Richard Philip Baker

1866 - 1937

His Ancestry & Life

By Gladys Elizabeth Baker, 1997*

Richard Philip Baker, second child and first son of Ellen Eley Baker and William Baker, was born at Condover, Shropshire (Salop), England, February 3, 1866.  His mother came from Derbyshire near Derby; his father from Stroud across the Medway River from Rochester, Kent.

Apparently the Baker lineage in England began with refugee Huguenots from France.  Because of continued religious persecution these French Protestants left France in waves, settling in the Canterbury, Kent area.  Most of them were skilled weavers.  In 1543 Henry the VIIIth, then endorsing Protestantism (Act of Supremacy) granted one group sanctuary in England, giving them the privilege of worship in a small crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, called St. Gabrielle's in the Crypt.  According to Frances E. Baker (R.P.B.'s daughter) who quoted from the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed.  V:211. 191l.: "The Chapel of St. John or St. Gabrielle, beneath St. Anselm's Tower, is still in use for service, in which the French language is used.  It was devoted to this purpose in 1561, on behalf of French Protestant refugees, who were also permitted to carry on their trade as weavers in the crypt."  Frances visited there in 1954 noting this practice persisted.  Later there was a weavers house.

A family by the name of Nye (pronounced Ney), a Huguenot weaving family, arrived in England as immigrants in 1588.  Names of the Nye family appear in the St. Gabrielle records.  The Nyes settled in the Canterbury area.  A Madame Nye of Canterbury, for whom dates are unknown, was the progenitor of the Baker family.   When Frances and Gladys were visiting Wilfred Wright, R.P.B.'s first cousin, in 1928, he showed us a small water color of a lady he thought was Madame Nye.  The lady had dark eyes, dark hair in ringlets and was dressed in simple style.  The fate of this portrait is unknown.  Early in W.W.II Wilfred and his wife cleared their London home and put their goods in storage because of the bombing raids.  They then retreated to their home in Surrey.  Unfortunately the warehouse with their goods was destroyed in the Blitz.  If Wilfred removed the portrait to Surrey it probably is now with one of his two daughters or their descendants.

A daughter of Madame Nye, name unknown, married a Goodwin of Maidstone, Kent in 1790.  Their son Thomas Goodwin married Mary Hall, Maidstone, circa 1810.  A daughter of this union, Mary Goodwin, 1806-1876, and Richard Baker of Eden Bridge, Kent were united circa 1829 when they eloped to be married in St. Marylebone Parish Church, London.  They lived in Stroud, Kent across the Medway River from Rochester.  Here they raised four children: William, 1830-1874, R.P.B.'s father; Josiah, 1832-1850; Anne, a.k.a. Annie, 1835-1916 (?); and Mary a.k.a. Polly, 1842-1894.  In the churchyard at Stroud there is a tombstone with the names of Josiah, William, their mother Mary and sister Mary.  Mary Goodwin Baker's name appears twice; once as mother of Josiah and William, and again as wife of Richard; and Mary, sister of Josiah and William, 1842-1894.  F. and G. saw this marker in 1928 and G. photographed it.

Mary, a.k.a. Polly did not marry although she was engaged to a young man, who, returning from a business trip in Paris, overslept on the Channel ferry.  He rushed off in his carpet slippers whereupon Polly who had gone to meet him at Dover, returned his ring on the spot she was so offended.  Uncle Will's wife remarked on hearing this story, "What a lucky escape he had."
Annie, married Peter Wright, from the Isle of Aram off the coast of Scotland.  He was a wealthy brewer.  The Wright estate, "The Chestnuts", was in Clapton, a London suburb.  It overlooked the River Lea.  Aunt Mary took Frances and Gladys there in 1928.  Now part of a public park, Springhill, she could identify a shrubbery walk and some chestnut trees from the Wright home.
The Wrights had one son, Wilfred, who was R.P.B.'s first cousin.  Wilfred married May Hetherington of Birmingham.  They had three children: Dora Jean Temple; John Muir Hetherington; and Elizabeth Avril Goodwin.  Muir went to Burma to be a rubber planter.  He was killed during the Japanese invasion of W.W.II. Avril was a silver medalist at the London Conservatory of Music.  During W.W.II she and others, including Dame Myra Hess, played free concerts during the day.  People could come and go giving them a respite from the stress of the war.

Aunt Mary L. told us a story about Muir as a small boy.  A visitor asked him what he wanted to do when he was grown up.  Muir's answer was quick and to the point: "Get married and write checks like Papa."

Richard Philip's grandfather, also Richard, served as Beadle in Stroud.  For forty years or more he was secretary of the Kent County Cricket Club.  When he retired the Club presented him with a handsome silver inkstand.  Wilfred Wright, his grandson, inherited this.  Wilfred asked Frances and Gladys if R.P.B., or Dick as he called him, liked it.  He had sent it to him by Aunt Mary L. Baker when she came to U.S. in 1922.  Since neither one of us had ever heard of it we were a bit embarrassed.  We believe Aunt Mary L. gave it to Dick Baker, R.P.B.'s nephew instead of R.P.B. Its present whereabouts is unknown.  (It was given to nephew, Richard Goodwin Baker, and is now in the possession of his son, John.)

R.P.B.'s father, William Baker, 1830-1874, was born in Stroud, Kent on the Medway River.  Stroud is across the river from Rochester.  After elementary school he was largely self taught.  He became a professional organist.  His mother was said to be an accomplished musician.  William settled in Shrewsbury, Shropshire where he was organist at St. Mary's Church.  In poor health he was advised to accept a less confining position, so he became "Relieving Officer of the Poor" for Atcham Union, Shropshire.  It involved driving by horse and buggy over the shire to call on recipients.  This position was probably similar to that of a modern social worker.

In early life William had displayed some talent for painting.  At 18 (1848) he produced an oil painting of a view across the Medway River with a distant view of Rochester Cathedral and the Castle in the foreground.  At that time the Cathedral had a spire which the Germans razed in a bombing raid in W.W.I. Later it was replaced.  Aunt Mary L. gave this painting to Gladys when she came on a visit in 1923.  In 1984 she in turn gave it to Richard Goodwin Baker, her first cousin and R. P. B.'s nephew.
When William resigned as organist of St. Mary's Church he moved with his first wife and daughter, Ann Goodwin Baker, to nearby Condover.  There his wife died of tuberculosis.  She and an infant son are buried in St. Andrews Churchyard, Condover where there is a marker with their names.

In 1863 William married Ellen Eley from Derbyshire who was teaching at the Abbey School, Shrewsbury.  They had four children: Mary Louisa, Richard Philip, Ellen Stanford, and William.  William senior died in 1874 at his sister Anne Baker Wright's home, "The Chestnuts", in London.  The cause of death was an aortal aneurysm not angina, a misdiagnosis made earlier.  William is buried in Abney Park Cemetery, London.

Ellen Baker, nee Eley, was born at the family home, "The Hurst", in Smalley near Derby, Derbyshire, in 1827.  The Eleys had been freehold farmers there for over 300 years.  R.P.B. said he could trace the family back that far on tombstones in the churchyard, and undoubtedly the church records went back even farther.  Derby is the location of porcelain potteries.  The most famous began as Derby porcelain, then changed its name to Chelsea Derby in 1770, and finally under royal patronage became the well known Royal Crown Derby.  Ellen Baker had some Derby porcelain.  Mary L. Baker brought over two plates from the Baker home in 1922.  Gladys added a bowl, and cup and saucer purchased in antique shops.  These were all in a Bloor pattern of 1820.  Bloor was a famous designer for this porcelain.  When a pattern is successful the pottery continues to make it for some time making the age of these pieces difficult to determine, especially as there is no hall mark on the Eley plates.  All of these belong to the John Bakers now.
When Ellen was five years old (1832) her father held her on his shoulders to see the first train in England; this she remembered clearly.  She later attended Whitelands, the Government Teachers' Training School for secondary teaching.  It was a five year program with five girls in the first class which she ranked at graduation.  Whitelands is now part of London University.  In Shrewsbury she is remembered by a plaque as the first "Certificated Teacher" there, according to Mary L. Baker.  From 1851 to 1863 she taught at the Abbey School.  The Abbey, long gone, is known today through Ellis Peters' stories of Brother Cadfael who had detective prowess in the 12th Century.
Shrewsbury also had potteries whose products were called Salopian.  Aunt Ellen S. Baker gave Gladys one small vase which she gave to Mary Baker Hess in 1970. (Passed on to her son and daughter in-law, Charles and Wilma, circa 1982.)  It was a blank - plain white - to be decorated elsewhere, a common practice among potteries.  Many blanks were sent to China.

After her husband died Ellen Eley Baker closed the small school for farmers' daughters she held in a room of the Condover house and moved her family to Shrewsbury where she taught in the Darwin Elementary School from 1876-1892.  In Shrewsbury the family lived in a house called "The Mount" which was on the Severn River.  One year the directors of the Darwin School decided that boys as well as girls should be taught to knit and sew, much to her dismay as R. P. B. recalled.  After this had been in practice for some time she concluded that some boys did well, others did not, just as girls performed.  Her son William recalled that she taught him speed reading by writing on a window shade, then snapping it up to test his memory.  After retiring she moved to Barnwood, near Gloucester, to live with her daughters.  She is buried in Barnwood Cemetery.

