Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day - In Memorium: 2nd Lieutenant William H. Baker, d. May 23, 1865

In memory of 2nd Lieutenant William H. Baker.

My 2X great grand uncle, William H. Baker, joined the Kansas 12th Infantry, Company D, along with his older brother, John T. Baker, and his younger brother, Joseph N. Baker.  I'm not shocked that they all signed up to fight as their father, Joshua Baker, was very anti-slavery!

All three brothers were privates, but there must have been something special in William.  Unlike his two brothers, who mustered out at the end of the war still with the rank of private, William must have been a real leader.

According to the Report of the Adjutant General(1) William moved up through the ranks:
  • Promoted to Sergeant: 25 Sept 1862
  • Promoted to 1st Sergeant: 1 Jan 1864
  • Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant: 5 Jan 1865 

Unfortunately, William died on May 23, 1865, and was buried at Little Rock National Cemetery.  I can't imagine how lonely and afraid William would have been, to be so sick and so far away from his family, and finally to pass away.  

William's body was brought back to be with his family, and was buried at the Baker Cemetery, near Lane, Franklin County, Kansas.

There is a little star planted next to William's headstone which says: GAR - which stands for Grand Army of the Republic.  This means that William fought for the Union Army against the Confederate Army from the South.  William gave his life in support of this cause - and we have to really respect someone who was willing to make that ultimate sacrifice.

William didn't marry or have any children, which means there are no direct descendants to lay flowers at his grave.  So if we don't remember him, who will?  


(1) Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kansas, 1861-1865.  Vol. 1.
- Photos - thank you to Harold&WandaBlackwell from FindAGrave - used with permission.

Copyright 2013 Denise G Baker, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Society Saturday - Application to Join the Daughters of the American Revolution - Part 1

Ever since I first became interested in genealogy (just a few years ago) one of my objectives has been to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).  According to family legend my 5X great grandfather, Samuel Baker, fought in that war.  Samuel was the son of Samuel Baker and Elizabeth Glover, and was born in Bedford County, VA, in 1745 and died about 1826 in Botetourt Co, VA.  Since the advent of the internet I have also seen many family trees showing this sort of information, of course there were no sources attached.  I really wanted to have a point to all the genealogy research my sister, Nadine, and I have been doing, and a membership in the DAR would be an end-product that just might convey a sense of accomplishment.  Oh, and the certificate on the wall would be nice, too!

Now that I think about it, my interest in the DAR may actually have started much further back in time.  When I was in school I used a hand-written pedigree chart borrowed from my Dad's sister that traced our family from my paternal grandfather, Joseph Hubert Baker, back to this Samuel Baker, and even further.  I was intrigued about these ancestors, because, although I had heard that my paternal granddad's family had come up from the States, I had not realized that the family had been in the New World for such a long time, and that seemed pretty cool to me.

The Pedigree Chart I used was just that, a chart, there were no sources cited, and no hints about where to go next in the research.  Lets face it, I was a kid with a lot more interesting things to do, and my interest cooled off -- for about 20 or 30 years.

I want to interject with some important lessons here:
  1. I didn't keep a copy of the pedigree chart that was returned to my Aunt, and I should have.
  2. I didn't keep a copy of the work I handed in, and I should have.
Why would I consider these important lessons?
  1. Because my Aunt's house burned down -- taking the family history information with it!  That information would have been a great starting point.  As it was - I had to rely on my memory of what I thought the pedigree chart showed.
  2. One should really keep copies of assignments that are turned in, just in case the teacher loses it (which has happened to me).
Well, we all know that what family legends say, and what evidence can support, are two different things!  So my first step was to see if Samuel had an accepted service record by searching the Ancestor Database at the DAR website.  Luckily for me, Samuel Baker from Botetourt County, Virginia, was listed as having an accepted service during the war.   In fact, according to the book Documentary History of Dunmore's War (1), Samuel not only served (p. 411), he was erroneously reported as killed (p. 296) during the Battle of Point Pleasant  - causing his name to be included on a memorial marker for that battle: 
Samuel had actually been firing on the enemy from a hiding spot behind a log, but an enemy's bullet hit the tip of his mocassin [sic], so he removed from the area (p. 296).  It is a really good thing that Samuel high-tailed it out of there, because his son (my 4X great grandfather) Abraham was born about that time - but we can't be sure if it was before or after.  Abraham may not have been more than a twinkle in Samuel's eye at the time of that battle!

