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J. D. Baker    

J. D. BAKER. J. D. Baker was born in Walker County, Alabama, March 2, 1818. He was of a family well-known in his native state, being a nephew of Confederate General Alpheus Baker, who was one of Alabama’s noblest patriots. Mr. Baker was reared on a farm and acquired sufficient education by the time he was 19 to qualify as a teacher and taught one year in a small country school near his home. At the age of 20 he became employed at Tuscaloose in the leading general store of the town. There he learned the lessons of industry and economy, the principles of which stayed with him throughout life.

He came to Texas in 1874 and began merchandising in Granbury with $500 borrowed capital. His business grew rapidly. It was there, on October 26, 1876, that he married Miss Alice Blake. Four children were born to them but, of the family, there are living in this year of 1936 only his widow, Mrs. Alice Baker of Weatherford, and a daughter, Mrs. Mary Baker Rumsey of Oklahoma City. Their sons, Chas. and J. Harry Baker, became honored and prominent business men but passed away in their early manhood. A daughter, Ethel, died at age 12.

Mr. Baker came to Weatherford in 1891 from Dallas, where he had been engaged in business the previous two years. His business interests soon became more varied and extensive than that of any other citizen in those years. This was accomplished by his indomitable energy, strict business integrity and financial acumen and foresight. He had a most pleasing personality and was noted for his cheerfulness, kindness to all and liberality to those in need. He was at the head of the firm of Baker-Poston and Company and The Famous Shoe Store, a member of the wholesale grocery firm of Cameron, Hill and Baker, President of the First National Bank and a Director of the Crystal Palace Flouring Mills Co. He also had business connections at Cisco, Quanah, Granbury, Anson and Henrietta and a ranch in Palo Pinto County. He was largely instrumental in the establishing of Weatherford College, and by his loyal support was most helpful in the advancement of the school in its early existence. This worthy and successful College has in more recent years benefitted by the generosity of Mrs. Baker.

Mr. Baker died on April 2, 1899. An extract from the local newspaper of April 6, here reproduced, indicates the esteem in which he was held by the public at large:

“On Easter Morning, April 2, 1899, as the morning sunbeams were gilding our hilltops and lighting our valleys with a golden glow of brightness and of beauty—and as the early church bells were calling Christian worshipers together to commemorate the resurrection of the world’s Redeemer, the spirit of J. D. Baker—freed from its tenement of clay, took its flight to the realms of everlasting life—to the eternal home of the soul. Truly, in the midst of life we are in death, and Weatherford cannot yet realize that J. D. Baker is dead,—that he who only one short week ago was the embodiment of active business life, moving among us with cheery greetings and genial smiles will no more meet us in the busy marts of trade, in the circles of congenial social fellowship, or at Christian communion in the house of prayer. The unexpected death of this noble man brings a sense of personal loss to hundreds of persons,—outside of the circle of family relatives and business connections; for he was a true, generous, unselfish friend to all needing courage and sympathy, whether of low or high degree.

“Every business house was closed for the funeral and a pall of Ladness and sorrow hung as a cloud over all. The very appropriate and deeply impressive comments upon the social life, business integrity and personal piety of Mr. Baker were beautifully worded and eloquently delivered by his pastor, Rev. H. D. Knickerbocker, and will linger long in the minds and hearts of the hundreds who listened in breathless silence to the immortal truths,—that righteous living and doing can alone give true joy, pleasure and happiness in this life and secure the glories of a never ending eternity in our Father’s Heavenly Home, when the soul escapes from its tenement of clay and dons the robes of immortality.”

History of Parker County and the Double Log Cabin: being a brief symposium of the early history of Parker County, together with short biographical sketches of early settlers and their trials, Weatherford, Tex.: Herald Pub. Co., 1937, pages144-146. View the image of this page online.  Search Hundreds of 1880s-1920s Texas History Books for biographies and historical information on your ancestors.  View the book page images on line and print them out for your genealogy file!  Try the family history collection for free for 14 days!

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