Moses and Philena (Whiting) Baker

Prologue: In an earlier blog, Howard Falls vs. Suburban Sprawl, we discussed how the population of Franklin Township grew exponentially in the latter half of the 1800s, peaking at about 1,000 citizens by 1880. Even in the most remote parts of the township, such as where Henry and Levi Howard lived, neighbors began to settle near Howard Falls by the 1850s.

And so it was with Moses and Philena (Whiting) Baker when they began to acquire land and settled here next to the Howard family. Moses and Philena were originally from Marcellus, Onandaga, NY, where the Baker family had settled in the early 1800s from Massachusetts. Married there in the late 1820s, and while they never had children of their own, they took in a boy, Samuel, and a girl, Cordelia, to raise as their own.

Of all those who settled in Franklin Township, none would have a more lasting impact on the Howard family than Moses and Philena Baker.

Our story: The Baker’s adopted daughter, Cordelia, was the only child of Alvin and Lydia (Niles) Craine.  Soon after Cordelia was born, her mother died and her father entrusted his infant daughter to Moses and Philena Baker.  Philena was Alvin Craine’s 2nd cousin on his maternal Whiting side, and without children of her own, she welcomed the opportunity to raise her niece, Cordelia.

The Craine family is prominent in the history of Lake County, OH, being early pioneers of that region.  It is not surprising then that the Baker family moved from New York to Perry, Lake, Ohio before 1840.  It was there that Cordelia met Norman Perry, and they were wed August 19, 1841 in Perry, OH.  A future blog will explore the ancestry of Norman Perry.

Cordelia and Norman Perry

We can only speculate here as to why the Baker family began to acquire land in Franklin Township in the early 1850s while still living in Perry, Lake, OH. Nonetheless, their land holdings were extensive nearby to Howard Falls:

The map below shows the extent of these holdings (totaling 368 acres) adjacent to Levi and Henry Howard’s holdings at Howard Falls.

Using an 1876 deed map, the Baker land holdings are shown in relation to those of Henry and Levi Howard in the 1850s. The Bakers owned the land to the North, East, and South of the Howard holdings.

One of the most interesting acquisitions was the purchase of the 50 acres in Block 50 in August of 1851. The deed, an original 170-year-old document in our archives, states that Moses Baker acquired the purchase rights to the property from Elijah Smith (uncle of Henry and Levi Howard). Elijah had entered into an agreement to purchase the parcel in the early 1840s from the Holland Land Company. What is so significant about this is that it shows Elijah Smith’s interest in the property near Howard Falls, where his nephews had settled a few years earlier to open a stone quarry for his business. How Moses Baker acquired those rights from Elijah Smith is unknown, as there is no known business or family relationship between them. However, a connection may have been established through Alvin Craine.

Alvin Craine, who we mentioned earlier in this blog as the father of Cordelia Craine, remarried after the death of Cordelia’s mother. He and his new family moved to Elk Creek, Erie County, PA from New York by about 1834 and remained in that locale for nearly ten years before moving to Wisconsin and Minnesota. It is quite probable that Alvin somehow became acquainted with the Howard family while he was living nearby and related facts about the area and the Howard family to Moses and Philena Baker as they raised his daughter, Cordelia, in Ohio

And so, in about 1852, Moses and Philena moved from Perry, Ohio to their newly acquired property in Franklin Township. Along with them came their adopted son Samuel and his family, as well as Cordelia Craine Perry and her family. Norman and Cordelia would go on to have a family of six children, including Ellen Louise, born in 1848 in Perry, OH.

Photo of Ellen Perry about 16 years old.

Another significant property acquisition Moses Baker made was the 110 acres in blocks 53/54 directly to the east of Levi and Hannah Howard. As Levi worked the stone quarry just to the west of Howard Falls, providing stone for the Erie Canal and the Erie County Court House, the vein of sandstone he had been quarrying became increasingly unsuitable. Living as neighbors to Levi and Hannah Howard, the Baker/Perry families became well acquainted. The Baker and Howard families must have entered into some sort of business arrangement that enabled Levi to move the quarry operations to a more promising stone outcropping east of the Falls, on the property of the Baker family.

The most significant event in our story of the Baker family occurred in 1865. That year Ellen Perry, daughter of Norman and Cordelia, and George Howard, son of Levi and Hannah, were married. From that union, four children would be born, and all of the Howard family subsequently living at Howard Falls can trace their descent from that union of George and Ellen.

Ellen and George Howard

Soon after the marriage of Ellen and George Howard, Moses Baker made a visit back to his ancestral home in Onandaga County, NY. During that visit, he died unexpectedly on October 28, 1866 at age 70.

With the death of Moses, came a period of change for the Baker/Perry family. Now a widow, Philena decided to move back to Lake County, Ohio, selling the 110-acre parcel that included the Stone Quarry to George and Ellen Howard in January of 1868. George and Ellen would live there the rest of their lives, raising their family and working the Stone Quarry.

Norman and Cordelia Perry likewise went back to Ohio after the death of Moses Baker, settling in Saybrook, Ashtabula, Ohio by 1870.

Both Philena Whiting Baker and Cordelia Craine Perry would die in 1879 in Ohio a few months apart and chose to be interred side by side in the Perry Township Cemetery in Lake County, Ohio. Subsequently, Norman Perry moved to Michigan, where his oldest son had settled.

Epilogue:  While the stay of the Baker and Perry families in Franklin Township was brief, it was profound;

  • The Bakers acquired key property, including the second Stone Quarry and the house that would become George and Ellen’s home. They would raise a family of three boys and a girl and operate the new Howard stone quarry well into the 1900s.
  • Most importantly, Moses Baker’s adopted granddaughter, Ellen Perry, would wed George Howard, and their youngest child, Levi Taylor Howard, would become the progenitor of all of the Howard descendants of Howard Falls today.

A future blog will explore the Perry family and the very enigmatic relationship of Norman Perry to the family of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, including how modern genetic DNA analysis can open doors to the past once thought closed forever.


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