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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  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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In the capital city of Kansas there are men now living retired from active participation in the shaping of passing events, who are able to regard with justifiable satisfaction the results of their long years of leadership and honorable devotion, to the public’s welfare. In Floyd P. Baker is found such a citizen, whose life has been closely identified with the interests of Kansas since 1860.

Floyd P. Baker was born November 16, 1820, in Washington County, New York, and is a son of Reuben and Lois (Baxter) Baker. They married in 1811 and reared 11 children. The father was a self-educated man, preparing himself for the profession of teaching by study by the light of a pine-knot fire. He lived to the age of 82 years and his widow survived until 1860. The Bakers are of Massachusetts extraction and the Baxters belong to the old families of New York.

The educational advantages enjoyed by Mr. Baker in his youth were meager, three months in the year being all the time he could claim for schooling and during these months he daily waded through the winter snows of that region, but, nevertheless, he prepared himself for teaching and started out on his own account when 18 years of age. After six months experience as a schoolmaster in Erie County, New York, he went to Michigan where he spent the next two years farming, blacksmithing and teaching a private school in which he was expected to instruct in astronomy and botany, advanced branches which he was obliged to privately study to keep ahead of his class, his own instruction not having included these.

In 1840 a new line opened up for him and he engaged as agent for the lines of packet boats and stages which ran from New York City to Montreal, Canada, in which he continued until 1848, when he went to Racine, Wisconsin. Here he completed his law studies and was admitted to the bar and here followed farming and also engaged in an insurance business until 1851, when he went to San Francisco where he practiced his profession for 12 months. Circumstances then arose which took him to the Sandwich Islands, where he became the crown attorney and clerk of the District Court at Hilo, Hawaii, where he remained three years. Upon his return to the United States, he located in Andrew County, Missouri, where he engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1860 when he came first to Kansas, locating in Nemaha County, where he was shortly after made superintendent of schools.

It was in the fall of this year that he became well known to the people of this State, in a public capacity, being appointed one of a committee of five of an organization which had been formed at Lawrence, with S. E. Pomeroy as chairman, to take means to help the people of Kansas then in dire need on account of the failure of the crops. At that time Mr. Baker had his headquarters at Atchison, although his home was at old Centralia. His duties were manifold and during this time every energy was exerted by him to better the condition and relieve the necessities of the hundreds who were living with famine staring them in the face with the rigors of an unusually severe winter to add to their sufferings. It was during this period that he underwent an experience which came near terminating not only his career of disinterested usefulness but his life as well. On January 18, 1861, when he left his headquarters at Atchison for a visit to his home, he found that all the teams were loaded heavily as they could stand with provisions that had been sent from the East in answer to the efforts of his committee, and he decided to walk the distance. This was considerable of an undertaking but would probably have been safely accomplished had not a blinding snow-storm arisen which caused him to lose his way over the old Indian trail he was following. He was almost exhausted with cold and weariness when the light of a log cabin came into view and he was welcomed by its owner with the true and hearty hospitality which always marked the Kansas pioneer. Here he learned that he had probably been wandering for hours in a circle and that he was within a quarter of a mile of the place whence he started, and here he received the best entertainment that the owner of the humble cabin could command.

In 1863 Mr. Baker came to Topeka, having served in the State Legislature during the previous year, and here entered upon his long and pregnant career as a journalist. In association with S. D. McDonald he purchased the State Record, which he continued to issue until 1871, when he sold his interest ta the Commonwealth and went to Texas, locating at Dennison just at the time when business enterprises were being pushed forward there. During his three years residence in the South, he became one of the leading men of that section, and edited and published the Advocate at Dennison, and also during that time organized the State Historical Society of Kansas, of which he was first secretary and later president.

In 1875 Mr. Baker returned to Topeka where his family were still residing. In this year Mr. Baker bought the Topeka Commonwealth, a paper which, under his able management and experienced direction, took a very prominent position in State literature and politics, and he continued its issue until 1888 when it was consolidated with the Topeka Capital In the meantime, Mr. Baker operated a wholesale paper and type house. During the year 1878 he received the appointment of assistant commissioner to the World’s Fair at Paris, the duties of which he filled with becoming dignity, serving in the forestry department.

Mr. Baker was married, first, to Eliza F. Wilson, of Montgomery County, New York, who died at Racine, Wisconsin. Their one son, Floyd, died at New Orleans, aged five years. Mr. Baker was married, second, to Orinda Searle, in 1850, who was a member of one of the prominent families of Racine. They had five children, namely: Albert, who died aged 15 months; Nestor, who was born in the Sandwich Islands, formerly a prominent citizen of Topeka, now of San Francisco; Clifford C., who has been interested with his father for 25 years in the newspaper business and for four years secretary of the Senate and subsequently State printer; Isaac, connected with the Standard Oil Company, who is a resident of Bay City, Michigan; and Minnie, who is the wife of H. W. Sharp, division superintendent of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway at Kansas City, Missouri.

Mr. Baker organized the State Historical Society of Kansas, of which he was first secretary and later president. Since 1844 he has been an Odd Fellow and has attained high place in this organization. He served as grand patriarch of the Encampment, grand master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Kansas and was a representative to the Grand Lodge of the United States. In 1846 he was made a Mason.

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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