The challenge of Charles

Too many Charleses

It’s hard enough to chase family members down the genealogical rabbit holes of the past. Records losses and the ravages of time are bad enough. But when each generation is unkind enough to name members of the next generation with the same name, things can get worse awfully fast. Add a common surname and watch out.

So falling into the same name-same man trap is something every genealogist does at some point, The Legal Genealogist being no exception to that rule.

C.C. Baker, Co. A, First Frontier District

Case in point: my great granduncles Charles Baker.

The plural is deliberate. I have a lot of great granduncles Charles Baker. Three at least. Today, in fact, would be the 251st birthday of my fourth great granduncle Charles Baker, youngest son of Thomas and Dorothy (Davenport) Baker.1

And that Charles Baker had a nephew, my third great granduncle Charles Baker, youngest son of David and Dorothy (Wiseman) Baker, born in 1806 in Burke County, North Carolina.2

And that Charles Baker had a nephew, my second great granduncle Charles Baker, youngest son of Martin and Elizabeth (Buchanan) Baker, born 12 July 1828 in North Carolina.3

And that Charles Baker — brother to my 2nd great grandmother Martha Louisa (Baker) Cottrell — had seemingly disappeared into the mists of time. I couldn’t find him in the records readily available online at the time I started my family research, so I put him aside for another day.

And why couldn’t I find him in those records? Because, it turns out, those last two both had the middle initial of C., and I had Charles C. Baker the younger confused with Charles C. Baker the elder.

And I had to get slapped upside the head with it just this past week to see it.

You remember back when I was so excited to learn that my 2nd great grandfather (and chief genealogical nemesis) George W. Cottrell had been a Texas Ranger?4 I’d come across a set of images of carded records of those who’d served in a Frontier Regiment in Texas during the Civil War who qualified as Texas Rangers.

Well, one of those cards — the one you see here — was that of a C.C. Baker. And I even thought at the time that might be this youngest Charles… and I let it go at that.

Take a look at that card again. Take a close look. See anything that maybe might have given me a clue that I did have the right guy?

Try a little arithmetic. Let’s see here… Enlisted in 1864. Age 36. That means birth in 1827 or 1828. And when was my missing Charles born? 1828.

Duh. All those records of a Charles C. Baker in Parker County, Texas, where this whole branch of the family settled? Um… er… uh… we have two Charles C. Bakers there. How do I know? Because I spent hours backtracking to take another closer look.

And when I took that closer look, there’s evidence of Charles the younger as Charles C. Baker (or C.C. Baker) all over the place. My 3rd great grandfather Martin Baker had gone from North Carolina to Louisa County, Iowa, by 1852.5 And there, in those Iowa records? Charles C. Baker, born 1828, in North Carolina.6

And those Iowa records told me more: that Charles had a son, W.H. Baker, born in Iowa in 1854. And guess who shows up by 1880 in the U.S. census in Young County, Texas, where tons of Baker relatives settled? William H. Baker, born in 1854 in Iowa.7 And that William had a daughter Ida who married George Cherryhomes and…

Okay. So I missed the clues earlier that could have led me to a whole line of cousins who, I hope, will help us all nail down Charles the younger. I’d prefer some chocolate in my humble pie rather than crow, please…

And I’m hot on the trail now… so if you descend from George and Ida (Baker) Cherryhomes/Cherryholmes of Young County, Texas. Drop me a line. There’s a DNA test I’d like to chat with you about…


 
SOURCES

  1. John Scott Davenport, “Five-Generations Identified from the Pamunkey Family Patriarch, Namely Davis Davenport of King William County,” PDF, p. 27, in The Pamunkey Davenport Papers: The Saga of the Virginia Davenports Who Had Their Beginnings in or near Pamunkey Neck, CD-ROM (Charles Town, W.Va.: Pamunkey Davenport Family Association, 2009).
  2. Josiah and Julia (McGimsey) Baker Family Bible Records 1749-1912, The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (New York : American Bible Society, 1867), “Births”; privately held by Louise (Baker) Ferguson, Bakersville, NC; photographed for JG Russell, Feb 2003. Mrs. Ferguson, a great granddaughter of Josiah and Julia, inherited the Bible; the earliest entries are believed to be in the handwriting of Josiah or Julia Baker.
  3. Elma W. Baker, The Rugged Trail, Vol. II (Dallas, Texas : p.p.), 71.
  4. Judy G. Russell, “G.W. Cottrell, Texas ranger,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 21 Apr 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 2 Feb 2013).
  5. 1852 Iowa State Census, Louisa County, Columbus City, p. 1, line 24, Martin Baker, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines; FHL microfilm 1022204.
  6. 1854 Iowa State Census, Louisa County, Columbus City, p. 4, line 13, Charls C Baker, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines; FHL microfilm 1022207. Also, 1854 Iowa State Census, Louisa County, Jefferson, p. 194 (stamped), C.C. Baker.
  7. 1880 U.S. census, Young County, Texas, Precinct 4, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 169, p. 421(B) (stamped), dwelling/family 69, William H. Baker; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Feb 2013); citing National Archive microfilm publication T9, roll 1334; imaged from FHL microlfim 1255334.
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18 Responses to The challenge of Charles

  1. Sierra Pope says:

    My husband comes from a long line of men named John Pope. When we got engaged my mother-in-law made me promise that if we had a son I would not continue the tradition. I agreed as it is very difficult when there are 3 men in the room with the same name. My sister-in-law has announced that she will use the name John if she gets the chance. We are about to become those people for our future generations.

  2. Funny, I just found the same problem the other day. Too many Charles’ and no way to determine who is who.

  3. Jeff says:

    >But when each generation is unkind enough to name members of the next generation with the same name, things can get worse awfully fast.

    Doesn’t that make ya wanna reach back in time and grab the parents of the second/next/following generation by the scruff of their neck and say, “Just what in the sam hill were you thinking by reusing that name? Do you know just how difficult you made things for me?”

  4. Melissa Smith says:

    I know exactly where you are coming from. I have a long line of Smith’s that liked Charles, James and John. Now couldn’t you be a little more original than that?

  5. Jim Poole says:

    Well, when you get serious with your Pettypool line, be prepared for William and Seth, Seth and William, William and Seth, Seth and…….

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      And don’t forget who my Pettypool was, Jim — Elizabeth, who married John Jones, who had children John and Elizabeth, and…

  6. James Baker says:

    Great Great Great grandfather Charles Baker who had Edward Baker who had James Nicholas Baker, Who had James C Baker who had me James Chris Baker, was from New York? Everyone else was born in Arizona, some from Rancho De Baker, Roll, Arizona and then me Fresno, CA. … within one generation became spanish speaking, (Yagui, Mayo, Papago, Mexican). Do not know where Charles Baker, (possibly Wayne Co.) came from, became Arizona Pioneer.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Yet another Charles Baker to deal with! Sigh… couldn’t great great grandparents have named kids Zebadiah or something???

  7. Anne says:

    And we have four generations of John Wilson. Only one of them is reportedly John William Wilson and at least the youngest is John Edward Willson…yup he spells it with two L’s and no son John! But I’m not sure about his half-brothers.

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