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Baker Family Genealogy and Family History Pages

    I do not know who composed these two family history stories, or when they were written down. The first was written in this form, at least, by 1975. One depends on the other, to some extent, or they both drew from a common source. I share them as part of the family treasure.


    The first record we have of the Baker family is when Sheppard Baker (always known as Shep) left Kentucky about 1840 and headed for Texas. He was a farmer by trade and a Baptist lay preacher on the side. He had his family with him - there were ten children. They stopped in Arkansas for two years and his wife died while they lived there. Soon he and his two youngest children, who were in their teens, moved on to Texas.
    He first stopped in Caldwell County for a short time, then moved on to Williamson County and settled there. After as short time he met and married Sina Harris who was younger than eight of his children. She was part Indian.
    Ten children were born to this union but three of them were burned to death while still small when their home burned. The children that lived to maturity were: David Sheppard, Riley, Joseph, Jonathan, Andrew, Sarah and Martha.
    David married Elizabeth Catherine Long on December 23, 1869 at Running Brushy, Texas. She was the daughter of Joseph and Emmaline McCoy Long. Her grandfather McCoy was a Baptist preacher. He was a member of the McCoy family that is famous for feuding with the Hatfield family back in Tennessee.
    Dave and Lizzie (as they were always called) farmed for two or three years in the Running Brushy area - they also had some livestock. About 1872 they moved to the Nueces River near a post office called Bullhead (now the town of Vance).
    They lived there until 1883 when Dave got restless and decided to move further west. In 1882 he and a cousin by the name of Joe Jarrell had a made a trip to Devil's River in search of new range and had been favorably impressed with the country. Dave and Lizzie's nephew, Baker Jefferies, moved his cattle and horses in the fall of 1883 and spent the winter on Castle Canyon. In the spring they moved on out to the west bank of Devil's River about half a mile up stream from the crossing that is now known as Baker's Crossing.
    John Beckett owned one hundred and seven acres of land surrounding the present site of the Baker home at Baker's Crossing. Incidentally, Mr. Beckett was the man who found the dead bodies at Dead Man's Pas after the Indian massacre a number of years earlier. He had ridden all night to report it to the officials at Fort Clark at Brackettville.
    Dave bought this tract of land from Mr. Beckett for one thousand dollars. This was a huge price for the times but it was a choice location and had a house on it. The house consisted of one large room and a porch and was made out of pickets. He paid two hundred and fifty dollars down and had three years to pay it out.
    In 1884 as soon as their youngest child, Frankie, was old enough to make the trip, he brought his family out. He and Lizzie had ten children but only seven lived to maturity. They were Emma, Sheppard, Jim, George, Will, Frankie, and Walter. Of these, Walter was the only one born at Baker's Crossing.
    When Dave moved his family out, three of his brothers came with them. These were Riley, Jonathon and Joe. Riley lived about a quarter of a mile below the crossing, Joe lived with Dave and Lizzie, and Jonathon lived on Phillips Creek about three miles from Baker's Crossing.
    Several years later Shep came out and lived in his wagon. While he was living close by, a dance was planned in the house. He was so opposed to dancing that he hitched up and moved his wagon out of hearing of the festivities. This country was too rough for him so he soon returned to the Nueces country where he died in 1892.
    The Baker house had the only wooden floor for many miles around so it was a very popular place for dances. It was nothing unusual to see the girls walk up barefooted with their precious shoes hanging around their necks to dance in that night.
    After about three years Dave's brothers decided to move on further west. Dave wanted to go also but Lizzie would not move.
    During the late eighties a large school district was formed and a school was established two miles down the river from Baker's Crossing. Later it was moved to the site where Riley had lived just below the crossing. Students came for many miles on horseback and some afoot to attend this school.
    At this time Del Rio was the nearest post office. There was mail delivery once a week on a route from Del Rio to Ozona by was of Baker's Crossing. Soon a post office was established and a Mr. Williams, husband of the first teacher, was the first postmaster. After he left, Lizzie was postmistress but she depended on Emma to take care of it. In 1892 Emma married. After that Lizzie began to try to get the post office closed but it was about 1900 before she succeeded.
    During the time Mr. Williams was there he had a store along with the post office. The post office and the school both were called Norris.
    Will, Frankie, and Walter were the only ones of Dave and Lizzie's children to have children. Will and Emma Baker had one daughter, Emogene. He lived about one mile down the river from Baker's Crossing on the west side. He died in 1970. E. K. and Frankie Fawcett had six children: Brancie, Horace, Elmer, Walter, Emma, and Lee. Frankie passed away in 1961 and Horace died in 1969.
    Sheppard was murdered in 1895, Jim died in 1907, Lizzie died in 1912 and Dave died in 1937. Dave had been living about one mile down the river for some years until his last illness when Walter and Lem moved him up to their house and took care of him. Emma Daniels died in 1938 and George died in 1959.
    Walter married Lois Selema (Lem) McLane July 10, 1907. They had five children: Lois, Jim, Beth, Perry and Ruby.
    They ranched near Juno for three years. Lois was born while they lived there. Then they moved to Uvalde where Walter owned and operated a garage and livery stable. Him and Beth were born while they lived in Uvalde. They moved to Baker's Crossing in 1913. Perry and Ruby were born after they moved there.
    Lem died in 1954, Perry died in 1966, and Jim died in 1971. Jim's son, James Sheppard, Jr., is at least the fifth generation to bear the name of Sheppard and the third to have the name of James.
    Walter lived at Baker's Crossing with his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Jim Baker, until July, 1975. He now makes his home with his son-in-law and daughter, Lucious and Beth Hinds, in Del Rio.

