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Cherokee County Biographies

John H. Baker

JOHN H. BAKER, one of the most enterprising men it has been the fortune of Grand Meadow Township to claim as a citizen, died in Los Angeles, California in the Sisters' Hospital, December 16, 1888.  He was born in the State of Pennsylvania, October 4, 1850.  His parents were also natives of Pennsylvania, but removed to Iowa when he was one year old and when he was eight years old both had died, leaving him and one sister, Emma, now Mrs. Jenkins and two half sisters, Mrs. Lizzie Brooks and Mrs. Alice Pixler. After his mother's death he lived with an uncle, Henry Fry, in Clayton County, until he was fifteen years old, when he began to work on a farm by the month.  During the winters he attended the common school, and in the season worked with a threshing machine.  Mr. Baker was married June 10, 1871 to Miss Armilda Spickelmier, a daughter of Jesse and Sarah (Veach) Spickelmier.  She was born in Indiana, July 28, 1851 and was left an orphan at the age of seven years; from that time until she was fourteen years old she made her home with an uncle, Asa Veach, in Clayton County, Iowa and then was obliged to depend upon her efforts for a living.  While employed in the family of Mr. Baker's uncle she met him there.  It is not strange that two people whose lives had been so alike should have been attracted to each other; both left orphans in early childhood, both brought up by an uncle until barely able to earn a living and then thrown upon their young resources and both struggling bravely on until better days came to gladden their hearts.  For five years after their marriage they rented land in Clayton County and in the fall of 1876 they came to Cherokee County and purchased 160 acres, erecting a little shanty, in which they lived until better quarters could be procured.  Their first years in Cherokee County were by no means encouraging, but they persevered and by diligence and industry came out conquerors.  They had paid $ 100 on their land when they located and from time to time they were enabled to make investments until they owned the east half of section 3 and the west half of section 2; the farm still contains this amount of land and the improvements are of the best kind; the dwelling was erected at a cost of $2,000 and a substantial barn at a cost of $1,800.  Mr. Baker devoted the greater part of his time to the raising of livestock, and was very successful in this industry.  He was prominently identified with the Republican party and represented his township in many of its public offices; he was elected county supervisor, and was serving his first term when he died.  Mr. and Mrs. Baker had nine children born to them: Henry, Willie, Ernest, Almeda (who died at age of eleven months), Gretie, Emma, Ella, Estella, and Roy, who died at the age of six months.  Mr. Baker was ill for about one year before his death.  By the advice of his physician he went to California and had been there only one week when the relentless hand of death was upon him.  His wife hastened to his side, but the journey is long and she did not reach him until he had been dead two days.  She brought his remains back to the well-beloved home and the sorrow stricken children, and laid him to rest in the Tilden Cemetery.  He was a man of strong features and fine physique and a character which did not detract from his fine physical appearance.  He was a member of the Masonic Lodge at Marcus for five years: of Burning Bush Chapter, No. 90, R.A.M., and of Crusade Commandery, No. 39, K.T. He also belongs to the A.O.U.W.  He carried a life insurance of $6,000, all of which was promptly paid to his widow. He left a will, disposing of his property, so that the matter was settled in a most satisfactory way.  In the death of John H. Baker the community lost a most loyal, zealous citizen, and his family a true and tried father and husband.  

 Source: Biographical History of Cherokee County, IA, W. W. Dunbar & Co Publishers, 1889

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