Baker, James B. (1847–1918)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 8, 2022

James B. Baker, soldier and civic leader, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 30, 1847, the son of Amanda (Saunders) and John Holland Baker. He moved to Crawford, Texas, in 1858, when his family established a stock ranch on Tonk Creek in McLennan County. Baker left school in 1860 to become manager of his father's ranch, and when the elder Baker was wounded in Confederate military service, James, at age fifteen, took his place in the ranks of Company H of Col. Nathaniel M. Burford's Nineteenth Texas Cavalry. He served in the Trans-Mississippi Department, saw action in the Red River campaign, and by the end of the Civil War had been promoted to regimental sergeant major. After returning to his father's ranch in 1865, he worked as a stockman until 1877, when he moved to Waco to become a contractor and brickmaker. His account book from 1908 through 1914 is in his papers at the Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin (now the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History). Baker was elected alderman and then, in 1904, mayor of Waco, a post he held until 1910. He was also president of Waco Savings Bank. On August 6, 1876, he married Sallie C. Fordtran; the couple had three children. Baker died in Savannah, Missouri, on September 12, 1918, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Waco.

A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984).

Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Central Texas
  • Waco

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Baker, James B.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 04, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 8, 2022

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