The Highland Township Historical Society
Highland, Oakland County, Michigan



Thaddeus D. Seeley, History of Oakland County, Michigan, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago (1912), Vol. II, pp. 631-632

WILSON W. BAKER.  An active, ever busy main, full of life and energy, Wilson W. Baker is recognized as one of the foremost business men of Clyde, in addition to owning and managing a general hardware establishment being an extensive dealer in farm produce.  A son of Anson W. Baker, he was born January 12, 1860, in Highland township, Oakland county, of honored pioneer ancestry.

Royal Baker, his paternal grandfather, came from Yates county, New York, to Oakland county, Michigan, in 1836, in territorial days.  Settling in Highland township, he took up a tract of wild land in section eighteen, cleared and improved a farm, and lived to see the country roundabout well settled.   He was quite successful in life, acquiring title to large tracts of land ere his death, which occurred on his homestead.  His son, William Baker, of Grand Rapids, is the only one of his family now living.

Born at Penn Yan, New York, in 1824, Anson W. Baker was twelve years old when he came with his parents to Oakland county, and on the home farm, which was located three miles west of Clyde, grew to manhood.  In his boyhood days schoolhouses, churches and costly residences were here unknown; and neither railways nor telegraph or telephone lines spanned these broad acres, few, if any, evidences of modern civilization [Begin Page 631] then existing.  One of four brothers to inherit the parental homestead, he received as his share one hundred and twenty acres of timbered land, which he converted into a productive farm.  Selling that, he subsequently bought out one of his brothers, becoming owner of that part of the old farm on which the house stood.  He built a new house, added to the improvements previously begun, and there engaged in tilling the soil for many years.  When ready to retire from active pursuits he removed to Clyde, where his death occurred at the age of seventy-six years.  He married Julia A. Cowles, who is still living in Clyde, being now seventy-six years old.  She has two sons, namely: Wilson W., with whom this sketch is chiefly concerned; and Winford L., of Los Angeles, California.  The latter has been a railroad man all of his life, having formerly been associated with the Pere Marquette road, with office either in Detroit or Saginaw, and now being chief clerk for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company.

Reared to agricultural pursuits, Wilson W. Baker began life for himself as a tiller of the soil, buying a part of the old Baker homestead, which he managed successfully until I893, when he embarked in the grain business at Clyde, buying out Willoughby & Wallace.  Building a new elevator, Mr. Baker built up a substantial trade as a dealer in grain and farm produce, continuing until 1901, when he disposed of his elevator.  He has since confined his operations to the trading in farm produce, some seasons shipping as many as ninety car loads of potatoes, in 1911, however, handling but sixty cars of potatoes.  During his entire residence in Clyde, Mr. Baker has also been engaged in mercantile pursuits of a different nature, handling hardware of all kinds, agricultural implements, wire fencing and farmers' supplies of every description, his trade along this line being large and lucrative.  For two years he likewise kept a general store in Clyde, his business operations having been varied.  Although his business interests occupy the greater part of his time Mr. Baker occasionally visits his cottage at White Lake, where he takes much pleasure in fishing, and for the past thirteen years he has visited Northern Michigan each fall on a hunting expedition, and has in his house many trophies which tell of the good success he had on his trips.

True to the political faith of his ancestors, Mr. Baker is a Republican.  Fraternally he is a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Order of Masons, in which he has taken the Knights Templar degrees; of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has passed all the chairs, and has also served as a delegate to the Grand Lodge; and of the Woodmen of the World.

Mr. Baker has been twice married.  He married first, October 24, 1882, Bertha Clark of Livingston county.  She died in 1900, leaving three children, namely: Raymond C., engaged in business at Salem, Oregon; Earl W., a professional ball player, belonging to the Louisville team, American Association; and Celia M., living at home.   Mr. Baker married, second, July 3, 1901, Miss Edith Gordon, who was born in Oakland county, a daughter of Robert Gordon, formerly of Rose township, but now residing at Holly, and they have one child, Anson R. Baker.


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