Last year, I posted an article about our family’s move to the U.S. from England. In that article, I mentioned that I did not know why the family, originally planning to travel on the Titanic, took and earlier ship, the Baltic, instead. My brother, who clearly paid much better attention to our grandfather when we were younger, has an explanation: the National Coal Strike of 1912. This was a strike by Britain’s coal miners with the goal of setting a minimum wage for their work, and it was the cause for many shipping cancellations.

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This is the only photo I have found of my great grandparents, William and Annie Baker. As you can see, the quality is poor, but the original is much, much worse; it’s barely recognizable as a photograph. I was able to get it in this condition only with some help from Photoshop. I hope I can eventually find some more pictures of them. William was born in Bridgwater, Somerset, England in 1862.

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Fellow Bakers, I discovered a possible new family name today. It appears we have a 5th great grandmother named Joan Jennings (or possibly Jening, but I am assuming Jennings is correct for now.) She lived in Somerset, England from 1700 to 1785, and married Thomas Knapton, the 2nd great grandfather of my great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann (Annie) Knapton, who of course was the wife of William Henry Baker. The records on her and the couple of generations of Knaptons following her are a bit tenuous, so I’ll be on the lookout for better documentation.

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I was researching my grand uncle, Ralph Swarthout, today. He was married to Hilda Baker. Both are buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Penn Yan, NY in a plot that was originally purchased by my great grandmother, Annie Baker. My father mentioned to me several times that Ralph had always been his favorite uncle. While looking through the cemetery records at the Yates County Cemetery Project, I noticed that Paul Baker, who was born and died in 1936, is also buried in that plot.

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I ran across this photo in one of the Patterson albums. It is badly faded, and I can’t tell who is in the picture, but it is very clear that the Pattersons took their snowball fights very seriously. This is one of about a thousand family photos on the site. There is no overall index of photos; you can see them by visiting the page for someone who has photos.

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Merry Christmas to my ever-growing family! The image at the top of this post is a Christmas card sent by my grandparents, Idris and Alyce Baker in 1938 or 1939. The little boy in the picture is my father, Robert Baker. I am not 100% certain of the year, but my father looks like he’s about 3 years old in the picture, and my Aunt Joan is not around yet (I assume she’d be in the picture if she were!

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I have learned a few new bits of information about my Ely ancestors. My great grandfather, Glenn Ely married his wife, Violet Mae Aldrich (that’s her in the picture at the top of this post), on 5 Oct 1908. He was 21 and she was 17. I remember them both from my childhood, and of course I thought of them as being quite old. It’s strange to think of them being so young!

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Now that I finally have all the photos from my old website available here, I can get back to researching again! Since I haven’t done any real research in years, I’m finding new tools on the web and new information that wasn’t available previously (or at least was much harder to find…) Ancestry.com is a good source of information, but quite expensive to join! I did join, and it’s yielding some great information, but I was disappointed in the difficulty in pulling information off the site to include in my database.

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There is a family story that the Baker family, headed by my great-grandfather William Henry Baker, had originally planned to come to the United States on the Titanic, but had changed their plans and come on different ship. While I don’t have any documentation of that, I believe it to be true, since my grandfather, Idris Baker, told me about it several times. He should have known whether it happened or not, because he was there; he was about 8 years old when the family made the trip.

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The Idris Project is my experiment to present the information I have collected about my ancestors and extended family over the years. The project is named after my grandfather Idris Charles Baker, pictured to the left, and also after my father, Robert Idris Baker. I started researching my family several years ago after I found and rescued several boxes of hundreds of family photographs that my mother was storing in her garage and was planning to throw out.

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