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IL Biographies
Page 2

"Family History as presented by Katie (Baker) Bigler at the 25th Baker Reunion (abt 1953)"
"My father's name was JESSE BAKER.  He had six brothers. Their names were Ashley, William, James, Evan, Joseph, and David. He had four sisters. Their names were Patience, Betsy, Kizzie, and Sally.  Uncle Ashley had a son - Billy K. Baker; Uncle William had a son - John Baker; Uncle James had a son - Big Evan; Uncle Evan had a son - Dan Baker; Uncle Joe had a son - Ashley Baker; Uncle David had a son - Walker Baker; Aunt Sally married a Carr; Aunt Patience married a Rhodes; Aunt Betsey married a Walden; do not know who Aunt Kizzie married or whether she married at all or not. Aunt Betsey was Pierce Waldens mother, and if I am not mistaken, Pierce Walden made his home with my father and mother, Jesse and Martha I. Baker after his mother died. My father Jesse Baker was born November 8, 1823, near Shawneetown, Galliton County Illinois, He was the youngest of 11 children and moved to Shelby County with his parents at the age of 5 years. He passed away at his home in Sigel, Illinois on October 20th, 1905.  My mother Martha I. Rentfrow Baker was born July 28th, 1836, near Nashville, Tennessee. She was the eldest of a family of 8 children. She came to Illinois with her parents when she was five years old in a covered wagon. After she came to Illinois she never saw anyone that was related to her mother. She passed away February 9th, 1923, at the home of her son Jesse I. Baker. Jesse Baker and Martha I. Rentfrow were married October 14th, 1858.
"Family History as presented by Mattie (Martha Baker) Lanphier at the Sigel Centennial in 1963" 
During his teens it is known that Jesse would cut firewood in the middle of winter barefoot. He would heat a block of wood and stand on it while he cut firewood. Jesse and Tamer started housekeeping with packing boxes for furniture and cooked over a fireplace. When Jesse and his wife were first married they rode the same horse to church on Sunday. He started farming with a cow and a horse. Jesse had a dog and there were some friendly Indians who would have traded anything for the dog, but Jesse wouldn't trade. Jesse took corn to Shelbyville to get it ground and to pick up supplies. He made this trip on horseback.  It is believed that he and his wife never had a garden and never put up anything canned.  When hogs were ready to market, they were driven on foot to St. Louis or Indianapolis where they were sold. At times the deer were so thick they had to put pointed sticks around their corn to keep them out. Jesse and his wife always drove their oxen to church and hitched them at the same place. They were among the first members of the Green Creek Christian Church. Jesse wore a white shirt made out of unbleached muslin at all times, also blue wool trousers. They had to make the shirts because he was too big to buy them ready made. Every morning he had his hired hand hitch up the horse and he and Martha would go to Sigel and wait for them to sort the mail. When sorted Martha would go in and get the Drovers Journal and see how his stock was doing. Martha always had a maid whom they paid 75 cents a week. Jesse was well known since he dealt extensively in livestock. Grace Springer related that Martha always kept her bonnet hanging on the door knob and when Jesse said "I am going to town" Martha would grab her bonnet and be ready to go.".....Last Will and Testament of Jesse Baker: -I, Jesse Baker, of the town of Sigel, County of Shelby, State of Illinois, being of sound mind and memory do make publish and declare this to be my last will and testament to wit. - 1st, all my just debts and funeral expenses shall be first fully paid. - 2nd, I give devise and bequeath to Martha I Baker, my wife, one thousand dollars, all the household goods, one horse and buggy and the use of all the land I own at the time of my death out side of that in this will so long as she lives, then at her death said land to be sold and the money equally devided between my children to wit, Charles H. Baker, James P. Baker, Robert M. Baker, Levi L. Baker, Mary C. Bigler, Edward Baker and Jesse I. Baker or their heirs. -3rd, I give devise and bequeath Jesse I. Baker, my son, that part of my home farm lying north of the public road running East and West of Illinois Central Railroad, containing about one hundred and sixty acres more or less, the said Jesse I. Baker is to pay Charles H. Baker, James P. Baker, Robert M. Baker, Levi L. Baker, Mary C. Bigler, and Edward Baker or their heirs the sum of four hundred dollars each in two years after my death. -4th, what ever personal property I may have after carrying out this my will it shall be equally divided between my children or their legal heirs.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 15 day of February, 1896. -Jesse Baker (Seal) - Witnesses:  A.W. Bigler and S.S. Bigler --Bond was set in the amount of $4800 with Robert M. Baker, Administrator and Jesse I. Baker and Levi Baker as security. Listed among his heirs were grandsons:  Ira Baker of Sigel; Jesse Baker of Effingham; Elmer Baker of Lincoln, Nebraska; and Nelson Baker of Champaign, Illinois......Submitted by Raylene Lamb

