By Linda Cunningham Fluharty

Web pages and history books abound with information about Captain John Baker and his family. While there are minor variations of the data and the history, the essence is the same and Captain Baker, with countless descendants nationwide, is a legendary figure in the early history of the Ohio Valley.

Captain John Baker MAY have been the son of George Perilous Baker. Siblings of Captain John Baker were: Henry (b. 1731, d. 1807; m. Maria Elizabeth Fink), Jacob, George (b. ca 1749; m. Elizabeth Strenger), Peter, Hannah and Betty.

Captain Baker MAY have come to America on the ship, NEPTUNE, in 1754. And he MAY have been married to a woman who died enroute to this country.

He DID marry Elizabeth Ann Sullivan about 1760 in Philadelphia, PA and they lived in Shenandoah, VA; Dunkard Creek, Greene County, PA; Redstone Fort, Brownsville, PA. Finally, they settled along the banks of the Ohio River after the Revolutionary War, in the area that is now Marshall County, WV.

Fortunately for descendants of this family, John and Elizabeth's grandson, Col. Samuel P. Baker (s/o Henry), born in 1798, and a resident of Benwood, Union District, Marshall County, related the history of the Baker family for an article published in The Wheeling Intelligencer, May 1866. This biography served as the the basis for many later publications.

When Captain Baker was about fifty years old, he lost his life in a conflict with Indians. Accounts of his murder, as well as other Baker history, are found in many publications:

  • That Dark And Bloody River, by Allan W. Eckert
  • Lewis Wetzel, The Life and Times of a Frontier Hero, by C. B. Allman
  • History Of Marshall County, West Virginia*, by Scott Powell
  • History of Belmont and Jefferson Counties (Ohio), J. A. Caldwell, 1880
  • History Of The Panhandle, Being Historical Collections of the Counties of Ohio, Brooke, Marshall and Hancock, West Virginia*, by J. H. Newton, with G. G. Nichols and A. G. Sprankle, 1879

    (*Excerpts presented on this page.)

    HUSBANDJohn Baker
    Birth1737-1740, Prussia
    DeathKilled by Indians in 1787, near Baker's Station, Marshall Co., WV
    BurialGraveyard Run, Cresap's Bottom, Marshall Co., WV
    Marriageca 1760, Philadelphia, PA
    FatherGeorge Perilous Baker
    Other wives 
    NotesRevolutionary War service accepted by the D.A.R.
    WIFEElizabeth Ann Sullivan
    Birth14 Feb 1743/4, Germany
    Death22 May 1836, Monroe Co., OH
    BurialSteed Cemetery, Center Twp, Monroe Co., OH (Near Woodsfield)
    FatherDr. Sullivan (Family legend: He served as a doctor in the Rev War.)
    Other husbands 
    John, 1760, Dunkard Creek, Greene Co., PA22 May 1794; Killed by Indians at Battle of Captina Creekca 1785, ____ Parr
    Margaret (twin)ca 1761, Shenandoah, VAca 1830, Fish Creek, Ohio Co., WVPeter Yoho, Rev War Veteran
    Catherine (twin)ca 1761, Shenandoah, VA1847Henry Yoho, Rev War Veteran
    Henryca 1763, Greene County, PAca 1847, Graysville, (PA or OH?) or Fish Creek, in WV(1) ca 1795, Elizabeth Parr
    (2) Nancy Swaney
    Mary (Mary Jane?)ca 1778 (or 1765, Shenandoah Co., VA?) 14 June 1794, James Smith
    Josephca 1773, Redstone Fort, Brownsville, Fayette Co., PA1859, Pea Vine Creek, Belmont Co., OH18 Oct 1797, Mary Finney
    Jacobca 1775/771861, Monroe Co., OH23 June 1798, Monroe Co., OH, Mary Steen
    Martin10 Oct 178027 Apr 1857, Monroe Co., OH(1) Sarah Winland
    (2) 16 Feb 1812, Belmont Co., OH, Sarah Farnsworth
    George1762, Shenandoah, VA (or 1771, VA?) ca 1845, Graysville, Monroe Co., OHSarah Beam
    Elizabeth1766/67 (or ca 1778?) Christian Gatts
    Isaac13 Jan 1782, Wheeling Creek, Ohio Co., WVca 1865, Tazewell Co., IL1800/01, Ruth Brock

    Sources for the information on this Family Record:

  • D. A. R. Patriot Index, Centennial Edition
  • History of Marshall County, by Scott Powell
  • Baker Family, compiled by the Wheeling Area Genealogical Society with information from Clarice Stanley and Denver Yoho
  • Personal Genealogy file; some data from Phyllis Dye Slater

    NOTE: Corrections and additions to this record will be appreciated.


