Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Corporal Wilson L Starkey
15th Illinois Regiment Volunteers
Born about 1835
in New York
Died 27 July 1862
(according to the official death certificate,
however some reports put his on 26 July 1862)
Died on the U.S.N. Hospital ship Red Rover
on the Mississippi River.
Buried at Spanish Moss Bend, on the Mississippi River
This is my 3great-grandfather's younger brother.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This is a picture of me, Betty-Lu Baker Burton, at about 14 months old.

My grandmother Baker, Lucy Mary Huyck Baker, always had a parakeet for as long as I can remember.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Every Family Historian has a to do list and at the bottom of the list there are things that would be nice to know, but not really worth taking the time to search for. Well this week I stumbled upon the answer to one of those things.

My father, James Edward Baker Jr., was married twice, with my mother, Elizabeth Joan Bionaz, being his second marriage. The only reason why we even know anything about his first marriage is we have his final divorce papers. Back in the early 1950's you had to wait a year from the time the divorce was filed until the divorce was final. Well, during this time my father met my mother and started dating. He would not ask my mother to marry him until his divorce was final. The story goes, when the time came, both my dad and his first wife had moved on with their lives and neither were interested in picking up the final papers. In order for the divorce to be final, someone had to pick-up the papers, so my dad went down and ended up picking up both copies of his divorce papers, his copy and that of his former wife. That's the only way we really knew anything about his first marriage. Since they had no children and the marriage did not last very long I was satisfied with only knowing her first name, Grace.(the papers listed her name as Grace Baker)

This week, on, I stumbled on The various San Mateo newspapers covering the time period my family lived in San Mateo. You guessed it I stumbled upon the wedding announcement for my dad and his first wife. Now I know his first wife,s name was Grace Eldona Bigelow, daughter of Lawrence Bigelow. They were married 28 August 1948 in San Mateo, California. I was more excited about finding this then I thought I would be, but it was exciting. Since he married my mother in Sept 1951, He must of only lived with his first wife not much more than a year.

I'm kind of wondering if his schooling played a role in his divorce. The wedding announcement stated he would be finishing his studies at San Francisco State College. I know he never finished those studies and my mother tried to get him to go back. My mother always said my dad had to stop his studies because of his military service and felt to old to go back, but now I'm wondering if his first marriage may of had something to do with it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Today is mother's day, so I thought to spotlight my mother.
Elizabeth "Joan" Bionaz Baker was born August 4, 1931 in San Francisco, CA
She died August 21, 2001 at her son's, Tony, home in Hement, CA

Joan is about 4 years old in this picture.

Here she is with 3 of her 4 children in the spring of 1959.

James is the oldest about 5, then Tony about 4, and then me the baby

Chuck was not born yet.

Here is a picture of her with her dog Bear.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Memories- Water and Electricity

During the 1960's, my family lived in the country just outside Woodland, California. We had our own well that used an electrical pump. It also had a tank (similar to a water heater) above ground. Whenever the electricity went out we had no water. Some one would go out and check the tank to see how much water we had. If we had any warning that the electricity was going out, then we would fill buckets of water so we would have water. After we moved from Woodland to San Jose we received notice that the electricity was going to be off for awhile and I wanted to prepare by filling buckets with water. My father had to explain to me that we would still have water. I thought about this Saturday night when our electricity went out because of a storm. Now I know that unless the electricity goes out at the water plant we still have running water!