The Baker Family
by Scott Powell, 1925
Of the early settlers in Marshall County the Baker family is one that is worthy of mention. Henry Baker lived for more than one-half of a century in the lower end of Round Bottom. Colonel Samuel P. Baker, his son, gave the following account of the early history of the Baker family:
He said that his grandfather, [Captain] John Baker, settled on Dunkard Creek in Green County, Pennsylvania, about the year 1767, and lived there a number of years near Indians, who then lived in that section of the country and were very friendly with the whites. At the breaking out of Dunmore's War in 1774, his grandfather removed his family to Redstone Old Fort, now Brownsville, and remained there some time after the war was over. Later he removed his family to Catfish Camp where Washington, Pennsylvania, now stands.
In the spring of 1781 reports were circulated that Indians were preparing for early and active operations on the south side of the Ohio River, and it was rumored that a large body had crossed the river near Holliday's Cove. Three young men were started to Fort Henry at Wheeling to inform the settlers of their danger. They were Henry Baker (eighteen years old), Henry Yoho, and a man by the name of Stalnater. Only one of them reached the fort.
They rode along without seeing any indications of Indians until they reached the narrows on Wheeling Creek near the old Woods residence, when they ran into a number of Indians in ambush awaiting them. Stalnater shot the Indian nearest him and was in turn shot by the Indians. A bullet struck Yoho's horse, causing it to fall to its knees, but it quickly arose and in its fright started in the direction of the fort at the top of its speed and reached the fort and saved the life of its rider.
A bullet struck Baker's horse which ran about one hundred yards and fell dead. It fell on Baker's leg and it was with some difficulty that he freed himself from the dead horse. Seeing his danger he abandoned his gun and started for the fort in full speed but ran only a short distance when he met an Indian with a tomahawk in one hand and a pistol in the other. He saw he had no chance to escape and when the Indian called to him in good English, "You are a prisoner," he stopped. He was taken back to the other Indians, and a brother of the warrior killed by Stalnater, wanted to kill him but was prevented by the chief.
With their prisoner they started for the river. They crossed the hill and went out the ridge that runs just on the top of the hill along the Narrows and descended the hill at Kate's Rock where they found a number of Indians in canoes as if they were awaiting the arrival of the party.
They embarked in canoes and descended the river a short distance and left the canoes and went around the fort at the flats of Grave Creek, keeping along the foot of the hill and crossing Big Grave Creek not far below the mouth of Middle Grave Creek, and from there they went over the hill and arrived at the river at the lower end of Round Bottom. The party crossed the river and encamped on the north side opposite the head of Captina Island.
Early the following morning they started and for three days and nights they made no halt. They did not rest until they arrived at Chillicothe, having evidently been in fear of pursuit. After that they were in no hurry. They killed deer and had plenty to eat. When they arrived at Sandusky three hundred Indians had just arrived from a foray against settlements in Kentucky with nine prisoners. The nine young men taken by them were burned at the stake after running the gauntlets. One was burned each day.
All this time Baker was reminded frequently that his turn was coming after the nine were burned. On the morning of the tenth day Baker was taken to the place where they had burned the other prisoners and compelled to run the gauntlet which he did with little difficulty. It so enraged a warrior that he knocked Baker down after he had reached the council house in safety. Baker fought them and delayed them some time and seeing a man riding toward them in the uniform of a British officer he ran to meet him and asked him to save his life if it was possible.
The man was no other than the notorious Simon Girty. Girty talked with the Indians two hours or more, arguing with them and finally induced them not to burn him. Girty evidently had motives other than that of humanity, as he took Baker out from the Indians and questioned him about the conditions at Wheeling and many other places, especially the former place. Baker afterwards believed that Girty contemplated an attack upon Fort Henry. He was taken to Detroit and in a short time was released. He hired with a trader and remained with him some time.
He and three Virginians concluded to return and started for Wheeling. They got lost and wandered about for three weeks before they reached the Ohio River, where Bridgeport has since been built. Some men were making sugar on that side of the river and when they saw the four men approaching in Indian dress they mistook them for Indians and crossed over to the island and watched them. After some time Baker and his companions made the men understand who they were and the men crossed back and brought them over in a canoe.
While Henry was away his father [John Baker] moved to the lower end of Round Bottom. He learned where the family had gone and he went to it. He remained in the Round Bottom until his death, except the time spent at Tomlinsons' Fort. He died in 1848.
Another account of the Baker family says that Captain John Baker was born in Prussia and came to America about 1760. He arrived at Philadelphia and five years later married Elizabeth Sullivan of that city, and from there the young people removed to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where they lived two years and from there they removed to the waters of Dunkard Creek now in Green County, Pennsylvania, in the year 1767, and remained seven years. At the time they lived on that creek there were a number of Indians residing on it and they and the whites were very friendly. At the breaking out of Dunmore's War he removed his family to Redstone Old Fort, now Brownsville. The American Revolution breaking out soon after the close of Dunmore's War. Indian hostilities soon followed the breaking out of the war. He remained at the fort a number of years, and was in the service of the Colony of Virginia much of the time during the war, but there is little record of him.
He went from Redstone to Catfish Camp in 1781, where he remained a short time and then removed to Round Bottom and in 1784 Captain Baker built a block-house near the upper end of Cresap's Bottom. The place was generally known by the name of Baker's Station.
