The original diary of Jonathan Hamilton Baker (July
13, 1832 - October 18, 1918) is thought by many to be the greatest
treasure in the Tarrant County Archives. For more than 60 years, Baker
kept a detailed diary, which now provides a thorough account of life
in frontier Northwest Texas. This personal journal covers from the day
Jonathan Hamilton Baker set off from Virginia for Texas on March 1,
1858, to 1918. The image above is a single page from the diary dated
May 1, 1858. The Archives also maintains a Biographical
on Jonathan Hamilton Baker.
A Virginia native, Jonathan Hamilton "Ham" Baker came to
Texas in 1858 with his brother G. W. Baker and his Uncle Eli Young.
Stricken by malaria while a teacher in Fort Worth, he later moved to
Palo Pinto County where his Uncle Frank Baker was homesteading. Here
he opened a school in Palo Pinto, and soon after helped establish the
town's first Methodist Church. In 1859 Baker was chosen to lead a
company of local men organized to defend the area against Indian
attacks. He first served under Captain J. R. Baylor and later
participated with Captain Lawrence Sullivan Ross in the recovery of
Cynthia Ann Parker, a settler seized by a group of Comanche in 1836.
During the Civil War he served as leader of the home guard. Baker was
also an open-range cattleman, and, in 1869, he began driving his herds
to Kansas railheads. Active in local government, he served as Deputy
Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, Deputy Postmaster and Clerk of the
County and District. In 1890, he moved to Granbury, where he became a
successful nurseryman. He and his wife, Nancy A., are buried in
Granbury Cemetery, Hood County, Texas. An historical marker which
mentions this diary is dedicated to Baker on the Courthouse Square of
Palo Pinto County.
Donated by Charles Edward Fancher, Charles F. Fancher Jr., Jeanne
Fancher and Virginia M. Rigby (Mrs. George W.), 1979
Transcribed by Archives volunteers Roger Waite and Cecelia
The entire 1,600-page transcription of the Diary is currently
available in the Tarrant County Archives. Contact the Tarrant
County Archivist regarding use of this material in any
Credit: Jonathan Hamilton Baker Diary, Tarrant County Archives,
Fort Worth, Texas.
Pictured: Roger Waite transcribing Baker diary in Tarrant
County Archives, 2013.