Ellen Eley's sister Alice married Sir Joseph Middleton of Derbyshire who owned coal fields near Leeds.  Alice died leaving four little girls who were given to her sisters to raise.  Mary Middleton was about eight when she came to live with Ellen Eley.  They lived at the Abbey Teacherage until Ellen married in 1863, then at Condover.  In 1867 (circa age 22) she married Francis Goyne of Shrewsbury.  He was a well known insurance broker and CPA with international connections.  R.P.B. was always impressed that his cable address was simply "Goyne, England" because the name was so unusual.  Aunt Mary L. remembered the wedding and watching the young couple drive away in a coach and four.
The young Goynes set up housekeeping at 7 Dogpole Street in Shrewsbury.  Dogpole is a corruption of "ducking pool".  In the small square opposite the house there had been a pool in which the village shrews and others were ducked.  This old house was the first one in the parish of St. Alkmund.  Its church was not far from the larger church of St. Mary's where William Baker had once been the organist.

In 1928 Mary M. Goyne was still living there with her daughter May Goyne Pryce and granddaughter Dorothy when Frances and Gladys visited them.  Dorothy, about the same age as Frances, showed us over the house.  It had six rooms in two to a floor.  The windows were casements with small leaded panes fastened with wrought iron hooks.  They did not fit very well!  Back of the kitchen were three sculleries, the oldest of which had a lead sink with the date 1619.  There was no electricity; we used candles or lamps.  Aunt Mary L. told a story of visiting there when Dorothy was 10 or 11.  Her mother wanted something from her bedroom to show Aunt Mary so Dorothy was requested to take a candle and fetch it.  Dorothy grumbled "It's Dorothy, Dorothy all day long." Aunt Mary seeking to soothe said, "in my business it's Miss Baker all day long."  Dorothy's rejoinder was "Yes, but you are coming to the end of it and I am just beginning."

There was a story about Mary M. as a small child that I have always taken "Cum grano salis".  Apparently she stood too close to a fireplace so her pinafore caught fire.  One of her ears burned, but eventually it was replaced by new tissue.

Joseph Middleton, Mary's father owned the Middleton Colliery near Leeds in the Peverill of the Peak region.  One of his employees, John Blenkinsop, invented the rack railway in which a toothed rack is engaged by a cog-wheel in 1811.  An engine built according to this plan by Mathew Murray, also of Leeds, began to haul coal from the Colliery to Leeds (1812) a distance of 3 1/2 miles.  Fifty years later an American, Sylvester Marsh, employed this rack system for the cog railway on Mt.  Washington, New Hampshire.  The gradient there was nearly 1 in 2 1/2. (See: Ency.  Brit. ed 11, 22: 936. 1911).

R.P.B. was always impressed that Joseph Middleton encouraged Blenkinsop to patent this invention in his own name.  Most owners would have taken the credit for themselves.  Besides being the basis for the Mt.  Washington cog-wheel railway it is also the basis of the San Francisco cable car.

Aunt Nellie told Frances that the traditional friendships and intermarriages were among four Derbyshire families: Eleys, Middletons, Stevensons and Stanfords.  Aunt Nellie's middle name was Stanford.  She also said there had always been a Joseph Middleton, I have always thought it strange that there were no stories about these families, especially the Eleys.

William and Ellen Eley Baker had four children, all born in Condover two years apart.  Mary Louisa Baker, 1864-1954, was the oldest.  She was educated in local schools of Condover and Shrewsbury with further training under the guidance of Frank Goyne.  In order to help the family financially she went to work in a bank when she was fourteen.  She seems to have been exceptionally gifted with monetary work.  In those days everything was guineas, pounds, shillings and pence.  Later she became a book keeper for Denton and Holbrook in Shrewsbury, then moved to their Gloucester store where she was eventually head buyer for cloaks and mantles.  She lived in nearby Barnwood.  She told us she always kept a bag packed in case she had to leave for London on a buying trip unexpectedly.  She had friends in London who kept her apprised of the imminent death of Queen Victoria.  She immediately went to London where she purchased everything needed in black for the official mourning.  This was quite a scoop for she was ahead of inflated prices and scarcities.

Aunt Mary L. visited United States twice: 1913 and 1922-1926.  She did not find the Midwest climate agreeable so returned to England.  At one time she planned to be married but her fiancee expected her to keep on working and contribute to the household.  This did not suit her so she broke the engagement!  Thinking she was to be married she had purchased a copy of Mrs. Beeton's "Household Management".  It was a first edition but far from a first printing.  She gave this book to the Richard Philip Baker family.  Later Gladys B. gave it to the John Bakers.  When she and Frances wanted to amuse themselves they used to read it for instructions on the duties of the butler, footmen, valet, lady's maid and directions for polishing the silver, brass, and kitchen stove.  The recipes were of the ilk - "Take a dozen eggs, a pound of butter" etc.  R.P.B. told us that Aunt Mary L. had invested heavily in Japanese bonds, as did many British.  These were a great loss after W.W.I.

In her final years when she could no longer live alone she stayed with a trained nurse and her family.  She had her own room and bath.  The family had a little girl of about 10 who was especially fond of Aunt Mary, always came to see her directly when she returned from school to visit and sometimes for help with her homework.  Until the last she kept her financial acuity.  Her last week she instructed her broker to buy a certain stock.  At her death its value had increased sufficiently to pay her funeral expenses.  When Frances and Gladys took a summer tour to Europe in 1928 they left the tour when it reached England.  Aunt Mary took over.  She was an excellent guide.

The Baker home in Condover was a half-timbered Tudor house.  William's mother made a wool worked representation of the house which Aunt Mary gave to Frances.  It now belongs to the John Bakers.  She also gave us a very old pair of brass candlesticks, Georgian, from the Eley family (now with Michael Baker)* and Ellen Eley's small, round brass alarm clock.  It wound by a key; for years it did not work then someone suggested the clock maker in Old Amana, Iowa.  He kept it running for years.  Aunt Mary L. said this clock was Ellen Eley's bedside clock all the years she was teaching.
Ellen Stanford Baker, 1868 to 1950, a.k.a. Nellie, was born in Condover.  She, too, was the product of Condover and Shrewsbury schools.  She was primarily the home maker for her family, moving to Barnwood with her mother when the latter retired.  They lived there with Mary L.  Nellie was a natural nurse with some training.  When Ellen Eley died, she came to the*(This pair, one of two that came over with R.P.B. & William, is with the Charles Hess family.) United States, making her headquarters with William Baker, rector of the Episcopal Church in Bloomington, Illinois.  From 1909 to 1929 she was a staff nurse at Waukesha Springs Sanitarium, Wisconsin.  For years she was sole attendant for Mrs. Fanny Altheimer, nee Mandel of the Chicago Mandels Store, who was schizophrenic.  She had a real knack with these patients.  Once when cornered in a doctor's office by a patient out of control brandishing a knife, she said "Madam, did you know your petticoat was showing?"  This made just enough distraction so Aunt Nellie and the doctor seized control.  After retirement she joined Aunt Mary L. in Shrewsbury, England, 1929.  The two Aunties had a charming modern cottage in the country with bus service that gave them easy access to Shrewsbury for shopping.  As soon as W.W.II started, bus service was discontinued because of expected petrol shortages.  They had to move to Shrewsbury, already overcrowded with government people whose offices and records had been moved there from London on the assumption it would be free from bombing raids.  Unfortunately by then little decent housing was available.  They had only a very dreary old set of rooms heated by fireplaces.  Food was severely rationed and I suspect coal also was.  Frances and I sent as many food parcels as we could but I am sure that not all of them reached their destination as the submarine warfare was so active.  After the war the two Aunties stayed in Shrewsbury where they both subsequently died.

Aunt Nellie was the Baker relative we knew best for she often came to visit.  One year on the day before Christmas the doorbell rang and there stood Aunt Nellie!  There was great excitement for this was the first (and only time) we had a relative with us at Christmas.  It was on this visit that 929 Kirkwood (later 829) was dubbed "The old Baker place".  When Aunt Nellie gave the taxi driver the address that was his response, meaning it was an old house.  Aunt Nellie was very good to her two nieces, often sending unexpected and wonderful gifts.  One Easter there were two beautiful spring hats.

William Baker was the youngest of the four Baker siblings.  Strangely he was the only one without a middle name.  He was born in Condover in 1870.  His early education was in Shrewsbury schools followed by five years at St. Denstone, a Public School, in Staffordshire (1882-1887).
William and R.P.B. often visited the Baker grandparents as youngsters.  The latter related this story to us.  At the end. of the main meal grandmother B. would ask her husband if he would have more.  His reply never varied, "No, my dear, I have had ample and am well fed."  The two boys, between themselves, always called their grandfather "Old ample".
The four young Bakers were close friends and companions of their Goyne cousins: May, Ethel, and Frank, Jr.  Mr. Frank Goyne remained a friend and advisor.  When Anne Goodwin Baker, their half-sister left for Australia at age 17, Mr. Goyne accompanied her to the ship she sailed on.  He brought back word that she waved good-bye through tears.  She never returned to England, settling in Melbourne where she trained as a nurse.  Later she owned her own nursing home (hospital), expropriated by the government in W.W. I.

