Prof. Nathaniel A. Baker. In each line of endeavor, in each of the learned professions, the personality of the man of force of character is revealed. With increasing experience and added years the forceful individual attains a broader grasp upon his subject, and with recurrence of problems and perplexities he is able to handle them in a manner which affords greater satisfaction. Such perfection is not attained in a single day nor in a single year, but the man of parts soon finds his place and forces his way to his cherished goal. In the field of education, Prof. Nathaniel A. Baker has attained merited prominence through ability, scholarship, hard and conscientious work and grasping of opportunities, and from the rank of a humble country school-master has elevated himself to the position of city superintendent of schools of the flourishing and prosperous city of Cherryvale.
Professor Baker was born on a farm in Coffey County, Kansas, January 30, 1869, and is a son of Tim and Addie W. (Woodward) Baker, and a member of a family that emigrated from England to the New England colony before the outbreak of the American Revolution. His grandfather, Alpheus Baker, was born in Vermont, in 1794, fought as a soldier in the War of 1812, and subsequently migrated as a pioneer to Noble County, Indiana, and there passed the remainder of his life in farming, his death occurring in 1888. He was first a whig and later a republican in politics, and while not prominent in public life was considered one of the strong and influential men of his community. He was twice married, his second wife being the grandmother of Professor Baker. The only one of the grandfather’s children now living is one by his second marriage, Mary, who is married and lives in Michigan.
Tim Baker was born in Ohio, in 1833, and was a boy when his parents removed to Noble County, Indiana. He was reared in a new country, on a wilderness farm, and his boyhood was filled with much hard work, but he grew to manhood a strong and self-reliant product of the frontier. When he was twenty-eight years of age, the Civil war came on and he left his family and enlisted, in 1861, in the Thirtieth Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, with which he fought in various engagements until the battle of Shiloh, in which he was wounded in the ankle. After his recovery he was given a furlough, and on his return to the front was made a captain of the Twelfth Indiana Cavalry, with which he served gallantly until the close of the war, in 1865. He also sustained another wound, in a brush with bushwhackers, in Kentucky. With his military service completed, Captain Baker returned to Noble County, Indiana, and resumed the study of law, which had been interrupted by war’s demands. He was soon admitted to the bar, but did not long engage in practice, as in 1868 he answered the call of the West and came to Coffey County, Kansas, settling on a homestead of 160 acres, which he had pre-empted in 1858. There he passed the remainder of his active life, although his last few years were spent at Burlington, where he died in 1906. Captain Baker was a republican and one of the strong and influential men of his locality, serving as representative in Indiana from Noble County, at the time of Governor Morton’s administration. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and wherever known was highly respected and esteemed. He married Addie W. Woodward, who was born in 1837, in New York, and now a resident of Kansas City, Missouri, and they became the parents of the following children: Louman E., formerly a farmer and later a machinist, and now a resident of Larned, Kansas; Jessie W., residing with her mother, widow of W. E. King, who was bookkeeper and auditor for the Metropolitan Street Railway Company, of Kansas City, Missouri; Nathaniel A., of this review; Harold, of Toronto, Kansas, formerly a hardware merchant; Stanley, a locomotive engineer of Champaign, Illinois; and Ernest, a veterinary surgeon of Bucklin, Kansas.
When he began to teach in the district schools of Coffey County, Kansas, at the age of seventeen years, Nathaniel A. Baker was himself possessed of only a district school education, but after two years in the schoolroom as master he went to the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, where he furthered his training by one year’s work. He then returned to Coffey County and taught for two additional terms, spent three years at Welda and seven years at Kincaid, both in Anderson County, Kansas, and finally spent four years as principal of the schools of Cedervale, Chautauqua County, During all this time he had been adding to his own equipment by constant and faithful study, and in 1908 came to Cherryvale to accept the position of principal of the high school. Two years later his abilities were satisfactorily recognized by his appointment to the office of superintendent of city schools, a capacity in which he has acted for six years. In this time he has materially improved the public school system of Cherryvale, so that it now compares favorably with those of cities of its size any where in the country. He has under his supervision thirty-one teachers and 1,100 scholars, and has succeeded in instituting a feeling of co-operation that makes educational work run like a well oiled machine and is capable of great results. Professor Baker is a valued member of the Montgomery County Teachers Association and the Kansas State Teachers Association. He is a republican and a Presbyterian, and is well known in Oddfellowship, being past noble grand of Cherryvale Camp No. 142, and a member of the Encampment at Cedarvale. His interest in the welfare of his adopted city has caused him to take an active part in civic affairs, and at present he is acting in the capacity of president of the Commercial Club, a position in which he has been able to promulgate and carry through some civic enterprises of considerable importance.
In 1893, Professor Baker was married at Westphalia, Anderson County, Kansas, to Miss Frankie Hooton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. M. G. Hooton. The mother of Mrs. Baker is now deceased, but the father still survives and is engaged in the draying business at Westphalia. Professor and Mrs. Baker are the parents of three children: Quin, born October 18, 1894, a graduate of Cherryvale High School, class of 1913, and now a junior in Kansas University; Glen, born May 24, 1896, a graduate of Cherryvale High School, class of 1913, and now a freshman in Kansas State University; and Miss Helen, born February 22, 1902, who is attending the Cherryvale High School. The pleasant family home is located at No. 817 East Main Street.