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Ancestral Heroes, Your Ancestors, Fathers, Mothers, Grandfathers, Grandmothers, Uncles, Aunts, Friends, Who Served in the Civil War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict, Vietnam War, Gulf War.... and defended our freedom.

Baker, Luther Byron

Lieutenant Luther Byron Baker, of Genesee county, New York, born February 20, 1830, dying on May 24, 1896, [married] Helen Davis Baker, a native of Massachusetts. [He] came to Lansing at the close of the Civil war. In the period of the great Rebellion he served in the United States Secret Service with his brother, Major Joseph Stannard Baker. Their cousin, General L. C. Baker, was then at the head of the United States Secret Service. During the war the senior Baker, had a horse fall from under him, the bullet striking the rider's leg but not seriously wounding him. Another horse was procured, which he christened "Old Buckskin," and the faithful animal was retained by him long after army duty. "Old Buckskin" was for years the cynosure of all eyes. He, driven by Lieutenant Baker, headed every G. A. R. parade. [He] was riding "Old Buckskin" at the time he captured J. Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln's assassin, who died in his arms. He will long be remembered and bears an interesting place in American history as a member of the party that captured the assassin of the sainted Abraham Lincoln. After the horse died it was taken over by the Michigan Agricultural college, stuffed and placed in the museum, where it remained until a few years ago, when it had to be removed because of conditions. Lieutenant Baker was the owner of a hundred-acre tract shortly after coming to Lansing, the land being the site of the Reo automobile plant. For twenty-five years he was in the auditor general's office, a remarkable record of public service, and he passed from earthly cares esteemed and venerated. Baker street was named after him. The last six years of the life of Lieutenant Baker were spent in public speaking descriptive of the capture of J. Wilkes Booth and his participation in the event.


Lieutenant Luther Byron Baker.-It is a far cry from 1924 back to the days of the Civil war and few, indeed, remain who participated in that memorable contest. Each year their number grows less, and to us who are living falls a duty that we must hold sacred unto the end-to cherish and preserve the memory of those noble men who offered their lives on the altar of their country and many of whom made the supreme sacrifice that "a government of the people, for the people and by the people, should not perish from the earth." Among those who offered their services in the hour of the nation's greatest need, none is more worthy of a place in a volume of this character than the late Lieutenant Luther B. Baker, of Lansing. He did his full share, both as a soldier and a citizen, and so lived his life that he achieved the greatest honor which can come to any man-he died secure in the love and esteem of those who knew him best. Luther Byron Baker was born at Stafford, Genesee county, New York, February 20, 1830. His parents, Luther Alexander and Mary (Stannard) Baker, were natives of Vermont. The family trace their descent from Ethan Allen and Remember Baker, both of whom contributed to the fame of "The Green Mountain Boys" during the Revolutionary war. Our subject passed his early life on his father's farm, where he remained until twenty-one years of age. He then entered Oberlin College, which he attended for some time, later returning to the home farm, remaining there until twenty-eight years of age. In 1858, in company with his brother, Major J. S. Baker, he emigrated to Iowa and was engaged in the book and stationery business there until the breaking out of the Civil war, when he and his brother were called to Washington by a cousin, General L. C. Baker, who was chief of the United States secret service in the national capital. They both accepted positions in this branch of the service, in which they remained two years, being frequently assigned to duty requiring them to make excursions into the enemy's country and seeing much active war service. In 1862, General L. C. Baker organized what was known as the First District of Columbia cavalry and in this command Luther B. Baker was given the office of lieutenant. He ably served with that command until the close of hostilities in 1865. After being mustered out of the service, he returned at once to the secret service and made himself famous by the capture of J. Wilkes. Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln. On the night of Lincoln's assassination, General Baker dispatched him with an escort of twenty-five cavalrymen to scour thoroughly the country around Port Royal. He was the first to strike the assassin's trail after crossing the Rappahannock river, was the first to demand his surrender at the Garrett barn where he had taken refuge. He was the only one who conversed with Booth before the barn was fired and was the first to reach him as he fell, mortally wounded by a bullet fired from Corbett's rifle as he attempted to make his escape. He gave Booth a drink of water from his canteen and received his dying message to his mother. He and his cousin made the final disposition of Booth's body. In later years, Lieutenant Baker from the lecture platform graphically described the pursuit and capture of Lincoln's slayer and a copy of this lecture is now preserved in the archives of the State Historical society, at Lansing. After the close of the war, Lieutenant Baker came to Lansing and purchased a hundred acres of land, part of which is now occupied by the Reo Motor Car company; that was in 1866. He followed farming for a short time, but he soon accepted a position in the auditor general's office, and this he ably filled for the remainder of his life. His death occurred in Lansing on May 24, 1896. Mr. Baker was married in the city of Lansing, in 1868, to Helen M. Davis. a daughter of Thomas and Eliza (Waite) Davis. Four children were born to this union: Arthur D. is a well-known business man of Lansing. and Luther H. is associated with him. The twin daughters were Lucelia and Helen. Helen died at the age of thirty-five years and Lucelia is the wife of Dr. Wilbur O. Hedrick, head of the department of history and political economy at the Michigan Agricultural college. Lansing. The wife and mother passed to the life beyond on April 25, 1918. On coming to Lansing, Lieutenant Baker brought with him his famous old war horse "Buckskin." which name was later shortened to "Buck." This horse he rode all through the war and in his pursuit and capture of Booth. He and the horse were familiar figures in Lansing on Decoration Day and Fourth of July celebrations, when Mr. Baker often acted as marshal of the day. After the death of the horse, his skin was mounted and was preserved at the Michigan Agricultural college for a number of years. Mr. Baker was a man who never sought public office, but always affiliated with the Republican party. In religious matters he and family held membership and he was a deacon in the Plymouth Congregational church. He was also one of the founders and a life-long member of the Charles T. Foster post, G. A. R.

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