The boy who lived

She had to have known, on that day when she herself was celebrating her birthday, that there would be another birthday very very soon.

It was, after all, not Julia (McGimsey) Baker’s first “rodeo” there on that day, 174 years ago today.

By the time that birthday rolled around on 8 December 1844 — her 34th1 — she had already given birth to six children2 — and had already buried two of them.3

It wasn’t even the first time Julia had been very very pregnant on her birthday. A daughter, her namesake Julia, had been born 11 December 1838,4 so you know she knew she was about to receive another “birthday gift” of a new baby. And, sure enough, Theodore P. Baker came into this world in Bakersville, then Yancey and now Mitchell County, North Carolina, the very next day, on the 9th of December 1844.5

Julia and son

Julia was born and raised in that same area of western North Carolina, the second daughter of Joseph McGimsey and Allie (Moore) Wakefield McGimsey,6 and the second to marry one of the Baker brothers, my third great granduncles and sons of my fourth great grandfather David Baker. Her older sister, whose name is alternately rendered as Sena and Lena, married David Davenport Baker in 1832;7 Julia married a younger brother, Josiah Baker, on 17 November 1835.8

In all, Julia bore 11 children, and their births are carefully recorded in the family Bible:

Newton A. Baker, born 22 September 1836.
William J. Baker, born 21 December 1837.
Julia Ann Baker, born 11 December 1838.
David Martin Baker, born 8 May 1840.
John F. Baker, born 4 October 1841.
Joseph B. Baker, born 21 February 1843.
Theodore P. Baker, born on 9 December 1844.
America A. Baker, born on 18 June 1846.
Elizabeth J. Baker, born 17 October 1848.
Phebe Louisa Baker, born 4 June 1850.
Charles F. Baker, born 12 October 1852.9

And at a time of significant child mortality, it’s remarkable that she raised nine of those children to adulthood: she lost little William when he was just a year old, on 29 December 1838, and Daniel Martin when he was three months short of his third birthday, on 11 February 1843.10

On the 1860 census, there they all are: Julia, age 49; her husband Josiah, 58, a farmer; and nine children, ranging in age from 23-year-old Newton down to seven-year-old Charles.11

And then came the war.

And nothing would ever be the same.

• Newton A. Baker, just 26 years old, died in Confederate service at Jacksboro, Tennessee, on 24 March 1863.12

• John F. Baker, not yet 21, died of fever in Confederate service on 10 June 1863.13

• Joseph B. Baker, just 21 years old, died in battle in Confederate service at the Battle of Allatoona Pass, Georgia, on 5 October 1864.14

And Theodore P. Baker — Julia’s fourth son — her last son old enough to serve in the war at all — like his older brothers also served the Confederacy.15

But there was one big difference between Theodore and his older brothers.

Unlike his older brothers, that birthday gift baby of 1844 was the boy who lived.

Theodore P. Baker came home from that war.

He married Hannah Tate on 18 June 1874,16 raised a family of his own17 and lived until the age of 81.18

And every December until her death on 16 February 1882,19 Julia and her birthday gift baby could celebrate together.

And that, you have to hope, was some comfort amidst the loss.


SOURCES

  1. Bible Record, 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), “Marriages”; 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. Julia’s birth, on 8 December 1810, was the only family birth recorded on the “Marriages” pages.
  2. Ibid., “Births.”
  3. Ibid., “Deaths.”
  4. Ibid., “Births.”
  5. Ibid.
  6. Report of A.C. Avery, referee, to Burke County Court, undated, transcribed by Mary Armstrong, “Re: John Caldwell Brown with Bean Family Connection,” posted 18 May 2005, Brown Family Genealogy Forum (http://genforum.genealogy.com/brown/ : accessed 8 Dec 2018).
  7. Burke County, North Carolina, Marriage Bond, 1832, David D. Baker and Sena E. McGimsey; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  8. Baker Family Bible Records, “Marriages”.
  9. Ibid., “Births.”
  10. Ibid., “Deaths.”
  11. 1860 U.S. census, Yancey County, North Carolina, Bakersville, population schedule, p. 394 (stamped), dwelling/family 331, Josiah Baker household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Dec 2018); citing National Archive microfilm publication M653, roll 919.
  12. Baker Family Bible Records, “Deaths”. See also Newton A. Baker, Pvt., Co. B, 58th NC Infantry, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of North Carolina, microfilm publication M270, roll 315 of 580 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1960); digital images, Fold3 (http://www.Fold3.com : accessed 8 Dec 2018).
  13. Baker Family Bible Records, “Deaths”. See also John F. Baker, Pvt., Co. I, 29th NC Infantry, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of North Carolina, microfilm publication M270, roll 315 of 580 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1960); digital images, Fold3 (http://www.Fold3.com : accessed 8 Dec 2018).
  14. Baker Family Bible Records, “Deaths”.
  15. See 1910 U.S. census, Mitchell County, North Carolina, Bakersville, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 139, p. 106(B) (stamped), dwelling 204, family 205, Theodore P. Baker; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Dec 2018); citing National Archive microfilm publication T624, roll 1109. Column 30 records him as a veteran of the Confederate Army.
  16. Baker Family Bible Records, “Marriages”.
  17. The 1900 census records Hannah as the mother of four children, three surviving. See 1900 U.S. census, Mitchell County, North Carolina, Bakersville, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 88, p. 8(B) (stamped), dwelling/family 142, “Hanner” Baker; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Dec 2018); citing National Archive microfilm publication T623, roll 1206.
  18. North Carolina State Board of Health, Death Certificate No. 193 (stamped), Theadore Baker, 18 Nov 1926; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 Dec 2018); citing North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Microfilm S.123.
  19. Baker Family Bible Records, “Deaths”.
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