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Below is a family biography included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Independence County, Arkansas published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1889.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Peter K. Baker, farmer and stock raiser, Dota, Ark. The subject of this sketch needs no introduction to the people of Independence County, Ark., for he is one of the oldest and most esteemed citizens of the same, and one whose integrity and honesty of purpose are unquestioned. He was born in Middle Tennessee, on the 23d of February, 1819, and is the tenth of a family of eleven children born to John and Nancy (Carter) Baker, natives of North Carolina. The father was born about 1776, and could remember some incidents of the Revolution. He was a farmer, and followed this calling all his life. He was married, in his native State, to Miss Carter, who was born in 1789, and afterward they moved to Tennessee on a pack-horse, carrying two children. This was in 1807. They resided there about sixteen years, and then, in about 1823, moved to West Tennessee, where they spent the remainder of their days, the father dying in 1842, and the mother in 1844. Both were Christians, the father a member of the Methodist Church, and the mother of the Baptist. Of the eleven children born to their marriage only two are now living — James G., a successful farmer, married, and living in Calloway County, Ky., and Peter K., who represents this sketch. The latter passed his youthful days in assisting on the farm, and in attending the common schools of Henry County, Tenn. At the age of eighteen years he began learning the cabinet maker’s trade, and spent the succeeding five years engaged in this vocation. After this he worked at the carpenter and millwright trades, but conducted his farm all the time. In November, 1856, he sold his land in Tennessee, and came to Arkansas, where he purchased his present farm, then 160 acres, with thirty acres cleared, and with some very poor buildings on it. After this he bought and improved land until he had 530 acres. Since that time he has settled his two sons on farms of his own, but reserved for himself 240 acres as the home place. He has cleared over 200 acres of land, and has now on his home place 140 acres in a high state of cultivation. He has one of the best farms in Black River Township, if not in Independence County. Good buildings, fences and orchards adorn his property, and beautiful flowers make his home very attractive. Mr. Baker has been twice married; first, in November, 1842, while in West Tennessee, he led to the altar Miss Elizabeth Browning, a native of South Carolina. Five children were born to this union: Alonzo S., born July 10, 1843, and died in the war, in 1863; Melissa L. was born on the 10th of March, 1844, and died on the 14th of September, 1869; Erasmus F. was born on the 13th of December, 1846, is married and lives in the Lone Star State; William L. was born on the 13th of December, 1849, and died on the 10th of June, 1855; Angus C. was born on the 26th of January, 1853, is married, and lives on his own farm, adjoining his father’s place; he is a prosperous farmer, and is also engaged in the profession of teaching. Mrs. Baker departed this life in September, 1878. She was a good wife, a fond and loving mother, and a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In November, 1879, Mr. Baker was again married, taking for his second wife Mrs. Nancy L. (Cleveland) Parks, widow of Ambrose Parks, a farmer of Indiana. No children were born to this union. Since his residence in Arkansas, Mr. Baker has been principally engaged in tilling the soil, although for five years after the late war he ran a steam gin and grist-mill on his farm. In 1871 he was severely injured by a fall from a wagon, and this prevented him from doing much work. After this he sold his milling interest, bought a stock of goods, and, in connection with his farm, carried on merchandising until 1877. He was also appointed postmaster. At the above-mentioned date he sold his store, but retained the post office until 1888. Since then he has given his attention exclusively to agricultural pursuits. In 1856 Mr. Baker was elected justice of the peace, and transacted the business incumbent upon that office in a creditable and satisfactory manner until 1862, when military authority usurped the reins of government, thus throwing civil officers out. In 1874 he was elected to the same office, and served two years. In 1880 he was re-elected for two years. Mr. Baker came to this settlement at a time when there were very few people in Black River Township, only 100 voters in the township, and only two stores in Batesville, but recently started, and one in Sulphur Rock. Jacksonport was the nearest market of any importance, and wild game was plentiful. Abundance of good water is on his farm, and mineral of some kind (likely iron) underlies a part of the timber portion. During the late war Mr. Baker remained at home unharmed, on account of his mechanical skill as a millwright, and owing to his peaceable disposition; and in compliance with a petition signed by a large number of both parties, asking that he might remain at home. When the State considered the question of secession Mr. Baker voted that it remain in the Union, but, being defeated in this particular, and being left in the South, his sympathies were with the Confederacy. He maintained his opinions, slept with unlocked doors and answered all calls from both armies in person. Notwithstanding, the devastating hand of war grasped all his personal property, and he was left at the terminus of the war as though just starting in life. He holds no prejudice against either party, but votes with the Democrats. He does not take an active part in politics. His first presidential vote was for James K. Polk. He was never a slave-owner. Mr. and Mrs. Baker are church members, he a Methodist, and she a Baptist, and the former a trustee of his church, also having filled the position of steward in the same for years. He is a Royal Arch Mason, and a member of Dota Lodge.

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This family biography is one of 158 biographies included in Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Independence County, Arkansas published in 1889.  View the complete description here: Independence County, Arkansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Independence County, Arkansas family biographies here: Independence County, Arkansas Biographies

View a map of 1889 Independence County, Arkansas here: Independence County, Arkansas Map

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