    History of Marshall County
    by Scott Powell

    Of the early settlers in Marshall County, the Baker family is one that is worthy of mention. Henry Baker lived for more than one-half of a century in the lower end of Round Bottom. Colonel Samuel P. Baker, his son, gave the following account of the early history of the Baker family:

    He said that his grandfather, John Baker, settled on Dunkard Creek in Green County, Pennsylvania, about the year 1767, and lived there a number of years near Indians, who then lived in that section of the country and were very friendly with the whites. At the breaking out of Dunmore's War in 1774, his grandfather removed his family to Redstone Old Fort, now Brownsville, and remained there some time after the war was over. Later he removed his family to Catfish Camp where Washington, Pennsylvania, now stands.

    In the spring of 1781 reports were circulated that Indians were preparing for early and active operations on the south side of the Ohio River, and it was rumored that a large body had crossed the river near Holliday's Cove. Three young men were started to Fort Henry at Wheeling to inform the settlers of their danger. They were Henry Baker (eighteen years old), Henry Yoho, and a man by the name of Stalnater. Only one of them reached the fort.

    They rode along without seeing any indications of Indians until they reached the narrows on Wheeling Creek near the old Woods residence, when they ran into a number of Indians in ambush awaiting them. Stalnater shot the Indian nearest him and was in turn shot by the Indians. A bullet struck Yoho's horse, causing it to fall to its knees but it quickly arose and in its freight started in the direction of the fort at the top of its speed and reached the fort and saved the life of its rider.

    A bullet struck Baker's horse which ran about one hundred yards and fell dead. It fell on Baker's leg and it was with some difficulty that he freed himself from the dead horse. Seeing his danger he abandoned his gun and started for the fort in full speed but ran only a short distance when he met an Indian with a tomahawk in one hand and a pistol in the other. He saw he had no chance to escape and when the Indian called to him in good English, "You are a prisoner," he stopped. He was taken back to the other Indians, and a brother of the warrior killed by Stalnater, wanted to kill him but was prevented by the chief.

    With their prisoner they started for the river. They crossed the hill and went out the ridge that runs just on the top of the hill along the Narrows and descended the hill at Kate's Rock where they found a number of Indians in canoes as if they were awaiting the arrival of the party.

    They embarked in canoes and descended the river a short distance and left the canoes and went around the fort at the Flats of Grave Creek, keeping along the foot of the hill and crossing Big Grave Creek not far below the mouth of Middle Grave Creek, and from there they went over the hill and arrived at the river at the lower end of Round Bottom. The party crossed the river and encamped on the north side opposite the head of Captina Island.

    Early the following morning they started and for three days and nights they made no halt. They did not rest until they arrived at Chillicothe, having evidently been in fear of pursuit. After that they were in no hurry. They killed deer and had plenty to eat. When they arrived at Sandusky three hundred Indians had just arrived from a foray against settlements in Kentucky with nine prisoners. The nine young men taken by them were burned at the stake after running the gauntlets. One was burned each day.

    All this time Baker was reminded frequently that his turn was coming after the nine were burned. On the morning of the tenth day Baker was taken to the place where they had burned the other prisoners and compelled to run the gauntlet which he did with little difficulty. It so enraged a warrior that he knocked Baker down after he had reached the council house in safety. Baker fought them and delayed them some time and seeing a man riding toward them in the uniform of a British officer he ran to meet him and asked him to save his life if it was possible.

    The man was no other than the notorius Simon Girty. Girty talked with the Indians two hours or more, arguing with them and finally induced them not to burn him. Girty evidently had motives other than that of humanity, as he took Baker out from the Indians and questioned him about the conditions at Wheeling and many other places, especially the former place. Baker afterwards believed that Girty contemplated an attack upon Fort Henry. He was taken to Detroit and in a short time was released. He hired with a trader and remained with him some time.

    He and three Virginians concluded to return and started for Wheeling. They got lost and wandered about for three weeks before they reached the Ohio River, where Bridgeport has since been built. Some men were making sugar on that side of the river and when they saw the four men approaching in Indian dress they mistook them for Indians and crossed over to the island and watched them. After some time Baker and his companions made the men understand who they were and the men crossed back and brought them over in a canoe.

    While Henry was away his father moved to the lower end of Round Bottom. He learned where the family had gone and he went to it. He remained in the Round Bottom until his death, except the time spent at Tomlinsons' Fort. He died in 1848.

