of the attack, however as they learned about what had happened they counterattacked the retreating soldiers and managed to achieve some small amount revenge by killing a few of the fleeing militia. King Philip’s War was finally concluded following the death and beheading of King Philip and the signing of a peace treaty with the Indians in August of 1676. This forgotten war was one of many low points in the relationship between the American settlers and the Native Americans in our county’s early history.
Timothy Baker married his second wife Sarah Hollister Atherton in early 1678. Sarah was the widow of the Rev. Hope Atherton of Hatfield who had died the previous year. It is interesting to discover that Hope Atherton’s name appears along with Timothy Baker’s on the list of soldiers who were present at Falls Fight, especially when I realized that Hope Atherton had the title of Reverend. Apparently for the Puritans the death of an Indian women or child was not considered a sin by the church. Hope Atherton was only 30 years old when he died and one has to wonder if perhaps he died from wounds that he received in the previous year of fighting. Timothy and Sarah were to have five children including their oldest son John who eventually inherited the Baker estate following the death of his father. Timothy Baker continued to serve his community for the remainder of his life. He was eventually elected to the position of lieutenant in the militia, and he served as a “selectman” in the town on a number of occasions as well as serving “often on important committees, both of town and church.” Sarah preceded her husband in death dying in 1691. Lt. Timothy Baker lived to the ripe old age of 82 before finally passing away on 30 August 1729.
This is the end of Part 1. Part 2 begins with the life of Timothy Baker (Jr) (1775-17470

8 comments: said...

Good Afternoon Charles,
You are a prine for putting this online. Can you tell me your sources.

Steve Nemmers said...

I just came upon your fascinating Baker family site. I'm trying to backtrack an unsourced Ancestry posting that says my ancestor Elizabeth Baker was born in Northampton MA on 18 Mar 1661. I can document her marriage in Lynn, MA, to John Witt on 14 Jun 1676. Given the Lynn-Northampton-Lynn route of your forebearers, it would seem likely that she is a child of Edward & Joan. Can you confirm?

Milton MA

John said...

Excellent historical account. We share the same 9th Great-Grandfather in Edward Baker. His son Timothy was my 8th Great-Grandfather also and his son Thomas with Sarah Hollister is my 7th Great-Grandfather. The line goes forward as follows: Thomas Baker and Christine Otis Baker's daughter Christine married Dudley Watson of Dover, NH. Their son was Otis Baker Watson who was a Pvt in Col. Evans' Reg NH Militia which fought at Saratoga in 1777 . Otis Baker Watson and Charity Horn's son was James H. Watson of Sandwich, NH. James H. Watson and Sarah Keazer's son was James O. Watson of Sandwich, NH and eventually Newton, MA. James O. Watson and Margaret Reagan's son was Charles H. Watson of Newton and eventually Medford, MA where he was a Police Officer. Charles Watson and Mary O'Sullivan's daughter was Gertrude Watson. Gertrude Watson and Leonidas Carbonneau's son was Leon Carbonneau. Leon Carbonneau and Winifred Nelson's daughter is Jean (Carbonneau)Zafiris, my mother who was married to my late father John P. Zafiris Sr.
I have found this family history very interesting. My family history is confirmed through birth and death records but I am also interested in doing some DNA testing to see where else it might take me.

Billerica, MA

Anonymous said...

Your Baker family tree is very interesting since I share the same ancestors. My grand father was John Baker of the branch of the family that relocated from Mass. to Kalamazoo Michigan. My grandfather dies in the great flu epidemic of the 20s. I so appreciate the work you've done! Brenda Baker, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Shirley Worthen said...

Fascinating article! Edward Baker was my 8th great grandfather. His son Timothy was my 7th, followed by John 6th, Stephen 5th, Thomas 4th, Timothy M. 3rd, John S. Baker 2nd, Mary Helen Baker Great grandmother, Hazel Florence Browne, grandmother, Martha LaVerne Curtis mother.

Shirley Holland (Worthen)

Shirley Worthen said...

In response to Steve of Milton, MA: I do show from my Baker genealogy records an Elizabeth Baker born to Edward and Joan on March 18, 1661 in Northampton.


Shirley Holland (Worthen)
8th great granddaughter of Edward Baker

Clifford King Harbin said...

Thanks for posting this information. Edward and Joan are my 8th Great-grandparents as well through their granddaughter, Mary who married Ambrose Fowler. If you have any other information that would be helpful to me from your research, would you please email me at Thanks,

Clifford King Harbin (female)
Mother of Miles, Mitchell, and Clare
Portsmouth, VA

Lucy Baker said...

Hi I am Lucinda Baker , from Massachusetts, my father was William P. Baker,according to Nelson Baker's book, we descend from Edward Baker who arrived in the Boston area about 1630 , the one from Lynn/Saugus area that Baker's Hill was named after.I am trying to locate where in England he came from , I've found a few leads but no definite info(ie Birth certificate)he was married to a Jane or Joan I've read in Nelson's book I believe it is. I would like any info, if anyone has any. Thanks, Lucy