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Baker, W. A.
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Baker, W. A.
Contributed by Barbara
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Source: Past and Present of Pike County, Page 369-370

W. A. BAKER

W. A. Baker, of Pleasant Hill, usually called Judge Baker, is one of the prominent citizens of Pike county and one of the few remaining early settlers. For years he was a manufacturer of tobacco and his well-directed activity resulted in making him one of the prosperous citizens of his community. He elates his residence in Illinois from 1844 and has made his home in Pike county since 1865. His birth occurred in Ohio on the 28th of September, 1825, his father being George W. Baker, who was born in West Union, Ohio, where his childhood and youth were passed. He became a blacksmith by trade, carried on a shop at West Union and conducted a successful business. At that place he was married and in 1831 he removed to Kentucky, locating in Gallatin county, where he carried on business for a long period, spending his remaining days there.

Judge Baker was reared in Kentucky, where he received fair school advantages. He came to Illinois as a young man about 1844, locating at Carthage, Hancock county, where he turned his attention to merchandising, following that pursuit for about four years. In 1850 he removed to Louisiana, Missouri, where he engaged in the manufacture and sale of tobacco, continuing in the trade at that point for sixteen years, after which he came to Pike county, settling first in Barry. He there continued in the tobacco trade for a few years, after which he removed to Eldara, where he engaged in the manufacture of tobacco for about two years. In 1870 he came to Pleasant Hill, where he continued in the tobacco business for three years.

While living in Carthage, Hancock county, Mr. Baker was united in marriage to Miss Louisa E. Conklin, who was born in Ohio but was reared in Hancock county, Illinois. This union has been blessed with five children: W. V. at home: Ida, the wife of Richard Turner, of Oregon; Duane, a telegraph operator now at home: and Elmer, who carries on a harness business in Pleasant Hill. He married Gertrude Gelvin and they have a son, Ralph. Mr. and Mrs. Baker also lost one daughter, Clara, who grew to womanhood, was married and died in 1882, leaving three children.

Judge Baker has been a stalwart democrat since casting his first presidential ballot in 1848. He has never once missed a presidential election and has always stood loyally by the principles which he believes to contain the best elements of good government. He was elected justice of the peace in Derry township and long filled the same office in Pleasant Hill. He has also served as police justice for years, his incumbency in the two positions covering thirty years. He has likewise been notary public and has frequently been chosen as a delegate to the county and congressional conventions. His residence in the county covers more than a half century, during which time he has witnessed its growth and progress, watching its transformation from an unbroken wilderness and swamp to a district of rich fertility with splendidly developed farms, in the midst of which are thriving villages or more pretentious cities. His life has been a useful one and his influence has ever been given on the side of improvement and progress. He was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife in 1895, her death occurring in Pleasant Hill. She was an estimable lady and like her husband, enjoyed the warm regard of many friends. Mr. Baker made a creditable record in business circles and his official record is equally commendable, for at all times he has been found faithful to duty and loyal to the trust reposed in him.

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Submitted: 05/09/09

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