Pioneer Woman Who Walked Across Plains
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La Grande Star: Mrs. John Baker, wife of John Baker, of this city, an old and highly respected pioneer of Oregon and Union county passed away at an early hour yesterday morning at the home of her son-in-law, Frank P. Childers, after a lingering illness of many weeks duration. Apoplexy and old age were responsible. Mrs. Baker commenced to sink rapidly about midnight and passed away at an early hour in the morning.
Mrs. Baker leaves behind to mourn her departure, her husband, John Baker, the grand jury bailiff, a son Charles Baker , and Mrs. W.S. Wines. Mrs. Baker’s demise was not unexpected as she was quite aged and has been ill for some time. The funeral will be held from the Childers home on Washington Avenue at 2 o’clock this afternoon. Dr. J. D. Gillian officiating.
There is in the death of Mrs. Baker a story of perseverance and fortitude that only were made possible in the pioneer days of long ago.
In 1862 Mrs. Baker crossed the plains, not in a Pullman coach, but at the rear of an old fashioned prairie schooner. Leaving her home in Sandusky, Iowa, in that year, she actually walked from that place every step of the way across the plains and mountains to the Grande Ronde valley, carrying with her at the time her young babe, who is now Mrs. Childers, and only placing it in the schooner to ride from time to time. All this distance she made on foot with the exception of about 20 miles. But few pioneers of today can claim credit for a feat like the one accomplished by Mrs. Baker and it is only through her bravery, pluck and determination was such an achievement possible.
Enterprise Record Chieftain
Thurs. Sept. 14, 1911
Transcribed by Charlotte Carper
White Sacajawea, Mrs. Baker, Dies After Long Illness
Sacajawea’s world-famed feat of guiding Lewis and Clarke, the intrepid explorers to the Pacific northwest carrying a papoose on her back the while, was emulated and in some respects outdistanced in 1862 by a white woman who died in La Grande today.
Mrs. John Baker, highly esteemed pioneer of Oregon and Union county, who passed away at an early hour this morning at the home of her son-in-law, Frank P. Childers, after a lingering illness of may weeks. Apoplexy and old age were responsible. She sank rapidly about midnight and by an early hour in the day was dead, leaving a sorrowing husband, John Baker, the grand jury bailiff, a son, Charles Baker, a local tailor, and two daughters, Mrs. Frank Childers and Mrs. W. S. Wines. Her condition has long been such as would not give hope of final recovery. The funeral will be held from the Childers home on Washington avenue at 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.
Walked Across the Plains
Many hardy pioneers boast, and rightfully, that they crossed the plains in a prairie schooner, but the late Mrs. Baker actually walked from Sandusky, Iowa to La Grande, landing here in 1862. Not only did she walk with the men of the party, but she carried a baby in her arms most of the way, allowing the little babe – which has since grown up to be Mrs. Childers of this city, to ride at times and when the baby grew restless it was the sturdy mother with her face toward the setting sun that caressed and soothed the little one as she pressed on. It is said positively that Mrs. Baker rode less than 20 miles of the entire distance across the plains.
La Grande Evening Observer
Tuesday September 5, 1911
Contributed by: Tom Childers