    When Riley left Devil's River he went to New Mexico and lived there several years. Alva was born while the family lived there. His wife died in New Mexico. They had four children: Allie, Nora, Alva, and Marion.
    Riley remarried and he and this wife had five children: Sina, Amber, Owen, Oran, and Riley.
    When Alva was about thirteen years of age they moved to El Paso where Riley was chief of police for five or six years. Then he took a job guarding a mine in Mexico. He moved all his family with him except Allie and Nora who were married.
    In 1908 Riley was murdered. His wife was shot in the arm and she and the children had to walk about twenty miles to the nearest station where they boarded a train and came to El Paso where Allie and her family lived.
    In 1909 Alva came to Devil's River and worked for Dave for awhile. Then he went to work for George and soon bought an interest in George's sheep. They were partners until 1916 when he leased land about three miles below Baker's Crossing.
    In 1913, Alva met Pearl Cooper when she and her mother came from Oklahoma to visit her brother, Will Cooper, who was leasing land from George near Juno.
    Alva and Pearl were married November 25, 1915 in San Antonio. They had two children, A. O. and Norvel. Then in 1921 two nieces and a nephew came to live with them after their mother's death. They were Irene, Geraldine, and Anuel Dillon. Anuel only lived with them about one year, but her girls continued to make their home with them.
    In 1923 Alva gave up his lease on Devil's River and bought the ranch where Pearl now lives. He built the lovely rock house that you see from Highway 163 about five miles out of Comstock in 1928.
    Alva served on the Comstock School Board for a number of years and was active in the Comstock Baptist Church. He died in 1961.

    Dave Sheppard Baker was born on a farm in Williamson County north of Austin, Texas on May 26, 1845. His mother was Sina Harris Baker, originally from the Waco area. As a young girl she had married Sheppard Baker, a widower with ten children, all but two of whom were older than she. These two were still at home, the others being married and gone.
    Several years earlier Shep, as he was always called, moved his first family from Kentucky to northern Arkansas. Then about 1840 he, his wife and at least two children, Ike and Vina, started to Texas. His wife died on the way.
    The next we know of Shep he was settled on a farm in Williamson County. With him were Ike, Vina and his new wife, Sina. Vina, the youngest, was fifteen at the time he remarried, and Sina was not much older.
    We can't be sure if David was actually Sina's first child or not; but he was the oldest of those she managed to raise. Three of her ten children died as infants, and their names are not known. Seven lived to marry and raise children. They were: David, Riley, Jonathan, Joseph, Andrew, Sarah, and Martha. Sarah married a man named Lon Buck. Martha married an old blacksmith named McKindry. Later, she divorced him and married a lay preacher named Miller.
    Shep and his family operated the farm and raised most of their own food. They also ran horses, cattle and hogs on the open range. That was standard practice there in those days. His boys learned early to ride horses and work livestock as well as to farm. They liked the work on the range, but hated farming. Not one of them made a farmer. Unlike Shep, who had a very gentle religious turn, the boys were inclined to be rough. David was as rough or a little more so than the rest. He was not the sort to hunt trouble, but it seemed he didn't need to. On the one hand he could be kind, gentle, and generous to a fault. On the other he could be so belligerent that few men ever tangled with him a second time.
    He got perhaps a fifth grade education in the little country school near his home. He became a fine hand after wild cattle and horses and a very exceptional marksman with rifle or pistol. Game was plentiful and hunting was the thing he loved most to do.