The DAR member whose ancestry was traced back to Samuel did so through my 3X great grandfather, Joshua Baker, and through his daughter Salome C. Martin - sister to my 2X great grandfather, George W. Baker.  How hard could this be - I would be searching through records in Indiana from around 1850, and in Kansas shortly after that.  I just needed to link back to Joshua Baker through my dad's direct male line.

Last lesson to be learned today, a definition.
          Extant: "in existence; still existing; not destroyed or lost." (3)

If you have done any research in the Indiana or Kansas regions you'll already know that vital records started well after the time period I would be searching.  Part 2's lesson will be about using alternate sources!

(1) Kellog, L. P., & Thwaites, R. G. (1905).  Documentary history of Dunmore's war, 1774: Compiled from the Draper manuscripts in the Library of the Wisconsin Historical Society, and published at the charge of the Wisconsin Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.  Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society.  (p. 296, 411). Available on Google Books:

(2) "Battle of Point Pleasant," Historical Markers Database [digital online database]  Accessed 25 May 2013.

(3) Definition of the word "Extant" -  Accessed 25 May 2013.

Copyright 2013 Denise G Baker, All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday's Faces from the Past - Photo of Unknown from Sweden

My family is hoping to identify this young Swedish soldier!  Let me know if you recognize this individual, or know who he might be!  This photo(1) is from circa 1901 - 1912, likely taken in the Västernorrland region of Sweden.  The photographer appears to be Hanna Lundborg of Umeå, Sweden.

Photograph is of a dark haired man in uniform - possibly from the Swedish army as young men were required to give 2 years of service beginning in 1901 until July 1, 2010(2).  This was found in the red velvet photo album owned by my my Mom.  The album travelled with my great grandparents, Britta Mathilda Goransdotter (1887-1958) and husband Johan Elof Eriksson (Erickson) (1882-1959), when they immigrated from Fränsta, Västernorrland, Sweden to their homestead near Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1912.  Many of the photos in this album have no names, and we were not able to match them to photos of known individuals. 

Most of the photos in the album were likely of friends or relatives, as this collection of photos was created as a memento for the young family to take with them when the moved half-way around the world.  There was little expectation that Britta or Johan would ever return to Sweden to see their family or friends.  

This photograph, and the other unknowns from the red velvet album, are of people who lived and died about 100 years ago.  I would love to honour them, but that will be hard to do without knowing who they were!

(1) Photo from album in possession of my mom, in Saskatchewan, Canada.
(2) "Sweden Ends Compulsory Military Service," : by Agence France-Presse.  Accessed May 16, 2013.

Copyright 2013 Denise G Baker, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Surname Saturday - Solsten

The Solsten surname traveled from Norway, through the US, coming to rest in Saskatchewan, Canada.

- Ole Solsten (b. 29 Sep 1848, Norway; d. 14 Feb 1911, Bagley, SK).

Ole Solsten, my mother's maternal great-grandfather, came to Canada between 1900 and 1908. This can be estimated by first looking aborder crossing documents for his brother, Benjamin.  Which stated Benjamin and his wife, Carrie, were joining his brother, Ole who was residing in Melfort, Sask.An interesting item of note on this form is the final destination for Benjamin and Carrie is listed as Foston (sic).  Fosston is a small town just south of Rose Valley, where my family resided for a few years back in the 1960's.  

Next we find Ole's family on the 1900 US Census.  According to the Census record, Ole had immigrated from Norway to the US in 1871. According to the same record and two of his children, Emma and John were born in Minnesota, USA.

- Emma Solsten, Ole's second youngest daughter (b. 6 Apr 1890, Dalton, Minn.; d. 25 Oct 1953, Carrot River, SK).

When my great-grandmother, Emma, got married in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 7 Oct 1908 it was hard to find the record on the Manitoba Vital Statistics database because the clerk spelled it Solstice.  Luckily, her husband, Edgar Spearman's name was spelled correctly!  

Ole Solsten passed away on 14 Feb 1911 in Bagley, Saskatchewan, Canada, according to the Saskatchewan Death Index on the Information Services Corporation, Vital Statistics website.  Unfortunately, this occurred before he could be recorded on the Canadian Census of 1911.