LARBIA KELLY, a prosperous farmer and stock-grower residing in Pleasant Grove Township, is an honorable representative of the early pioneers of the county, and of the self-made men of Illinois.  He was born in September, 1826, in Washington County, Ind., and is the son of James and Elsie (Listham) Kelly.  In 1827 the family came to Ilinois and settled in Coles County, on the eastern branch of the Embarras River, near the present site of the Charleston water-works.  The country at that time was an almost unbroken wilderness. The Indian tribes in the vicinity were hostile, and the white settlers were limited to a few widely scattered families.  Wolves, deer, panthers and bears roamed over the lonely prairies and made their homes in the forests, but, undaunted by the perils of the wilderness, James Kelly entered land and established himself with his young family on the Western frontier. They came poor, and for many years the struggle with poverty, hardship and privation was a bitter one, but it was bravely met, and Mr. Kelly was subsequently enabled to purchase more land, finally becoming the owner of over 300 acres, which he improved and cultivated. James Kelly was a man of genial disposition, and, like Abraham Lincoln, enjoyed a good joke, which characteristics doubtless. served to soften many of the asperities of pioneer life. Mrs. Kelly's more delicate organization was not able to endure the discomforts and privations to which she was exposed, and she died soon after their settlement in this county, leaving a family of nine children- Rebecca, Matilda, Lucinda, Thomas, Spencer, James, Ebenezer, Larbia and Catherine.  The four elder children are dead.  Mr. Kelly subsequently married Miss Rhoda Taylor, and by this marriage three children were born- Nancy, Sabrina and Henry Clay; of these the latter only is living.  Mr. Kelly was a Whig in politics. His death occured about the year 1849. Larbia Kelly was an infant when his parents removed to Illinois, and he grew up inured to the hardships of pioneer life, but almost entirely deprived of educational advatages.  He passed his boyhood and youth at home, assiting his father in the various duties of farm labor, and when twenty years of age began the world for himself. Going to Wisconsin he engaged in hauling ore from the lead-mines, and continued in that business several seasons. In the spring of 1850 he crossed the plains to California with an ox-team, which was a perilous and adventurous journey, and during an absence of about three years was variously occupied in milling and teaming.  He saved some money out of this enterprose, and returned home via the Isthmus and New Orleans, and has since given his attention exclusively to faming, and now owns over 300 acres of land, supplied with a substantial two-story brick residence and appropriate farm buildings. Mr. Kelly possesses excellent business qualifications, and has acquired his property by the excercise of energy and industry. He was thrice married, his firs marriage occurring when he was twenty-one years of age.  His wife was Miss Marilda Sullivan, who died leaving two little girls- Sarah and Laura. The former became the wife of Benjamin Parker, and the latter the wife of George Bates.   His second wife, Miss Sarah Lemons, died leaving five children- Susan, Elsie and Larbia, and two deceased; Susan became the wife of John W. King. and Elsie the Wife of Noah Hackett. The maiden name of his present wife was Miss Millie Catherine Carter, and this marriage has been blest with one child, Ellen. In conducting his farm Mr. Kelly gives special attention to stock-raising, in which he has been very successful. he is not actively interested in public affairs, his own business requiring his almost exclussive attention. With his wife he is a member of the Baptist Church, and in politics belongs to the Republican party. As one of the pioneers of Coles County and a worthy representative of its farming element, we present the portrait of Mr. Kelly in connection with this brief personal narrative....Submitted by: DeAnn 



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