Bakers – Here, There and Everywhere; George W. Baker & Esther Robertson

My husband’s ancestors are really annoying. Mine had the good sense to mostly live in places where good records were kept and survived. His kept moving into frontiers as they migrated across the United States, becoming some of the first settlers in those areas. Of course, most of those places have rather incomplete records. Never mind birth and death records. There are missing marriage records and probate records. In a couple of cases, land deeds also burned.

As for his Baker family, besides not being thoughtful enough to leave behind good records for posterity, the (huge) clan moved frequently in mob formation, gave all the same names to their kids AND intermarried constantly. Researchers have tried to untangle them for decades, with only limited success.

These Baker men were what is known as long hunters, as they would travel far from home for long periods of time hunting on the frontier. That has added to the difficulty in documenting this family.

The icing on the cake was the cholera epidemic in Linn County, Missouri in the summer of 1846. Many family members died during this outbreak.

No one has come up with definitive proof of the parentage of George W. Baker, but he was born c1779, most likely in Wilkes County, North Carolina.

There are several Revolutionary War soldiers affiliated with this Baker family. First, there is George Baker, who died on 25 February 1840 in Morgan County, Indiana. He was born about 1756, as he was 84 years old in 1840.  He married Susannah Morris on 29 August 1778 in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He would be a likely candidate to be the father of George W. Baker, but George and Susannah had a son, George Morris Baker, who continued to reside in Morgan County, Indiana long after George W. Baker moved his family to Missouri.

Next we have Bolin (Bowling) Baker, who migrated from North Carolina with George to Kentucky and applied for a pension in 1832, when he was “69 years and some months,” giving a birth year of about 1763. He was living in Clay County, Kentucky at the time.

The 1820 census of Clay County, Kentucky includes Bowling Baker with a (supposed) wife, five sons and six daughters. However, I have found no list of his children that I can trust. Probate records for Clay County do not go back to the mid 1830s, when Bowling Baker reportedly died. He has not been found on the 1840 census.

I also have no proof of the name of his wife, although I have seen mentions that he married Martha (Patsey) Morris, sister of George’s wife, Susannah.

There is also some foolishness to be found online about Bowling Baker being a scout during the French and Indian War and changing sides, choosing to live among the Indians and marrying “Princess” Aracoma. First of all, being born about 1763 would make him the youngest scout ever as the war ended in that same year. Second, all the supposed children of Bowling and Aracoma conveniently died of smallpox in 1776. Lastly, I doubt he’d have been granted a Revolutionary War pension if his military “service” was fighting on the side of the Indians instead of against them.

Anyway, I don’t believe that Bowling Baker was the father of George W. Baker because Bowling was born about 1763 and George about 1779. He’s a bit too young to be George’s father.

There are two other reputed Revolutionary War soldiers from Wilkes County, North Carolina – Andrew Baker and Morris Baker. In 1800, Morris Baker was living in Ashe County, North Carolina, which had been carved from Wilkes County. Some say they were brothers, but I haven’t found any proof of that.

Morris Baker was born before 1755, based on the over 45 age category on the 1800 census, but he could have been born well before that year. He died in 1810. His wife was also Patsy, based on the court records of the probate of his estate. Sons Zachariah and Jonathan settled it and two minor children requested that their mother be their guardian.

Captain Andrew Baker, under whom George Baker served during one of his military terms during the war is a mystery man. Little is known about him and there might have been more than one Andrew Baker in the area at the time. It is not known whether George and Andrew were related.

In any case, I tend to doubt that Morris and Andrew are in the mix to be the father of George W. Baker.

The most likely candidate to be the father of George W. Baker is John Baker of Clay County, Kentucky in 1810. He is listed as 80-89 years old, thus born 1741-1750, assuming he is the John who is the head of household in that census. A Christopher Bowling lives two doors away (he married a Nancy Baker) and Robert Baker is ten doors away.

Legend has it that he married Elizabeth Terrill, but I can find no proof of that – not even a supposed year of marriage. There is a marriage bond filed in Wilkes County, North Carolina dated 10 September 1779 for John Baker with George Morris and Charles Rowland as securities, BUT, and this is a big but, the space for the bride’s name was LEFT BLANK. Some have also speculated that his wife was a Rowland. However, with all the intermarrying this family did, she could as well have been a Morris.

The truth is is that the name of his wife is unknown, but she predeceased him, as there is no elderly woman in the 1830 household. In fact, there is no woman close to his age range in 1810 or 1820, either, so she may have died long before him.

John is commonly known as “John Renta Baker,” but I have no idea where Renta comes from.

Children attributed to John “Renta” Baker and his wife:

  1. Martha “Pattie,” born c1762; married Justice Boling, 8 January 1782, Wilkes County, North Carolina
  2. Boling?, born c1764, possible son, but the many Bowling Bakers make it difficult to prove
  3. Andrew B., born c1765; died c1841, Laurel County, Kentucky; possibly married a woman named Hannah.
  4. James “Claybank”, born c1768; wife’s name not proven. As with Bowling Baker, there are too many Jameses to be certain who is who.
  5. John “Durkham,” born c1770; reportedly married Hannah Morris
  6. Robert Julius “Juder Bob,” born c1774; died 1859 in Owsley County, Kentucky; reportedly married Elizabeth Hammons, c1792,  in Lincoln County, Kentucky, but I’ve found no record of that.
  7. George Washington, born c1779; died 1846, Linn County, Missouri; married Esther Robertson, 14 July 1800, Garrard County, Kentucky. This is my husband’s line.
  8. Iffa (or Ifee), born c1790; died c1866, Jackson County, Kentucky; married Elisha Harrison, 28 August 1805, Madison County, Kentucky. Iffa, Ifee or Ipha is much younger than John Baker’s other children, but he gave permission for her to marry on 26 August 1805, so there is no doubt as to her parentage. She is said to be part Native American, which is possible with her unusual given name.

I believe that John Renta Baker was most likely the father of George W. Baker, but that belief is based on preponderance of evidence and supposition. Given the lack of vital and court records in Clay County, Kentucky, this might be the closest anyone can get to proving his parentage.

Now that you can see what Baker researchers are up against, I will share more of this Baker quagmire tomorrow as the children of George W. and Esther are identified.






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