Baker, James McCulloch (1797–1882)

By: Ross Boothe, Jr.

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

James McCulloch Baker, judge, was born on November 27, 1797, in South Carolina, the son of Joseph and Jane (McCulloch) Baker of Rowan County, North Carolina. He moved to Tennessee while still a youth and in 1834 to Mississippi. After becoming a prosperous planter in Madison County, Mississippi, he moved to the Upper Cuero Creek Settlement in Gonzales County, Texas, in 1840. He established his cotton plantation on the Guadalupe River above the site of present-day Concrete, which is now in DeWitt County. In Maury County, Tennessee, on July 27, 1818, he married Miss Martha Jane Smith. To this union were born thirteen children, all of whom became citizens of the Republic of Texas except the eldest son, Samuel Smith Baker, who stayed in Mississippi and managed the Baker Plantation in Madison County. In 1841, with his friend James Norman Smith, Baker established the First Presbyterian Church in what is now DeWitt County; it was also the first Protestant church there. It was originally located on Cuero Creek near Concrete, and later moved to Hochheim as a Cumberland Presbyterian church. In 1844 Baker was elected chief justice (county judge) of Gonzales County. In 1846, at annexation, he became the first chief justice of Gonzales County, state of Texas, a position in which he helped the county make the transition from the republic to the state. In 1846, DeWitt County was formed by the Texas legislature. In his capacity as chief justice of Gonzales County, Baker swore in the first set of county officers of DeWitt County. He became the first probate judge of the new county, and afterwards served as county judge from 1850 to 1852 and 1865 to 1867. He was also a trustee of Concrete College. Baker, one of the "Founding Fathers" of DeWitt County, died in March 1882 and is buried on his plantation in DeWitt County beside his wife. Their graves are located in the Baker Family Cemetery on a hill overlooking the Guadalupe River valley.

Nellie Murphree, A History of DeWitt County (Victoria, Texas, 1962).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges

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

Ross Boothe, Jr., “Baker, James McCulloch,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995