Contra Costa County












††††††††††† The various interests contributory to the growth and development of Antioch for years have received the substantial support of Josiah R. Baker, who in the capacities of president of the board of trustees and acting mayor, also the incumbent of the postmasterís office for a long period, and an experienced business man, has been a factor of no small importance in the history of this thriving town of Contra Costa county. The active part of his life has been passed in Antioch, whither he came with other members of the family at the age of seventeen years. It is probable that no resident of the community is better known than he, and certainly none has accomplished more in behalf of local interest, for he has labored unweariedly (sic) to promote enterprises for the good of the people and has united his efforts with those of other pubic spirited men in furtherance of worthy projects.

††††††††††† The family represented by Mr. Baker is of English lineage. His father, Henry W. Baker, was a native of London, England, and there grew to manhood and received his education. After his marriage to Eliza Elliott, who was likewise of English birth and descent, he brought his wife to America in 1850 and at first lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he engaged in the mercantile business. Upon the discovery of gold in Montana he left his family there and went to one of the camps and secured an excellent livelihood by running a freight train between Ogden and Helena. During 1870 he came to California and settled in Contra Costa county accepting a position as superintendent of the New York ranch under Mr. Robinson. When failing health, do to the infirmities of advancing years, rendered a continuance at hard work inadvisable, he retired to Antioch, where he purchased a small place and lived in retirement. Here his death occurred in 1899, when he was sixty-six years of age. His wife survived him until 1904, dying at seventy-four years of age. They became the parents of eight children, namely: Henry W., Jr., Josiah R., Edwin D., John D., Alvin W., Chauncey, who died in boyhood.

††††††††††† During the residence of the family in Salt Lake City Josiah R. Baker was born April 20, 1853. Educationally he received fair advantages in the Ogden schools. For one year prior to coming to California he was agent for the Utah Central Railroad at Farmington, and in the meantime he had also learned telegraphy. After coming to Antioch he acted as operator of the Western Union Telegraph Company, Antioch at that time being the end of the route. In addition he served as agent for the Wells-Fargo Express Company. During the administration of President Hayes the office of postmaster was tendered him in recognition of his faithful service in the interests of the Republican party. The appointment was renewed under President Garfield, and, indeed, under all succeeding presidents up to the date of this writing (1904) with the single exception of the Cleveland administration. His long record in this office is probably unsurpassed by any postmaster in the entire state, especially for a town the size of Antioch. Popularity as a citizen and faithful service as a Republican are indicated by the long tenure of office.

††††††††††† The accurate and careful discharge of the duties of postmaster does not represent the limit of Mr. Bakerís activities. In young manhood he became interested in a drug business in Antioch. After having conducted the store for eighteen years he sold the stock of drugs to M. W. Dunigan. About the same time he acquired an interest in a hardware business with C. M. Brown, who later was succeeded by J. C. Rouse, now of Oakland, but a silent partner in the store. For several terms Mr. Baker has been a member of the board of trustees and president of the body, a position entailing upon him the duties of mayor. The comfortable residence which he erected in Antioch is presided over by his wife and brightened by the presence of their two daughters, Ina and Jean. Mrs. Baker was formerly Alice Wills, and was born in Illinois, being a daughter of the late Dr. T. N. Wills. In fraternal relations Mr. Baker is influential in the local work of the Masons, being past master of the Blue Lodge, a member of the Royal Arch Chapter, and past patron of the Eastern Star. As past grand he is officially connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Antioch, and he is also a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, in which he holds the office of past master.††




Transcribed By: Cecelia M. Setty.

≠≠≠≠Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 526-527. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2015 Cecelia M. Setty.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library