Tuesday, February 3, 2015

52 Ancestors: Arthur W. Baker~Plowing Through

Week 5
       My paternal great great grandfather, Arthur Wellington Baker (1857-1940) came to mind when reading the blog prompt for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2015 Edition: Week 5-Plowing Through. Now plowing through could mean many things, but I thought of the many farm laborers in my ancestry. Arthur Baker was just one of them.
      Arthur was the son of Alpheus J. Baker (1824-1917) and Mary Ellen (Jones) Baker (1826-1865).  He was born on his father's farm in Sumter County, South Carolina and continued in his father's footsteps becoming a farm laborer, manager and eventually owning his own farm.
Arthur Wellington Baker
      How did Arthur Baker "Plow Through" his days on the farm? Luckily, he left a clue. A Memorandum book with the year 1899 and the name A. Baker was kept by his daughters and then passed on to me.
       This little book starts in January of 1899 and goes through April of that year. In it he recorded day to day events on the farm-who was working, where they were working, what the weather was like, etc.
     There are lists of who received what on "Ration Day" and lists of supplies received under "Commissary Stores".
     The writing is in pencil and some pages are hard to read or illegible but most are still in good condition.

1899 Memorandum Book
Arthur W. Baker
©Cheri Hudson Passey
 It's hard to see, but at the top, it says: 1899  A Baker

Inside Front Cover
Memorandum Book
Arthur W. Baker
©Cheri Hudson Passey
  The inside cover has a list of fields and what is planted there. 
It includes:
20 acres cotton fields
14 acres corn fields
5 acre peach orchard

 The list is long but hard to read. 

Inside Page of Arthur W. Baker's  1899 Memorandum
©Cheri Hudson Passey

     Arthur recorded the daily tasks and events of the farm from

 January-April 1899. He included work accomplished, visitors and the weather. 
Some of what is written on the left:
Mar. 3  Friday
Lizzie 4 girls pile manure
finished(?) potatoes
Daniel Cooper fixed tongue 
  pole for new wagon
Doubled 2 more furrows
 on Irish potatoes
3 acre cut for cotton

On the right-hand side we read:

Mar 4 Ration Day
                    Frank cotton seed to Mr. Wilson
                              5 Storms last night wind
                 Rain & thunder & lightening
          turning cold 

     and down further on the page
       7  Tuesday
            The windyest & coldest
             day I have ever felt
            Afternoon hauled

In small writing on the bottom of the left-hand side of the page is written: Letter from Junius. 

 Junius Alburtus Baker (1855-1938) was Arthur Baker's brother.

Inside Page of Arthur W. Baker's 1899 Memorandum
©Cheri Hudson Passey

       This is an example of "Rations" page on the left and a "Commissary" page on the left.
      The 1900 United States Federal Census of South Carolina, Sumter County, Lynchburg Township shows Arthur Baker's occupation as Farm Manager. This title would explain the reason for the day to day detail in this book. Many of the names recorded can be found living near the Baker family in the census. 
Section from 1990 US Federal Census, Sumter County, Lynchburg Township
Arthur Baker and family

    This Memorandum gives a view into the farming life of my great great grandfather. No matter what the weather he kept plowing through!

Are we kin? Please contact me. Together we can find our people.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. Cheri, that book looks marvelous! It is a wonder that it has survived and found its way to you so you can share it and save it for the future.

    1. My Dad found it in a box of things that were going to be thrown away after Arthur's daughter -Auntie Kate-who I wote about last week. He rescued several papers and documents that she had kept for so many years. So grateful that he did! Thanks for reading,Colleen!