Friday, October 21, 2011

Byron Baker, Another October Baby, by Pat Kinsella Herdeg and Aunt CB

Byron Howard Baker was born on October 6th, 1858 in Solon, NY. He first married Tina Smith and they had a baby boy, named Ira. Both Tina and Ira died by the year of 1884.

In 1885, when Bryon was 26, he married Kate Permelia Youngs. Together, they raised five children in Center Lisle—a baby in 1886 that died right away, and then Nancy Ethel, Adin Leonard, Ruth Inez and Lillian Rosena.

Byron, grandfather to Aunt CB, died in April of 1925, so she never knew him directly. But Aunt CB writes: “I know I would have liked him, though, because my mother (Nancy Ethel Baker) spoke so lovingly of him. I think she was a lot like him.
Byron was a gregarious man, a friendly easy-going person, not really cut out to be a farmer, but in those days there were very few options to choose from and this is what he grew up knowing. He did like to ‘neighbor’—he sold books to folks, books printed about national calamities (the San Francisco Earthquake, the Sinking of the Titanic) and as he traveled, he visited and enjoyed the talks.

Ethel loved him dearly and from letters, and memories, so did Adin, Ruth, and Lil. Adin as an adult did however change many of Bryon’s farming methods as soon as Adin bought the farm from his parents, perhaps further proof that Byron was not the quintessential farmer.

In the early 1900’s, with his daughter Ruth very sick with a heart condition (she died from it in 1904) he brought home a puppy “from his travels” as Lil wrote to Ethel (who was at Cortland Normal School). Not sure how Kate liked adding an energetic puppy to the family, but the children adored it, according to Lillian.

Later in the 1900’s, when the two youngest daughters of Kate’s first cousin Florence Longbothum Johnston (who was dying from tuberculosis) needed a place to stay, Byron had Ethel take a team of horses over to their house and bring them to their home for Christmas. One of these little girls stayed on and went to school in Center Lisle.

About six or eight years later, when the girls' father was dying (also from tuberculosis), Byron drove to their farm and did the chores and helped care for him. At that point, Elsie, one of the daughters who years earlier had come to Christmas, was trying to finish school to be able to teach (she was all of sixteen at this time). Elsie had to work during the days to help keep the farm going, but her assignments for the final testing arrived nonetheless. Byron studied them each day and every night, he tutored Elsie so that she could pass them. She often said she never could have become a teacher without him.

Byron did not have many years to enjoy being a grandfather. But Ruth and Arnon remembered him with great love. And at one point, Arnon (three or four years old), must have said he wanted boots ‘like Grandpa had’ because Byron gave Ethel $2 to buy boots for young Arnon.

Perhaps Ethel, who came home from school every day to teach her younger sister, Ruth, how to read and write, fulfilled Byron’s unspoken desire to teach. She had many of his traits—friendly and out-going, listened to everyone’s troubles, loved to ‘visit’ with people—I wish I had known Grandpa Byron!"


Pat said...

Thanks again, Mom.

As I dig into these ancestors' history, I do so wish we could have met many of them.

AND, had more time with the grandparents, aunts and uncles I did know.


Sue Kinsella said...

It's fascinating to see the picture of "Ethel's Birthplace" and know that it's the same as where I took pictures at the Baker Family Reunion a little over a year ago. What stories are within those walls!

Sue Kinsella said...

How time flies - I meant the reunion a couple years ago. And I know that house history is much more alive to Kathryn and Joyce and others who live or have lived there.

Kathryn said...

I once asked Aunt Ruth about Byron. She said that he was a sweetie. Aunt Sylva once told me that another reason Byron sold the books was to be able to read them. Any reader in the family would understand that one. (That is probably most of the family!) She also said that Byron's father once said that if it was raining soup, Byron's bowl would be upside down. I guess his luck was not the greatest. Oh well! He sounds like someone I wish I could have gotten to know.
Sue, that house will always be 'home' to me.

Aunt CB said...

You know the old recipe for the "blues"-- transport your self to a well loved place in your mind and dwell there a bit! That place for me is "Grandma Baker's house " as I knew it! Works every time!!!