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Another Baker-who-isn’t

RootsTech seems to be The Place for serendipity moments.

Three years ago, when The Legal Genealogist was a RootsTech keynote speaker, the topic of the keynote was the potential to lose oral family history in just three generations.

One of the examples I used was from my Baker family, and I mentioned the fact that one part of our oral tradition (that we descended from an Alexander Baker who came to Boston in 1635) had been disproved by DNA testing. That happened when a Californian named Tony Baker — a well-documented descendant of Alexander — proved to have YDNA as different from my Baker line as it’s possible to have.

What I didn’t know, as I told the story, was that Tony was in the audience.1 It was a hoot when, later in the day, I had a chance to meet him and his wife, Lisa, who had arranged for the testing.


Fast forward to yesterday. It’s RootsTech time again. And in a livestreamed lecture on mothers, daughters and wives, I used a church membership list from a Baptist church established in Indiana in 1817 as an example of the reason why we always want to try to get church records: fully half of the first 26 members of that church recorded on the church rolls were women.2

The reason why I knew about that church record was that it was part of the proof I used to tie another Baker — Josias Baker, who died in Ellis County, Texas, in 1870 — back to his roots in my Baker family of Burke County, North Carolina. Josias was the son of Henry Baker, whose brother David was my fourth great grandfather, but the key to proving Josias’s link to North Carolina was tracing his wife — Nancy Parks Baker — back to her father George Parks. The Parks family members were among the founding members of that Baptist church in Indiana after they settled there from North Carolina.3

And, in the livestreamed audience yesterday, was a young man from Texas, Dalton Smith. His cousin, Caitlin Gow, is an Australian I met on my travels last year. One side of her family has roots in Texas and she’s the one who got Dalton interested.

Guess who Dalton’s sixth great grandfather is?

George Parks.

About whom he doesn’t have much information.


Boy is he in for a treat… let’s see here… there’s George’s Revolutionary War pension application… and the federal land patents in Indiana… and the tax lists in North Carolina… and that letter he wrote back from Indiana to North Carolina in 1815…

This is gonna be fun.

No, we’re not cousins, and Dalton’s not a Baker. But my distant Baker cousin’s wife was the half-sister of his 5th great grandfather… and that’s close enough, right?


You gotta love it.


  1. See Judy G. Russell, “The cousin who isn’t,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 8 Feb 2014 ( : accessed 11 Feb 2017).
  2. Vernal Baptist Church (Monroe Co., Ind.), Minute Book 1817–1855; FHL microfilm 1455343.
  3. See Judy G. Russell, “‘Don’t Stop There!’ Connecting Josias Baker to His Burke County, North Carolina, Parents,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 99 (March 2011): 25-41.
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