Preface: Early American
The occupation of the Appalachian Mountain system and its
foothills began in the 1670's when a growing population advanced lowland
prices to the point that younger sons, freed servants, and new arrivals
from Europe could no longer afford land there. As they moved, they found
themselves in a new environment so far from the coast that the influence
of their European heritage rapidly waned. Thus freed from tradition, they
adopted practices suited to the strange new world in which they found
themselves: they abandoned frame houses for log cabins, clothed themselves
in deerskin rather than imported fabrics, developed the "long rifle"
and the ax as essential tools, and became completely familiar with their
This immigration was hastened with the arrival in the back country of
two new groups: the Scotch-Irish from Ulster and the Palatines from Germany--who
migrated in large numbers during the early 18th century, and moved directly
to the interior in quest of cheap lands. By 1775, pioneers were pouring
through the mountain gaps to build their communities about the forks of
the Ohio, in modern West Virginia, in the Bluegrass country of Kentucky,
and in eastern Tennessee.
Virginia organized Kentucky County in 1777 with the present boundaries
of the state of Kentucky. Lands of all settlers were confirmed by the
Virginia land act of 1779, and the price of land to new settlers was fixed
at two dollars an acre. The Ordinance of 1785 and 1787 assured clear land
titles. This resulted in a flood of new pioneers between 1790 and 1810--populating
Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee with enough newcomers to justify statehood.
Welcome to the Early
Baker History section of this Web site. Every effort has been made to
insure 100% accuracy, but we all know this is is not possible for some
of the records going back approximately 400 years. As always, we welcome
any new authentic data.
Andrew Baker (1604-1650)
Andrew (Andy) came over to the colonies from Buckinghamshire, England
around 1625. He first lived in one of the early New England Settlements,
met a young lady and was married in 1629. A year later they had a son,
who was named John. That same year the settlement in which they lived
was established as the town of Boston in 1630.
John Baker ( 1630-1709)
Not much information on John. He married and had two children for sure
(Robert and Samuel) and some sources list two other children, Andrew and
Robert James Baker (1660-1728 )
Robert and his brother Samuel grew up in or around Boston, MA. His father
and probably his grandfather were gunsmiths by trade. Both he and Sam
were keenly interested in the gun making trade which they probably learned
from their father and possible other gunsmiths in the area. Robert's occupation
as an adult was listed as Rifle maker.
As young men the two brothers moved to PA and set up a gunmaking business
in Lancaster Co . It is believed that he and his brother Sam were the
first gunmakers in Lancaster Co, PA.and that they obtained a grant from
the King of England to manufacture guns for the colonies
Robert met a young lady named Susan Parker . Susan lived in an older community
near the coast. (The town was established in 1682 as Philadelphia) Susan
like her parents and neighbors were of the Quakers Religion. After a short
courtship they got married in 1685. Robert was 25 and Susan was 21 years
old. They had seven children over the next fourteen years. The boys were
named Robert Jr., Douglas, Caleb, Andrew and Samuel and the girls Mary
and May. Than in 1713, thirteen years later another daughter, Elizabeth
Robert and Samuel had developed a reputation for quality in the gun manufacturing
business.It was about this time,early 1700's, that some reseachers report
that Robert Baker was ordered to go to England to make guns for King William,
and to teach their gunsmiths their tecnique of cutting rifling in gun
barrels.(England was involved in two wars with France known as King Williams
War and Queen Anne's War.) He probably took his family with him to England.
After a stay of eight to ten years he returned to America with a grant
to make fire arms for the Colonies. (Later the Bakers would join the Colonies
against England in the Revolutionary War.)
When Robert returned
to the Colonies, he moved his family and settled in Conestoga Township,
Chester County, PA. He bought 500 acres of land on the Susquehanna River
from Col. John French in 1717. This land was located one mile from the
junction of Pequea Creek and the Susquehanna River. Two of his sons Samuel
and Caleb, were interested in gun manufacturing and joined with their
father and uncle in the business.
On August 15, 1719, Robert Baker had Jacob Taylor, Surveyor, with permission
from William Penn, and Lancaster Co, lay out a site for erection of a
gun boring mill at the mouth of Pequea Creek. They
developed and produced the American Long Rifle later known as the"Kentucky
Rifle". This rifle was developed from Jaeger rifle which was a short
stocky flintlock rifle designed for hunting by the well-to-do in the fields
of Europe. The American frontier hunter needed a practical rifle to put
food on the table and to protect their families. They elongated the barrel
and reduced the caliber. The longer barrels increased the accuracy, and
gave greater muzzle velocity. The smaller bore gave more bullets from
a pound of lead. The typical American Rifle was a slender full stock flintlock
with a 40 inch barrel and of about 50 caliber. The guns barrels were rifled
for accuracy, as were the earlier European rifles.
