“Old and New Westmoreland” Vol. 4
Author: Boucher, John Newton, 1854-1933
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WILLIAM FRANKLIN BAKER – Among the successful business men of Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pa., WILLIAM FRANKLIN BAKER holds a prominent place. He is a member of a very old and highly respected Pennsylvania family, his great-grandfather, who was JOHN ADAM BAKER, having been born in Northampton County, in what was then the Colony of Pennsylvania, about the year 1770. It was he who came to Westmoreland County and founded the family in that region, the date of his migration there being about 1800. He bought land in Hempfield Township, opposite the present county farm, and made his home there until death, which occurred in 1832. The BAKER family had a German origin, JOHN ADAM BAKER'S parents having been among the early German emigrants and were probably natives of Wurtemburg, who settled near Philadelphia in the early days. JOHN ADAM BAKER married a lady of whom we only know that her Christian name was MARIAH ELIZABETH, that she died in 1852 in extreme old age and that she was the mother of his six children. These children were as follows: GEORGE, the grandfather of the MR. BAKER of this sketch; ISAAC, who resided near the Five Points; JOHN, whose death occurred at Greensburg; SOLOMON, who lived and died near the old BAKER homestead; JACOB who made his home about four miles north of Greensburg; and SALOMY, who married a MR. KENT. All of these children reached extreme old age, and were highly respected members of their several communities.
(pg. 668) GEORGE BAKER was born in Northampton County, Pa., in the month of September, 1791, and died at the old BAKER homestead in 1865. It was he that erected the brick house which is still standing on that property and is still in use as the home of his grandson, WESLEY BAKER. GEORGE BAKER married EVAN KETMAN, who was born in 1793, and died in 1872, at the age of seventy-nine years. GEORGE BAKER was a mechanic and for many years made all the coffins needed for those who died at the County farm and in this work was succeeded by his son FRANKLIN. He and his wife were the parents of thirteen children, as follows: ADAM ELI, who inherited part of the old homestead, but made his home at Mount Pleasant, Pa., where he died; JULIA ANN; CHARLES, who died on a portion of the old homestead; ZEBULON, the father of the MR. BAKER of this sketch; SUSANNAH M., who became the wife of MR. TRUXEL, and died in Mount Pleasant Township; MARIAH; ANDREW JACKSON, who was a carpenter by trade, resided for a time in Greensburg; but about 1885 moved to the State of Kansas, where his death eventually occurred; CAROLINE, who became the wife of JOSEPH POOL, and resided about three miles east of Greensburg; ISAAC OLIVER, who became a minister of the Lutheran church and had charge of several churches in Westmoreland County, until the time of his death, which occurred in Mount Pleasant Township; LUCINDA, who became the wife of a MR. PERKINS; MARIA HANNAH, who became the wife of HENRY GOODWIN, and lived about four miles west of Greensburg; AMANDA GEORGE, who died childhood; and FRANKLIN, who inherited the old farm and made his home in the brick house erected there by his father. He survived all his brothers and sisters and died in the year 1908.
ZEBULON BAKER was born November 4, 1821, on his father's farm, and there lived and died, his death occurring April 7, 1897. He operated during his life a blacksmith shop in Mount Pleasant Township, over which he presided for many years. He married, September 22, 1844, CATHERINE PORE, daughter of CHRISTOPHER and __(DEMMER) PORE. MRS. BAKER was born May 22, 1825, and died October 2, 1915, having lived after her husband's death with her son, WILLIAM FRANKLIN. To MR. and MRS. BAKER the following children were born: ANDREW JACKSON, who now resides in Greensburg, Pa.; WILLIAM FRANKLIN, mentioned below; EVAN AMANDA, who became the wife of ANANIAS SIMPSON, of Columbiana, Ohio; SUSANNA REBECCA, who became the wife of GEORGE ALBRIGHT, and met her death in an accident at West Newton, Pa.; MARY ANN, who became the wife of FRANKLIN NEWELL, a justice of the peace at Mount Pleasant Township; and JOSEPH DANIEL, who is a blacksmith near Pennsville, Pa.
WILLIAM FRANKLIN BAKER was born December 17, 1851, about six miles south of Greensburg. When he was ten years of age, he visited with his mother, the widow of JACOB KEPPLE, whose son MIKE induced his mother to permit him to remain with them, which he did until he had reached the age of sixteen years. He then learned the carpenter trade, having apprenticed himself to Mr. John Rumbach, of Mount Pleasant Township. For his first year's services he received the not very magnificent sum of forty-five dollars and his board. He then began to work at the rate of fifteen dollars a month, a sometimes later had his salary raised to twenty dollars for the same period. He remained with Mr. Rumbach for four and half years, at the end of which time he secured a position as foreman with the firm of Husband Brothers at Mount Pleasant, which was engaged in the contracting and furniture making business on a large scale. Here he remained for some thirteen years, with from fifteen to thirty men working under him, and besides overseeing the old shop, he also assisted in keeping the firm's books. His services were valued highly and his salary was increased. In the year 1890, however, he severed his connection with this concern and came to Greensburg, where after a few years spent in the various shops he began to take contracts on his own account for the building of various edifices in and about Greensburg. He thus laid the foundation of a business which rapidly grew in (pg. 669) size and importance until now it is one of the largest of its kind in the community. He has erected a number of the best buildings in and about Greensburg, besides a large number of residences, several of which he owns himself, together with the propery upon which they stand. The BAKER family has for many generations been associated with the Lutheran church, and the MR. BAKER of this sketch is a member thereof and attends with his wife and children the church of this denomination of Greensburg. He resides with his family in the charming home on Green Street, Greensburg.
MR. BAKER was united in marriage in 1878 with LUCETTA JANE SIMPSON, a daughter of JOHN and CATHERINE (MILLER) SIMPSON. MRS. SIMPSON was born near Old Madison, Westmoreland County, February 17, 1855. She was reared on a farm of the old BAKER estate, where her father died when she was but ten years of age. When eighteen years old, she accompanied her mother to Greensburg, where the family lives at the present time. To MR. and MRS. BAKER the following children have been born: ALICE JANE, who became the wife of HERBERT BLANK, of Greensburg; CHARLES HOMER, who is now engaged in moulding brass at Wilkinsburg; CLARISSA VIOLA, who became the wife of Donald Younie, of Greensburg; JOHN FRANKLIN, who married MARTHA STICKLER, and is associated with his father; VERNETTA, who is now MRS. DANIEL FOSTER, of Greensburg; LUCETTA, who is now MRS. JAMES BERNARD, of East Pittsburgh, and GERTRUDE ARMINTA, who resides with her parents in Greensburg.
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