While broadening a newspaper article search on his mother, the wife of Joseph Baker,whom I have spent much print on this blog writing about and summed up recently here and here, and whom remarried after Joseph's untimely death to a man named Thomas Heppenstall, when I came across an article that stated in entirety:
Mrs. Heppenstall who had been visiting her son Rob. Chicken and family at Hawkeye returned home to Cedar Falls Saturday.
What the heck? Another Chicken in the family? I quickly switched tack and found numerous articles on Robert Chicken from West Union, the same town that several more article already state that my 2nd great uncle Robert Baker lived most of his life. I also found several articles of various visits Robert Chicken made to see his mother Mrs. Heppenstall.
I have just one census record for Robert Baker soon after he was born when his father Joseph Baker was still alive in 1880. After that, he just disappeared and numerous attempts to track him down in census records and record inquiries to Fayette county where West Union is located turned up nothing. But a quick search of census records reveals a complete track of Robert Baker/Chicken. Soon after his father died in 1882, Robert and his brother Charles can be found living in the house of Robert Sr. and Prudence Chicken in the same county in 1885. They are listed as also having the last name of Chicken. In 1880, Robert Sr. and Prudence Chicken had just two older daughters but no listing of Robert Jr. or Charles though had they been with the family, both should have been listed. I also found an obit for Robert Sr. that only lists two daughters as survivors, the same two daughters in the 1880 census. Charles would change his name back to Baker soon after he was on his own but Robert Jr. would keep his last name as Chicken until he died in 1938. I have an article announcing his death but no obituary as yet.
So it appears as the two Bakers were adopted by the Chicken family and there wasn't some cockfighting story buried in the family as I had hoped. If I can find an obituary for Robert, I am hoping to find more information about his parents which was my whole reason for spending all this time trying to find him.
But that isn't all as they say. For years, I have known that Robert and Charles Chicken Baker's mother Frances was born in Wisconsin and going by name and date, I theorized that an 1850 census identified her as living with an older sister Salina and widowed mother Mary Bolton in Willow Springs, Wisconsin. Never had any proof but I couldn't find any other matches. In one of the many articles I turned up of Robert Chicken's life including a drunk driving arrest and being a victim of an armed robbery while being a good Samaritan, I also have the obituary of his wife Viola H. Proctor who was born in 1883 in Willow Springs, Wisconsin. Coincidence? My head is spinning with all this information and I am still digesting it.