XIII. THE FOUNDERS OF BAKERTON
The Bakerton that was born in the 1880's and developed during the next 80 years is one of the many Bakertons that might have been. It could have become another wretched company mining town where people were hired to remove a resource and then discarded when no longer useful. Or it could have become a model industrial community where social and economic development were carefully nurtured and protected. It was neither. To appreciate fully what Bakerton did become, one must first understand the character of the Baker-Thomas family and the influence they wielded for several generations.
The founders of Bakerton were descendants of a German family that immigrated to America in the mid-eighteenth century. The parents died either on the voyage or shortly thereafter, and their only son Henry Baker eventually settled in Frederick County, Maryland. Two of his grandsons, Daniel and Henry, bought George Buckey's tannery at Buckeystown, Maryland, in 1832. During the next 30 years, Daniel  (Figure 13-1) developed the operation into a flourishing business and became one of the most prosperous and influential men in the area.
When the Civil War began, Daniel Baker, a slaveholder, sided with the South.1 He was arrested and taken to jail in Frederick, Maryland, when he refused to order the whipping of three boys suspected of throwing muddy water on the United States flag. His son William , then about 19 years old, began hunting for a gun to shoot the person responsible for the arrest but was prevented by his mother. One of Daniel's Unionist neighbors secured his release from jail. According to his family biographer,
After Lincoln's Proclamation of Emancipation this fiery Southern partisan was obliged to walk into his kitchen and inform his slaves that they were now free. One of his threats had been that if the negroes ever got the privilege of voting that he would never cast another ballot. But when they did get the vote, and even though he had to walk through a double line of soldiers to cast his ballot, immediately following the war, Daniel Baker never missed an election.
Daniel Baker also appears to have been responsible for part of the community's leaving the Methodist Episcopal Church of Buckeystown (which was staffed by a Unionist minister) and establishing a local Methodist Protestant Church.
Despite Daniel Baker's outspoken criticism of the Union, his business enterprises seem to have remained unharmed, perhaps because of his continuing influence among local Unionists. Daniel Baker's wife, Catherine , also helped shape the character of the Baker children, although from a religious and social perspective rather than from a political one. She is described by Carrie H. Thomas  as "one of the strongest characters of which the Baker family can boast. Raised very simply on a manor farm ... she combined a religious fervor that was the guiding power of her life with common sense and strength of purpose that molded the characters of her children, and largely of her grandchildren."2
Catherine Baker's commitment to temperance was an integral part of her religious convictions and one of the most fervent beliefs transmitted to her children. According to family tradition,
In 1849 Catherine Baker was converted at a Camp Meeting. When she returned home she went to the cellar, took out all the liquor, carried it upstairs and emptied it out. The slaves kept saying "Oh Miss Kitty don't do that"¾ but if liquor was no longer good for her family it was not for them either. She and her husband Daniel drew up a Temperance pledge and each child and grandchild becoming 9 years of age signed it.
The sons of Daniel and Catherine Baker ¾ Joseph , William , and Daniel II  ¾ grew up in the business and entered the company as partners as they reached maturity. (See Figures 13-2 through 13-4.) When neighbors William and Mary Ann Thomas died, the elder Daniel Baker became the guardian of their sons Charles F.  and Franklin C. and the boys grew up in the family with the Baker brothers. These three Baker brothers and C.F. Thomas were responsible for the establishment of Bakerton.3
William G. Baker  (1842-1922), the eldest son of Daniel Baker I, literally grew up in his father's tanning business. After attending college for two years, he returned to Buckeystown and became a partner in his father's tannery. When his father died, William took charge of his father's businesses, including the limestone operation in Buckeystown. He is said to have organized the brothers' entrance into limestone mining in the Engle-Bakerton area. Known as "Mr. Billy" in the Buckeystown area, William G. Baker had a character that was a match for the strong Engle, Knott, and Moler families. William Baker's personality and facility with language reportedly made him an extremely persuasive person; and this persuasiveness was doubtlessly enhanced by the financial power he wielded in the area. Carrie H. Thomas referred to him as "a sort of clan chief" to whom townspeople came for advice and help. Baker's nephew, William H. Thomas , recalled one anecdote that summarized the character of the man primarily responsible for the beginning of Bakerton. One morning in 1897, Joe Grinder of Buckeystown was telling a crowd at the local store