The Solsten surname continued:
- Carl Solsten passed away in Port Alberni, BC in 1953 according to the BC Death index on
- John Solsten passed away in Bagley, SK.

Benjamin and Carrie Solsten, Border Crossing Record., online database: Border Crossings from Canada to the US, 1895-1954, digital image 7, North Dakota, Manifests, 1908, December, 7.  Accessed: May 11, 2013.

Solsten family record.  1900 US Federal Census for White Earth Indian Reservation, Becker, Minnesota.  District 0340, sheet 24A (stamped 163 and marked 82), Dwelling 233, Family 257; T635, Roll 798,  Digital image #1, online database.  Accessed: May 10, 2013.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sibling Saturday - Warren Stanley Thompson

My paternal great grandmother, Ellen Louisa (Thompson) Coad's (1878-1961) older brother was Warren Stanley Thompson (1874-1919).  I don't know that much about Warren, but I do know that he was involved in World War I, and served as a Captain with the RAVC - Royal Army Veterinary Corp.

Warren was born in Lakefield, Ontario, Canada on 14 Jun 1874.  By 1891 the family had moved out to Manitoba to farm.  Originally, Warren's father, Lewis Edwin Thompson, took work on the Brandon Police Force, using his spare time for "land-seeking."  Ellen Thompson, my 2X great grandmother, was very industrious as she hired a local native woman to help in her kitchen, cooked meals for the single men in the town.  Finally the family located viable property in the Deloraine district.  

This was where my great grandma Ellen married Sherman Coad, aka George Sherman Coad, in 1898.  And my grandmother, Helen Muriel Coad, was born near Deloraine, Manitoba, on 22 May 1902 according to her birth registration.  The Coad family then moved out to Saskatchewan as George, Ellen and household are listed on the 1906 Canada Census (lines 33-38) in the region of Humboldt, Saskatchewan.  Their family is listed in the dwelling next door to Ellen's parents, Lewis Edwin and Ellen Thompson and family (lines 27-32).  All of them were listed in Humboldt's sub region 4, on page 23 (image 25 on

The 1911 Census of Canada found Warren living with his parents, Ellen and Lewis, and still in the Humboldt region, sub-district 112, page 3 (image 3 on  By this time, Warren's occupation is listed as Veterinary, and now his service with the Royal Army Veterinary Corp in WWI starts to make sense.  

When World War I came along many a young man felt the call to fight for King and country.  I don't know what Warren thought about the war, or about fighting, but according to a family history written by his sister, Emma Jane (Thompson) Kirkwood (see line 15 on the 1906 census), Warren enlisted as a Veterinarian, and took a ship's cargo of horses over to France.  Warren was later sent to Egypt, where the heat had a deleterious affect on his health.  He applied for transfer over to England in the hopes that the spring weather would help him recover, except the transfer took so long that he wasn't sent until November.  This drastic climate change made Warren even more ill.  Finally he was sent to hospital, and Emma writes that her brother "languished," and never recovered.  

Unfortunately, Warren finally died of Infective Endocarditis, as a result of his active service, according to his record on the Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty) database on  His death on 2 Sep 1919 was at the Cambridge Hospital, Aldershot, Hampshire, as per his probate record from the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administration) 1858-1966 database on  I was originally confused by the database index listing his unit as the RARC, which, according to English World War I records, did not exist.  Luckily, when I transcribed the original document, I was able to see that the unit Warren served with was actually the RAVC, which made much more sense.

Warren's body was finally returned to Canada, and he is buried at the Del-Win Cemetery in Deloraine, Manitoba, where he grew up.  This record comes from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.  According to Emma, Walter never married, and his money and effects were willed to his mother according to the probate record.

I haven't dug up that much information about Warren, yet, but he would definitely be someone I would want to get the chance to meet.  As this meeting is not possible, I would happily settle for a trip to Deloraine to visit his grave site and pay my respects.  I believe Warren deserves that much.

Coad, Hellen Murial, birth registration.  Vital Statistics Manitoba.  Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

Kirkwood, E.J.  "The Family of L.E. Thompson and Ellen Stone."  Typewritten reminiscences by their daughter, Emma Jane (Thompson) Kirkwood.  Copy of which is in the possession of the blogger, original in possession of the blogger's aunt.