Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On the Trail of Joseph Baker: Part One

Civil War Verteran: John Henry Wemple's Grave
Oak Hill Cemetery, Parkersburg , Iowa
Despite my busy schedule, I was able to go up north last week for a couple days to do a genealogy trip that I have wanted to do for a long time. The last time I had it planned an F5 tornado ripped through the area I was headed a week before I was scheduled to leave. I decided to postpone things until they settled down a bit and before I knew it, four years had passed me by. This trip came during a dangerously hot heat streak going on which made things interesting. If I left my car for anything less than thirty seconds, I came back to a bake oven that cooked my hide for the next ten minutes until the car cooled back down. If I left the car running while I took a quick picture, it would howl in protest and quickly start overheating. It was hot and that is the understatement of the year.

This trip was to follow the migration in reverse of my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Baker who died at age 35 and left me with a genealogical brick wall that I have yet to solve. I know less about him than most of my more distant ancestors. The last and also only census record I have of him had him living in Parkersburg, Iowa, site of that F5 tornado four years ago. As I pulled into town, the signs of the tornado that took a large chunk of the town away were gone but left behind was a massive swath of new buildings and houses. There were also no mature trees. I could only imagine the horrors of that day.

Since it was still early, I pulled into the local graveyard and after a little searching, found the grave of my 3rd great grandfather and Civil War veteran John Henry Wemple whom I wrote about recently. I also found the grave of Willard Bond Card and wife Ester Hall who were my 4th great grandparents along with other assorted Cards, Halls and Wemples. I also found a couple Bakers which I noted and photographed as possible leads to check out in the future when I have a chance.

With fifteen minutes until the library opened up, I stopped in at an antique shop down the street to kill the time and ended up spending 45 minutes there talking with the owner. I had a hard time getting out of the store because the man was starved for attention. In the end, I bought an old canning book for a dollar with recipes in it that you just don't see anymore and made my exit. The library ended up being a quick stop because as my research had hinted at, they didn't have much in the was of genealogical records so I headed off to a town across the county which my research showed had them. It did but unfortunately when I arrived there, the library was under total reconstruction including the basement where the records were located. The kind lady there made several trips down there since it was off limits to me and brought back some stuff but it just doesn't beat being able to snoop down there yourself and turning up some random things that you didn't know about.

So I confined myself to a microfilm reader upstairs and skimmed through a years worth of the local paper trying to find something on Joseph Baker's death. Perhaps due to the time constraints I had to limit my search to the part of the paper on local news or perhaps due to the extreme heat in the room since the library air conditioner was under construction as well, I didn't find anything other than a microfilm reader can heat up an already hot room by another ten or fifteen degrees in the space of a couple hours. So disappointed, I set off east to Black Hawk County and Greenwood Cemetery.

John Henry Wemple's Final Resting Spot
Oak Hill Cemetery, Parkersburg, Iowa


Vince said...

What's the iron bar stuck in the foot of the gravestone.

Ed said...

It is a marker that says 'Veteran 1861-1865'.