that he was tired of having Uncle ... tell him what crops to raise on his farm. He had raised corn each year for the [Baker] packing house and he said he was going over to the office to see Mr. Billy and tell him he would not raise any corn for him this season. Those in the store awaited eagerly his return. In about 20 minutes out he came. "Well Joe what happened?" asked someone. "Well, I'll tell you. When I went in Mr. Billy said 'Good Morning, Joe, how much corn are you going to plant for us this season?' And of course I answered 'any amount you say Mr. Billy.' "4
William Baker also had an interest in technology. He used one of the earliest phonographs to give dictation at his office and purchased one of the first typewriters in the area. This interest in invention meant that the Baker industries would be generally receptive to new technological developments and because the Bakers had strong financial resources, they had the means to put new improvements into operation. However, a new idea occasionally slipped through Mr. Billy's fingers. When a neighbor came to him for a loan to build a water-powered generator, William dismissed the scheme as a hair-brained idea and refused to advance the money.5 Throughout his life, William Baker's involvement in the industrial, financial, and charitable activities in Frederick County, Maryland, and surrounding areas was substantial. In addition to being one of the largest landowners in Frederick County, he held numerous positions of authority and trust. These included: president of Daniel Baker & Sons, vice president and a director of the Citizens National Bank of Frederick, a director of Standard Lime and Stone and Washington Building Lime Company, co-founder and director of the Buckingham School for Boys, and chairman of the executive committee of the Maryland School for the Deaf.6
The interests and resources of William Baker became part of his legacy to his two sons. William G. Baker, Jr. , would later become a major Baltimore financier and establish the investment firm of Baker, Watts, & Co. His other son, John H. Baker , was to become deeply involved in the management of Standard Lime and Stone and eventually president of the firm.
Joseph D. Baker  (1854-1938), the second son of Daniel Baker I, attended Calvert College and became a partner in Daniel Baker & Sons at the age of 21. Shortly thereafter, he purchased his own tannery. According to Carrie H. Thomas, "he was remarkably successful, proving an argument with his father that he could get more work done with shorter hours and more pay than his father with the old long hours and low pay."
In addition to being one of the founders and directors of Standard Lime and Stone, he was an organizer and president of the Citizen's National Bank of Frederick, the Montgomery County Bank, and the People's National Bank of Leesburg, Virginia. He was instrumental in the building of toll bridges at Point of Rocks and Brunswick, Maryland, to allow Virginians access to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Joseph Baker was responsible for organizing a syndicate for the sale of Carrol Manor, which encompassed more than 2,000 acres of prime farmland in Frederick County. He was appointed one of the receivers of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company after the flood of 1889 and, with the two other receivers, recommended that the canal not be reopened.7
Joseph Baker was put forward as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the governorship of Maryland in 1907. A contemporary biographer noted that
As he failed the nomination this incident in Mr. Baker's career is interesting chiefly for the sidelight it throws on the character of the man.... Mr. Baker's canvass was daily growing in strength when the liquor question which has so long vexed American politics arose to complicate the issues. Personally Mr. Baker was an advocate of the local opinion method of dealing with this issue, a total abstainer from the use of liquor himself and an advocate of a similar course on the part of others. In response to an invitation to become a member of the Democratic Club of Baltimore, Baker replied that his acceptance of the invitation was conditional upon the policy in that club regarding the sale and serving of liquor within its jurisdiction, as he never joined a club or any other organization that made a practice of selling intoxicating drinks. Naturally, the "liquor element," in the party and without, made the most of the letter and Mr. Baker's attitude toward the traffic in general, with the result that at the convention he was rejected as a candidate because the opposition of these interests.8
Joseph Baker was also a director of the Chicago branch of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, president of the Maryland State Bankers' Association, a trustee of the Frederick Female Seminary and the Frederick Home for the Aged, and a co-founder and director of the Buckingham School for Boys.
