Settlement north of the village of Waterdown came very slowly, reputedly the first clearing and home was made by a member of the Baker family who purchased a hundred acres on the Fifth Concession, East Flamborough in 1822. This Heritage Paper looks at the early history of this pioneer family in America, and the first generation that was born in Upper Canada. Much of the early history of the Baker family was provided by Mrs. W. L. Henderson of Wawa, Ontario. Mrs. Henderson, nee Isabel Baker, is an avid genealogist and a great, great, great granddaughter of Abraham Baker, the first member of the family to settle in the Township of East Flamborough.
In 1726, Jorg Peter Becker (1680-1773) made a visit to the city of Philadelphia. He is said to have been the Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Strasbourg, Alsace at the time of the visit. He returned to Germany and the following year, 1727, sent to America four of his sons: Peter, Henry, George and Jacob. Peter, the eldest of the four boys, was only seventeen when they arrived in America, but he was married in 1731 to Leah Fierre, and his first son, Jacob, was born in 1733 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Becker family were naturalized on 12 August 1749, and the name changed to Baker. Peter married twice, his second marriage in 1760 was to Charlotte O’Lay, the widow of Michael O’Lay, an Irish Quaker. Peter Baker died in 1784, leaving a family of twelve children from his two marriages. He was buried in Fierre Cemetery near All Saints Cemetery, Paradise, Lancaster County.
Jacob, the eldest son of Peter Baker and Leah Fierre, married Hannah Leamon. Of this family, the third child, Abraham, born in 1775 in Earl Township, Lancaster County, came to Canada sometime between 1801 and 1804, and was among the earliest settlers in East Flamborough Township.
Abraham Baker married Ester Yake, daughter of Daniel Yake and Mary Nicely c. 1799 and possibly came to Canada very soon after this. The reason for the move to Upper Canada is unknown. No records to date have been discovered linking the family with support for the Crown during the American Revolutionary War, but they may have been like many other settlers of German descent, uncertain and fearful that their religious faith or political convictions might be compromised by association with republicanism. Abraham’s wife, Ester, was also born in Lancaster County of German ancestry. Unlike her husband’s parents, Ester’s parents came to Canada and settled in Markham Township c. 1808, and are believed buried in the family cemetery on the Pickering-Markham Township line.
Abraham Baker settled on Lot 13, Concession 4, East Flamborough according to family tradition, although probably they “squatted,” and had no deed to the property, as the Crown Patent for this land was not granted to Kings College until 3 January 1828.
On 10 June 1831, an Indenture was made between the Chancellor President and Scholars of Kings College at York in the Province of Upper Canada, and Abraham Baker of Township of Flamborough East in the County of Halton, District of Gore, Yeoman. For £247.10s the property, consisting of 165 acres in Lot 13, Concession 4, was transferred to Abraham Baker. The deed also stated that all houses, out houses, buildings, fences, improvements, ways, watercourses, and commodities were to be included in the purchase, suggesting that these were already in place and known to Abraham Baker. The deed outlines the property limits, noting the allowance for a road between the Townships of West and East Flamborough, and another allowance for a road in front of the property. Today this property is bordered by the Concession 5 road and Highway 6, with one corner cut off when Highway 6 was constructed. The largest portion is on the east side where until recently there stood a fine large frame barn.
Abraham Baker died 12 November 1838 aged 63 years. In his will he named his twelve children and provided for his grandson, David Burkholder — “a reasonable education, a yoke of oxen and a horse.” Abraham was buried in the Rock Chapel Church cemetery, West Flamborough, and is the earliest internment as recorded on a monument in the cemetery. Ester Yake Baker died 11 June 1867 aged 87 years. Like her husband, she is buried in Rock Chapel. On Ester’s tombstone is written:
Jesus has called the mother home,Her flesh lies moulding in the tomb,God grant her offspring may be blest,And meet her in Eternal Rest.
George:Born 20 September 1801 m. Mary (1804-1886)Died 18 August 1836 aged 35 years, 11 months 5 daysGeorge buried Rock Chapel Cemetery, Mary Union Cemetery, Waterdown.
Mary:Born 20 September 1801 m. Robert Flatt (1799-1848)Died 17 May 1888 aged 87 yearsBoth are buried Millgrove Municipal Cemetery.
Elizabeth:Born 1803. No other records found.Believed to have married David Burkholder.
John:Born 1804 Died October 1884 aged 80 yearsBuried Millgrove Municipal Cemetery.John did not marry and left his father’s property (Conc. 4, Lot 13, E.F.) to Samuel Flatt his nephew.
Sarah:Born 1809 m. James K. MarkleDied 24 June 1889.
Abram:Born 1811 m. Mary Ann (1817-1884).Died 23 April 1891 aged 80 years 2 months.Both are buried Millgrove Municipal Cemetery.
Margaret:Born 1813. No other records found.
Katherine:Born 26 April 1815 m. Albert B. Palmer (1807-1874)Died 29 November 1903.Both buried Millgrove Municipal Cemetery.
Jacob:Born 20 May 1818 m. Elizabeth Washburn (1820-1884)Died 29 November 1903.Both buried Millgrove Municipal Cemetery.
Daniel:Born 1820 m. Elizabeth (1820-1856).Elizabeth buried Millgrove Municipal Cemetery,No other record of Daniel.
Ann:Born 1821 m. Samuel Morden ( -1908).
Phoebe:Born 1822 m. William Morden (1820-1905).Died 18 July 1904 aged 82 yearsBoth buried Millgrove Municipal Cemetery.
Transcriptions from “United Church Cemetery, Rock Chapel, Ontario” Hamilton Branch O.G.S. 1985.Transcriptions from “Municipal Cemetery, Millgrove, Ontario” Hamilton Branch O.G.S. 1980.Transcriptions from “Union Cemetery, Waterdown, Ontario” Hamilton Branch O.G.S. 1977.Correspondence with Mrs. W. L. Henderson, Wawa, Ontario.The file on Baker Family–Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society ArchivesBeverly-East Flamborough Memorial Book. Hamilton Public Library.
© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 1986, 2021.