A Sister’s Sacrifice

The title of this post comes from an article in the Christmas Eve 1889 edition of the Bay City (MI) Times. I’ll be writing about Emma Baker, the sister of Jacob Baker (my husband’s great-great grandfather). Emma was born to George and Elisabeth (Kline) Becker on January 13, 1869 in Ohio. She was the 7th of 9 children. In the 1870 and 1880 censuses, the family was living in Richfield Township in Lucas County, Ohio. Emma’s older brother Conrad (1860-1933) married Mary Hager in Bay City, Michigan in October 1884 and remained in that area. Jacob joined Conrad in Bay City sometime between 1884 and 1889.

Emma Baker
photographed by G. F. Sterling of West Bay City, MI between October and December 1889

Jacob became ill with “typhoid-malarial fever” and Emma came up from Ohio around the beginning of October 1889 to care for him – I assume since he was single and didn’t have anyone else to tend to him. According to the Bay City Times article, “For nine weeks [Emma] attended carefully to his wants, remaining at his bedside day and night, and sacrificing her health and rest for his good.” Around December 13, 1889, Emma too got sick. While she was ill, their brother Conrad also came down with the sickness and was moved to a different house (I assume since he had a pregnant wife and young son at home). Emma died on December 23, 1889 at about 10:30 AM.

Bay City Times, 12-24-1889, page 5

Emma was buried in plot 1264 in Bay City’s Pine Ridge Cemetery on December 24, 1889 at 2 PM. Jacob and Conrad recovered from their illnesses. Jacob was back in Ohio by 1900 where he married Bertha Knisel. He and his wife named their first child Emma Maud Baker, a touching tribute to his sister who nursed him, or as the article said, “…[laid] down her own life that her brother may live.”


Dating Photographs through their Photographers

Recently, my mother-in-law gave me a 19th-century album full of family portraits. She knew the portraits were of relatives from her father’s side of the family, but none of them were identified. Luckily, I recognized one of the photos from Ancestry.com. It was of my husband’s 3rd great-grandmother Elisabeth (Kline) Becker/Baker and her sisters Catherine (Kline) Hartman and Dorothea (Kline) Eberhart.

Original portrait from the album
Image from Ancestry.com user with their caption

Most of the portraits were from photographers in Owosso and Bay City, Michigan, Toledo, Ohio, and Danville, Illinois. In examining the Kline family, who came to the U.S. in around 1854, Elisabeth and Dorothea’s families lived in Danville, Illinois in 1860, and while Dorothea stayed in Illinois, Elisabeth’s families re-located back to northwest Ohio, where Catherine’s family had stayed. Meanwhile, other Kline siblings Frederick, Wilhelmina, Conrad, and John Nicholas moved to Bennington, Shiawassee County, Michigan.

While I had a general idea of the possible identities of the portraits, I thought finding out when the photographers were in business would help me date the images and (maybe) further narrow down the identities.

Michigan Photographers

The Clements Library at University of Michigan hosts the online edition of the Directory of Early Michigan Photographers by David V. Tinder. This resource was incredible helpful – arranged by city (including different address changes) and also by photographer. Here are the photographers contained in my mother-in-law’s collection:

Beebe & HorsemanOwossoca1893
Moore Bros.Owosso1884-1891
W. E. MarshallBig Rapids1886-1913
G. F. SterlingWest Bay City1886-1895
Harman & VernerBay City (914 N. Water St.)1884-1889
Miller / Miller’sBay City (710 Washington Ave.)1884-1887
DragoBay City1886-1897
C. B. ColburnBay City1869-1891

Illinois Photographers

I wasn’t able to find a source for Illinois photographers as good as Michigan’s, but I did find a website that mentioned “Early Danville Photographers.”

Phillips & BergstresserDanville1886-1888
W. BoyceDanville1884-1888

Ohio Photographers

In Google Books, I was able to search the 1998 version of Ohio Photographers, 1839-1900 by Diane VanSkiver Gagel.

BallToledo (205 Summit St.)1890
ChesebroToledo (61 Summit St.)1883-1888
ChesebroToledo (417 Summit St.)1890-1893
Arthur & PhilbricToledo (159 Summit St.)1888
Geo. FieldsToledo (57 Summit St.)1878-1886
Geo. FieldsToledo (113 Summit St.)1889
A. C. SwainToledo (205 Summit St.)c1891-1900


I do have one photograph by Hutchinson of 110 Jackson St., Elkhart, Indiana but I haven’t been able to find any information on this one.