When R.P.B. emigrated to United States in 1888 Will accompanied him.  They spent their first winter in New Orleans living with Alfred Baker who was always called "Uncle".  If so, he must have been descended through a brother of Grandfather Richard.  The only photograph we had of him showed him in a uniform of the Confederate army.  When R.P.B. sent him a wedding announcement it was returned marked "Address Unknown."  I believe he was a banker with two children.  So Uncle Alfred remains a mystery.  Other Baker cousins do also.  R. P. B. told Frances of visiting a Baker cousin (sic) who was Canon Praecentor at Durham Cathedral in charge of training the choirs.  Another cousin was a fine silversmith.

In New Orleans R.P.B. taught music and turned his hand at other available employment.  That first winter in New Orleans there was a big snow storm early in January.  So unprecedented was this that all businesses closed and everyone played in the -snow!  Sometime in 1889 the brothers moved to Weatherford, Jack County, Texas.  R.P.B. taught music and secondary school.  It greatly amused him to hear students chanting their spelling, e.g. "b-u-izzard-izzard a-r-d-, buzzard".  There is no record of what Will did; perhaps he, too, taught school.  Later he worked on railroads, usually as paymaster or supervisor of construction.  He was known to be adept at solving railway construction problems.  R.P.B. said he made a signal contribution in solving the problems connected with the entry of nine trunk lines at Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri before the 1904 World's Fair there.  His solution - back the trains in probably went unrewarded but in 1933 when Gladys first went to Washington University in St. Louis the trains backed in.
Another story of Will and railroads concerned a burly Scotsman who, when asked by the paymaster to "make his cross" before he was paid, was so incensed he knocked the paymaster down saying "No-one asks Angus _________, B.A. Edinburgh University, to make his mark".  Many years later when Uncle Will was filling in for a minister on vacation from his parish in the upper peninsula of Michigan where logging was a major industry he solved a railroad problem which he used to relate with relish.  The loggers used a narrow gauge track; an engine had jumped the track but there were complications.  After Uncle Will suggested a solution which worked the foreman was very grateful.  He announced he would come to hear Uncle Will preach the following Sunday.  After the service he said as he shook hands, "I'm still grateful to you for putting the wee engine back on the track, but the least said about the sermon the better."

When R.P.B. was president of Lamar College in Lamar, Missouri, Will taught history and English literature there.  The two Bakers left there in 1901 moving to Anna, Illinois where R.P.B. was co-principal of the Anna Academy.  In 1904 Will completed his studies for the Episcopal ministry and was ordained in 1904.  The same year he married Maud Kirkpatrick of Anna, Illinois.  After a pastorate in southern Illinois they moved to Bloomington, Illinois where Will was rector of St. Mark's.  He served there for many years, later moving first to Pontiac, then Momence, Illinois.  His final pastorate was at Evergreen, Colorado.  He died in 1957 at his retirement home in Roscoe, Missouri.  The William Bakers had three children: Mary Elizabeth, 1905-1984; William Cornwall, 1907-1984; and Richard Goodwin, 1911-19-.
One of Will's stories which R.P.B. liked to tell was about a visiting Bishop who, because of his rotundity, was having trouble getting into a carriage when he was leaving.  W. B. suggested that he turn sideways.  The Bishop asked him "My dear man, don't you know there is no sideways to a Bishop?"

Will Baker was a great fisherman.  In the summers he would establish his family at a campsite on the shore of Lake Michigan near Whitehall, Michigan, then he would return to Bloomington until his vacation time.  Frances spent two vacations with the family at the Michigan camp and Gladys one.  Both were compliments of their Aunt Nellie.  R.P.B. joined W.B. and nephew Dick for a week or so one summer but he was distinctly unhappy; he was not a happy camper!  When he told us about it he said the first night was miserably cold.  Their gear had arrived only in time to set up one tent, unpack the barest necessities and not enough blankets.  The two put Dick between them.  Dick's version was that he never had a blanket over him the entire night - just one going over him from side to side.  R.P.B. said the crowning indignity was the next morning when they could not locate the coffee so had to drink tea!

Several interesting Baker connections arose through the Goodwin line and the Mary Hall who married a Thomas Goodwin, circa 1810.  A direct descendant was Albert Goodwin (circa 1850-1934?) a famous watercolor painter.  Some of his work hung in the Tate Gallery, London where R.P.B. and his wife saw it in 1903.  A large picture titled "Dante's Inferno" may have been done in oils.  John Ruskin, Slade professor of art at Oxford University, told R.P.B. that he considered him the greatest Victorian watercolor artist because of his genius with color.  The 1933 edition of "Who's Who", British, lists several of Goodwin's paintings, all with classical or biblical themes.  Aunt Mary L. told us she had lunched with Albert Goodwin just before she came to U.S. in 1922.  He was quite elderly then.
When Frances and Gladys visited R.P.B.'s cousin Wilfred Wright in 1928 at his Surrey home, he gave us an Albert Goodwin painting called "The Gleaners".  It was a pastel and gouache painting of people gleaning wheat fields showing them at work among shocked wheat at sunset.  The colors were very delicate as I recall.  This painting now belongs to Anne Goodwin Baker Wroblewski, Richard Goodwin Baker's daughter.

Through Mary Hall who married a Goodwin in 1810, there is a connection with Newman Hall.  Mary's brother John Vine Hall was proprietor and editor of the Maidstone Journal.  He had several sons, three of whom Mary H. Goodwin took into her home to raise and educate.  The eldest, Christopher a.k.a. Newman Hall, was a Congregational minister in London.  His congregation raised the cost of a new church - 63,000 pounds - in four years.  The church is located at the junction of Kennington and Westminster Bridge Roads.  He was a prolific writer.  The best known of his tracts is "Come to Jesus" of which four million copies have been circulated in forty languages.  He visited U.S. twice: first during the Civil War, preaching in Boston and later giving the first outside lecture at the newly opened Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.  He died February 18, 1902.
The middle son, Samuel, took to the sea, becoming master of a sailing ship at age 22.  Later he was an officer of a ship in the Cyrus Field expedition which successfully laid the North Atlantic cable in 1886.

Arthur Hall was the youngest of the three boys Mary H. Goodwin took into her home.  He was a Congregational minister.  His son, also Arthur Vine Hall (born 1862) was a Presbyterian minister and a poet.  In 1890 he moved to Capetown, South Africa.  A volume of his poems "Poems of a South African" was published in 1928.  It included the famous song of the cicada, "Singsingetjie". Singsingetjie is the name the Dutch give the cicada.  It lives for four years as a grub underground, and then for six weeks as a winged insect.  It sing-sings most on hottest days.  The Greek story is that two harpers were competing for a prize when a string snapped.  A Goddess sent a cicada to supply the missing notes and so her favorite won. 


Sing, Singsingetjie, sing, sing, sing,
Sing the song of the sun!
On high where the blue and the pine-tops meet
Sing, sing, sing in the fragrant heat;
While the golden hammers of noontide heat
On shimmering veld and dusty street --
Sing, Singsingetjie, sing!

Sing, Singsingetjie, sing, sing, sing,
Sing the song of the sun!
After the long years underground,
With the cold damp darkness all around,
Sing the glory of sunshine found;
Sing 'till the klantzes and kloofs resound -
Sing, Singsingetjie, sing!

Sing, Singsingetjie,  sing, sing, sing,
Sing the song of the sun!
Sing as under the Grecian blue
You sang when the harp-string snapped, and few
 Of all who acclaimed the harper knew,
The missing notes were supplied by you.
Sing, Singsingetjie, sing!

Sing, Singsingetjie, sing, sing, sing,
Sing the song of the sun!
Many harps have a broken string,
The note that is lost is the note you bring -
The note of joy for the common things,
The sun in the sky, the bird on the wing -
Sing, Singsingetjie, sing!
Arthur Vine Hall

Having provided the background and relationships, both close and remote in the foregoing for Richard Philip Baker a.k.a. "Dick", his life takes center stage.  He was born in Condover, Shropshire, February 3, 1866, in the half-timbered Tudor house where his three siblings were born.  He was christened April 3, in the Condover Church.

His father, William, recognized early that he was an unusual child, telling his wife Ellen she must do everything she could to see that he had a chance for a university education.  For non-moni'ed people with no social standing this was a problem in the mid-nineteenth century.  He began his formal schooling in Harrison's School, Shrewsbury, in 1876.  Harrison gave him an excellent grounding in Latin, Greek, the English language, mathematics and chemistry.  A punishment practiced in British schools at that time was caning by willow switch.  If the crime was major it could be "rod in pickle".  The switch was soaked in brine to give it greater sting.  The results for the recipient meant "mantelpiecing".  Unable to sit down comfortably the poor wretch stood at the mantel piece to eat.  R.P.B. was caned over a word he used correctly, then could not define.  My mother did not approve of such punishment but R.P.B. said it made the right and lasting impression.

During these Shrewsbury days he experienced several events he described for us. One year it was cold enough to freeze ponds for skating.  An enterprising American rented skates for six pence.  When R.P.B. was ready to be fitted the entrepreneur directed him to put up "your velvet and illuminated by a spot light.beetle crushers" (his feet).  Another experience with an American connection was a lecturer on United States.  His illustrations were paintings unrolled laterally from side to side.  After the Mississippi River there was a long blank before the scroll reached the Rocky Mountains.  Among lecturers R.P.B. heard Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, the latter dressed in black.
In 1877 he was awarded a full. scholarship at Clifton College, a Public School, located in Bristol on the Severn River.  From then on scholarships, all by examination, provided for his education.  R.P.B. claimed his knowledge of organic chemistry (at age 11!) won him the first appointment.  His mother said it was not for his literary style. (He was a matter-of-fact-writer but an elegant raconteur).

