The principal of the Elim Grammar School, located between Hilmar and Irwin, Harry M. Baker is a representative of a San Joaquin Valley pioneer family and was born in Stanislaus County, on October 11, 1888, a son of Francis M. Baker, a native of Ohio, born in 1852, and Elizabeth Harmon Baker, who was descended from Pennsylvania Dutch stock and who died in Richmond, Cal., in 1922, aged sixty-two years. F. M. Baker is a second cousin of the late President Harding; the Harding farm near Blooming Grove, Ohio, joined the farm belonging to the father of F. M. Baker. Both Harry M. and his father have autographed letters from the late President. The Baker ancestry is traced back to 1450 in England, from which country the progenitors of the family came to America and settled in the New England States, where they became wealthy mill-owners. Grandfather Baker was a Mexican War veteran, having served in that conflict.

F. M. Baker came to Turlock in the early seventies and started an eating house; some time after he had become established he returned to Ohio and was married and returned to California with his bride and took up his work in Turlock. He next went to Snelling, where he was employed in a flouring mill for some time; then was engaged in the same occupation with the Merced Milling Company. In 1896 he ran the Oak Park Dairy, having 200 cows, and superintended the making of cheese at the factory; he next had charge of the cheese factory on the Wallace Ranch, near Modesto. In 1900 he had the first irrigated farm in the Turlock Irrigation District at the Tegner District, having bought this land several years previous for twenty dollars per acre. He sold it at a handsome profit and invested in 100 acres in Mendocino County, which he also sold to good advantage. Then he moved to Richmond, Cal., and bought and sold real estate forseveral years until now he is able to retire from business worries and is enjoying life at his Richmond home, saddened only by the death of his wife. There were twelve children born to Mr. And Mrs. F. M. Baker. The oldest child, a girl, met an accidental death by falling down stairs when she was two years old the others are living and are: Alta, Mrs. J. M. DeVee; Rov W.; Jesse F.; Harry M.; Ethel, Mrs. C. O. Fewell; William W.; Hazel, Mrs. Elmer Ridd; Dora, Mrs. W. T. Woolley; Effie, Mrs. C. W. Friel; Gladys, Mrs. Emmet Dailey; and Estella, Mrs. Jesse White. An uncle of our subject, James A. Baker, was" connected with the Southern Pacific Railway for thirty years and is now retired on a pension; he also receives a pension from the United States Government for his services during the Civil War and owns real estate in Newman, where he makes his residence.

Harry M. Baker was reared on a ranch and attended the schools in Turlock and in the Tegner District, and was graduated from the Turlock High School, class of 1910, and from the Western Normal School of Stockton in 1912. He began teaching in the Franklin School in Merced County, where he was principal in 1913-1915; then for one year he was employed as a stenographer for the Moline Plow Company, in Stockton, and later served as a deputy under Eugene Graham, county clerk of San Joaquin County. He next put in three years in the office of the Spreckels Sugar Company in Manteca, beginning as assistant bookkeeper, and advancing to head bookkeeper and next to auditor. He then resumed teaching as principal of the Atlanta Grammar School in San Joaquin County, 1919-1922. In the latter year he came to his present place in the Elim Grammar School in the Hilmar Colony. This has the largest enrollment of scholars of any grammar school outside of the incorporated towns in Merced County, the number being 246 in 1925. The pupils are transported to and from school in three large motor busses. Mr. Baker holds a State life diploma, also State administration credentials which entitle him to a superintendency of schools as supervisor of education. He keeps abreast of the times by reading and study and is thoroughly up-to-date in educational work.

Mr. Baker was married in 1914 to Mary Alice Carter, born near Manteca, a daughter of James and Medora (Kiel) Carter, a pioneer family, natives of Wisconsin who came to California with their parents via Panama and from San Francisco to Stockton by boat. Mrs. Baker was a student in the Western Normal School in Stockton and there she met Mr. Baker, and their marriage was the result. She is secretary of the Ladies' Aid Society of the Methodist Church, of which she is also a member and a teacher in the Sunday School. They have two children, June and Ila. Mr. Baker is an athlete of more than ordinary ability, is a champion sprinter and pole vaulter and could run 100 yards in ten and two-fifths seconds; even now he keeps up with his athletic exercises and occasionally wins over those much younger than himself. He is strictly temperate, and never has used tobacco or liquor. He plays on the violin at concerts and special gatherings. For some time he edited the Hilmar Enterprise, now owned by Mrs. Betty Wright, but he severed this connection when he took up the Boy Scout work, being one of the organizers of the local troop, and is their Scout Master. He believes in the young boys and does everything in his power to help them to the right path they should take in future life. He and his family reside at Irwin, and are the center of a wide social circle.

History of Merced County California With a Biographical Review OF The Leading Men and Woman of the County Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from Early Days to the Present

Author: John Outcalt (1925)
Baker, Harry M. Page: 677

Contributed by: Alma Stone