Daniel Baker, Jr.  (1858-1921), the youngest of the Baker brothers, was a sickly child and apparently did not enjoy good health throughout his life. Like his brother Joseph, he was an excellent public speaker, and he was responsible for bringing the youth of the Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Protestant Churches together for worship after the Civil War had split them apart. After attending Western Maryland College, he went to work in a store in Buckeystown. When the Baker brothers formed Standard Lime and Stone Company, Daniel became the president. He was responsible for moving the headquarters of this company from Buckeystown to Baltimore in 1890.9
According to Carrie H. Thomas, it was Daniel Baker, Jr., who suggested that the brothers "establish a school for needy boys. Not the precocious boys that all the established schools wanted, boys who were well born, but he felt he should help the boys nobody else would." The Buckingham School for Boys, established in 1898, was an outgrowth of this idea. Daniel Baker, Jr., was extremely active in the Methodist Church, serving on the board of the Maryland Sunday School Association and the Maryland Bible Society and as a delegate to the Ecumenical Congress of the Methodist Church. Miss Thomas noted that
He shared with the rest of his family a tremendous interest in the cause of temperance. The pledge his mother had written in the old family Bible ... was more than a pledge never to drink intoxicating liquors. It was an enlistment in a fight against an evil which their parents had seen ruin many lives and from which the only safe guard was total abstinence.
Characterizing both his business and charitable activities, Miss Thomas remarked that "While he was gentle with those who needed gentleness, he could put spur into the indolent and unworthy, urging them to do better things."
His son, Daniel Baker III , became vice president of Standard Lime and Stone in 1921; he assumed the presidency of the company in 1946 when the health of John H. Baker  began to fail.
Charles F. Thomas , a ward of Daniel Baker I, was a farmer and merchant in Buckeystown for several years before becoming general manager of Standard Lime and Stone Company. In this capacity, he was responsible for supervising the construction of the railroad spur and the original Bakerton plant. He opened Charles F. Thomas and Sons in 1902 and developed it into one of the largest brick manufacturing plants in the country. Charles married Sarah , the daughter of Daniel Baker I, who was extensively involved in the women's suffrage movement and the Anti-Saloon League (Figure 13-5) . Their son Frank C. Thomas  (Figure 13-6) was later to occupy the position his father had held as general superintendent of Standard Lime and Stone.10
In sum, the Baker and Thomas men shared several common traits. Their schooling was a combination of formal education and experience acquired in the family business. They were generally receptive and open-minded to new technological developments. Active philanthropists, temperance leaders, and church members, they supported their causes with their time, influence, and money. And once they decided on a particular course of action they rarely changed their minds.
Several other points should be kept in mind as the establishment and growth of Bakerton are described in the following pages. First, the Baker and the Thomas families came from ethnic and religious backgrounds and were involved in industries similar to those found in eastern Jefferson County. Second, the Bakers virtually owned everything in the village of Buckeystown except the name, and they appear to have had the means, if not the desire, to exert the same control in Jefferson County. Third, as important as Bakerton was to its residents, the Bakerton plant of Standard Lime and Stone was one of many industrial and financial ventures controlled by the Baker family. Finally, viewed from the perspective of the community surrounding the little Oak Grove School in Jefferson County, the resources and influence of this family must have seemed colossal.
1. Unless otherwise stated, the source used has been Carrie H. Thomas' "History of the Baker Family," an undated typescript.
2. There is a striking resemblance between Catherine Baker (the wife of Daniel Baker I and mother of William, Joseph, and Daniel II) and Margaret Knott (wife of quarry owner Samuel Knott and mother of five sons who served the Confederacy and ran the Knott quarry.
3. Carrie H. Thomas, History; William G. Baker, Sr., "Early History of Buckeystown," manuscript, February 25, 1913.
4. William H. Thomas, " 'Reminiscences' A Diary of Early Buckeystown," from Nancy Bodmer, Buckey's Town: A Village Remembered (Buckeystown, Md.: A-1 Duplicat Printing, 1984), pp. 181-187.
5. William H. Thomas, " 'Reminiscences.'
6. Matthew Page Andrews (ed.), Tercentenary History of Maryland (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co.), vol. III, pp. 372-374.
7. Matthew Page Andrews (ed.), Tercentenary History, vol. III, pp. 428-434.
8. Matthew Page Andrews (ed.), Tercentenary History, vol. III, pp. 428-434.
9. Carrie H. Thomas, "History."
10. Thomas Williams, History of Frederick County, Maryland, p. 1440; Carrie H. Thomas, "History."
XIV. ESTABLISHMENT OF BAKERTON (1883-1921)