An interesting story about his chemistry classes at Clifton College links him with the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA where he lived later and taught.  At Iowa a European trained scientist, Gustavus D. Hinrichs, taught chemistry classes.  These he held in his own home with laboratories in which students performed the experiments.  The usual practice at that time was by demonstration only.  Clifton College was so impressed with this innovation that it adopted the Hinrichs' method.  At that time R.P.B. was so small he had to stand on a wooden soapbox to reach the top of the laboratory bench.  This earned him the nickname "Soapbox Baker".

Because he was not very well, one term he stayed at home.  His mother noted an advertisement for a small boy to help an entomologist with his spring collection.  "Small boy" was to climb the trees for collecting specimens.  Consequently R.P.B. acquired a good knowledge of entomology.

He was very happy at Clifton.  He related how the 1883 eruption of Mt.  Krakatoa in western Java resulted in overcast skies from the ash that encircled the globe.  R.P.B.'s only athletic achievement was winning the "Long Penpole" cross country race of 10 miles.  For this he was awarded a silver loving cup, now at John Baker's.  Later this race, considered too demanding was shortened to five miles, and then abandoned altogether.  A fellow student was Robert Baden-Powell, later Sir Robert, founder of the Boy Scouts.  At Clifton the boys called him "Bathing Towel".Another fellow Cliftonian was Dalhousie Young.  He was very musical which R.P.B. appreciated.  He was the product of the British colonial system.  His father wasa Colonel in the British army in India.  Dal Young had been sent to England when a young boy as was the common practice in such situations.  By the time he was grown Colonel Young had retired, returned to England to live.  I think R.P.B. visited the family at least once.  Colonel Young and his wife found England too rainy and gloomy in the winters so went to Italy for several months each year.  There he was unhappy with the generosity with which garlic was used.  Finally he decided a boiled egg should be safe.  But the deeper he ate the stronger the flavor of garlic.  Examination revealed that a bit had been stuck into the bottom of the egg.  Dal Young wrote some lovely music for the piano.  For summer holidays he liked to take walking trips in the Balkans.  Having an unusually quick ear he picked up languages and dialects easily.  Consequently when W.W.I began he was one of the few men in England who understood these languages.  He was sent on many missions, then lived through the Gallipoli Campaign.  His health was never good after that and he did not live long afterwards.

At Clifton College R.P.B. was the recipient of many honors.  First, he completed the work of the 6th Form by the end of the 5th.  This entitled him during his last year the free use of laboratories and library.  When he left Clifton in 1884 he was "School Exhibitioner".  During his years at Clifton he accumulated many prizes by examination.  The School Examiners awarded books of their choice to the winners.  R.P.B. collected thirteen of these awards.  The books were always known as "Father's prize books".  Many of them were bound in leather with gold titles on the spine and the facing pages marbleized.  A list is appended.  Most of these were given to an appreciative mathematician friend but two were sent to the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. as part of the material there about R.P.B. in the Mathematics Section of the

Historical Collection.

Prize Awards to Richard Philip Baker, Clifton College, Bristol, England

*Darwin, Charles.  1879, 14th thousand.  A naturalist's voyage.  Journal of researches .into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of "The Beagle" around the world.  John Murray, London.  x + 512 p.

Math.  Prize V, July 27, 1880.                        (L=Lower)

Stallbaumius, Godofredus, ed.  1873, emended ed.  Platonis omnia, uno valumine
comprehensa.  Sumptibus Ottonis Holtze, Lipsiae. xv + 725. p.

VI Form, Challenge Problems Prizes, July 25, 1882.

Walton, William. 1876, 3rd ed.  A collection of problems in the illustration of the principles of theoretical mechanics.  Deighton, Bell and Co., Cambridge; G. Ball and Sons, London, viii + 667 p.

VI Form, Fox Prize for Physics, July 25, 1882.

Helmholtz, R. 1881.  Second series.  Popular lectures on scientific subjects.  Trans. by
E. Atkinson.  Longmans, Green, and Co., London.  vi + 265 p.

VI Form, Special Chemistry prize, July 31, 1883.

Maxwell, James Clark.  1881. 2nd ed.  A treatise on electricity and magnetism.  Vol. 1.
Clarendon Press, Oxford. xxi + 456 p.

VI Form, The Merchant Venturers Prize for Science, July 31, 1883.

Newcomb, Simon.  1883, 2nd ed., rev.  Popular astronomy.  Macmillan and Co.,
            London. xx + 579 p.

VI Form, Math.  Prize, July 31, 1883.

Thomson, William, Sir.  1882., new ed.  Elements of natural philosophy.  Part 1.
Cambridge at the University Press. vi + 295 p.

VI Form, The Merchant Venturers Prize for Science, July 31, 1883.

Thomson, William, Sir and Hugh Blackburn.  1871, ed. 3,  rev.  Sir Isaac Newton's Principia.  James Maclehose, Publisher to the University, Glasgow.
xxxvi + 538 p.

VI Form, The Merchant Venturers Prize for Science, July 31, 1883.

Thomson, William and Peter G. Tait.  1879, new ed.  Treatise on natural philosophy,
    Vol. 1, Part 1.  Cambridge at the University Press, xvii + 508 p.

VI Form, The Merchant Venturers Prize for Science, July 31, 1883.

Thomson, William and Peter G. Tait. 1882.  Treatise on natural philosophy.  Vol. 1,
    Part II.  Cambridge at the university Press, xxv + 527 p.

VI Form, Album Prize, December 1883.

*Wallace, Alfred Russell.  1883.  The Malay Archipelago.  Macmillan and Co., London.
    xii + 653 p.

VI Form, Math. Prize, 1 st Set, July 29, 1884.

Thomson, William, Sir.  1884, 2nd ed.  Reprint of papers on electrostatics and magnetism. Macmillan and Co., London. xv + 596 p.

VI Form, Headmasters Challenge, July 29, 1884.

Helmholtz, H.  1881.  First series, 2nd ed.  Popular lectures on scientific subjects.
Trans. by E. Atkinson.  Longmans, Green, and Co., London. xiv + 314 p.
    VI Form, lst set. Math. Prize, July 29, 1884.
*Sent to:

                                         POSTAGE AND FEES PAID
       OFFICIAL BUSINWAS                                                                        SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION

                       Smithsonian  Institution
                          The National Museum of American History
              Division of Mathemtics
              NMAH     5128
                      Washington, D.C. 20560

ATTN:  DR. Uta C. Merzbach, Curator

          Knowing that it had an outstanding man in R.P.B.,. Clifton College insisted he sit for the Brackenbury Scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford.  R.P.B. did not want to attend Balliol for it emphasized the classics; he wished to go to Cambridge University for mathematics.  But the Brackenbury was so prestigious that any school which could claim one of their men had taken it received kudos.  Years later when Frances and Gladys visited there, we asked the hall porter if we could view Father's rooms (Oxford was not in session at the time).  With our obvious American accents the porter asked if he was a Rhodes Scholar.  When he heard Brackenbury we could have had the place.  The rooms were not very large, had a living room with fireplace and, of course, double doors at the entrance.  The outer one, heavy oak was always left open unless one wished complete privacy.  The latter practice was known as "sporting the oak".
Each Oxford student was required to have fittings for the "High Table".  This meant silverware for twelve and linen tablecloths, banquet size.  There was a lovely teapot with Georgian lines and a handsome cruet with crystal bottles for condiments: oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and mustard.  The cutlery included dinner knives, dinner forks, tea forks, tea knives, teaspoons, dessert spoons, soup spoons, egg spoons and mustard spoons, as well as serving pieces.  The dinner and tea knives had ivory handles.  All pieces were marked R.P.B.  I believe Aunt Annie Baker Wright outfitted Father with these.  All the Oxford accouterments belong to John Baker now.

R.P.B. entered Oxford University in 1884 when Benjamin Jowett was Head Master at Balliol.  I suspect Jowett was both arrogant and stuffy from a steel engraving of him hung in Fathers study.  I had a small desk below it and I felt he never approved of me!  Students made up a verse about him.
"My name is Benjamin Jowett,
What is known .I know it.
What I know not is not knowledge,
And I am Master of this College."

Earlier students had a characterization for Liddell (father of Alice Liddell who inspired Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland") and Scott.  This pair produced the standard Greek Lexicon: Liddell the work, Scott the money.  In this case each line is represented by a series of knuckle raps:
*  *  *  *                 "Liddell and Scott
*  *  *  *                  Liddell and Scott
   *  *  *  *  *             One was the scholar
   *  *  *  *  *             The other was not."

Another R.P.B. story explained why he had no nickname at Balliol, having been preceded by two Bakers (not related) one of whom was called "Damnation", the other "Salvation".  So what was left?  A few times R.P.B. put on his Oxford accent to entertain his daughters, much to their delight and amusement.  In R.P.B.'s day no women were eligible for degrees but could attend lectures if chaperoned.  R.P.B. attended some chemistry lectures given by a Don whose chief chemical accomplishment had been a patent for putting more air into soap but knew little chemistry.  Naturally R.P.B. was bored.  So he found a seat behind a young lady whose chaperone read books in large print.  He read Browning over her shoulder.