    Another account of the Baker family says that Captain John Baker was born in Prussia and came to America about 1760. He arrived at Philadelphia and five years later married Elizabeth Sullivan of that city, and from there the young people removed to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where they lived two years and from there they removed to the waters of Dunkard Creek now in Green County, Pennsylvania, in the year 1767, and remained there seven years. At the time they lived on that creek there were a number of Indians residing on it and they and the whites were very friendly. At the breaking out of Dunmore's War he removed his family to Redstone Old Fort, now Brownsville. The American Revolution breaking out soon after the close of Dunmore's War, Indian hostilities soon followed the breaking out of the war. He remained at the fort a number of years, and was in the service of the Colony of Virginia much of the time during the war, but there is little record of him.

    He went from Redstone to Catfish Camp in 1787, where he remained a short time and then removed to Round Bottom and in 1784 Captain Baker built a block-house near the upper end of Cresap's Bottom. The place was generally known by the name of Baker's Station.

    While two of the Wetzels were at Baker's Station in 1787, they and Captain Baker noticed some Indians on the opposite shore walking about leisurely. Baker, getting an opportunity, shot at one of them and killed him. The others ran away as if badly frightened, leaving the dead Indian where he fell. They did it evidently to deceive the whites as it was proved later by their actions. Baker and the two Wetzels crossed over the river and were viewing the dead Indian when several shots were fired and Baker fell, mortally wounded. The Wetzels treed and commenced a fight and some other men crossed the river and reinforced them and drove the Indians off and recovered the body of Baker. He had crawled a short distance from where he fell and was alive when recovered, but died soon after arriving at the station. He was buried on a flat near a stream called Grave Yard Run at the upper end of Cresap's Bottom.

    Baker's Station soon became a rendezvous for scouts as it was at one of the crossings of the Indians on a war path from the Muskingum River into the interior of Virginia. They traveled up Wills Creek from the Muskingum River and crossed a divide and went down Big Captina to the Ohio River and up Fish Creek or broke up into small parties of marauders and visited the various settlements committing all kinds of depredations.

    The Baker family appears to have resided in the blockhouse and it never had a regular garrison. Hunters and scouts were so frequently at it that it was seldom without a fairly good force, in case of attack, to have defended it against a large force of Indians. In time of danger scouts gave much attention to the war path down Big Captina and among others who frequented the place were the Wetzel brothers. It was a custom to send scouts to the west side frequently to look for indications of the presence of Indians. Indians were frequently seen on the west or Ohio side of the river and frequent shots were exchanged.

    Martin Baker gave a very interesting account of an engagement between fourteen whites and a number of Shawnee Indians at the mouth of Cat's Run, some distance up the creek from the river.

    Martin said that one morning in May, 1794, four scouts, Adam Miller, John Daniel, Isaac McCown and John Shopton, crossed from the station to look for indications of Indians. Miller and Daniel went up the river and the other two went down it.

    McCown and Shopton soon discovered signs that indicated to them that Indians were near them and attempted to make their escape by immediate flight. McCown started for the canoe and was shot and wounded. He ran to the river, jumped over the bank and ran into the water but was pursued by Indians who overtook him and killed and scalped him. Shopton escaped by running to the river and swimming it.

    The two who went up the river soon encountered Indians. Miller was killed and Daniel was wounded in an arm and sought safety by flight. After running about three miles up the creek he was overtaken by Indians, taken prisoner and kept by them till after the treaty at Greenville in 1795, when he was released.

    There were about fifty men at the station and a call to arms was beat and volunteers called for to cross the river and attack the Indians. There seemed to be a hesitancy and no one seemed anxious to cross the river and engage the enemy, and getting volunteers was slow work.

    John Baker, for a wonder, seemed to hesitate until his sister May Jane remarked that she would not be a coward. That was sufficient. He joined the other thirteen. Captain Adam Enoch commanded the force. One of the volunteers was Duncan McArthur, who was many years later elected Governor of Ohio. They crossed from the station and followed the trail of the Indians up the creek to the mouth of Cat's Run when they were fired upon by Indians who were concealed on a hillside above them but they were too high and the bullets went whistling over the heads of the whites. The whites treed and the battle began. Captain Enoch and a man by the name of Hoffman were killed by some Indians who attacked them from the rear. After the death of Enoch young McArthur took command of the small force and commenced a retreat. They had not retreated far when John Baker was shot through the hips and being in the rear it was impossible to get him and carry him from the field.

