Rob's Genealogy Page
Hiram Wylie Justus
Robert M. Baker at the gravesite of his great-great-great grandfather, Hiram Wylie Justus, a Sergeant in Wells' Company of "Rebel" Bill Smith's Cavalry.
My Mother's ancestors were from Hungary (on her father's side) and Ireland (on her mother's side). Mom's father's family, the Verteticz's (Americanised - Vertetis), came from the Old World around the turn-of-the-century. Mom's mother's family came to America probably before the turn-of-the-century. The family name was McPartlan from County Armagh, but our forebear who crossed "the Pond" dropped the "Mc" in the ocean, as the saying goes. Dr. Thomas Partlan was a veterinarian who treated the stables of the New York City Police Department. He married Emma Bowen. He was also a gambler, and a poor one at that, as he lost the family fortune and then died leaving the family destitute.
My mother wrote: "Dr. Thomas Partlan graduated veterinary school in New York in 1896. He married Emma Bowen in 1900. His full name was Thomas Steven McPartlan. Thomas and Emma had six children:
1. Thomas Lee Partlan (born 1902)
2. Albert James Partlan (born 1904)
3. Gertrude Anna Lorraine Partlan Vertetis (born 1910) - my Grandma
4. George Steven Partlan (born 1911)
5. Regina Emma Partlan (born 1912)
6. Edna Helen Partlan(died 1954)
Edna Helen Partlan lived with another woman for many years, never married, and had no children. My mother was originally named Anna Lorraine, but her father said it was 'too common' a name and renamed her 'Gertrude.' Dr. Partlan died at age 42 in 1915 or 1916 of syphillis."
The Irish Side of the Family
My great grandfather, Dr. Thomas Partlan
Emma Bowen Partlan, my great grandmother
The McPartlans can be traced back to the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries serving as scribes and poets. There exist in the British Museum's Irish Manuscript Collection manuscripts written by my ancestors. Poets and scribes were very powerful men in Ireland before 1600. I take a great deal of pride in this part of my heritage as it is evidence of our family's literacy going back deep into the mists of time.
The Bakers and Justuses
I can trace my Baker ancestry (reliably) to around 1800. My ancestor Eligha Baker was born sometime around or before 1802. He may have been born in North Carolina or Tennessee; the records are unclear. He married Sarah "Sally" Polly in Perry County, Kentucky. Eligha owned land in Perry County until about 1835. He may have gone to Virginia with his family around 1840, according to Gwen Boyer Bjorkman. In the late 1840's, he moved his family to Floyd County, and then to Pike County before 1850. After 1850, Eligha was counted in the Buchanan County Federal Census.
Eligha's son Andrew is my great-great-great grandfather. He was born in Perry County in 1830, one of twins (the other boy named Calvin or "Dock").
Andy married Harriet Smith in Tazewell County, Virginia, in 1850. From that time until the war, Andy probably farmed a small plot near his father's farm. When the war came, Andy "jumped the fence," serving with both sides. For a more complete record of Andy's service during the Civil War, click HERE.
Andy's son Samuel is my great-great grandfather. Sam served for a short time as a constable in Buchanan County, Virginia. Sam's wife was the daughter of Elizabeth Baker Justus and Hiram Wylie Justus.
Hiram Wylie Justus served in Company E of the Second Virginia State Line; Company H of the 10th Kentucky Cavalry; and Company G of the First Regiment of Capital Guards, Sandy Valley Battalion. Hiram was also a sergeant in Wells' Company of "Rebel" Bill Smith's Cavalry. Bill Smith's men were known for their fierceness in battle and their brutality. They specialized in the capture and destruction of river-going steamers.
Hiram died in 1905. After selling the timber rights in her land to the Ritter Lumber Company, Elizabeth "Betty" Baker was murdered with her daughter, her son-in-law, and three grandchildren, in September of 1909. The man accused of the crime was convicted and executed in the electric chair. Mention of the crime still arouses passions and animosities nearly ninety years later.
Go to the "Justus-Meadows Murders" Page
My great grandfather was Matt Baker and my great grandmother was Pearl Maynard Baker. Matt was a deacon and caretaker of the Old Sulphur Springs Baptist Church located just north of Hurley. The church was established during the war and the building itself may be that old. I have heard many, many stories from varied and scattered sources that said that my great grandparents were two of the kindest and sweetest people ever known. They would take in the orphaned children of near strangers without thinking and they would think nothing of dropping everything at home to help nurse a sick relative back to health. I understand that they owned a general store or hotel in Devon (duh-vahn') right on the Tug River before the Crash which brought on the Great Depression. Incidentally, I believe that Devil Anse may have been a competing businessman in the same small town.
This is a photo of my great grandparents, Matt and Pearl Maynard Baker, taken in the nineteen-forties or -fifties. In almost every picture I have of them, they are always smiling.
