Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson

BAKER, EDWARD D (1811-1861)

San Francisco National Cemetery Brochure

Photograph of Edward D. Baker
Edward D. Baker

Following elaborate funeral ceremonies in Washington, Col Baker's remains were interred in the Laurel Hill Cemetery, San Francisco, where they remained until 1940 when that cemetery became a part of a real estate development. The remains of Col Baker and his wife were then re-interred in their present location at this cemetery on 21 May 1940. The remains of a son, Edward Baker Jr. Major U.S. Army, who died on 25 January 1883, were also re-interred in the same grave with his parents.

Editorial Notes from Robert L. Nelson

On October 21, 1861 President Abraham Lincoln lost a friend and confidant, his son Edward, a namesake, and Santa Cruz County California its most illustrious former resident. Edward Baker was little known when he came to Santa Cruz County in 1851 as a land developer, however, ten years later there were a number of folks telling "I remember Edward Baker when" stories.

Edward Dickinson Baker was born in London, England on February 24, 1811, and immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1815 and settled in Philadelphia, Pa. In 1825 he moved to Illinois where he studied law and set up a law office in Springfield. As a lawyer and Whig politician living in that community, he became a close friend with a Abraham Lincoln.

While representing his Illinois district in the House of Representatives, Baker accepted a commission as an army Colonel. During the Mexican War, Edward Baker acquired military experience by commanding a regiment that fought at the battles of Vera Cruz and Cerra Gordo. Following the war he moved to Galena, Illinois where he also was elected and served a term as a member of the House of Representatives.

In 1851 the rush to California called Edward Baker, who picked up his stakes in Galena and moved to San Francisco. It was during this period that he became involved in Santa Cruz County. Following statehood in 1850 the southern portion of Santa Cruz county became highly sought after by Americans who attempted to acquire Californio Rancho lands. In the fall of 1852, Edward Baker was among a number of settlers who moved in and squatted on the rich lands of the Salsipuedes area of the Pajaro Valley. Baker, and others purchased a sizable portion of the 31,000 available acres in the Salsipuedes district. (Santa Cruz County, Margaret Koch, Valley Publishing, Fresno, 1973 pg. 165). Through the act of acquiring and subdividing this land, Edward Baker helped to open the Pajaro Valley to American settlement. (Santa Cruz Sentinel Nov 12, 1972).

The new state of Oregon beckoned Edward Baker in 1860, and after a successful election campaign he became its first U.S. Senator. While serving as a senator during the opening days of the Civil War, Baker gained the reputation of being a brilliant orator. The guns of war once again called out to Baker, and he responded by raising a regiment comprised of a number of Californians and served as its Colonel. Rather than accept an appointment as a Major General, which would have meant giving up his senate seat, he remained a colonel of the 71st Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. (Historical Times encyclopedia of the Civil War, Patricia L Faust, Editor, Harper's New York, 1986, pg 34).

On October 21, 1861 Edward Baker marched off to war, and led a battalion of Union infantry across the Potomac River to attack a Confederate camp at Leesburg, VA.

Near sunset of a lovely autumn day, a newspaper correspondent heard the insistent clicking of the telegraph in the inner room at McClellan's headquarters, and saw Mr. Lincoln stumble out, with tears rolling down his face. Baker, with that gallantry which effaces a want of discretion, had been killed at the head of his battalion. (Reveille in Washington, Margaret Leech, p. 116)

Following an elaborate state funeral in Washington, Edward Baker was interred in Washington. Upon completion of the war Baker's remains were sent to San Francisco for interment at Laurel Hill Cemetery, and in 1940 they were re-interred a the San Francisco Presidio Cemetery.

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