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Joseph Baker -- Revolutionary War Soldier

My 4th (or 5th?) great-grandfather was mentioned in family papers. Some details of his life and service were available, but his pension helped to confirm the stories. Ironically, the pension also pointed to the fact that my family's recollections seemed to have missed a generation. Joseph Baker was born about 1754. He fought in the Revolutionary War between Apr 1775 and 6 Jan 1777. He enlisted at Montague, Massachusetts, under Captain Samuel Bartlett and Col. Johnathan Ward. He was captured in 1776 and imprisoned at Fort Lee and on the prison ship "Jersey" at New York until he was paroled. He married on 4 Nov 1777 in Ashfield, Hampshire (now Franklin), Massachusetts, to Elizabeth Sadler the daughter of John Sadler and Abigail Scott. Four children were born there: Amasa in 1778, Roswell in 1781, Mercy in 1783, and Chester in 1787. Between 1790 and 1800, the family moved to New York. Two additional children were reported: Besty in 1800 and Horace in 1802. Horace, I discovered later, might not be a child of Joseph and Elizabeth, but instead a grandson. Joseph filed for and was granted a pension based upon his Revolutionary War service. Joseph died 5 Sep 1826 in Phelps, Ontario, New York. Elizabeth then filed for a widow's pension and died 28 Feb 1850 in Clymer, Chautauqua, New York. The documents that follow trace Joseph Baker and detail the information he left about his children in the Pension file. Additional documentation has also been added.


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Handwritten Family History

Baker Gen1.jpg

This is a document found in family papers which details what my family knew about Joseph Baker. The document does continue for four pages, but includes information about living individuals and is, therefore, not posted in its entirety here. My family's records are quite certain that Horace Baker was Joseph Baker's son.



Notes on the Baker Family 

Joseph Baker, our great great grandfather was born 1754. He married Elizabeth Sadler Nov. 4, 1777 at Ashfield, Mass. He died Sept. 5th, 1826 at Phelps, NY.


Elizabeth Sadler was born July 4th, 1760 and died Feb, 29, 1858 at Clymer NY. Their children were: Roswell, Elizabeth born in 1800, Horace our great grandfather born Nov. 27, 1802, died Feb. 10, 1892.


Joseph Baker served in the American Revolution from April 1775 to Jan. 6, 1777. He enlisted at Montague, Mass. under Captain Samuel Barllett and Col. Jonathan Ward. He was captured in 1776 at Tappan, NY, was imprisoned at Fort Lee and on the prison ship Jersey at New York until Jan. 6, 1777 when he was paroled. He applied for a pension April 27, 1818. The claim was allowed. At that time he was living in Phelps, NY in Ontario County. These items were gathered from old letters written 1808-1817.


Horace Baker, out great grandfather had tuberculosis when a young man, He was taken into the family of a minister; recovered from his illness and was sent to Hobart College at Geneva, NY.



In addition to proving parentage, I can find no evidence that Horace had TB and lived with a minister. Also, I contacted Hobart College and requested that they check enrollment records for Horace. They did not locate records to indicate that he attended school there.

Proving descent from a Revolutionary War Soldier

HB Gean1.jpg
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This is how a family member wished to prove his lineage.

Documentation from Joseph's pension file will throw a wrench into this lineage because Horace Baker, Sr, may not be the son of Joseph.

Pension File Cover

Page 1

Continental Line, Massachusetts

Joseph Baker and Elizabeth


Joseph Baker's affidavit of service

Ontario County, New York

Page 4
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Joseph Baker of the Town of Phelps appeared before Philetus Swift, Judge, and detailed his military service.

"enlisted in Cambridge in the state of Massachusetts in the company commanded by Capt Samuel Bartlet, Col. Jonathan Ward, Regt, for the term of eight months and before the expiration of the said eight months he enlisted for one year in a company commanded by the aforesaid Capt Bartlet and Col Ward, Regt, at Dolchester in the aforesaid state of Massachusetts and continued in the service of the United States from the month of April in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven in which time he was taken prisoner at Tappan with seven others four days after Fort Washington was taken carried prisoner to Fort Lee then in possession of the enemy from thence was carried prisoner to New York where he continued untill the sixth day of January aforesaid at which time he was paroled as he believes and returned to his native place of abode Montigue state Massachusetts"

Declaration of Income

Ontario County, New York

Page 7

Joseph appeared before Wm Rogers, Judge, and detailed again his service record, stating he applied for his pension on 27 Apr 1818 and was issued a Pension Certificate numbered 9710.

