Joseph Baker Notes

From research by Gwen Bjorkman and Lois Baker Nolan (family memory):

Joseph settled somewhere in Knox County around 1830. On Janurary 7, 1834, he married a young woman named Jane Williams (from Knox County Marriages, 1800-1850), and they were eventually blessed with six children: three sons, (Marion, John and Green), and and three daughters, (Alaine, Margaret, and Amanda).

In 1860, Joseph acquired 30 acres of land by paying off the back taxes. This farm was located over the hill from Knox Fork in the Middle Fork community.  [The exact location of the home and outbuildings and well is noted on this map as the Green Baker home; Joseph’s son. In the late 1950’s, while out rabbit hunting with my grandfather, Willie Baker, he showed me what was left of a whiskey still in the nearby woods. Several of the farm buildings were still partially standing at that time. More recently, our annual Baker family reunions included a tractor pulled hayride to the remnants of this old farm place.  –BB]  The farm was typical for the area: a meadow about ½ mile long and surrounded with mountains on three sides. With help from the older boys and possibly friends and neighbors, he constructed several log buildings, a large 2-room building for their home, a barn and a corn crib, and dug a large open well for drinking water. He moved his large family into the new home. His six children ranged in age from 23 years down to 11 years old. In 1863, he purchased an additional 45 acres.

Just seven years later, in 1870, Joseph and his older son, John E. Baker, decided that the grass looked greener out west. Kansas was admitted to the Union in 1861, and was being touted as a utopia, with plenty of cheap land for the taking. Joseph transferred ownership of the farm to his youngest son, Green, who had just gotten married.

Joseph, now 60 years old, his wife Jane, his son John (31) and his wife Melvina and children packed all their possessions and began the long westward trek in wagons pulled by oxen. They traveled across Kentucky into Indiana and settled temporarily in Mechanicsburg, Indiana. In 1872, Melvina died of typhoid fever. One verbal source (the late Leland Baker) indicates that Joseph’s wife also died of typhoid at the same time–but this has not been verified in the available written records.