Baker, William Mumford (1825–1883)

By: Mary Jayne Walsh

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 1, 1995

William Mumford Baker, Presbyterian minister and author, son of Elizabeth and Daniel Baker, was born in Washington, D.C., on June 6, 1825. He graduated from Princeton College in 1846 and from Princeton Seminary in 1848. He was ordained an evangelist by the Presbytery of Little Rock on April 22, 1849, and for a short time served as minister at the Presbyterian church in Batesville, Arkansas. In 1849 Baker and his mother, sister, and brother joined his father in Galveston. On May 26, 1850, he reorganized the Presbyterian church in Austin with five people. The church met at the old Capitol and at the Baggelley School. A new church building was completed in 1851. When the Presbyterian General Assembly in Philadelphia, of which the Austin church was a member, officially endorsed the Union during the Civil War, the Austin church withdrew its membership and joined the Southern General Assembly of Presbyterian Churches. Baker himself was a Unionist, a fact that caused several families to break with the church. Baker submitted his resignation in December 1865 to a congregation of seventy-three persons, and in 1866 he asked the Central Texas Presbytery to dissolve his pastoral relations with the Austin church. The presbytery did not comply. In 1866 Baker published Inside: A Chronicle of Secession in New York under the alias G. F. Harrington. At the close of the war he and his family moved north. He served churches in Zanesville, Ohio, from 1866 to 1872, Newburyport, Massachusetts, from 1872 to 1874, and Boston, Massachusetts, from 1874 to 1876. From 1877 to 1881 he resided in Boston and concentrated on his writing. He wrote one biography, The Life and Labours of the Reverend Daniel Baker; a religious work, The Ten Theophanies (1883); and twelve novels, most of them about his Texas experiences. He died on August 20, 1883, after a two-year illness, and his body was transported back to Austin for burial beside his father in Oakwood Cemetery.

Library of Southern Literature (Atlanta: Martin and Hoyt, 1909–13), Vol. 15. William Angus McLeod, Story of the First Southern Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas (Austin, 1939?). William Stuart Red, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Texas (Austin: Steck, 1936).
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian

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

Mary Jayne Walsh, “Baker, William Mumford,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995