Robert, his sons Samuel and Caleb (who were about 25 and 29 years old)
and a cousin, John, joined together to run the mill. Records indicate
that they were in operation for the next nine years. (Pequea creek originates
in the hills about 20 miles east of the town of Lancaster, runs southwest
and empties in the Susquehanna River.)
In February 1721, iron ore deposits were located on the West bank of the
Sesquehanna River . It is believed that this was one of the sources of
iron to make the Baker gun barrels. A Philip Syng claimed 200 acres of
this land in 1722. Robert Baker and James McClean filed a complaint before
Francis Worley Esq., a JP for Chester County. A warrant was filed to have
him punished if he tried to survey this land in question. This stopped
The Baker family grew up in a neighborhood of German Immigrants, known
as Pennsylvania Dutch, who settled in that area in the early 1700's. It
is noted that most all of Robert Baker's neighbors seem to have German
names. Caleb Baker always signed his name Beaker and possible spoke with
a German accent.
Robert died in September,
1728. He left no will and his son Caleb was appointed administrator of
his estate, dated September 13, 1728 . Along with the original papers
at the Register's Office at the Court House in Lancaster County is the
Administrators Bond and inventory signed by Joseph Higginbotham and Tobias
Hendricks and witnessed by Douglas Baker. Among the creditors were the
names of Caleb Baker, Robert Baker Jr. and Douglas Baker. Caleb being
part owner of the business, took over and operated the mill until1741,
when he sold out to Jacob Godin.
In 1741-1742 Caleb,
his immediate family and one or more brothers (Douglas and Robert Jr.)
moved from Lancaster Co., Pa. and bought land and settled on what was
then called "The Backwoods" in Amelia Co., Virginia on Buffalo
We have a copy of
Caleb's will dated 24 Nov 1750 with codicil dated 6 Feb 1754 filed in
Prince Edward Co. VA. (He was 64 years old.) He named his wife Martha
and sons Samuel and Henry as Executors of his will. He left to his sons
:463 acres to Samuel, 400 acres to Henry, 200 acres to Abraham, 307 acres
to Caleb all on Spring creek. He designated 305 acres on Buffalo Creek
be sold to help Legacies. He left his four daughters 20 pounds each except
Easter got only one shilling.
We have a copy of
Martha's will dated May 8, 1759 filed in Prince Edward Co.,VA. She left
her son Caleb the following: Two Negro's, three horses and a large bay
mare, two cows with calfs, all meat, and all the working tools for use
on the plantation. Her son Samuel a brown mare and colt, and a side saddle.
The executors of her will were Samuel and Caleb. She signed the will with
We also have a copy
of Douglas Baker's will dated Sept 16, 1765 and filed in Prince Edward
Co.,VA ( He was 77 years old). He left his daughter, Jean, one Negro boy
and one mare and the balance of the estate to his wife, Jane. The will
was witnessed by Samuel and Andrew Baker and George Shilliday. He signed
the will with his mark.
IV-(a). Andrew Baker ( 1702-1781)
He may have been involved in the rifle manufacturing like his brothers
but is not mentioned in the records except he had invested in the operation.
Andrew met and married a young lady, Mary Mollie Bolling, from Prince
Edward, VA. They lived in Lancaster Co., PA., near where he grew up. They
had 15 children, Thirteen boys: James, John, Elijah,Cuthbert, Andrew,
Richard, George,Morris, Robert, Joseph, Bowling, Abendego, and Leonard
and two girls Martha Patsy, and Eleanor.
Scouts and early longhunters brought back reports of the beautiful mountain
lands on the frontier, which at that time was the western portion of North
Carolina. Land was plentiful and very cheap if not free.
Sometime around 1750, Andrew, his nephew James, and several other neighboring
families set out on a westward journey . They had made the decision to
move to what is now, Wilkes CO, NC (Wilkes County was formed in 1777 from
Surry CO and the District of Washington.)
The move was about 500 miles with mules or oxen pulling a wagon with all
their belongings. It was during this time frame that immigrants began
to pour into this section of the state, from south-eastern Pennsylvania,
South Carolina and eastern North Carolina. Andrew and his small group
of Pennsylvanians would be among the first families to settle in this
area (to give perspective on this time period, note that that Tennessee
did not become a state for another 46 years).