While at Oxford Aunt Annie Wright's home, "The Chestnuts", became his second home.  Aunt Annie was an excellent pianist, often entertained outstanding musicians.  One of these was the Abbe Franz Liszt whom R. P. B. met there and heard play.  He later met Eugene D'Albert who was a student of Liszt's and became a well known performer.  He also distinguished himself by marrying nine times.  Aunt Annie and D'Albert's mother were boarding school friends.  The lady was famous for the invention of a device that allowed the making of lace on the Jacquard
loom.  Until then all lace was handmade.
Being so near London gave R.P.B. the opportunity to hear concerts, operas, and several of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas as they premiered.  In his music library we had full scores of all the Beethoven symphonies, much Bach, Berlioz, all the Wagner operas, all the first editions of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.  The volume of Beethoven piano sonatas we had belonged first to R.P.B.'s father from whom he inherited it.  A small book, a little less than 8 1/2 x 11 inches, it had remarkably clear print.  Since William Baker died in 1874 this volume had to be at least that old but I believe it was older.  Unfortunately there was no publication date in it.  The frontispiece was an especially fine steel engraving of a bust of Beethoven.
Because R.P.B. was more interested in mathematics and physics than classics he matriculated at London University simultaneously with Oxford University.  He was awarded a special prize at the entrance examination, the youngest man to be so recognized.  He finished both Oxford and London Universities in 1887, taking honours at the former and being in the First Division of the latter.
After obtaining these degrees there were few opportunities for academic work.  He had no influential connections, Civil Service meant overseas service, Public Schools were out because he was not athletic, certainly could not play cricket.  He accepted an appointment as Science Master and Head Teacher, Academical Institute, Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, the summer of 1887, a government position.  Boyle was in borderland country of Protestants and Catholics.  Consequently he found that neither group of students would attend with the other.  R.P.B. thereupon separated the two groups, taught them in two sessions: early morning to early afternoon and early afternoon to early evening.  By a curious ruling the salary was paid in six months' increments.  At the end of the first period the British Government denied payment with the excuse that he was employed to teach only one session.  He did tell us that it was a very grueling experience for the boys outnumbered the number of positions that might be open to them making it cut-throat competition.  There was also active fighting in the region.  When he tried to take some photographs his camera was confiscated.
At this point he decided it was time to leave England.  He had just learned that his best Shrewsbury friend, Ben Pritchard, who went to India on a civil service appointment after finishing Cambridge University as Senior Wrangler (top mathematical honors) had been clawed to death by a tiger.  R.P.B.'s comment in relating this was simply - "What a waste of a Senior Wrangler".  In March 1888 he and his brother Will left Liverpool for Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.  A day out of Boston the final blast of the famous blizzard of '88 hit the ship.  They landed on March 15th (?).  Neither of them had ever seen such a storm.  The hatches of the ship were completely iced over when they landed.  The sailors had to hack them open with axes.  Boston was still digging out.
In Boston three disasters awaited them.  At dinner in the hotel where they registered they were served corn bread which they mistook for pound cake, saving it for dessert.  I don't think R. P. B. ever liked corn bread.  Second, they sent their clothes to a laundry but none of the silk underwear ever came back.  The third and final blow came at the railroad station when they presented their prepaid tickets to Seattle.  The tickets purchased through the Liverpool steamship agent were worthless.

Without money they signed on as carpenters on a fruit boat going to Tampa, Florida.  In Tampa they were delayed by a six weeks' quarantine as one of the sailors had a communicable disease.  After that they worked their way to New Orleans.
R.P.B was an excellent carpenter.  As a boy he had worked summer(s?) with a carpenter.  Under him he learned about different kinds of wood and their various uses, e.g. yew and ash for bows.  He told me how the famous black oak floors in old houses were achieved and their color maintained.  The floors were treated with a combination of beeswax and soot which took a high
polish, but needed frequent replenishing.

After a winter in New Orleans with their Uncle Alfred the brothers moved to Weatherford, Jack County, Texas.  Why they chose that location is unknown.  R.P.B. told me that in 1889 much of the land was unfenced, that in spring the spread of wildflowers was beautiful.  After fencing the seeds could not blow freely so were chiefly reduced to the fence lines for bloom.  In Texas R.P.B. taught secondary school and music while reading for the bar.  He was admitted to the Texas bar in January 1891.  He practiced law there until January 1894.  He explained that if he had stayed it meant a practice in either criminal or corporate law neither one of which he was interested in pursuing.  Until that time the majority of cases had concerned land ownership and title rights.

R.P.B. never ran out of Texas stories.  His most famous case was about a bale of barbed wire, delivered to the home of a rancher.  He denied ordering it, refused to pay.  The supplier claiming it was ordered sued to recover its cost.  R.P.B. set up his prosecution as a "hypothetical indictment", as one prepares proof of a theorem.  "If such and such were true, then it would follow that .".  Not only did R.P.B. win the case it was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court.  Years later a Dean of the University of Iowa Law School - Eugene A. Gilmore, formerly Vice, then Acting Governor of the Philippines - doubted this story so checked it in the records.  He then admitted to R.P.B. that his story was right.  R.P.B, was never to my knowledge mendacious.
Recently seeing a reference to the 12-tone scale reminded me of a Texas tale R.P.B. told.  One of his music students was a singer with a beautiful voice but she could not sing on pitch.  She had been raised in China on the 12-tone scale and could not adapt to the 8-tone scale.
Other trials were of lesser importance but often amusing.  There was the story of a black man who had attacked his wife with a carving knife.  In his own defense he said "Well, judge, sometimes there ain't anything else you can do with a lady except cut her up a bit".
Another case involved a lady suing her husband for divorce because every time she entertained her ladies' club her husband ate all the whipped cream before it could be served.

The winter of 1890-1891 Ellen S. Baker R.P.B.'s younger sister came from England for a visit.  He had requested she bring with her some things of his still in England including his trombone.  At the New York customs the officer inquired if it was hers.  She countered by asking if she should play it for him.  The offer was passed up but the trombone was admitted.

While Aunt Nellie was in Texas R.P.B. had a case which needed a supoena served but the man was wily, could never be caught in the presence of a witness.  Then Aunt Nellie, not yet known in the area and Uncle Will both dressed in their best, got into the buggy all cleaned and polished driven by the well curried horse.  They drove off at a spanking pace.  The first person they met was stopped so Uncle Will could ask directions to the nearest justice of peace.  The query was repeated several times and each time the curious followed them until they had a good group behind them.  All expected to see a wedding.  Uncle Will turned into the yard of the man who was to receive the subpoena and served it in the presence of several witnesses.
One day R.P.B. returned home to find his house burglarized.  No pots or pans, no silver, no linens nor china were left.  So he arranged for enough search warrants to search every house in the black community with help so there was no time for the culprits to dispose of anything further.  Even though well dispersed everything was recovered, except one tea knife.  That is why we had only eleven tea knives.
In Weatherford R.P.B. enjoyed the company of a violinist teaching there.  The latter's landlady had a parrot with a raucous voice who screeched especially during the violin lessons.  The violinist appealed to R.P.B. who came up with a solution.  He told the violinist to teach the parrot to say ."Bill Branigan is in town", the landlady's husband who was wanted by the law.  The poor parrot disappeared.
When it became clear by 1894 that the emphasis on law practice in Texas was shifting away from his interests, he was tempted to return to the pursuit of mathematics at the recently opened University of Chicago.  It was founded in 1892 by John D. Rockefeller.  I suspect, too, Texas at that time was not exactly an intellectual center.  Nevertheless, he was grateful for the Texas interlude for it had greatly helped his chronic sinus and bronchial conditions.
At Chicago University he was Reader in Classics for the entrance examinations, organist and choir master.  He was amused when R. A. Harper, the President, said "Mr.  Baker that choir doesn't sing very well".  Father's rebuttal: "I know, Mr. President, that is true but I hear they play a fine game of football".
R.P.B. ate at the same boarding house as Arthur F. Bentley, a recent Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in government and philosophy.  The two became firm friends.  A.F.B. had been hired for a base salary of $600 per year plus a bonus per student in his classes.  The older staff members had already signed up most of the students so he had few bonuses.  At the end of the year he declared he would never teach again.  He never did except for a term at the New School for Social Research in New York City during W.W.II.  A.F.B. told me then he made this decision for he felt the strictures of academia would limit his freedom in writing.  Instead he wrote editorials for the now defunct Chicago Record-Herald.  In 1908 he published his classic "Process of Government".  Reviews were lukewarm to scathing (Bentley was too far ahead of his time) resulting in a nervous break down.  Earlier on a walking trip he and his wife fell in love with the rolling hill country of southern Indiana, not far from French Lick.  The Bentleys purchased a section of land, built their home of native chestnut wood, just before the devastating chestnut blight destroyed these native trees.  The outside was left unstained; it weathered to a beautiful silver in time.  The land development included apple orchards and a dairy.  When A.F.B. died in 1957 the dairy was still in operation.  Here A.F.B. continued to write and publish.  The Baker-Bentley correspondence (until 1937 when R.P.B. died) is in the archives of the Eli Lily Library, University of Indiana.  Not until W.W.II was the significance of his first book recognized.  Then, much to A.F.B.'s amusement, several university presses published editions of the "Process of Government" - Princeton, Harvard, University of California Berkeley, among others.
. In 1895 when A. F. B. began to write newspaper editorials, R. P. B. had to decline a University of Chicago offer of a years fellowship for the salary was too niggardly to live on for a year -- $300.  Instead he accepted a teaching appointment for science and mathematics at Kenosha Boys' School in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  This school was designed to cram enough into its students to pass college entrance examinations.  Nearly all were the overindulged sons of wealthy families.  One of the worst was Paul A. Allen, son of the head of Allen A. Hosiery.  In a chemistry class demonstration as R.P.B. was about to light a Bunsen burner he caught a curious anticipatory look on Allen's face (actually, I think he said a look of unholy glee).  Blowing out the match he turned the burner upside down and dumped out gunpowder.  Another episode involved ice skating on a pond.  A boy fell through the ice and R.P.B. managed to get him out.  Then he found himself in difficulties but all the boys had left, gone back to announce "Baker drowned".  They did not appreciate R.P.B.'s ingenuity for he did extricate himself.  One year was enough of that!
The next year, fall of 1896, R.P.B. went west to be a music professor at the University of Oregon Eugene.  Having had an arduous train trip because of floods, washouts and bridges out of service, he left word at the hotel desk where he registered, that he did not wish to be disturbed the next morning.  Yet quite early there was a knock on the door.  He opened to a dapper, white haired gentleman with a well trimmed Van Dykk beard who introduced himself as head of the classics department.  Apologetically he said he just wished to know "which side of the controversy" R.P.B. was going to be on.  Naturally one inquires the nature of the controversy.  It was whether the pronunciation of Latin should be classical or anglicized.  R. P. B. explained he had attended a Public School in England where he said "lam tum", then at Balliol College, Oxford University had learned to say "lam tum", and if necessary could even combine the two.  The professor smiled, bowed, and went away never to be heard from again.
His opinion of this University was never higher than that of Old Mr. Benjamin Bunny's of cats which was "... no opinion whatever of cats".  In the late 1950's while driving in the west, I spent one night in a Eugene motel.  I bought a paper for the local news, but it was the 60 years' ago column which caught my attention.  Its chief news centered on the monthly consumption of alcohol, both beer and whiskey by the barrel and gallon.  I am sure Eugene was a wide open logging town in 1896.  No wonder R.P.B. was not happy there.  By the end of the year he was
on the move again.
In 1897 he went to Lamar, Missouri as President and Science Master of Lamar College, which was probably the equivalent of a modern community college.  There the students admired and respected him.  Several of them later completed Ph. D. degrees, one in classics.  The head of the music department was Estella Hillman, a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, School of Music in Bloomington, Illinois.  At that time I.W.U. was one of a very few institutions granting a Bachelor of Music.  She resigned at the end of 1899 as she planned to be married.  As a friend of Kate Riedelbauch, also an I.W.U. School of Music graduate, she suggested that Kate apply for this position.  She did, joining Lamar faculty the fall of 1899.  There she taught piano and voice.  When R.P.B. left Lamar College for Anna Illinois Academy in 1901, they were engaged.  Their marriage took place February 22, 1902.

