Sketch and Portrait of an Esteemed Lady and Long-Time Resident of Danby, Now in Her Eighty-Sixth Year.
The ladies have heretofore had an unequal representation in our portrait feature—the picture of but one of them, Miss Lucy Read, having appeared. However, we hope to give them better representation in the future, and in this issue are pleased to print the portrait of a former long-time resident of this village—Mrs. Sophronia Baker.
Sophronia Bartlett Baker was born in Danby, January 10, 1818. Her father, Joseph Bartlett, a carpenter, came from Rhode Island in 1795, at the age of three. His first wife was. Phoebe Colvin, daughter of Stephen, and sister of Benjamin, Anthony and Stephen, and died when Sophronia was five years old. Their children were Ira, who married Huldah Colvin and lived in Granville, N. Y., Henry and Mary Ann, who both moved to Ohio in 1838, and Sophronia. Joseph afterwards married Eliza, widow of his brother, Daniel, and their children were Daniel P., who married Marion Oliva Emerson and lived in Chagrin Falls, Ohio; George, who lived in Ohio and was killed at Pittsburg Landing; Phebe, who married Frank Carpenter and lived in Poultney, and Chloe, who lived in Ohio. His third wife was Mary Potter. Henry’s second wife was Lovina Nichols Hilliard, widow of Alphonso Hilliard, who still lives in Chardon, Ohio.
From her twelfth to her fifteenth year she lived at Seeley Vail’s, and the next two years she worked for Azel Kelley, whom she recalls with much kindness. He then lived on the Albert Bucklin farm. Then she lived some time at Anson’s, and also at Joseph Button’s, and worked while attending school, a part of the time at the red school house near the Howell Dillingham place, and a part at the brick school house near the Ira Vail farm. Among her teachers were Edward Eggleston, Joel Rogers, Aaron Rogers, Jr., and Harry Cushman.
After attending a Quaker select school kept by John Bell, near Scottsville, she taught school in the Hiram Kelley district for four months. Her wages were seventy-five cents per week, and she “boarded around.” The only surviving pupil, so far as known, is Elsie Kelley Griffith, wife of Perry Griffith, who lives south of this village.
She then learned the tailor’s trade of Hannah Hill Chase, wife of Benjamin Chase, who lived in the house known as the sixteen-cornered house, but later as the home of Wesley Parris. Four years were spent in the family of Daniel Bartlett, who lived on the farm owned later by Willard Baker and Mr. Cunningham. She kept the entire family in clothing, being able to make clothes for old and young. In the spring of 1843 she went into the family of Peter Baker, who lived on the Zoeth Allen farm, and whose second wife was Judith Bartlett Colvin, and her aunt.
On July 3, 1843, in Mount Holly, she was married to Nathan L. Baker, by Justice John Bryant. He was the youngest son of Peter Baker. The early years of her married life were spent in part on that farm and in part at the house near the grist mill, which was built by Joseph Bartlett in 1848. In 1856 Nathan Baker bought the David Griffith farm and lived on it until 1882, when he moved into the Joseph Bartlett house in the Borough where he stayed_ five years. He then returned to the farm and spent two years, and then bought the Moulton Fish house in “Fishville,” and lived in it until 1893, when he died, aged seventy-four years.
During the last ten years Mrs. Baker , has had a most delightful home with the family of Loren F. Sheldon, whose wife, Adelaide, is her daughter. She has unusual health for a lady of her years and is delighted to meet the friends of her earlier years. Mr. Sheldon lives now in West Pawlet village.
Mrs. Baker was the mother of four children, Henry, Adelaide, Alice and Sumner. The latter died in 1876, aged 19; Alice married Prescott W. Thompson in 1866, and in 1886 moved to North Dakota and has four children. Adelaide married Loren F. Sheldon and lived on the large Wiseman farm in Rupert. They have two children, Myrtle and Alice, both of whom are very active in religious and literary circles. Myrtle married Archie Burdick of the firm of Layden & Burdick, the leading mer-chants in West Pawlet. Henry Baker is a graduate from Middlebury College. After one term as principal of the West Pawlet Academy, he went to River Falls, Wis. For ten years he was teaching in private schools as principal or teacher, or serving as county superintendent, and then he went to St. Paul, Minn., where he is now principal of the Humboldt High School. He has the degrees of A. M. and Ph. D. for postgraduate work in physics, and A. M. for work in geology. He has completed all courses of study in the M. E. church and is a licensed local preacher, often filling pulpits in St. Paul and Minneapolis. His wife was Margaret Barnum Passage of St. Paul. They have one son, Henry Harold. Nathan L. Baker was the son of Peter Baker, who came from Rhode Island in 1804, and settled in the “Little Village.” His ancestors were Quakers. He served as first constable in 1862. He was a first cousin of Judge Austin Baker of Danby.
At the age of sixteen, in 1824, a Baptist church was founded at the brick school house, and Mrs. Baker became a charter member. Rev. Daniel Packer was the organizing pastor. She was active in the choir and Sunday School. Later they used the Read Meeting-house. When that church ceased to exist, she affiliated with the Methodist Church at the Borough, during the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Bennett, as did her husband, who was originally a birthright member of the Quaker Church. After leaving Danby she was transferred to the Methodist Church at Rupert. Those who, with her, were charter members of the Baptist Church were Azel Kelley, John Babbitt Ephraim Chase, Hiram Kelley, Rowland Green, William Johnson, Allen Roberts, Harvey Crowley, Benjamin Chase, William Haskins, Ruth Haskins, Polly Davis, Hannah Chase. Her daughters are both members of the Disciples Church, sometimes called the Campbellite.
Mrs. Baker in her active days was one of a type of women who felt it no hardship to do their own housework, make the cheese and butter and help milk, spin, weave and make the clothing for a family of children, their own and their husband’s. They made Vermont dairy and kitchen products famous wherever known. History knows no higher, purer, saintly womanhood.
The home life of Nathan and Sophronia Baker, who walked hand in hand more than fifty years, whose guiding principles were love and duty, was ideal. Their children, each passing year, recall the tireless devotion which guarded and guided their help-less childhood with more reverent tone and unspeakable tenderness.