Joseph Baker, newspaperman and public official, son of William and Jane (Gerrish) Baker, was born in Maine in 1804. On December 7, 1831, he arrived at San Felipe de Austin, where he taught school for three years and was secretary of the ayuntamiento in 1835. On October 5, 1835, he was issued title to one-fourth league of land on the west bank of Fish Pond Creek, a mile north of the site of Hempstead, in what is now Waller County. A ten-league grant made to him in December 1835 was cancelled by the Republic of Texas. With Gail Borden, Jr., and Thomas H. Borden, Baker, or Don José, as he was called, established the Telegraph and Texas Register at San Felipe; the first issue appeared on October 10, 1835. Baker severed his connection with the paper on April 5, 1836, to join the Texas army, in which he served from February 29 to June 1. He was a member of Moseley Baker's company at the battle of San Jacinto. In 1836 he was chosen second judge of Austin Municipality and became a charter member of the Texas Philosophical Society. He was appointed translator to the state on October 23, 1836, and was elected first chief justice of Bexar County on December 16, 1836. In 1837–38 he represented Bexar County in the House of the Second Congress. In 1841–42 he published the Houston Houstonian. He was Spanish translator in the General Land Office in 1845. Baker died in Austin on July 11, 1846, and was buried there in Oakwood Cemetery. In 1936 the state of Texas placed a monument at his grave.
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Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).
Editors and Reporters
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
L. W. Kemp,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 28, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 5, 2017