Bio: Baker, Charles O. (History - 1847)

Contact: Janet Schwarze




----Source: 1891 Bio. Hist. Of Clark Jackson Co., Wisconsin, pg. 439, 440, 441:


CHARLES O. BAKER, one of the leading citizens of Greenwood, is engaged in the real estate business, was born in a log house on the site of the present city of Grand Rapids, Wood County, Wis., Feb. 11, 1847, son of David and Elizabeth (Kline) Baker. The father, David Baker, was a native of Orleans County, New York, and son of Solomon Baker, a tradesman of that section and a veteran of the War of 1812-1815, who was of English descent. Solomon had five sons and two daughters, of whom one of the latter, Mary, married a Mr. Otis and resided in Lansing, Mich. David Baker, who married Elizabeth Kline, a native of Strassburg, Germany, and daughter of George Kline, left his native place in 1837, soon after his marriage, taking the boat at Olean Point and proceeding down the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers to the Mississippi and then up the river to New Boston, Ill., where he landed and remained subsequently for two years. At the end of that time he came to Wisconsin, driving with ox team, by way of Galena, Mineral Point and Portage to the site of the present city of Grand Rapids. He accompanied by his wife and two children, Lavinia and Jennie also by his wife's mother, Elizabeth Kline, and by other members of the Kline family, William, Susan, Karl and Leah. The journey seems to have been performed in a leisurely manner, or the roads were bad, or not in evidence, as the trip occupied three months. George Kline, Mrs. David Baker's brother, had preceded them and erected the first mill on the site of Grand Rapids, it being located on the west bank of the river. Some years afterwards, in 1849, he joined the rush of gold seekers to California, from which expedition he never returned, probably meeting the fate of so many who made that dangerous journey. David Baker, on arriving at Grand Rapids, secured fifty-seven acres of land, situated on what is now the west side of that city, and there he built a log cabin. The Kline's got land on the east side, where the city hall and court house are located, the latter buildings being erected on land that was owned by George Kline.


David spent the rest of his life at Grand Rapids and saw the city build up and expand. He was engaged to some extent in the lumber and shingle business, which he carried on in connection with farming, and becoming a prominent citizen of the place, at times held local office. He and his wife had a family of twelve children: Lavinia, Jane, Rachel, Susan, Esther, Fannie, John, Henry, George W., Charles O., David and Karl. Of these children, George and Charles served in the Civil War. David, the father, who was born in 1812, died at the age of 68 years, about 1880. His wife, born in 1816, lived to the age of 74. The latter was a member of the Methodist Church. Charles O. Baker acquired the elements of knowledge in a little frame school house, about 12 by 16 feet in size, which was the first, or one of the first school buildings in Grand Rapids.


At the age of 17 he enlisted in Company C, 52nd Wisconsin Infantry, being mustered in at Camp Randall, Madison. He was made sergeant in his company and served ten months in southwestern Missouri, being finally discharged at Ft. Leavenworth, Kans., the war being then over. Returning home he took up the work of teaching, which he followed for two terms in Wood County, Wis. He then took up the study of law with Judge L.P. Powers and in 1868 was admitted to practice. Elected district attorney in November of that year, he served in that office for two years. He was then elected county clerk, on the Democratic ticket, and served two years in that office. From 1867 to 1874 he was city clerk of Grand Rapids, taking office with the organization of the city.

Until 1883 he was engaged in the practice of law. In that year he was elected secretary of the Wisconsin, Pittsville Northern Railway Co., a branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul road, and served in that position until 1890. In the year last mentioned he entered into the real estate business in Grand Rapids and was thus engaged until 1896, afterwards becoming secretary of the Central Trading Company, a Milwaukee corporation. This caused his removal to Milwaukee, of which city he was a resident until 1891. In that year Mr. Baker became secretary of the Skidmore Land Company, of Marinette, where he stayed for one year. During the two following years he was engaged in the real estate business in Chicago.


In 1905 he came to Greenwood, Clark County, Wis., and formed a law partnership with P. J. Tscharner, which association lasted until Mr. Tscharner's removal to North Dakota in 1907. While still a partner of the latter, and soon after coming to Greenwood, Mr. Baker, with his two sons, Julian C. and Karl W., established the Baker Land Company, a concern that is still flourishing. He is a member of the Masonic Order, which he joined at Grand Rapids in 1869 also belonging to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, with which he united at Grand Rapids in 1871, and to the Knights of Pythias, and to Post No. 22, G.A.R., of Wood County.


Charles O. Baker was married, July 17, 1873, at Juneau, Dodge County, Wis., to Stella A. Crawford, who was born at Waupun, Wisconsin in 1850, and who is now living in Florida. They have two children: Karl W. and Julian C., who were educated in the public schools of Wisconsin and at St. John's Military Academy, where they graduated, subsequently qualifying for the medical profession. Since coming to Greenwood, Mr. Baker has taken a high place in the community, both as a businessman and as a loyal and public spirited citizen, and is universally respected.


Related Links

Bio: Baker, Dr. Julian Crawford

Bio: Baker, Ed.

Bio: Baker, Family (Warner Pioneer)

Bio: Baker, Jacob

Bio: Baker, Karl W.



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