.In Lamar, Will and R. P. B. suspected that the secret ballot was not secret.  At a local election one voted for the proposition, the other against.  In an hour it was all over town that those "two fool professors had canceled each other's vote".

The couple lived in a large Academy owned house.  There were a number of roomers: students who took care of furnace, snow shoveling and lawn moving, as well as young instructors.  Not only were the young men roomers they were boarders.  Kate had one full time helper, a capable young woman named Bertha, certainly needed for there were twelve at table!  In addition Kate taught both music and German.  The daughter of German immigrants she was well versed in the language.  In fact, when R.P.B. needed his translations refined she could help him.

R.P.B. was amused by a next door neighbor, a retired farmer.  On the farm he and his wife rose early which was a habit they could not break.  Since they were unable to sleep late Mr. "X" would say to his wife "Might as well get up.  No use lying here and wearing out the sheets".
Their first child, Nellie Frances a.k.a. Frances Ellen, arrived December 19, 1902.  The following summer the three Bakers went on a three months' visit to England so that Ellen Eley Baker could see her first grandchild.  Frances was christened Nellie Frances in Bamwood Church near Gloucester, after her Aunt Ellen and maternal grandmother.  Not until after the christening did Kate learn "Nellie" was a nickname.  Frances never used "Nellie".  When she graduated from high school it was as Frances Ellen.  This was legalized in 1928 when she applied for her first passport.

R.P.B. used to joke that he had looked forward to doing three things when he returned to England: eat a good British dinner, smoke a good English cigar, and work in the Bodleian Library.  He found he could do none of them: the dinner was too heavy, the cigar too strong and the library too cold.
After another year at Anna Academy, the family moved to Chicago.  In the summer of 1904 R.P.B. was Special Lecturer at the University of Chicago on Lie Groups.  After that he was Head Chemist for Donnelly and Sons Printing Company.  It made its own inks which required each batch be standardized.  Neither he nor Kate was happy in Chicago.  When she asked him what he really wanted to do he immediately responded "Teach mathematics".  With her encouragement he accepted an instructorship in mathematics and astronomy at the State University of Iowa (later the University of Iowa) in Iowa City.  They moved there in the fall of 1905.

Three consuming interests were the basic motivations in R.P.B.' s life: teaching mathematics, constructing mathematical models to illustrate mathematical teaching, and music.

Of music, his wife Kate said after reading Catherine Drinker Bowen's description of a musical friend, "He has to have it", that this was true for R.P.B.  It was a basic necessity.  He was eight years old when his father, the organist, died but presumably the latter taught his son some rudiments of music.  At Oxford University he studied organ and theory with John Farmer.  Along the way he developed an interest in the viola.  At the University of Iowa he was first chair for the viola section of the Symphony Orchestra for many years.  While in Texas he did quite a bit of composing, chiefly piano music and songs.  He wrote music as easily as English in a legible hand.  I believe only one song was ever published: a setting for William Blake's "Prince of Love".  Another, unpublished, was called "South Wind".  It was a favorite of mine as was his piano "Fughetta", also unpublished.

         At the University of Iowa he found the niche he could live in with content.  It was his final move.  Iowa City was well located with easy railroad access to Chicago where he often attended mathematics meetings.  As the University developed it offered many advantages.  There was a good lecture series, excellent musical concerts and eventually first class theater.  The men's faculty club, The Triangle Club, had an extensive variety of newspapers and magazines in its reading room, both domestic and foreign.  Its quarters were located in town making access easy for it was on his way home.  Reading there kept R.P.B. and his family in touch with the world, for he readily shared the news.  Once he was baffled as were his colleagues, by an advertisement in "Punch" for a pair of men's pyjamas (sic) which were described as "non-ladderable".  It was clear to his daughters that this meant they would not run!

Another stimulating association was a group of faculty men who called themselves the "Know-nothing Club".  There were usually 12 members, each representing a different field of interest.  Members held their meetings in their homes, the host setting the topic of the evening.  Wives provided refreshment, first at the close of the discussion, later preceding it.  Often it took a day or two to clear the house of smoke from cigarettes and cigars.
When R.P.B. joined the Mathematics Department of the University of Iowa in 1905, Laenas G. Weld was the department Head.  He was succeeded by Arthur G. Smith, a Ph.D. from Gottingen University in Germany, whom R.P.B. admired greatly and was grieved by his early death in 1916.  Until Henry L. Rietz was appointed Head in 1918, R.P.B. served as Acting Head.  Needing an instructor, an offer was made to Norbert Wiener (later M.I.T.) but Western Union failed to deliver a telegram and by the time the message did reach him he had already accepted another offer.  Later, after I knew Norbert Wiener (his sister Bertha Wiener Dodge was the wife of my major Ph.D. professor) I was sure that if he had come to Iowa it would have been an utter disaster.

In 1905 when R.P.B. joined the S.U.I. faculty it seems to have been the custom for instructors to provide their own desks.  R.P.B. purchased his for $1.00 from the retiring head of the engineering department, Dean Megowen.  It was a solid cherry desk with slightly slanted writing surface, probably circa 1870 covered with something resembling leatherette.  Later I learned this was "nineteenth-century grained oil-cloth".  (See: Keys, Margaret. 1988.  Old Capitol - portrait of an Iowa landmark.  U. of Iowa Press, Iowa City. p. 105).  R.P.B. used this desk from 1905 to 1936.  Then the department divided and reassigned office space.  R.P.B. moved from his large ground floor office, B-16, to a smaller room.  B-16 overlooked the campus sloping toward the west and the Iowa River.  Both Frances and Gladys used it between their University classes.  I always liked the cherry desk now no longer needed.  I asked R.P.B. to give it to me.  It was brought to our Kirkwood Avenue home and after R.P.B.'s death in 1937, I sent it to the Francke Furniture Shop in Old Amana, Iowa.  This shop worked only in solid walnut and cherry.  The oil-cloth top was replaced with cherry wood.  The result was handsome.  Years later when the house was rented to a staff member of the Iowa Experimental Writing group, Robert Penn Warren saw it.  He wrote asking to buy it saying he thought he could write on it.  Of course, I would not sell it.  When the house was sold the desk moved east.  I used it for ten years in my Vassar College office.  After I planned to move permanently to the University of Hawaii in Honolulu I gave it to my friend Dr. Louise Potter of Elmira College with the proviso that it always be a teacher's desk.  There were too many termite problems in Hawaii to take it there.