Some of the party settled along the Yadkin River, others of the more adventurous
nature , crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains and settled along New River
in what is now Ash and Allegheny Counties, North Carolina. No white man
had attempted settlement here before. New River was known at the time
by it's Indian name "Saxphaw". It was here, along the south
branch, that Andrew Baker made his first home.
It is interesting
to note that Daniel Boone's family,who was from the same area of Pennsylvania
as the Baker families, also moved to Rowen County, which was later Surry
County and settled on the Yadkin River. After Daniel married, he lived
in that location for about ten years. Because of his skills in hunting,
trapping, and scouting, he became one of the group known as the "Longhunters."
In 1759 he left on his first trip to explore Kentucky, and in September
of 1773 sold his farm and moved his family, eventually to Boonsboro, Kentucky.
John"Renta"Baker was about the same age as Daniel and as neighbors
probably went together on many trips.
There is a conflict in the records as to exactly who was the father of
John "Renta" Baker, born in 1735. It may have been Andrew or
James, (son of Robert Jr.). John "Renta" was one of the famous
"Longhunters" who went west of the Blue Ridge Mountains on extended
hunting and trapping trips. He was also a member of the "Cleveland
Bull Dogs", who ran theTories out of Wilkes/Ashe County, N.C. and
surrounding areas just before the Revolutionary War. John "Renta"
Baker's exploits are described in several books currently in print.
In 1753 Andrew decided
to push even deeper into Indian country. He moved down New River into
what is now Grayson Co.,Virginia, very near the North Carolina line. Here
Andrew staked out a large tract of land he called his "Peach Tree
Bottom" tract. But the next summer , he and his family were run out
by the Indians. In 1767/1768 after another attempt to resettle but in
his long absence, Dr. Thomas Walker had claimed this area for the Loyal
Land Company. He had to now purchase a 1000 acres of his original claim
before he could resettle on it. This property had a large deposit of iron
ore and Andrew was experienced in reclaiming the iron.
In 1769/1780's, Andrew and son James built iron furnaces along Cranberry
Creek. (A tributary of the south branch of New River) in Grayson Co. Virginia,
near the North Carolina Line. These furnaces were at peak production during
the Revolutionary War. Andrew served as a Justice of Peace of Washington
Co. for several years.
There is a conflict
in the records as to who was the father of Rev. Andrew Baker. (My GGGG
Grandfather.) It may have been either Andrew or James (son of Robert Jr.).
The Rev. Andrew Baker was an outstanding religious leader in his community
and on the frontier. Andrew was born in 1749 in Grayson County.
The sixth son, George,
who would have been just 17 at the beginning of the Revolutionary War,
voluntered in the army and served several short terms throughout the war.
In 1832, at age of 73, George applied for a veteran's pension. We have
the record of his application for pension, which is a sworn statement
before a Justice of the Peace with George's mark for his signature. The
application gives his war record as follows: In 1776/1777 he served three
short terms, 3 months each, in 1778/79 he served another 3 month term
with a temporary rank of Captain. In 1781 he again served 3 months but
this time as a private, and in 1782 he signed up for a scouting party
against the Tories. No record is made as whether his application for pension
(b1) Robert Jr. Baker (1686-1759 )
He may have been involved in the rifle manufacturing like his brothers
but is not mentioned in the records except he had invested in the operation.
In the year 1727, ( he was 41 years old) Robert met and married a young
lady, Mary Thompson, who was from Prince Edward, VA. They lived in Lancaster,PA.,
near his family.They had two children, Samuel in 1728 and James in 1729.
A third child, John Renta, was born in 1735.
Robert Jr. and Mary continued to live at this location for some years
but our records show that they returned to Mary's home in Prince Edward,VA.
And Robert died there in April, 1769. He was 73years young.
We have a copy of
Robert Jr's will dated April 10, 1759 in Prince Albert Co.,VA. He left
his wife Mary, one half of his land, one hundred pounds, and a Negro named
Jacob. He left to his son-in-law James Anderson the other half of his
land. He left various sums of money to his grandchildren, and to his grandson
Robert (son of Samuel) he left all his belongings to the smith trade.
He signed the will with his mark. No mention was made of a son John Renta.
(b2) James Baker ( 1729- )
He was born in Lancaster Co. PA. Around 1748, James met and married
a young lady named Blount. They moved to the North Carolina frontier with
his uncle Andrew Baker. They first settled in Grayson Co., Virginia where
their first child Andrew was born. The following year they moved again,
this time back to Wilkes Co. N.C. They finally settled down at that location.
They had nine more children over the next 27 years: George, Martha, Robert,
Nellie, Morris, Samuel, John, Elanor, and Bolling. The last child was
born in 1777. James and Blount remained on that farm for the balance of
their lives. We do not have the date of their death.