He claims property in the amount of $3.18.

Additionally, he states that he is a farmer, has rheumatism, and cannot support himself. His family consists of a wife age 60 and weakly; a daughter Elizabeth age 20, weakly and under the doctor's care; and a son Horace age 17 and in a decline.

[I note that Joseph is quite consistent by claiming Horace as a son instead of a grandson.]

Horace Baker's affidavit regarding Elizabeth's widowhood

Ontario County, New York

Page 9

Horace Baker of Aurelius, Cayuga, New York, appeared before Richard Hogarth to declare that he is the grandson of Elizabeth Baker and that she is the widow of Joseph Baker, pensioner. Joseph Baker died on the 5th or 6th of September 1826 and that Elizabeth has not remarried since. Also that Joseph Baker spoke of his service during the war and that he was married to Elizabeth while in service.

[There is a Horace Baker, Jr, whom my records record as a grandson of Joseph, but he would have been 6 years old at the time of this affidavit. Therefore, this is firm proof that there was an extra generation that my family was not aware of when attempting to prove descent from Joseph. Also, the statement that Joseph was married while he was in the war was incorrect.] 

Bethel Benton's affidavit regarding Elizabeth's widowhood

Ontario County, New York

Page 8

Bethel Benton, Elizabeth's brother-in-law, appared before Richard Hogarth to declare that he knew Joseph and Elizabeth from the time of their marriage and that they lived together as husband and wife until Joseph's death. He also spoke of Joseph's war service and his status as a pensioner.

Roswell Baker's affidavit regarding Elizabeth's widowhood

Orleans County, New York

Page 10
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Roswell Baker of Ridgeway, Orleans, New York, appeared before Reuel C. Baker, Commisioner of Deeds, to swear that his father Joseph was a pensioner and that his mother, Elizabeth, remained a widow after her husband's death. He states that she is currently residing in the village of Auburn, in the town of Aurelius, Cayuga County, New York.

[She was living with her son/grandson Horace. Reuel is Roswell's son and is therefore a grandson to Joseph and Elizabeth Baker.]

Josiah Buck's affidavit regarding Elizabeth's widowhood

Cayuga County, New York

Page 12
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Josiah Buck of Aurelius appeared before John P Hulbert, Judge, to swear that he has known Elizabeth Baker for 14 years and that she is a widow.

[Horace Baker, Sr, had married Josiah's daughter Lucretia in 1823, making the Bakers and the Bucks in-laws.] 

Asa Sanderson locates marriage record

Franklin County, Massachusetts

Page 17
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Asa Sanderson of Ashfield, Franklin, Massacusetts, clerk of the Congregational Church of Ashfield appeared before Elijah Paine, Justice of the Peace. Sanderson reports that the marriage records of that church report that Nehemiah Porter performed the following marriage:

"1777 Nov 4th, Joseph Baker and Elizabeth Sadler both of Ashfield."

Emory F. Warren attests to proof of Elizabeth's death

Chautauqua County, New York

Page 22

Emory F. Warren, surrogate, states that proof of Elizabeth Baker's death has been exhibited. She died 29 Feb 1850, leaving Roswell Baker and Betsy Russell her only surviving children. Horace Baker of Clymer is named the administrator of her estate.

[After Joseph's death, Horace is never again called a "son." Interestingly enough though, there was one other son who was living at the time of her death -- Amasa. He lived in Wayne County, New York, and died 24 days after this affidavit was signed and four years after Elizabeth's death. I wonder why she "forgot" him.]

Vitals summarized

Page 23

This paper summarizes Joseph's service and information about dates and family members.

[Note that the soldier claimed Horace as a son.]

Elizabeth entered on Pension Roll

Albany, New York

Page 25
Elizabeth's Certificate of Pension was issued on 29 Feb 1840. She was then inscribed on the Roll of Albany at the rate of $40 per year commencing 4 Mar 1836. She was due a payment in arrears plus her semi-annual allowance for 1840 totalling $160.00.

Elizabeth entered on Pension Roll

Albany, New York

Page 26
A new pension act was enacted and Elizabeth received a new Certificate of Pension. She was now living in Westfield, NY. Rate is still $40 a year.