    From what was afterwards seen it was thought that Baker knowing that he would be killed, determined to sell his life at as high a rate as possible. He got into a hollow place with a large rock at his back so they could not get at him from behind. Soon after he fell two shots in quick succession were fired and it was thought that he killed an Indian and was in turn killed by another. When whites visited the ground the second day after the battle they found the bodies of the men killed horribly mutilated.

    They were taken to the Virginia shore and buried on the bank of Grave Yard Run, where John Baker and John Wetzel had been buried some years before. They were buried in coffins made of hickory bark.

    The Indians had gone up the creek, after killing the scouts, some distance, and returned to the mouth of Cat's Run and there lay in ambush for the whites who started in pursuit of them.

    Some years afterwards some whites visited the spot and found seven skeletons in the rocks where it was thought that the Indians had hid their dead. There is a tradition among the Baker family that Henry and his sister Kate were taken prisoner by Indians while at work near the station and taken to an Indian camp back of Round Bottom. Henry was compelled to gather wood which he thought was intended to burn him but in this he was mistaken. While gathering wood and carrying it to the camp he picked up a knife some warrior had dropped. He concealed it in his clothes and worked on quietly. The Indians had some whiskey and at night indulged in it quite freely and lay down, many of them, in an intoxicated condition. The two prisoners had been tied securely, so thought by the Indians, but with the knife hid in his clothes, Henry was not long in cutting the thongs when he thought the Indians asleep, and soon he and Kate were free. They started but had not gone far when the Indians discovered that the prisoners had escaped, and began scouring the woods in search of them.

    They saw that they were cut off from the station and also from the fort at the Flats of Grave Creek, with Indians in the woods yelling blood curdling yells. A party soon got directly after them and they ran through the woods in a direction from either of the places of safety mentioned, and as they ran along a path, they came to a log that lay directly across it. They started to run around it but found that it was hollow and one crawled into it from each end. The pursuers jumped the log and ran in the direction they had been running and after the Indians were a safe distance from them they left their hiding place and started for the river and reached it at Kate's Rock and swam to the Ohio side and went down it to the mouth of Big Captina and swam it again and arrived at their home none the worse by having one more experience with Indians.

    Of the Baker family, three were killed by Indians. The father, his son John and daughter Margaret were killed by them but no account of the death of Margaret is given.


    History of The Pan-Handle,
    by J. H. Newton, with G. G. Nichols and A. G. Sprankle

    Captain John Baker, who located here in the early settlement of the country, was captain of a company of men fighting the Indians, and about 1778 met with his death. He was in company with the Wetzels, three in number, in a block house that had been erected at the head of Cresap's bottom. They were watching Indians who sauntered around on the opposite banks of the Ohio River, evidently waiting an opportunity to kill the whites that has taken refuge in the fort. Baker seizing the first chance fired and killed an Indian that was in range of his gun. The Indians pretending they were frightened, scattered and ran in different directions, leaving their bleeding and dying brother upon the ground. Baker seeing at once that his shot had proven fatal, and being somewhat daring, suggested to the Wetzels to cross the river and examine their dead foe. No Indians then, of course, were in sight -- all tranquil and every appearance of safety. But the savages were using strategy. They had secreted themselves not far from their dead companion. He was left there for a bait, and Baker was thus decoyed. A canoe was secured and they crossed to the opposite bank to take a look at their dead victim. Whilst reconnoitering him, several shots from the Indians were unexpectedly fired, and one taking effect on Baker, who fell and was captured by the Indians. The Wetzels recovered the body shortly afterwards -- they found he had crawled partially under a log, lying insensible, with both eyes gored out -- and he was carried accross the river on the canoe, only surviving but a short time after reaching the fort, or block-house. He was buried at that place. The following named persons attended the funeral: Henry Baker, the old Indian Warrior, and family; Reuben Roberts, and family; George Baker, Leonard Raigor and two brothers; Aaron Hughes, and Capt. Roberts. There were three canoe loads went from the Round bottom to Baker's Station, where the block-house stood. Col. S. P. Baker and Capt. Roberts are the only two persons now living that attended on that occasion.

    In about the year 1804-5, John Wetzel migrated up the Missouri with Jonathan Clark, and whilst there his brother Martin, who remained here, died in the fall of 1812, and before his death he requested that his remains be laid along the side of John Baker's, which request was granted, and accordingly his body was interred there. Before he breathed his last he told his brother Lewis, who bent over him, to encourage John, and tell him never to bury the tomahawk.