My great grandma Pearl was the daughter of Casby Bankay Maynard, a preacher from Elkhorn City who was away from home most of the time riding the circuit. Casby was the mayor of the town, from what I understand, and Tuck Baker states that "he had a sense of humor like a copperhead." Apparently, he was a very serious man. Pearl's mother was Caroline Clevinger Maynard. She was also a very sweet lady according to her grandchildren. As of this writing, I cannot figure out who her parents were. She does not appear in any of the censuses between 1880 and 1920. Casby and Caroline are both buried in the Elkhorn City Cemetery and their house still stands on Bridge Street. I have heard stories of this house from two generations of her descendants. It must have been a wonderful place to grow up!
Caroline (Clevinger) and Casby Bankay Maynard, my great-great grandparents. Taken around the turn of the century. Casby was a traveling preacher and supposedly the mayor of Elkhorn City, Kentucky.
Great grandpa Matt had joined the U. S. Army to fight the Germans in 1918. I don't know if he ever made it to Europe, but I have several pictures of him in his uniform. Matt was the son of Sam Baker and Pricy Justus Baker. As a young boy, he was one of the first persons on the scene at the Justus cabin where six people tragically lost their lives. Two months after that horrifying incident he saw his father shot dead before his eyes, and the man who murdered him was himself lynched and his body was left to hang for several days as a warning or spectacle. In his thirteenth year, Matt had lived a lifetime. I remember my great grandparents as I was about fifteen or sixteen years old when they passed away.
My great grandmother in the 1950's and me in 1998. There are some who believe that this unfortunate soul may have been one of William Clark Quantrell's men (photo of Rob by Pam Norman Baker).
My grandfather was Ermel Bankay "Bud" Baker. My grandmother was Ethel Wells, an English lady from Warrington, Lancashire, England, whom Grandpa met when he worked on the engines of the B-17's and B-24's in the Eighth Air Force. Grandpa was slated for tail-gunner duty because of his ideal stature, but, fortunately, he was never pressed into that role.
Grandpa worked in the coal mines and drove a coal truck when he came back home after the war. Eventually, he began working with aircraft again and had something to do with setting up the Distant Early Warning radar line (called the DEW line) in northern Canada and Alaska. I remember hearing stories of how he'd flown into Baffin Island and the freezing conditions that he had to deal with in that employment. He worked for a couple of airlines, including Mackie, as a mechanic and foreman before he ended up with Eastern. Grandpa was a cantankerous soul, as was Grandma. Both were very blunt and to-the-point. Grandma and Grandpa both passed away in the early 1980's. I did get the opportunity to stay with them for three or four months as a teenager, and for that time I feel truly blessed.
My Father was born in Warrington, Lancashire, England, right after the war. He came to the U. S. on the troopship Hilliac Holbrook. As a child, he lived in quite a few different and far-flung places, including Canada, the mountains of southwestern Virginia, Alabama, and, finally, Florida. He married my mother, Joan Helene Vertetis (who was born in Kingston, NY), in 1964. In 1970, he bought a business located in Fort Lauderdale and turned it into a thriving enterprise. My father is a very gifted mechanic and fabricator, sometimes too humble in his own assessment of his abilities. He enjoys fishing and boating and spends a great deal of time working on his very beautiful house on the water. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty. Mom is the reason anything works in the business. My mother is the bookkeeping whiz. She's pretty good with money! My brother is their most trusted manager and a very successful salesman. He likes water sports a great deal. He is an accomplished scuba diver and skier and one heck of a wheeler-dealer. He is also a collector of antique firearms and other memorabilia.
I was born in January of 1966, went to school for a long time to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I got a degree in Liberal Arts and another after that in Liberal Studies, and, at one time, I taught college English. I like auto racing (Mark Martin), and Dolphins football. I enjoy wandering the hills looking for old graveyards and house "seats." In my spare time, I read a great deal about history, go to libraries and historical places, and write about what I find.
This is me back in the "good old days," the early '90's. This was with an original band put together to play Thom Welte's music at the old Musician's Exchange in Fort Lauderdale. The band that night had some great players: Mike Scimeca, Dominic Trotto, Greg "Ess", Bobby Martinez, and a number of other local luminaries. That was alot of fun!
I'm currently a member of the T. T. Garrard Camp of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and I am a member of the William Green Wells Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I am a collector and historian. My wife, a Matewan girl, is one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known. Pamela Lynn Norman Baker helps me with this website and proofreads everything I write and publish. As a teacher of English and Spanish in the public school system, she has a formidable command of the finer points of our language, from which I benefit greatly.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my Dad and I. This was at a race in Tallahassee, Florida, in July, sometime during the early 1980's. I had to get out halfway through due to heat prostration, and Dad went on without me. He was at least ten laps ahead of the next guy in class and finished better than that. But, the next guy in class protested that the car was required to finish with a co-driver if it had started with one; a mere technicality that cost Dad the race, and didn't make me feel all that good about getting sick!
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