Mrs. Cornelia Frances
MRS. CORNELIA FRANCES BAKER--In the passing away of Mrs. Cornelia Frances Baker on August 31, 1920, Stanislaus County lost one of its most interesting pioneers, whose life was full of reminiscences of the early days with their halo of picturesque romance, and whose kindly nature and generous spirit made her one of Modesto's most highly esteemed citizens.
Mrs. Baker was of Southern lineage, born in Lincoln County, Mo., on
February 24, 1849; before her marriage she was Miss Cornelia Francis Griffin. her paternal grandfather was born in Wales, and coming to America in the early days, settled in North Carolina, where he afterwards died. Mrs. Baker's father, Joel W. Griffin, was born in North Carolina, and when a young man removed to Missouri, where he met and married her mother, who was Miss Frances Smith before her marriage, a native of New Orleans, La., and a member of an old Southern family. Mr. Griffin farmed in Lincoln County, Mo., for some time, removing from there to Scotland County, where he continued in that occupation. In 1857 he started on the long trip to California by ox-tem train, with his wife and seven children. There were over forty wagons in their train and they were four months making the journey. This was the year of the Mountain Meadow massacre, but although they encountered several unfriendly tribes of Indians with whom they had conflicts, they fortunately escaped.
The Griffin family first located in Calaveras County, and the father engaged in ranching and stock raising. After spending three years there they removed to Tuolumne City in 1860, where Mr. Griffin ran the rope ferry across the river.
In 1873 they went to Redding, and after lviing there a short time, removed to Visalia. They afterwards located at Knights Ferry, later coming to Oakland, where Joel W Griffin died at the age of eight-four, Mrs. Griffin passing away there when she was seventy-two years old.
| There were seven children in the paternal home and all grew to maturity, but only one of them is now living. Robert died in Stanislaus County; Sallie died in Oakland; Joel died in Stanislaus County in 1917; Mrs. Cornelia Frances Baker of this review was the fourth child in order of birth; Margaret is Mrs. Berry of Lindsay, Tulare County; John died in San Joaquin County; Jennie, who became
Mrs. Woolery. died at Salem, Ore.
Cornelia Frances Griffin was seven years of age when she accompanied her parents to California; she received her education in the public schools of Tuolumne City, riding horseback back and forth from the farm. She was married in Tuolumne City on June 26, 1865, to Christopher Columbus Baker, a native of Lexington, Ky., an Argonaut who crossed the plains with ox teams in 1849. He returned East via Panama in 1851, and in 1852 brought a drove of cattle and mules to California. locating in Stanislaus County, where he became a large landowner on the Tuolumne River and engaged in raising fine sheep. Later he turned his attention to raising grain, and also leased land, becoming owner of as much as 4,000 acres. He afterward located at Fruitvale, where he died in June,
1918, at the age of seventy-eight.
After his death Mrs. Baker returned to Modesto, when she made her home, surrounded by her family and friends. About 1916 she divided the Baker lands between her children and lived care free and retired, in so much as her only surviving son. J. Walker Baker, assisted her in attending to her other business affairs, and with the other children, showered on her their affection and devotion, thus keeping her from needless worry and ministering to her comfort. While at her summer home at Santa Cruz, she suffered a stroke of paralysis on August 14, 1920, and survived only until the last day of that month. Of the ten children born to her, only four grew to maturity: Mrs. Margaret Carter resides at Oakland: Lena is Mrs. Shruder Young and resides on the old homestead; Zettie Belle became Mrs. William Young and passed away at Fruitvale: three sons, C. C., Oliver and George W., were accidentally
drowned, September 10, 1889, while swimming in the Tuolumne River; Archie was killed by a fall from a windmill when he was two years and five months old; J. Walker is a rancher on the old farm; Robert Lee and Leeni died in childhood.
In her religious convictions Mrs. Baker was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal
Church South, of which she had been a member all her life. She was also a member of the Rebekah Lodge and of the Woman's Relief Corps, and in her politics she espoused the principles of the Democratic party. She was always very active and energetic and was apparently in the best of health when she was suddenly stricken with the illness that proved fatal, passing away only seventeen days later, deeply mourned by her family and friends--a true pioneer settler, having lived in
Stanislaus. County since 1860. Possessed of a very amiable and optimistic disposition, she spent the afternoon of a well-rounded and busy life profitably and pleasantly and had a host of warm friends who appreciated her kindliness and excellent qualities of mind and heart.