Friday, March 9, 2012
Joseph Baker's story begins somewhere in England, location unknown and after the Civil War, surfaces in the town of Colchester, Illinois. I only knew the name due to the obituary of Joseph's oldest son and my 2nd great grandfather. However, despite a research trip there, I never turned up any evidence to prove this. Again through obituaries of his children, I learned that Joseph Baker moved up to West Union, Iowa and then to Parkersburg, Iowa, two counties over, where he was caught for the 1880 Federal Census. Two years later he was buried in Cedar Falls, in the county between West Union and Parkersburg and two of his five children were evidently given up to the Chicken family for adoption, whether it was formalized or not remains unclear at this point. Joseph's widow Frances Bolton Baker would marry a man named Thomas Heppenstall who materialized from Colchester, Illinois to where ever Frances was living in 1886, a fact that seemed to confirm that the Baker family had indeed lived in Colchester. So I began my collateral search by learning about Thomas Heppenstall.
Thomas Heppenstall was the son of a coal miner Daniel Heppenstall who worked the mines of Colchester according to the 1870 census. Daniel was also an immigrant from England sometime between 1851 and 1860. But the fact that glistened in my eye was that Daniel Heppenstall came from Huddersfield, England the same place where Joseph's wife France Bolton Baker Heppenstall came from, even though she was born in Wisconsin. To adequately explain this, I need to take a step back and explain her migration route first.
Frances Bolton's parents John and Mary Shaw Bolton immigrated from Huddersfield, England in 1844 and settled down near Willow Springs, Wisconsin. Frances and her older sister were born here but their younger brother Jeremiah was born in California in 1954. This is because John Bolton went west seeking gold in the famous California gold rush with a group of people from Willow Springs and at least initially left his wife and children behind with the family of Elias Pilling. Not surprisingly, the Pilling family also comes from Huddersfield, England. John Bolton's wife Mary would eventually join him since I know their son was born in California but something would happen to John. The next record I have of the family is of his wife Mary along with her three children back to the Huddersfield area of England by 1861 where they show up in a census. Mary was also listed as a widow on that census. Mary and two of her children would remain there but Frances Bolton, future wife of Joseph Baker would return before 1869 and end up in the same town as the Heppenstalls. No doubt in my mind, she knew Thomas Heppenstall during her time in Colchester.
I pondered this thread for awhile wondering if Joseph was from the same part of England but have been unable to locate a likely Baker family there during that time frame. So I next turned my attention to another thread. I decided to look into the Robert Chicken family. After Joseph died, two of his five children were given to this family and raised into adulthood. I suspect that Joseph died broke and his widow Frances just couldn't raise five children on her own without a job. The Robert Chicken family lived in West Union where Joseph Baker lived for a time before moving to Parkersburg but were they more than just former neighbors. I looked into the Chicken family ancestry and was quickly rocked back with surprise. Robert Chicken and his parents came from Willow Springs, Wisconsin, the same place of Joseph Baker's widow Frances Bolton. I also learned the Robert Chicken was born in England and immigrated here from the Durham county area of England. I checked but it is a long ways north of the area that the Bolton and Heppenstall families came from.
So as you can see, I have five familes, the Bakers, Boltons, Chickens, Heppenstalls & Pillings who have crossed paths over the years and are all intertwined. I'm guessing that if I keep pursuing these collateral families and how they weave together with my Baker family, perhaps someday I may be able to break through the brick wall of Joseph.