During his teaching career at the U.I. R.P.B. taught a number of subjects.  These included: algebraic geometry, to which he gave particular attention; algebraic and differential equations; mathematical physics, especially thermodynamics and crystallography; beginning and advanced calculus; and introductory algebra and trigonometry.  From 1906-1909 he was summer session director of the observatory and taught astronomy.  Frequently he was program director and participant in the graduate seminar. (Foregoing data supplied by Francis Baker.)
R.P.B. had some student stories to tell which titillated him.  A lady in a summer school class in astronomy inquired the first day if there would be much about angles in the course.  When she heard "Yes", she sighed, admitting she hated angles.  She did not appear again.  In another summer school class in projective geometry when R.P.B. inquired of the students' interest in this field, he asked a nun if it was of particular interest to her.  She replied, "Oh, no, Professor Baker, for me it is supreme penance".  Then there was the student in the mechanics class who was the only one who could correctly define force but always spelled it "fource".

When intelligence tests became popular he tried his own on a freshman class.  There were three questions: How far can you see?  How high can you hear.? How hot can you feel?  Answers to the first included "I can see as good as anybody"; "I can see the writting on the blackboard (sic)".  Only one person said he could see the stars etc.  No-one had any conception of the audible range of sound as decibels or units with differences in intensity.  Nor did anyone appreciate that one cannot feel beyond the boiling point of water (100 deg C).

It is doubtful if the average student could appreciate R.P.B. but the bright ones from undergraduate to graduate students were devotees.  For some graduate students he assigned the reading of "Alice in Wonderland" as a mathematical allegory.  E.g. the white knight starting on his trip with a mouse trap because "there might be a mouse" was a mathematician. (After all, the author Lewis Carroll was Charles L. Dodson, a well known mathematician at Oxford University.  When Queen Victoria after reading "Alice" and "Through the Looking Glass" ordered all Carroll's publications she was astounded to receive tomes on advanced mathematics).  Only Dean Montgomery, later on the staff of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University,
 made any headway with this assignment.

The summer of 1910 R.P.B. returned to the University of Chicago to complete requirements for the Ph.D.  This was awarded in September 1910 "Magna cum laude" in mathematics and physics.  The doctoral dissertation, "The Problem of the Angle Bisectors" was published by the University Chicago Press, March 1911.  The dissertation was an application of algebraic geometry to a previously unsolved problem of considerable historical note.  E. H. Moore was his advisor.  He headed the examination committee consisting of Heinrich Maschke, Oskar Bolza, E. J. Wilczynski and L. E. Dickson.  R.P.B. admired Wilczynski who later became a victim of trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness).  The disease was misdiagnosed, attacked the CNS so for years the victim was in a mental home.  By the time his illness was properly diagnosed so that he was suitably treated he was unable to resume a mathematical career.  R.P.B. greatly regretted this unnecessary loss.

Of the "Angle Bisectors" and its author's accomplishment in its solution H. Wieleitner wrote in Archiv der Matematik u. Physik, 3 Reihe 19, p. 342: "Diese Arbeit gibt die vollstandige, und man kann sage abschliessende Behandlung des problems, ein Dreick aus den (vor einer Eck bis zum Gegenseite gemessen) Langer dreier Winkelhalbierenden zu bestimmen". (Cited by F. E. Baker) This commendation pleased R.P.B.

Somewhere in his early mathematical career in U.S. R.P.B. became fascinated by the use of three dimensional models in teaching mathematics.  This may have been touched off by reports of an outstanding Mathematical Congress held at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in connection with the Columbian Exposition (World's Fair) of 1893.  A major speaker was Felix Klein of Gottingen University who urged improvement in the teaching of mathematics (E.T. Bell, 1945, ed. 2. Development of Mathematics, McGraw-Hill, NY, chapter 20).  Klein also displayed his model of the "27 lines on a cubic surface".  No-one knew better the need for improvement in the teaching of mathematics than R.P.P.., after his experiences.  Probably Klein's challenge was only the needed catalyst for R.P.B.

Not until his Iowa City residency did he have a chance to implement his ideas.  He began with simple geometric, progressing to more and more advanced models.  At his Iowa City home the original barn on the Kirkwood Avenue property was remodeled into a workshop.  There he produced models in wire, colored silk threads in wood frames, and plaster sometimes painted in various colors.  Each was carefully planned and solutions of the problems illustrated were filed in numbered boxes corresponding to the model number in his little catalogue.  Many of the complex models had templates for their design also included with the other details.  He made his own boxes out of strawboard.  The amount of work this entailed was tremendous requiring sustained application.  He was a very neat worker as well as meticulous.  He printed his catalogue on a hand press for which he set the type.  After his death many of the models were sent to M.I.T. on permanent loan but finally went to the Smithsonian Institute where they are located in the Historical Section of Mathematics along with his vitae, portrait and other memorabilia.

In the spring of 1937 R.P.B. sent Albert Einstein a photograph, made by Frederick Kent, University of Iowa photographer, of his model No. 455, (p. 22 in Model Catalog) illustrating Smoluchowski's statistical gas theory explanation of opalescence at the critical points.  The model is a combination of a Van der Waal's isotherm and Gaussian curve. (See: Smoluchowsky, Ann. d. Physik, 25).  A photograph of Einstein's reply is appended; the original is on file at the Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.  In translation the message is:

"I thank you very kindly for the very excellent photographic representation of a model concerning opalescence.  The form being so good that there is no need for additional models.  Professor Smoluchowsky is long dead; he died at a young age, indeed not long after the publication of opaleszenz-work."
Kind greetings to you
A. Einstein

Over the years many distinctions accrued to his credit for his accomplishments.  In 1890 R.P.B. was named a member of Convocation, University of London which had full Parliamentary voting rights.  From time to time formal invitations for tea arrived always weeks late.  In 1910 he was awarded the Ph.D. by the University of Chicago "Magna cum laude" in mathematics and physics.  In 1917 he became a naturalized citizen of U.S., again with encouragement from his wife, Kate.  Although he had started the process several times it then required seven years.  Many changes of address and the 1903 visit to England abrogated these attempts.  If he had not been naturalized then he probably would have been subject to the next British W.W.I. draft so hard pressed for men was England by then.

He was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1910 and about the same time a Fellow of the Italian Circolo Matematico di Palermo.  His professional memberships also included charter memberships in the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association.  For a number of years he served as an editor of the former, chiefly having charge of the problem department.  He frequently served as a consultant on acoustics and problems concerned with production of sound and reception of sound.  On campus he held memberships in the honorary societies Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, to which he was elected in 1908 and Gamma Alpha, men's honorary scientific fraternity and the Baconian Club, a local University club.
Nor did he neglect his interest in law being friendly with several local lawyers and judges.  He sometimes searched titles for his friends purchasing homes, thereby saving a lawyers fee.

In 1910 the Baker family of four moved from a small house on Kirkwood Avenue to a large 1874 brick house.  This house was built by Florence and Augustus Clark, the latter a descendent of Abraham Clark, signer of the Constitution from New Jersey.  A restriction in the deed precluded the sale of the house as long as Florence Clark, Augustus' widow, lived.  In 1914.this restriction was lifted and R.P.B. and Kate immediately purchased it.  Kirkwood Avenue was the original stage coach road from Muscatine, Iowa on the Mississippi River.  It was the site of the home of Robert Lucas, the territorial later Governor of the state and that of Samuel Kirkwood, the Civil War Governor.

R.P.B. was proud of this home, liked working in the yard and garden.  He also did much of the necessary remodeling himself.  First he rewired the house.  It was constructed with a double brick wall and an air space of several inches between the walls.  This kept it cooler in summer and warmer in winter.  It also allowed for stringing the electrical wires, in pipes, between floors.  The floors were the original wide pine boards over which carpets had been tacked down many times.  In 1918 R.P.B. began to lay new oak flooring over these in a diagonal pattern.  He laid one bedroom by himself hand scraping it, then agreed with my mother that he could never do all of them.  He hired carpenters to help but no floor ever had the beauty of that first one.  R.P.B. also restored the shutters on the outside making sure all could be opened and closed, a boon on hot summer days.
The property was a little over one acre.  There were many handsome trees including several native plums which made very tasty marmalade.  At the back of the house were the original log constructed smoke house and the "necessary". (Kate had insisted on both a bathroom and electricity before the 1910 move).  In the front there had been a small log schoolhouse for the children.  Mrs. Clark was of unstable mind so this took the children away during the day.  It no longer stood when we moved in but pictures were extant.  All that remained were the large stones used in constructing the fireplace.  These R.P.B. moved to make a walk way in the back of the house.  They were interesting geologically for the different embedded fossils.

R.P.B. remained a close friend of the Harrison family in England.  Harrison was his first school master.  A daughter, Marion, was a student at the Royal Conservatory in London where she was training as a singer.  I believe that she and R.P.B. had an "understanding" so her death by tuberculosis was a genuine tragedy for him.  Mr. Harrison for many years wrote weekly essays for the Shrewsbury Chronicle.  One that R.P.B. often quoted was about selecting a cheese at the local market.  It began with his going to the market and tasting cheeses, one after the other.  Finally he found one .which seemed to be the quintessence of them all, a Stilton.  Proudly he took it home and waited for its serving at tea.  No-one remarked upon it.  Finally curiosity forced him to inquire.  All agreed it was a good cheese but no-one thought it particularly outstanding.  Upon reflection Harrison decided they had no preliminary build-up of appreciation.  This build-up was the keynote of the essay.

