BAKER, Jonathan H. (deceased), whose span of life covered years of eminent usefulness to the community of which he was a very prominent and influential member, was born in Walpole, Cheshire County, N. H., May 8, 1817. He was a son of Edward and Anna (Haskell) Baker, natives of Massachusetts. At the age of seven years Mr. Baker was left an orphan, and "bound out" to a farmer named Edmond Walker. When he was eighteen years old his guardian allowed him to enter the employ of a merchant in the vicinity, where he worked as clerk until he came to Illinois. The journey westward was made overland, and a period of twenty-seven days was consumed in reaching Macomb. After working one month in a brick yard in 1838, he became a clerk for James M. Cambell, with whom he remained two years. In January, 1841, he went into the grocery business in company with J. P. Updegraff. In 1845, he was appointed Postmaster of Macomb, and held the office four years. During this period he was also engaged in the mercantile trade in company with Charles Chandler, continuing in this line until 1855, when he embarked in real-estate business. In 1858 he was appointed County Clerk to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Isaac Grantham, and in the following year was elected to that office, serving one term and continuing his real-estate operations in the meantime. In 1865 he entered upon the practice of law in partnership with MR. Neece, under the firm name of Baker & Neece. In 1877 he was elected County Judge, and was re-elected in 1882.
As a citizen, Judge Baker maintained a high standing, and, as a jurist, was clear, firm and impartial. He possessed in a marked degree those qualities which fitted him for the judicial function. On March 2, 1843, Judge Baker was united in marriage to Isabella Hempstead, a daughter of Stephen Hempstead. She was born in Missouri, and came to Illinois when a child. Four children resulted from their union, namely: Clara A., wife of C. V. Chandler; Mary C., widow of E. L. Wells; Isabella, wife of George D. Tunnicliff, an attorney, of Macomb, and Joseph H. Judge Baker's decease occurred December 31, 1891.
In politics, Judge Baker was an unswerving Democrat and cast his first vote for Stephen A. Douglas, candidate for congress in 1838. In religious belief, he was a Universalist, and was identified with the church of that denomination in Macomb. Fraternally, he was one of the first members of the I. O. O. F. in the city of his residence. While not demonstrative or aggressive in his mental characteristics, the subject of this review was a man of remarkable self-poise, lucid in perception and vigorous in logical deduction, and occupied a rank second to few, if any, in the admirable succession of jurists who have adorned the profession of law in McDonough County.
Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907. Submitted by Joanne Scobee Morgan <[email protected]>