Rev. Andrew Baker (1749-1815 )
(At this time there are differing accounts as to the father of Rev Andrew
Baker. It is either James or Andrew. Hopefully this can be resolved in
the future. Andrew was my GGGG Grandfather.) He was born in Grayson Co.,Va.and
later his family moved to Wilkes Co., N.C. where he grew up, along with
his 14 brothers and sisters.
When Andrew was about 19 he met a young lady,Elizabeth Avent who was from
Brunswich Co., Va. ( Brunswich Co. was about 150 miles northeast of his
home.) They were married in 1769. Elizabeth was only 16, and Andrew was
20. Elizabeth was of French Huguenot descent, from an aristocratic family
when she married Andrew. Her parents was against the marriage and disinherited
her and told her never to return home. They had nine (9) children,seven
boys, (Solomon, Henry, Andrew, Joseph, James, John, Elijah), and two girls,
(Nancy and Martha.)
In 1773 Andrew acquired a farm located in Washington Co., Va., and was
later Lee Co. ( At that time, Washington Co.included what was later divided
up into nine counties. Washington, Lee, Wise, Dickerson, Buchanan, Scott,
Russell, Tazewell,and Smyth). Henry was born in1774, and the Revolutionary
War started in 1775. Children born during the war were: Andrew, Joseph,
James ,and John .
The Watauga Settlement
in upper East Tennessee was formed in 1772 and was joined by John Sevier
and his family. Virginia officially organized Kentucky County in 1777.
After a large migration of new settlers over the next 15 years Kentucky
became a new state in 1792. By 1776, there were approximately 25,000 people
living west of the mountains.
Rev Andrew ,who at this time had become a Baptist minister, enlisted in
the army and became a chaplin. He service was probably during the latter
part of the war. In 1780 a group of these mountain men on the frontier,
from the Watauga Settlement and from Wilkes, Ash, and other neighboring
North Carolina counties, organized a small army and marched over the mountains.
On Sept 20, 1780 Major Patrick Ferguson"s army of Loyalists were
annihilated by the Frontier Army in the battle of Kings Mountain. This
battle was followed by another equally victorious at Cowpens.
After the war they
had three more children. Nancy,Elijah, and Martha . Elizabeth was 17 with
the first baby and 38 when the last baby was born .Andrew and Elizabeth
lived on this farm for another 24 years
Rev Andrew moved around
among this area, starting Churches and Pastoring Churches ,Rev. Baker
was one of the ablest, wisest, and most successful minister's in the area.
Some of the Churches in which he preached and pastored were as follows:
- Dutchman's Creek
Church & Eatons Church
- Fox Creek Baptist
- Brier Creek Church,
Wilkes Co. NC1781-1794
- Eatons Church-
formed 16 Dec 1790
- Lewis Fork Church,
Wilkes Co., NC 1792-1794
- Sinclair's Bottom
Church, Washington Co., VA
- Providence Church,
Yadkin Co. NC in1805
- Thompson Settlement
Baptist Church, Lee Co., VA 1811-1815
Andrew died in 1815
and Elizabeth lived there until her death in 1844. She was 91 years young.
Andrew and Elizabeth are buried in a family cemetary located on top of
a hill above their old farm. The DAR erected an honorary grave stone with
an engraved plaque recognizing his service in the Revolutionary war.
Andrew Baker (1777-1840 )
(Andrew Baker's family names and births are listed in the the family bible.)
Andrew Baker, who was born on Feb. 18, 1777. He was six year old when
the Revolutionary war was officially ended, and was approximately 14 years
old when George Washington was elected the first president of this new
country, called The United States of America and consisting of only 13
states. Both his father and his uncle had served in the army during the
When Andrew was in his early twenties he married a young woman, Jane (her
maiden name is unknown) who was approximately 5 years younger than he.
They lived on a farm in Lee County, VA near his family. Their 1st child,
William was born in 1801. They were blessed with a large family of 15
children over the next 24 years. They had four boys: William, John, Joseph,
and Soloman, and eleven girls: Nancy, Elizabeth, Rebecca, Didania, Polly,
Lucy, Patsy, Casanara, Jane, Evaline, and Manervia (see the genealogy
section of this Web site).
Andrew died in 1840 at the age of 63 and Jane in 1862 at the age of 80.
She was certainly of the hardy pioneer stock, after bearing 15 children
under frontier conditions, she outlived her husband by 17 years.
(For continuation of the Baker Family History into Kentucky, see The
Middle Fork Bakers. )
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