While two of the Wetzels were at Baker's Station in 1787, they and Captain Baker noticed some Indians on the opposite shore walking about leisurely. Baker, getting an opportunity, shot at one of them and killed him. The others ran away as if badly frightened, leaving the dead Indian where he fell. They did it evidently to deceive the whites as it was proved later by their actions. Baker and the two Wetzels crossed over the river and were viewing the dead Indian when several shots were fired and Baker fell, mortally wounded. The Wetzels treed and commenced a fight and some other men crossed the river and reinforced them and drove the Indians off and recovered the body of Baker. He had crawled a short distance from where he fell and was alive when recovered, but died soon after arriving at the station. He was buried on a flat near a stream called Grave Yard Run at the upper end of Cresap's Bottom.
Baker's Station soon became a rendezvous for scouts as it was at one of the crossings of the Indians on a war path from the Muskingum River into the interior of Virginia. They traveled up Wills Creek from the Muskingum River and crossed a divide and went down Big Captina to the Ohio River and up Fish Creek or broke up into small parties of marauders and visited the various settlements committing all kinds of depredations.
The Baker family appears to have resided in the block-house and it never had a regular garrison. Hunters and scouts were so frequently at it that it was seldom without a fairly good force, in case of attack, to have defended it against a large force of Indians. In time of danger scouts gave much attention to the war path down Big Captina and among others who frequented the place were the Wetzel brothers. It was a custom to send scouts to the west side frequently to look for indications of the presence of Indians. Indians were frequently seen on the west or Ohio side of the river and frequent shots were exchanged.
Martin Baker gave a very interesting account of an engagement between fourteen whites and a number of Shawnee Indians at the mouth of Cat's Run, some distance up the creek from the river.
Martin said that one morning in May 1794, four scouts, Adam Miller, John Daniel, Isaac McCown and John Shopton, crossed from the station to look for indications of Indians. Miller and Daniel went up the river and the other two went down it.
McCown and Shopton soon discovered signs that indicated to them that Indians were near them and attempted to make their escape by immediate flight. McCown started for the canoe and was shot and wounded. He ran to the river, jumped over the bank and ran into the water but was pursued by Indians who overtook him and killed and scalped him. Shopton escaped by running to the river and swimming it.
The two who went up the river soon encountered Indians. Miller was killed and Daniel was wounded in an arm and sought safety by flight. After running about three miles up the creek he was overtaken by Indians, taken prisoner and kept by them till after the treaty at Greenville in 1795, when he was released.
There were about fifty men at the station and a call to arms was beat and volunteers called for to cross the river and attack the Indians. There seemed to be a hesitancy and no one seemed anxious to cross the river and engage the enemy, and getting volunteers was slow work.
John Baker, for a wonder, seemed to hesitate until his sister Ma[r]y Jane remarked that she would not be a coward. That was sufficient. He joined the other thirteen. Captain Adam Enoch commanded the force. One of the volunteers was Duncan McArthur, who was many years later elected Governor of Ohio. They crossed from the station and followed the trail of the Indians up the creek to the mouth of Cat's Run when they were fired upon by Indians who were concealed on a hillside above them but they were too high and the bullets went whistling over the heads of the whites. The whites treed and the battle began. Captain Enoch and a man by the name of Hoffman were killed by some Indians who attacked them from the rear. After the death of Enoch young McArthur took command of the small force and commenced a retreat. They had not retreated far when John Baker was shot through the hips and being in the rear it was impossible to get him and carry him from the field.
From what was afterwards seen it was thought that Baker knowing that he would be killed, determined to sell his life at as high a rate as possible. He got into a hollow place with a large rock at his back so they could not get at him from behind. Soon after he fell two shots in quick succession were fired and it was thought that he killed an Indian and was in turn killed by another. When whites visited the ground the second day after the battle they found bodies of the men killed horribly mutilated.
They were taken to the Virginia shore and buried on the bank of Grave Yard Run, where John Baker [Henrys father] and John Wetzel had been buried some years before. They were buried in coffins made of hickory bark.
The Indians had gone up the creek, after killing the scouts, some distance, and returned to the mouth of Cat's Run and there lay in ambush for the whites who started in pursuit of them.
Some years afterwards some whites visited the spot and found seven skeletons in the rock where it was thought that the Indians had hid their dead.
There is a tradition among the Baker family that Henry and his sister Kate were taken prisoner by Indians while at work near the station and taken to an Indian camp back of Round Bottom. Henry was compelled to gather wood which he thought was intended to burn him but in this he was mistaken. While gathering wood and carrying it to the camp he picked up a knife some warrior had dropped. He concealed it in his clothes and worked on quietly. The Indians had some whiskey and at night indulged in it quite freely and lay down, many of them, in an intoxicated condition. The two prisoners had been tied securely, so thought by the Indians, but with the knife hid in his clothes, Henry was not long in cutting the thongs when he thought the Indians asleep, and soon he and Kate were free. They started but had not gone far when the Indians discovered that the prisoners had escaped, and began scouring the woods in search of them.
They saw that they were cut off from the station and also from the fort at the Flats of Grave Creek, with Indians in the woods yelling blood curdling yells. A party soon got directly after them and they ran through the woods in direction from either of the places of safety mentioned and as they ran along a path, they came to a log that lay directly across it. They started to run around it but found that it was hollow and one crawled into it from each end. The pursuers jumped the log and ran in the direction they had been running and after the Indians were a safe distance from them they left their hiding place and started for the river and reached it at Kate's Rock and swam to the Ohio side and went down it to the mouth of Big Captina and swam it again and arrived at their home none the worse by having one more experience with Indians.
Of the Baker family, three were killed by Indians. The father [Captain John], his son John, and daughter Margaret were killed by them but no account of the death of Margaret is given.
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