About nine years ago, I became interested in genealogy. I thought it was exciting to trace the whereabouts of my ancestors. It seemed to make history much more real to me.
I quickly asked my grandparents and great-grandparents many, many questions to glean as much information from them as I could.
When asking my great-grandmother, Edith, about her grandparents, she quickly gave me the names of her mother’s parents and a little information about them. When the subject changed to her father’s parents, that changed.
She could only tell me their names: Lewis & Martha Baker.
Searches through family scrapbooks revealed no photographs either. She said that she never met them, and for some reason thought they were from Texas.
So I set out to learn what I could about Lewis & Martha.
For years I searched through online databases, census records, etc. to no avail.
Until this week!
I finally found a W.L. Baker living in the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory in 1900. The children listed matched up with the aunts and uncles names that were given to my by great-grandma: Fannie, William Frank (her father), Sallie, Charles, and Laurie.
Except their mother, Martha, wasn’t listed.
W.L. (Which I later learned was William Lewis) was listed as married. So where was his wife?
The 1900 Census gave me the month and year that each of them had been born. So with that information, I set out to find him in 1880. He would be the only name to search for since Fannie, the oldest child, had been born in 1883 in Texas.
Also listed in 1900 was how long he had been married. According to that, they would have been wed in 1879 or 1880.
I hoped it was before the enumerator came around during the summer of 1880.
Sure enough, I found W.L. & Martha Baker living in Cooke County, Texas. They had been married within the census year.
With that information, I called the Cooke County Courthouse in Gainesville, Texas.
Bingo! They were married on September 14, 1879.
And with that record, I finally knew Martha’s maiden name: ASHBY.
To make a long story short, she was the daughter of Joshua W. Ashby and his second wife, Matilda. In 1880, they were living in Denton Co., Tx.
My best guess is that Martha died sometime between 1896 (when youngest child Laura was born in Indian Territory) and 1900, when the census was taken.
The area of the Chickasaw Nation they were living in is now in present-day Johnston County, Oklahoma. I’ve searched online databases for Johnston Co. Cemeteries, but I have come up with nothing.
Is Martha buried in Johnston County?
W.L. remarried in 1902 to a lady named Nancy Rebecca Hollis, who had been married twice already. They show up in the 1910 census in Washita County, Okla. with a 6 year-old daughter named Lenora.
It seems Lenora died in 1918, and is buried in the Elm Flats Cemetery east of Rocky, Oklahoma. W.L. died in 1914, and is buried in the same cemetery.
Nancy would live in the Rocky area until her death in 1945.
Apparently many Ashbys came to Rocky as well. Martha’s mother, Matilda, a widow, went to Rocky to farm in 1903 with a couple of her sons. Could this be why W.L. took his family to western Oklahoma? Matilda died there in 1909 and is buried in the Lone Star Cemetery, the same cemetery as the Swarts on my paternal line.
But it does make some sense, since W.L. & Martha’s son, William Frank would later marry Miss Effie Davis, who had grown up east of Rocky. The photo to the left is of Frank & Effie.
At least now I know a little bit more about the mysterious Lewis & Martha.
I’m still searching for her burial spot as well as photographs that might be out there of this family.