Prompts · Spouse

Lifespans of Husband’s 3rd Great-Grandparents

My husband’s 32 great-great-grandparents are, by ahnentafel number:

32. Elias Hansson Eklund (1841-1891), 50 years
33. Lizzie Olafsdotter (1841-1930), 89 years
34. Johan Stenbacka (?-?), ?? years
35. Suava Mattson (?-?), ?? years
36. Tuomas Henriksson Skinnari (1821-1896), 75 years
37. Sanna Liisa Hietanen (1838-1912), 74 years
38. Matti Halvas (?-?), ?? years
39. Wilhelmina Sarvela (?-?), ?? years
40. Joseph Richard Mann (1850-1929), 79 years
41. Missouri Frances Martin (1847-1925), 78 years
42. Asa Bradley (1857-1932), 75 years
43. Nora Jane Pate (1859-1937), 78 years
44. Blake Byrd (1853-1932), 79 years
45. Caroline Clark (1855-1937), 82 years
46. Cornelius Brewer (1850-1918), 68 years
47. Martha Fields (1853-1903), 50 years
48. Johann George Becker (1826-1886), 60 years
49. Elisabeth Kline (1832-1905), 73 years
50. John Knisel (1834-1914), 80 years
51. Dorothea Straber (1838-1890), 52 years
52. Frank Dunham (1862-1935), 73 years
53. Elizabeth Bowersox (1864-1945), 81 years
54. Bernhard Flick (1859-1933), 74 years
55. Paulina Garbe (1861-1941), 80 years
56. Warren Salisbury (1820-1894), 74 years
57. Fidelia Pinkerton (1840-1892), 52 years
58. Nelson Grodi (1839-1924), 85 years
59. Margaret Bushroe (1850-1916), 66 years
60. ? (?-?), ?? years
61. Martha Amstutz (1865-1922), 57 years
62. Gottlieb Krauter (1853-1933), 80 years
63. Anna Mary Ertel (1860-1927), 67 years

The average birth year for third-greats is 1846, with a range from 1820 to 1865. (Calculated with 27 of 32 birth years).

The average death year for third-greats is 1918, with a range from 1886 to 1945. (Calculated with 27 of 32 death years).

The average lifespan is about 72 years, with a range of 50 to 89 years. Males average lifespan is 73 years, and females average lifespan is 70 years.

52 Ancestors · Prompts · Spouse

#17 – Jacob Baker

My husband’s great-great grandfather was Jacob Baker (family name originally Becker). Jacob Baker was born May 30, 1865 in Ohio.  His parents Johann George Becker and Elisabeth Kline were born in Germany. They married in Germany in 1853 and their first child, Wilhelmina, was born in Illinois or Ohio in 1854. Eight more children followed after Wilhelmina, including Jacob.

In the 1870 U.S. census, the family (listed as Baker) was living in Richfield, Lucas County, Ohio.  George was 43 and a farmer.  His real estate was valued at $2500 and his personal estate at $500. Elisabeth was 38 and kept house. Their birthplace is listed as Prussia.  Wilhelmina (Mena) was 15 and listed as being born in Ohio.  As was Elizabeth, aged 14.  The next two children Mary (11) and Conrad (9) were listed as being born in Illinois.  The rest of the children, Katherine (7), Jacob (5), and Emma (1) were listed as being born in Ohio.

In the 1880 census, the family was still living in Richfield Township. Their last name was listed as Baker.  The children at home were Conrad (19), Catherine (17), Jacob (15), Emma (11), George (8) and Margrett (5).

Jacob married Bertha Knisel on June 28, 1900 in Lucas County, Ohio when he was 35 and she was 25. They were both living in Toledo at the time.  Jacob was a carpenter and Bertha was a domestic. Click the image below to enlarge their marriage registration.


Jacob and Bertha had a daughter, Emma Maud, on April 6, 1901 in Toledo, Ohio. Their son, Milton Jacob, was born November 14, 1904, also in Toledo.  In the 1910 census, the family was living at 1504 Norwood Avenue in Toledo.  Jacob was a carpenter in building construction. It says he was out of work 9 weeks during 1909. Emma was 9 and Milton was 5 and both attended school.

In 1920, the family was living at 1450 Prospect Avenue.  Sometime between 1910 and 1920, Jacob became the proprietor of his own grocery store.  In the census, Bertha was listed as his partner in the grocery.  Emma, aged 18, was a stenographer at a real estate office, while Milton (15) was still in school.

Click image to see it larger.

In the 1923 Toledo City Directory, the family was still living at 1450 Prospect Avenue. Milton was a driver and Emma was a stenographer at Palmer-Blair Company.  Jacob’s wife Bertha died on July 22, 1923 of breast cancer. She was buried in Toledo Memorial Park. In about 1925, their daughter Emma married Donald G. Miehls.  Donald was a Catholic and Jacob disowned Emma because of her marriage.

On October 29, 1924, Jacob married Amanda Tursan, the widow of Peter Dethlefsen.  He was 58 and she was 51.


Jacob died December 6, 1929 of stomach cancer and involutional melancholia (depression). When he died, Jacob left everything to his son Milton and nothing to Emma. Milton gave Emma and her husband the grocery story, while he kept the house. Amanda, Jacob’s widow, died in 1948 and was buried with her husband Peter.

Toledo Memorial Park in Sylvania, Ohio

Image citations:

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZLR-Q2Q : accessed 15 January 2016), Jacob Baker and Bertha Knisel, 28 Jun 1900; citing Lucas, Ohio, United States, reference 597; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 909,007.

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDGX-GD9 : accessed 15 January 2016), Bertha Baker in household of Jacob Baker, Toledo Ward 8, Lucas, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 22A, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,821,409.

“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2Q35-PRQ : accessed 19 January 2016), Jacob Baker and Amanda Turson Dethlefsen, 29 Oct 1924; citing Lucas, Ohio, United States, reference ; county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 2,167,511.

52 Ancestors #17 – Prosper