Monday, February 25, 2008

Who Are You John Henry Baker

Recently while looking at an Iowa Census for the year 1925, I accidentally hit the wrong button and learned that there are two pages to the census instead of the usual one. More importantly, in that census year they recorded the names of the parents of each individual tallied, something that they haven't done in any other census. Using that bit of information, I started going back through my list of relatives living in Iowa in 1925 to see if I had the correct parents. I did on everyone but John Henry Baker.

I wrote about my search for John Henry Baker almost one year ago where I thought I might have found his parents. I ended up putting the whole task on the side burner until my recent discovery with the 1925 Iowa census. When I flipped to the previously hidden second page of the census, John Henry Baker's parents were listed as John Baker and Fanny, not Joseph and Francis as Emma Sometimes and the granddaughter living in Illinois had said. Suddenly it seemed as if I was back to square one again.

My first priority was to go back and fill in the blanks I had in the census record. In short order, I found the 1915 and 1905 Iowa census records to go along with the 1925 record. I was still missing the 1920 Federal Census record and after quite a bit of searching and scrolling through names, I found it. John was listed as John Baka instead of Baker, a typo by whoever did the transcription. The reason I couldn't find it was because even by using genealogy Soundex standards, Baka was sufficiently far enough from Baker not to show up. But after viewing the actual census record, I have no doubt that it is John Henry.

So I now have every census taken between the years 1900 and 1930 for John Henry Baker but in all of them he is married. He was born in 1971 and married in 1897 so in order to pin his parents down I have to find him between those years. The 1890 Federal Census was destroyed by fire and very few records exist so that it out. So that leaves me with the 1880 Federal Census and the 1895 and 1885 Iowa Census. (Iowa didn't start taking a census before 1885.) After literally many hours of searching, I have yet to find him there. There are many reasons for this.

Baker is a common last name and there are multitudes of Bakers in the Midwest in those years. During the six years of census records I do have, John Henry listed his birth as occurring in Iowa twice and Wisconsin four times. His father is listed as being born in England three times, Iowa once, USA once and just left blank once. His mother is listed as being born in Wisconsin once, England four times and blank once. Also, in almost half of the census records, his last name is misspelled which makes it that much harder to find.

If I had to guess, I would say both parents were born in England and he was born in Wisconsin just because those are the most common places written down. But I have searched to no avail. Not to mention I still have two people who claim he was born in Illinois, which has yet to be mentioned in any census that I have located. I still search now and then when I get time and won't give up easily. His parents are the last of my great great great grandparents whom I have yet to associate a name to on both sides of my family, including my biological fathers side that I have been able to trace back that far fairly easily. It will be a major milestone for me should I finally figure out that mystery.

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