Among other British friends was Francis Nielson, a.k.a. Lord Charnwood.  Nielson was an important labor leader in Parliament until he married Helen Armour of the meat packers' family from Chicago.  That dimmed his future for the Armours had very great wealth.  Others in England with whom he kept in touch were Francis Goyne and his science tutor at Clifton College - Mr. Shenstone.  He remarked forlornly that there was little incentive to return to England for nearly all his classmates had perished in W.W.I.  I well recall how depressed he was when the Iowa City paper carried the news that England had declared war on Germany.  This was on August 4th, 1914 but probably the news was printed in Iowa City on the 5th.  I was just six years old.

R.P.B. was a moderate man.  He never rushed for appointments nor was he ever late.  When it is recalled all he actually accomplished one marvels.  He was a deft and accurate worker who really lived by the mathematical precept: necessary and sufficient.
Some of the foregoing may seem unnecessary but these features all accrued to make him the unique person he was.
At his death William H. Roever, mathematician at Washington University, St. Louis, probably best understood the man R.P.B. was when he wrote: "In my long acquaintance with Professor Baker I was always impressed by his unusual ability and great versatility combined with the unostentation of real greatness".

A Paean for a Father from a Daughter

My memories of Richard Philip, my father, begin when I was nearly three.  The family had moved to the big brick house where I grew up, the preceding fall.  In the spring R.P.B. was preparing a place for a vegetable garden and I was left in his charge one afternoon.  Several hens and a rooster had been installed in the old log smoke house back of the house.  The rooster was a malicious character.  I clearly remember teasing him with a broken stem with a tassel end (probably a piece of timothy grass).  I also clearly remember my astonishment when a mound of earth sent me down.  His revenge was a large peck out of one cheek.  Since I never confessed to anyone that I had been chasing him I know this is my memory, not a told tale.  Other early memories include father holding me on his lap at the piano while he played nursery songs from the "Baby's Opera".  Then there was an evening when he held me on his lap in his big Morris study chair and read to me.  As I could read by four this must have been earlier.  My mother was finishing the evening kitchen chores when she went into the pantry to close the end window.  At her scream father leapt into action: the book went one way, I another.  My coefficient of importance was shattered.  The scream?  A mouse had run across the window closing.
Later I remember wheelbarrow rides sitting on top of the leaves when father was raking in the fall.  One year he built me a wonderful dolls' house complete with a banister on the stairway, between its two floors.  There were always music, books and interesting conversations with the family and visitors, all combining to make it a perfect environment in which to grow.

R.P.B. loved to say he was in a minority with three women comprising the family, but there was no question that he was the lodestar of his family.  He liked to tease us, too, about being a "monotonous family".  This originated through an experience on a trip when Frances was about nine and Gladys just three.  We were going by train from Peoria, Illinois to Iowa City.  There was a long, hot wait between trains at a junction point.  Another traveler made a remark to mother who, thinking he commented on the uncomfortable wait replied, "Yes, very monotonous".  The gentleman looked baffled and soon left.  Father then asked mother what she thought the traveler's remark was.  She explained.  So did R.P.B.: He had said "You have an interesting family."

Several doubting Thomases questioned R.P.B.'s records.  One, a historian at S. U. I., Forrest Ensign, had a term appointment at Bristol University in England.  He was astounded when he visited Clifton College to see R.P.B.'s name on every roll of honor, admitting as much to him when he came home.  By R.P.B.'s code, Ensign should never have mentioned this.  Another doubter was Brisbane University in Australia which advertised for a mathematician with his specialties.  He applied but did not get the appointment.  Later he learned the selection committee doubted his qualifications, thought they must be faked.  That hurt.

Fathers life had other ups and downs, mostly minor but always interesting.  A neighbor, Cyrus Thomas, a retired contractor, and he were good friends.  Cy had a son, an engineering student who built his father a radio set in the days when they still required ear phones.  One evening father told mother Cy had called, asked him over to hear a "Bach program" an invitation he accepted with alacrity.  When father returned much later he sheepishly admitted it was a "boxing program".  He never admitted his error to Cy, just sat it out. Nor would his code permit him to leave a concert no matter how dreadful.  On one of Galli-Curchi's last tours he and I were in the audience.  It was so painful I wanted to leave as many did.  No, we had to wait for the end. One summer when I was away he wrote me that he and mother had been to two disappointing concerts.  His comment: "One man could sing but wouldn't, the other couldn't and would."

R.P.B. amused us one evening when he quietly emerged from his study.  "What have you been doing, Richard?", queried mother.  His reply: "Reading Consumers Research and it isn't safe to live".

He did not use expletives knowing well that there were other words more expressive.  Once when Frances and I were children she complained to father that I had called her -- word forgotten.  R.P.B. quietly replied "I think that is a little coarse."  That was punishment enough for me.
He did show annoyance years later when I reported that my major professor in discussing where I should continue my studies for the Ph.D. degree said that if I were a man he would recommend Harvard University.  R.P.B. did not believe in discrimination of women.  He always claimed that Clara Wieck Schumann was the greatest pianist he had heard.
The jokes he enjoyed were mild, often from "Punch" magazine.  Among those he liked were:
A lady kept urging her husband to shave off his mustache.  One morning he came to breakfast with half of it shaved off, asking "Now, my dear, which do you prefer?"

A bishop at breakfast with his curate inquired if the latter's boiled egg was good.  "Oh, yes sir, very good in spots."

Another bishop aboard a transatlantic steamship began to groan during dinner, saying "It's come, it's come".  "My dear bishop", inquired the lady on his right, "What has come?".  "Complete paralysis of my right leg.  I have been pinching and pinching it but cannot feel a thing."  The lady assured him, "if that is your problem, don't worry.  It is my leg you have been pinching".
He was impressed by J. N. Darling's 1912 (?) cartoon which did much to help pass child labor legislation.  James A. Michener quotes this in his "The World Was My Home: A Memoir" 1992.  His version, though, is not correct.  This cartoon shows an elevation of a large mill with many windows and little children inside.  In the foreground there are several men playing on a golf course.  The caption reads:
"The golf links lie so near the mill
That almost every day
The little children at their work
Can see the men at play."
(Darling, a.k.a. "Ding" was the cartoonist for the Des Moines, Iowa "Register".)

R.P.B. could rise to any occasion.  An Oxford University visitor who had delivered a lecture at S.U.I. insisted on meeting him.  Professor Benjamin Shambaugh, a.k.a. "Benny" always introduced the university speakers.  He was Head of Political Science.  Characteristically he wore a red tie with matching handkerchief in his coat pocket and carried a Malacca cane.  He was a bit of a snob, I fear.  For instance, if "Benny" was walking by our house on a Saturday and father was raking leaves wearing overalls and an old sweater, he did not recognize R. P. B.  The following week when the two men sat on the University Graduate Council, he did.  When "Benny" and the Oxonian arrived, father was working on a model in his shop.  After an introduction the visitor recited several lines from Homer's "Odyssey".  Father, who had kept on working, quietly finished the quotation in perfect Greek, then rose to greet his guests.  Poor "Benny" was totally lost.  Frances B. was witness to this exchange.
Frances also overheard an interesting exchange between a lady caller and Father.  He and Kate had purchased an antique love seat and matching chair at a local auction.  "Professor Baker, do you mind telling me what you paid for the set?".  "Not at all" was the rejoinder.  "Was it very much?"  "No, not very much."  The lady subsided.
    R.P.B. did not often miscalculate but I recall one episode particularly.  He was very fond of pickled walnuts.  Several years he put young walnut fruits down in brine but nothing ever evolved that was edible.  Finally he realized that the Midwestern black walnut could not respond as the English walnut did.  Father was also fond of black currant jam, an English favorite.  After a good many years plants were found in Canada and a permit obtained for their entry, although black currants do not harbor a phase of wheat rust as do native currants, banned in wheat growing areas, a permit was required.  At last a. crop was harvested, jam made and put on the table for supper.  R.P.B. sampled it, said nothing.  Of course, Kate asked him if he liked it, to which he replied "it is not a success".  This sent Kate to a reliable source of information.  The experienced lady explained one boiled the syrup before adding the berries, which prevents their skins from getting tough.  After that our jam was a success.
R.P. Baker became an American by deserting his English accent whereas his brother, William, who was so much younger that he when they immigrated, kept his.  Father did say evolution and laboratory but that was about the extent of his English accent.  In other ways he was a true Englishman.  When one considers how many places he lived in United States plus the distances between, I am amazed how he kept his many possessions together: two tall antique walnut bookcases, books, music, musical instruments, mathematical journals, all his legal briefs, correspondence, silver, linens, tools, pictures and probably more.  Most of these were tidily stowed away in a large bookcase which filled one wall of his study.  He built the bookcase himself except for the upper leaded glass sliding doors.  He guarded his "Lares et Penates", treasured belongings, well.

For me he was the perfect father.  I am grateful and proud to have been his daughter.
                                                                                   Gladys Elizabeth Baker
                                                                             (signature & date December 1997)

Page Last Updated 13 Oct 2014