A birthday to remember

One word in the census

Over and over and over again, in that census record, the word appears in that “Profession, Occupation or Trade” column.

Enlist2.cropIt’s there by the name of 30-year-old Andrew Dean.1 By the name of 52-year-old Jacob Puttorf.2 By the name of 25-year-old William J. Griffith.3 And by the name of a 21-year-old farmboy, born in North Carolina, Martin A. Baker.4

The Legal Genealogist has no doubt that, at some times, in some years, that word in the “Profession, Occupation or Trade” column might have been there with pride. Had that census been taken just a year earlier, even just a few months earlier, it might have been there with dread.

But that census was taken on the 27th of June 1865.

And by the 27th of June 1865, we can hope that it was there with relief and with deep and abiding gratitude.

Because the word in the “Profession, Occupation or Trade” column that summer day in 1865 was “soldier.”

And the families who reported that “Profession, Occupation or Trade” to the census takers there in Leavenworth County, Kansas, had had more than two months to get used to the idea that their soldier sons and fathers and husbands and brothers were no longer at war.

That they might in fact be coming home.

Alive.

And as well as they might be after years of brutal civil war.

David Davenport Baker and his wife (and cousin) Mary (Baker) Baker5 had had three sons of age to be at risk in that terrible conflagration.6 There’s no record that William, born in 1841, served in the Civil War. John, born in 1842, was recorded in that 1865 census at home with his family.7

But Martin… born in 1843 and named for his grandfather, another Martin A. Baker, Martin had gone for a soldier.

He was eighteen years old, a blue-eyed, light-haired, fair-complected farmboy standing all of five feet four inches in height when he signed on the dotted line in Easton, Kansas, on the 22nd of August 1862.8

His unit: Company A, 11th Kansas Volunteers. Originally organized as the 11th Kansas Infantry when it was organized in 1862, it was mounted and converted to the 11th Kansas Cavalry in 1863.9 Its infantry engagements included the Battle of Old Fort Wayne, in what is now Oklahoma and the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas.10

Company A was the first to be mustered into service, and the entire regiment filled by the middle of September 1862. So quick was the unit’s dispatch into that first engagement that the men of the 11th Kansas couldn’t wait to be issued modern Enfield rifles, but had to draw weapons more than 40 years old: “The only infantry arms at Fort Leavenworth were a lot of Fremont’s Prussian Muskets, manufactured in 1818, of antique pattern, extra large calibre, and one-fourth heavier than either the Enfield or Springfield musket. These were hastily drawn and issued, and on the 4th of October, twenty days after its organization, the Eleventh Regiment, with eager steps, started on its first campaign.”11

As a cavalry unit, the 11th Kansas was involved in the battles at Lexington, Little Blue River, Independence, Byram’s Ford, and Westport, all in Missouri; Mine Creek in Kansas; and Platte Bridge Station in what is now Wyoming.12

And then came the peace.

And for the first time in three years families in Kansas could begin to breathe again.

Martin would not be home for another three months. Company A of the 11th Kansas Regiment was mustered out of service on the 26th of September 1865.13

But can you imagine the feeling David Davenport Baker must have had there, that summer day in 1865, when the census taker came to call?

He himself was just two days shy of his 46th birthday.14

And his son — Martin — the soldier — would go to war no more.

Talk about a birthday to remember…


SOURCES

  1. 1865 Kansas State Census, Leavenworth County, Leavenworth Ward 3, p. 80 (penned), dwelling 554, family 585, Andrew Dean; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 June 2014); citing Kansas State Census microfilm reel K-5, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.
  2. Ibid., p. 81 (penned), dwell. 561, fam. 593, Jacob Puttorf.
  3. Ibid., p. 83 (penned), dwell. 570, fam. 602, Wm J Griffith.
  4. Ibid., p. 89 (penned), dwell. 607, fam. 641, Martin A. Baker.
  5. See Macon County, North Carolina, Marriage Bond, 1839, David D. Baker and Mary Baker; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  6. Their first born son, Thomas, born in 1839, died as a child. Elma W. Baker, The Rugged Trail, Vol. II (Dallas, TX: p.p., 1973), 73, citing family Bible records and individuals who reported information to him.
  7. 1865 Kansas State Census, Leavenworth Co., Leavenworth Ward 3, p. 89 (penned), dwell. 607, fam. 641, John F. Baker.
  8. Volunteer Enlistment, 11th Regiment of Kansas Volunteers, Company A, Martin A. Baker; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 June 2014); citing Kansas Volunteer Regiments and Batteries (1862-1868), Record Group 034, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office of the State of Kansas, 1856-1993; Wartime Records (1861-1947); Enlistment Papers (1862-1869, 1917-1918); Kansas Historical Society, Topeka.
  9. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “11th Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry,” rev. 28 May 2014.
  10. Ibid.
  11. W.S. Burke, Official Military History of Kansas Regiments During the War for the Suppression of the Great Rebellion (Leavenworth, Kansas: p.p. 1870), 323-325; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 27 June 2014).
  12. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “11th Regiment Kansas Volunteer Cavalry,” rev. 11 May 2014.
  13. See “11th Regiment Kansas Volunteers–Cavalry,” Kansas GenWeb (http://www.skyways.org/genweb/ : accessed 27 June 20; citing Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kansas, Vol. 1. – 1861-1865. Leavenworth, Kansas: Bulletin Co-operative Printing Company, Chicago. 1867.
  14. David Davenport Baker, oldest son of Martin and Elizabeth (Buchanan) Baker, was born 29 June 1819. Baker, The Rugged Trail, 73.
Print Friendly
This entry was posted in My family. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A birthday to remember

  1. Allen says:

    What a wonderful post. I especially enjoyed the following reference: “As a cavalry unit, the 11th Kansas was involved in the battles at Lexington, Little Blue River, Independence, Byram’s Ford, and Westport, all in Missouri; Mine Creek in Kansas; and Platte Bridge Station in what is now Wyoming.” Too many people forget the fighting that went on in the West during the Civil War.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Thanks, Allen! Yes, we do tend to forget that the war hit most of the country, not just the Atlantic states, just as we tend to forget the western frontier of the Revolutionary War.

  2. That is great information to flesh out their story.

  3. Pingback: This week’s crème de la crème — July 5 | Genealogy à la carte

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>