Albert Moury Baker
Albert Moury Baker, the third son of Simon and Mercy Young Baker, was born October 3, 1833 at Pomfrett, Chautauqua County, New York.
His father had charge of a large sawmill, the family living in a cabin near the mill. One day as Albert was reaching for a willow that grew near the water’s edge, he fell into the swift current, which carried him down through the old barrel at the bottom of the mill race, and on down the stream. He was rescued by his brothers, Jarvis and Amenzo, a short distance below the mill.
When at the age of six, he moved with his parents to Lee County, Iowa. This journey was made by the Niagara Falls, crossing the river in a boat about ten miles below the falls. Enroute they visited the Temple at Kirtland, Ohio. They continued their journey west, locating in Iowa. Here his father located a farm, but the disadvantages of a new country made life a struggle for existence. Here on this farm his mother died leaving a family of eight small children to care for. Five weeks later his father married Charlotte Leavitt, who proved to be a good mother to those motherless children.
One year later, by the expulsion of the Mormons from Nauvoo and vicinity they abandoned their home in Iowa, fleeing with the Saints, they knew not whither. Resting a few weeks on the east banks of the Missouri River, then crossing over and locating in Winter Quarters.
In the spring of 1847, his father’s family started on their westward march for the Rocky Mountains. He was placed in charge of three yoke of oxen and a wagon. Though shoeless and bareheaded, he was faithful to the task, driving his team 1,000 miles across plains and mountains. He was thirteen years old. On nearing the Rocky Mountains they were met by President Brigham Young’s Company, who were returning to Winter Quarters, the two companies camping together that night. The usual guard duty was omitted that night, so Albert took precautions to stake a colt, which his father had given him, near the wagon. During the night the Indians made a raid on their herds, driving off so many of their mules and oxen that they could not continue their journey the next morning. Albert’s pony, to his great joy was safe in camp. They arrived in Salt Lake City, October 2, 1847, Albert being fourteen the next day. During the years of 1851-1855 he worked in the North Canyon, east of Bountiful, getting out timber for the Salt Lake Temple and other purposes.
The winter of 1854 he worked on the Jordon Ranch where his father had some forty cows to milk and feed, making butter for the Salt Lake market. Mrs. Baker went to Salt Lake for the winter, so Mrs. Curtis and her daughter Jane Maria lived at the ranch to assist in the dairy work. This resulted in the engagement and marriage to Jane Maria the following Christmas.
In the spring of 1856, he and his wife and others went to Carson Valley to settle that place. They arrived there in July, leaving his father at this place, he took an ox team and some stock and moved over into Eagle Valley, where he located a ranch of 160 acres. Here he built a log home, a pole corral, put up some hay and then made a trip to California with his father for supplies for winter. He sold his ranch for five dollars, the amount of the surveyor’s fee and moved to Carson Valley.
In the fall of 1857 they were called back to Salt Lake City on account of Johnson’s Army.
In 1858 he assisted in the move south. Before taking his family, he helped move many poor people as far south as Provo. He then started with his own outfit in May for Iron County, his wife driving the team, while he, assisted by Pete, (an Indian boy obtained in Nevada) followed with the stock. On this trip, when near Beaver Creek they were met by a small band of Indian squaws and papooses, and of reaching the crossing, there was lined up on either side of the road, about twenty Indian Braves, with war paint on and guns ready for action. Grasping the situation he instructed his wife to drive on and pay no attention to the Indians. So she undauntedly drove the ox team through this double line of savages, while he succeeded in driving the stock across the stream. The Indians, when they saw this bravery shown became friendly, saying: “Heap Man, Ka Squaw” (meaning Big Man no Woman). He was brave, not faint-hearted. They settled in Iron County for a few months and after the treaty with the United States Commissioners, they returned to Salt Lake and lived in the house owned by Abraham Coon
In 1860, he with his brothers George and Amenzo, moved to Cache Valley for the purpose of locating new homes. Leaving Salt Lake in April, they located on Gardner Creek a small stream, between Wellsville and Mendon. They planted some grain and a garden that season. George, Amenzo and the Indian boy lived with them, making a family of five. They used their wagons to live in. Much time was spent in making an irrigation dam in the Creek but it soon washed away. Mr. Baker (Albert) was then selected as foreman, taking charge of the reconstruction. The dam was rebuilt, and is now secure and in good condition.
In 1862 he and family moved to Mendon, first living in a dugout, until a house could be built, which was soon completed in the Mendon Fort. During the winter he with others herded stock on the Promontory Range, thirty miles west of Mendon.
In 1863, he made his first trip across the plains to Florence, Nebraska, to help immigrants to Utah. It took five months to make the round trip. William B. Preston, Captain selected Mr. Baker as assistant captain, and placed him in charge of the night herds. So well did he perform these duties of looking after the stock at night that when Captain Preston was asked to make another trip in 1864 he refused to go unless Albert would go also. He spent two seasons on the plains, traveling 4,000 miles and assisting 1,000 people from Florence, Nebraska to Utah. This last trip being his fifth trip across the plains with ox teams.
Soon after arriving home he moved his log cabin from the fort to the city lot in Mendon, so was comfortably located by the time winter came.
He was Captain of the Minute Men of Southern Cache Valley, and had many narrow escapes from the Indians. During the winter of 1862-1863 Mr. Baker and wife entertained General Conner and Major McGary who passed through the town with U. S. Soldiers to subdue the Indians on Bear River.
He married Edna Jane Coon, April 1865. She came to Salt Lake with her parents in 1850, being but two years of age. Her father, Abraham Coon, settled in Salt Lake City. In 1856, he and his family were called on the Carson Mission. The day after their arrival her mother died leaving Edna Jane, a child of eight years, to care for three younger children. Her younger childhood was spent near Magna. In 1865 she came to Mendon, as the wife of Mr. Baker. Through their union, eight children were born, four boys and four girls. At the time of this writing, all are living except two girls, Maria and Laura. Edna and Sadie living in Rexburg, Idaho. A.C. making his home in Salt Lake, while A.M., C.H. and J.S. have farms in Mendon.
In 1865 he was chosen Captain of the Mendon Militia. In the different settlements, men were lined up under military training, meeting once a week for practice. Once a year there was a three-day drill in sham battles and military tactics to prepare them for emergencies with the Indians. His military career was from 1865 to 1870, during which time he proved himself efficient and capable as an officer in military affairs.
In the summer of 1866, he commenced the erection of an eight-room house, the largest residence in the town at that time. This was a great undertaking at that time as nails were one dollar a pound, 8” by 10” glass 75 cents each and other building materials in proportion. The building was completed in the year 1869, moving in it July 24. This home for a number of years was the village hotel, and today is the home of his youngest son Jesse.
In 1870 Albert and his brother George located on a tract of land about two miles north of Mendon. Later he bought George’s interests, thus securing in both claims 320 acres. The old log house was moved on the farm as a homestead residence.
In 1896, Mr. Baker and his wife Maria moved back into Mendon to spend the remainder of their days in quiet and comfort but he was yet ambitious and spent much of his time in improving his lot.
In May and June, 1909, he and his sister, Mrs. Betsie Topham did considerable work in the L.D.S. Temple at Logan, Utah.On August 25, 1909, he had a paralytic stroke while working in his garden He was carried to his house, where he lay unconscious for several days. On the third of September, he passed peacefully on, surrounded by all of his family Thus ended the career of a kind husband, loving father, patriotic citizen and a good neighbor.