Friday, July 13, 2012

On the Trail of Joseph Baker: Part Four

Robert James Chicken formerly known as Robert James Baker son of Joseph Baker

My last stop of the day was to spend some time with a Chicken. Readers may recall how I finally discovered the Chicken connection to the Baker family a couple years back and last year in an effort to discover a clue I tracked down some descendants of the Chicken family. Eventually I was put in touch with Shirley Chicken whose grandfather had been Robert Chicken, formerly known as Robert James Baker, son of my 3rd great grandfather Joseph Baker and younger brother to my 2nd great grandfather John Henry Baker.

The Chickens had always known they were connected to the Bakers somehow but never exactly had all the connections. I had been able to fill in those connections and made the promise to stop by and visit them when I was in the area. I knew they wouldn't be able to help me in my quest to find Joseph Baker but I had hoped that through them I might glean a clue or more context on the family. After visiting with Shirley for a couple hours, I think I was able to do both.

Shirley's grandfather Robert Chicken married his adoptive father's granddaughter Viola Proctor whom Shirley remembered well and who also swore that Robert was never a Baker. However she mentioned that her Aunt 'Nell' who was Robert's older sister Frances Ellen Baker swore that this wasn't the case and that she had proof in the family bible. This is a great clue but unfortunately Frances never had any children and so I really don't know what happened to it. I have tried tracking down descendants of other siblings of hers but have failed in finding it thus far. Who knows, perhaps it will turn up someday and by typing all these blogs, someone will find it and offer to return it.

Shirley and I were also able to piece together that more than likely, Robert Chicken/Baker may have harbored some resentment about his adoption. Because he was only seven years old at the time of his father's death, I'm sure being given away to a family two counties over may have been traumatic and one memory he carried with him throughout his life. His son may have absorbed some of this for he disappeared from his family early in their lives and Shirley never really knew her father until she discovered one day through genealogy research that he was dead but had possibly been nearby as she and her siblings moved throughout the country during their lives. That certainly didn't help in her determining the exact connection with the Bakers and the Chickens.

We had a good talk and since her car was in the shop, I drove her out to the local cemetery where I met with my 2nd great uncle Robert James Baker/Chicken. I also met his adoptive father also named Robert Chicken and found the site where Shirley and her husband plan to be buried in the future. All in all it was a good trip and I've developed a connection that perhaps one day will bear even more fruit than it has so far. I had plenty of things to think about as I made the long drive back home to southeast Iowa.

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