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JOHN TWITTY BAKER

*VICTIM OF THE 1857 MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE*

Will of John Twitty Baker
 

John (Jack) Twitty Baker was the oldest son of William Baker and his second wife, Hannah Caroline Edwards, born abt. 1805 in Kentucky. His parents were both from Guilford County, North Carolina and married in Jefferson County, Tennessee. Shortly after Jack Baker's birth in Kentucky, the Baker family moved to Madison County, Alabama in its earliest days, when it was still part of the Mississippi Territory. His parents remained there for fifty years, settling in the New Market area where they owned substantial lands. Jack Baker married Mary A. Ashby abt. 1829, and the first eight of their eleven children were born in Jackson County, Alabama. Family tradition holds that Jack Baker was involved in a fight there in town, that left him badly injured. He is said to have killed three men during the altercation, and, fearing retribution from their families, fled over the county line to his parents home in nearby Madison County. When he returned to his home in Jackson County, he found his barn burned and many of his cattle missing. Acts of retaliation are said to have continued for years, before he finally sold his property in October 1848. Like his father, Jack Baker had been prosperous in Alabama, owning substantial property and slaves. The Bellers, and some other Madison County, Alabama families, had migrated to Carroll County, Arkansas, and Jack Baker and his family followed suit. Settling in Crooked Creek Township, Jack Baker became a prominent member of that society, owning slaves and accumulating extensive property.

For Jack Baker in 1857, the lure of California was not the gold fields themselves, but the profits that could be made there by selling cattle. His oldest son, George Washington Baker, was planning to move to California with his family.  Fifty-two years old at the time, Jack Baker decided to travel with them, as did his son Abel Baker. His wife, Mary A. (Ashby) Baker, and eight of their children, would remain at home in Arkansas. Captain John Twitty Baker became the leader of "The Baker Train".  The group gathered, and made their preparations, in the area of William C. Beller's homestead at Milum Spring (also called Caravan Spring) near Baker's daughter-in-law, Minerva Ann (Beller) Baker's, late father's store called "Beller's Stand". (In 1857, the name of the spring near the Beller homestead, if it had one, remains unknown. Sometime after the Mountain Meadows Massacre, it became known as "Caravan Spring", to honor the wagons that had gathered there. The modern name of the spring is "Milum Spring", and is located in present day Boone County, Arkansas, south of the town of Harrison.) The Bakers had a total of 3 (known) wagons and over 260 head of cattle when they assembled, and approximately seven drovers, or hired hands.

Jack Baker's daughter, Sarah C. (Baker), her husband, Charles Roark Mitchell, and Mitchell's brother, Joel Dyer Mitchell, planned to start a cattle ranch in California. "The Mitchell Train" departed from Sugar Loaf Township, Marion County, Arkansas, in conjunction with "The Dunlap Train" (relatives of the Mitchell brothers), and probably met up with "The Baker Train" along route. "The Mitchell Train"  had approximately 100 head of cattle, while "The Dunlap Train" had about 42.

After signing his will on 1 April 1857, Jack Baker departed from Carroll County, Arkansas with $98 in cash, 1 large ox wagon, 6 yoke of work oxen (12), 2 mules, a mare, and approximately 138 head of "fine stock-cattle", along with a "fine rifle gun, a Colt Repeater, clothing, provisions, tents, and camp equipage. Depositions regarding Jack Baker's property when he started for California were given by his widow, Mary A. (Ashby) Baker, son John Henry Baker, employee Hugh A. Torrence, and neighbor John Crabtree.

According to Mountain Meadows Massacre survivor Nancy Sophronia Huff, Captain John Twitty Baker "had me in his arms when he was shot down, and fell dead" on 11 September 1857. He was 52 years old when he died. Jack Baker's son Abel Baker, son George Washington Baker, daughter-in-law, Minerva Ann (Beller) Baker, granddaughter Mary Lovina Baker, daughter Sarah C. (Baker) Mitchell, son-in-law, Charles Roark Mitchell, and infant grandson John Mitchell, all died in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Three of his grandchildren, Martha Elizabeth Baker, Sarah Frances Baker, and William Twitty Baker, survived the Massacre and were returned to Jack Baker's widow, Mary A. (Ashby) Baker, in Carroll County, Arkansas in 1859.

DEPOSITIONS On behalf of John Twitty Baker:
Mary Baker (22 October 1860)
John H. Baker (22 October 1860)
John Crabtree (22 October 1860)
Hugh A. Torrence (23 October 1860)


2008 A.C. Wallner for the Mountain Meadows Association. All rights reserved

Inscription:

IN MEMORIAM

IN THE VALLEY BELOW BETWEEN SEPTEMBER 7 AND 11, 1857, A COMPANY OF MORE THAN 120 ARKANSAS EMIGRANTS LED BY CAPT. JOHN T. BAKER AND CAPT. ALEXANDER FANCHER WAS ATTACKED WHILE EN ROUTE TO CALIFORNIA. THIS EVENT IS KNOWN IN HISTORY AS THE MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE

   JOHN T. BAKER, 52

*Please note that the names of the victims of the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre that appear here are those who we have personally researched and verified as actual victims. In some cases this list will differ from the names that were inscribed on the 1990 Monument on Dan Sill Hill.

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               FOR JOHN TWITTY BAKER


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