    On December 23, 1869, he was married to Elizabeth Catherine Long at Running Brushy, near his old home. Elizabeth Catherine was a daughter of Joseph and Emmaline McCoy Long. Joseph was a red-headed Baptist preacher who farmed to feed his family and preached because he felt the urge. He never accepted anything for preaching. He was raised and married in Tennessee to Emmaline McCoy, who was a member of the McCoy Clan, made famous by their bloody feud with the Hatfields. The Longs moved first to Louisiana, then to Caldwell County, Texas and finally to a farm near Roundrock that was not too far from the Baker farm.
    Dave and Lizzie farmed for two or three years in the neighborhood of Running Brushy. They had some horses, cattle, and hogs, and were depending mostly on the stock for a living. They tried several more places during the next three or four years; each move being westward. By 1872 (?), they settled on the Nueces River near a post office called Bullhead, now Vance.
    They had at least one baby by then, named Sina Emmaline. Nine more were to come. They were: Joseph Sheppard, James Riley, George Wesley, William Thomas, David Alonzo, and Louis King, twins who died as infants, Francis Eliza, Frank, who also died as a baby, and Walter Henry.
    Ten years in one place seemed enough for the restless Dave. He and a cousin, Joe Jarrell made a trip to Devil's River in search of new range. They were entertained in the home of a man named Woodrow who was literally living off the land. Though elderly and minus one leg, this man was raising or securing by hunting and fishing all the food needed by his young wife and children. He produced his own tobacco, and built a water driven mill to grind his corn. His wife made their clothes on a spinning wheel and loom made by Mr. Woodrow. He made furniture from native wood and used the tin from lard cans, perforated with a nail in artistic designs in lieu of screen wire.
    Dave found what he was looking for at the spot soon to be known as Baker's Crossing. There a man named John A. Beckett was living on a 107 acre land grant. (Beckett was the man who found the massacred dead at Dead Mans Pass, half way to Comstock, a year or two earlier. He rode all night to make his report at Ft. Clark.)
    There was good grass and water on Yellow Banks at the time. Yellow Banks is the big canyon running into Castle canyon some fifteen miles north of Del Rio on the old government road. There Dave brought his cattle and horses. Lizzie's nephew, Baker Jeffries was working for him, and they spent the winter of '82 and '83 in camp, loose herding the cattle and horses. Then they moved up on the river, just above Camp Hudson. About September of that year the family made the move to the new camp. The next year Dave bought the Beckett place. The terms were $1000; $250 down and three yearly notes for the same amount.
    At that time Comstock did not exist, nor Juno, Ozona, San Angelo, or Sonora. The river was lined with squatters, who usually had a few cattle and horses. They were living mostly on game, fish, wild honey, berries and pecans. Nearly all these people drifted on west before long. Possibly half a dozen families stayed on to become permanent residents.
    Game, except for deer, was very plentiful. There were turkeys, blue quail, crazy quail, ducks, doves, squirrels, and some deer. On the divide west of the river were a few antelope and a small herd of buffalo. The big predators such as lobos, panthers, grey wolves, coyotes, wild-cat and black bear were very plentiful. Bear meat and oil were staples in those times.
    By the time the family was established here, the three oldest boys could be lots of help with the stock and Dave spent more and more time hunting. Eventually he did little else. He raised hounds and often had fifteen or more in his pack. They often put a bear or a panther into a cave where Dave did not hesitate to follow. Evidently he had learned the technique from old hunters on the Nueces. He used to say you couldn't miss a cornered bear, as he would take your proffered gun in his paws and poke it into his own mouth, then just pull the trigger.
    On one occasion, he went up to Live Oak Creek, west of Ozona, to thin out the panthers for Sam Perry, his son-in-law. In ten days of hunting they killed twelve panthers and brought in two cubs. These he raised to maturity in a cage.
    As the country settled up, the Baker place was ideally situated as a stopping place for travelers. There were all kinds: friends, neighbors, strangers seeking shelter, hordes of relatives, an occasional outlaw as well as many officers on patrol. More than once the officers had a prisoner in tow.
    The little house had the only wooden floor in the whole neighborhood, so a dance there attracted young people a long way. Some walked barefoot for twenty miles to keep precious shoes nice for dancing.
    During the late eighties a huge school district was organized and a little school established two miles down river from the crossing. Later it was moved up to the Baker ranch. Then a store and post office was started to help the teacher and his wife get by. The post office was called Norris and Lizzie Baker was postmistress. Eventually Comstock and Juno were thriving communities. There was a mail route from Comstock to Ozona. So the school and post office were no longer needed at Baker's Crossing. Both were shut down about 1893.
    And so it went until about 1909. The Dave Baker ranch was one of the larger outfits on Devil's River then. The kids were grown and all but one was married. Dave was restless again and Lizzie's health was failing. He sold out to his sons and had a tidy fortune in cash. It took him less than four years to waste it. He was here, there and yonder, in Cuba, Mexico, El Paso, New Mexico, and Arizona.
    Too proud to call on his children when his money was gone, he worked as a policeman, then a detective in El Paso. Later he did the same in San Antonio. By 1915 he was working on an ice route there. There his boys persuaded him to come home. He became a professional hunter for Keyes Fawcett, his son-in-law. His wife, Lizzie Baker, died on December 13, 1912.
    During the next ten years, he nearly cleaned out the large predators on the Fawcett ranch, which consisted of more than one hundred sections. With that job done and his strength failing, because of age, his children built a nice little home for him one mile down-river from where he had originally settled. They also provided enough goats to give him an independent income for life.
    He spent a reasonably happy time there with his assorted pets and dogs until the spring of 1937. Then diabetic gangrene suddenly showed up in one of his toes. He was moved to the old home and nursed there until his death on June 11, 1937.

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