Biography of Cyrus E. Baker, M.D.
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Cyrus E. Baker, M.D., of Claremont, Sullivan County, N.H., the well-known physician and oculist, was born in Plainfield, this State, April 9, 1835, son of Dimic and Hannah (Colby) Baker. He is of the eighth generation in descent from Jeffrey Baker, who came from England, and was one of the original settlers of Windsor, Conn.
Jeffrey Baker married November 25, 1642, Joan Rockwell. They had five children, one of them being a son, Joseph, born June 18, 1655, who married Hannah Cook Buckland, January 30, 1677. Five children were the fruit of this union. Joseph Baker’s son, Joseph, Jr., born April 13, 1678, was married on July 8, 1702, to Hannah Pomroy, by whom he had Joseph, Jr., second, and Samuel; and by his second wife, Abigail Bissel, he had John, Hannah, Jacob, Abigail, Ebenezer, Daniel, Heman, Titus, and Abigail. Joseph, Jr., second, died January 29, 1754; his wife, Abigail, died February 13, 1768. Their son, Heman, the next in this line, was born April 27, 1719. He married Lois Gilbert, November 24, 1747, and had the following children: Heman, Jr., who was a soldier Anna; Deborah; John; Oliver, who became a doctor of medicine; Abigail; Lois; Delight; and Lydia. Oliver Baker, son of Heman, was born at Tolland, Conn., October 5, 1755, and died October 3, 1811. He married Dorcas Dimic, March 23, 1780. She was born September 23, 1760, and died October 3, 1849. Their children were: Heman; Diantha; Zinia and Lina, who were twins; Oliver, Jr.; Semantha; Dimic; Dorcas; Lodema; Elizabeth; and Mary. Heman died March 16, 1845. Lina died August 27, 1808. Dorcas died July 26, 1825. Semantha died August 1, 1826.
Dimic Baker, son of Oliver Baker, M.D., was born March 18, 1793, in Plainfield, N.H., where he lived until his death, which occurred March 19, 1876. He was a prosperous farmer and wool producer, a shrewd buyer and seller, and one of the strongest and most prominent men of the town. He married June 2, 1822, Hannah Colby, who was born February 7, 1794, and died March 17, 1856. It had been his noble aim to leave his children the legacy of a good education. The children were five in number, as follows: Elias, who died November 11, 1884; Edward D., who was an able lawyer, as shown by a brief memoir on another page; Hannah A.; Helen F.; and Cyrus E., the direct subject of the present sketch.
At the age of eighteen Cyrus E. Baker, although not a college graduate, began teaching school, being called from Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, N.H., while taking his Latin course. He followed this occupation during the winter, and in the spring returned to the academy to complete the course. On reaching his majority, and having received a fair education, he learned of the sale by the United States government of the “Delaware Trust Lands” in the West, which were then open for pre-emption, and started in the spring of 1857 for “bleeding Kansas ,” so called, to become a squatter and purchaser of a portion of said lands, where for months he witnessed all the horrors of the Southern system of human bondage and their enmity to the Union cause, taking his chances among them as a Union man, standing for the personal protection of James Lane and John Brown’s sons, and the cause they espoused, their father having been killed a few months before for his Union principles.
Locating among the wilds of Kansas, some eight miles north of what is now the city of Topeka, he stayed there about six months; and then, having secured his lands, he returned to his home in New Hampshire, with the fullest convictions of the injustice of human slavery and Southern rule. He afterward attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, where he was graduated in 1862, ranking high in his class. He seemed to have inherited an aptitude for his profession, there having been in his family several eminent physicians. While an undergraduate, he was for a time usher to the noted Dr. Alonzo Clark, one of the professors at the college, with whom he was a favorite.
After receiving his degree of Doctor of Medicine, Dr. Baker was for several months house physician in the New York City Hospital, receiving within that time two promotions, and finally becoming “acting house physician” there. He left this fine position to enter the army, enlisting as acting assistant surgeon in the United States Army, and serving with efficiency in the Departments of Virginia and North Carolina, having taken this step from the purest motives of duty and of loyalty to his country, which spirit had been characteristic 1895 this dreaded disease gained an entrance into the town of Claremont. The physicians of the town were baffled; and it was not until Dr. Baker was consulted, and he consented to take charge, that the epidemic was stopped. Many a home is grateful to him for his skilled treatment of this disease. He was equally successful in cases of typhoid fever.
In August, 1862, while marching with McClellan from Harris’s Landing to Fortress Monroe, the Doctor received a severe sunstroke, from the effects of which he has never fully recovered. Though he did not at once leave the army, his health was so seriously impaired that he was finally honorably discharged; and he returned to Claremont, where he took up his practice, and where he has been established ever since the war. He now receives a pension from the government. He is justly proud of his war record; and, undoubtedly, no physician or soldier served his country more faithfully than did Dr. Cyrus E. Baker. In later years, owing to the fact of continued ill health, he has made a specialty of the study of the eye, and has accomplished more in this direction than has any other physician in Claremont. Since the organization of the Grand Army of the Republic at Claremont he has been surgeon of the fraternity. He was for some time a member of the Sullivan Commandery of Masons; but, owing to the illness and deafness which were the result of the sunstroke received in the army, he was obliged to resign from both societies. He is a member of the Congregational church, and in politics he is a Republican.
Dr. Baker has twice married. By his first wife, Martha Jane Preston, of Weathersfield, Vt., he had one daughter, Alice, who died at the age of fourteen years. The Doctor and his second wife, Elizabeth Ann Erskine, daughter of Hiram Erskine, of Claremont, have had four children, namely: Georgietta, who was graduated at the Stevens High School, and died at the age of twenty years; Edgar H. and Eugene A., twins, who died in infancy; and Walter E., their only living child, who is now attending the Stevens High School.