Joseph Baker Certificate of Pension

Ontario County, New York

Page 30
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Joseph is inscribed on the pension list at the rate of $8 per month to commence on 27 Apr 1818. He would have been due a payment in arrears. His first semi-annual payment was to be made on 4 Sep 1819 in New York City at the Branch Bank of the United States.

[How he was to get to NYC, I don't know!]

Joseph entered on Pension Roll

New York

Page 2
Joseph was inscribed on the Roll of New York. Arrears and current payment due: $130.10

Bethel Benton's affidavit regarding Joseph's service record

Ontario County, New York

Page 33

Bethel Benton appeared before Philetus Swift, Judge, to swear that while in the Revolutionary War himself, he knew Joseph Baker was in the service. He also knew that he reenlisted and was taked prisoner and then paroled.

[Bethel married Esther Sadler, Elizabeth Sadler's sister.]

Daniel Belding's affidavit regarding Joseph's service

Genesee County, New York

Page 34
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Daniel Belding of LeRoy, Genesee, New York, appeared before H. J. Redfield, Justice of the Peace. Belding states that he lived in the same town and neighboorhood with Joseph Baker at the time Joseph was in the service. He says that he did not see Joseph while in the service, but his reputation around town, the discussions overheard around town, and the time that Joseph was away from town lead Belding to state that Joseph honestly served his time.

Elizabeth Baker's affidavit to obtain benefits under the 1843 Act

Chautauqua County, New York

Page 38
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Elizabeth Baker of Clymer, Chautauqua, New York, appeared before George Ross, Justice of the Peace, to state that she is the widow of Joseph, a soldier of the Revolutionary War, that she is 84 years old, that she has remained a widow, and that she had previously recieved a pension.

Elizabeth's affidavit to obtain benefits under the 1838 Act

Cayuga County, New York

Page 53
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Elizabeth Baker appared before, John P Hulbert, Judge, to swear that she is the widow of Joseph Baker, who was a pensioner before his death. She states she was married to him on 4 Nov 1777 and that he died on 5 Sep 1826. She was not married to him while he was in the service, but the marriage still falls under the requirements of the act because it occured before 1895. She has also remained a widow.

[This seems to be a correction of her previous statement that she was married to Joseph while he was in the service.]

Reuel C. Baker's letter urging early examination of Elizabeth's claim

Medina, Orleans, New York

Page 57

Reuel C. Baker's letter to the pension bureau detailing what has been sent and requesting a response regarding the status of the claim.

[Reuel was Elizabeth's grandson.]

Henry P. Ranney details search for marriage record

Ashfield, Franklin, Massachussetts

Page 58
Apparently Reuel C. Baker applied to the Town Clerk of Ashfield for his grandmother's marriage record. The clerk reports that there was no record in the town records, but he did have the church records searched. There was difficulty in determining how to present what he found in the form of a certificate. He had an attorney create a legal document which would answer the purpose. Mr. Baker had sent some funds, and Ranney now requests an additional dollar to cover expenses.

Horace Baker's Power of Attorney

Chautauqua County, New York

Page 60

Horace Baker gave power of attorney to Thomas Ewing, Jr, of Washington City, for the purposes of applying to increase pension as an heir of Mr. & Mrs. Baker.

[The signature appears to be real -- but why would Horace apply for a pension increase more than a year after his mother's death? Was this power of attorney where the fraud began?]

Fraud Discovered -- Identity Theft in 1854

Albany, New York

Page 61
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The pension agent in Albany refused to make a payment when he discovered that Elizabeth Baker was no longer listed on his pension rolls and the person who appeared to recieve the payment had no Certificate of Pension. He notified his boss who then appealed to the Commisioner of Pensions to discover the situation. The commisioner replied that authentic paperwork indicated that Elizabeth died in 1850. Also that since that time, payments had been made and paperwork was generated by Geo. W. Bradford, a purported attorney. The agents were advised to hold onto any paperwork so that the guilty parties might be arrested.

Letter from a descendant

Fairbury, Nebraska

Page 67
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A descendant, Mrs. A. M. Hungerford, who wishes to establish DAR eligibility, writes requesting information. She states that she was told that Horace was a grandson. She asserts that a son of Joseph and Elizabeth died young, leaving Horace for them to raise as their own. However, she names Elizabeth as "Marie."

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