Log of Earl W Baker 10/14/1917


October 14th, 1917

Mater died Oct. 11th at 4 A.M.

On the 10th she had 2 severe hemorrhages which left her very weak. Father was called over at three that night. At five, Inez phoned for me to come over at once. I stayed til father came went home for supper and returned. Miss I Clark, Mss Bush, and Annie Odell were there in the early evening. She was too weak to talk or to open her eyes except in their coming and going. At eight her strength returned for two or three fleeting minutes. She asked me the news and I told her briefly of the reported German peace proposals. She was so very tired. I spoke to her of the psalms and read a few verses She said “I could not read them, David was so harsh and unforgiving.” She dropped off once more into half unconscious sleep. At three oclock father & I were called upon again. Mother did not regain consciousness and had no perceptible pulse. At four her breathing was hushed.

Annie E. Read, wife of Charles Vassar Baker (daughter of Daniel Reid and Helen Elmdia Wheaton) died October 11, 1917 at the General Hospital, this city, after an extended illness. Born in North Gage, Oneida County, in (11 November) 1856. the last 50 years of her life were spent in Dutchess County. For many years she was organist and an active member of the Christian Church, Clove Valley. Her latter years were spent in Poughkeepsie, where she attended the First Baptist Church. Her life and character were rarely beautiful; full of charm, of kindliness, and true discernment. She was a fond mother, a devoted wife, and the true friend of the many who paid their last tributes to her memory, Saturday, October 13.

The funeral took place Saturday a bright sunny windy day. The Rev. F D Elmer had charge. Aunt Mary & Uncle Charles came on. The Uhls and Davises and Aunt Jean from Cloves. Harry sent a telegram from Bridgeport that Aunt Effie was very ill. The Acct. Dept., the Storms, Albros, Lanes, Christies and many others sent flowers.

Very frail and white she lay there. So thin and worn, so resigned and patient. A sweet face and yet so strong and sincere.

The cemetry (sic), the burial plot, its outlook, and the fine October day, just before the leaves had commenced to fall; it was very beautiful. Dad & I visited it the next Sunday.

If this is not the start of a fresh chapter in my life then have I proved unworthy of my heritage.

Hitherto I have lived for the most part, for the happiness of the present and fleeting moment. From now on, I must build for the future. I am now almost 24 years old.

I lack self control.

I lack vision, purpose, and a goal.

I lack diligence punctuality, discipline.

I lack tact, kindness, patience, and consideration.

I lack a good general knowledge of my work.

I lack personality, poise – good health, ambition.

I lack a philosophy of life, humility – strength.

And I might add character and manliness.

Remember, he’s only 24! The poor guy, the only thing he lacked was self-confidence. It seems to me that he put his mom on such a pedestal that he constantly compared himself to her. Though he never complains of it, I wonder if he wasn’t passive-aggressively nagged by her to do better, though it could all be projected, of course.

Log of Earl W Baker 6/27-8/25/1917



Earl’s posts start to thin out… If you thought he was hard on himself when he started it, strap yourselves in…

June 27th, 2017

Since last writing, the Liberty Loan has been successfully floated, the U.S. & State drafts have been held & Gen. Pershing has arrived in France as well as over a thousand ambulance corp. & surgeons. The cry now is for air mastery – as the U.S. part of the war. Sunday last, a 2nd inspection was given me and Mon. I received notice that my eyes were not up to requirements. I am to receive an honorable dismissal and one month’s pay July 1st. Mother is very glad.

The office is beginning to employ girls as clerks. Miss Harlow has been there for 2 weeks thru my connivance. Miss Robinson, also. The NY-NM drilled in their new white suits this P.M. How lonely I am. Work at the office has gotten behind. I must collect the loose ends and forge ahead.

My chief needs are – as ever – self control and diligence.

August 25th, 2017

Russia is probably neglible (sic) from now on. She has been ever since the Revolution. Only once – under impetus of their seeming world figure – Keresnky – has she made any vigorous and successful campaign. The western front – optimistic reports notwithstanding, appears to be marking time. A new goal loan is to be floated shortly. The draft secured E Hunt and J Ryan. W Hannon exempted. W Sullivan & P Weiss not qualified. For the last 3 Fridays I have attended the dance at Clinton Corners – Wings – with Miss Robinson & J Weed. Have taken Sarah to Mt. Beacon as well as “The girl who smiles” and Neil & Brien’s Minstrels. S is intelligent, quick-witted and a jolly companion. Was in charge of office during H A Rowe’s vacation. Fairly successful. Have been lax lately and too distracted. Am also extravagant. Paid $100.00 on hospital bill on the 21st. Bad tempered and worse. Need more exercise – work-energy and enthusiasm – more ambition – more self control.

Mother is weaker and requires stimulants and sleeping powders. Was pleased to see Uncle Harry, but cried. Mrs. Fleming was in, also.

Log of Earl W Baker 5/16-5/30/1917



May 16th, 1917

The first US destroyer flotilla has arrived at England. J.R. may accept Whitman’s offer of Maj. gen. In NY volunteer army. Hunt bal “I”. Danced with Miss Duryea.

May 21st, 1917

Mother was operated on this A.M. Dr. Lane was shocked at her condition, and she canot (sic) live many months more. Mother had foreseen it all and hoped this would be the last. Only she realized the hopelessness of it all. Dad passed thru his ‘Valley of the Shadow of Despair’ this day and now waits the end dry-eyed. I canot realize it yet, at all.

What a mother she has been–unselfish, untiring, unstinting, pouring out her love–and so sensitive so wise and keen in her judgements, when others were concerned. How long it has taken me to appreciate her wisdom, her practicality, though, always, I have appreciated her character. Never would she turn anyone from her door hungry; always sympathetic, always kind. And her mind was so broad, so clear-visioned; without the resources of a liberal education, her mind was never bounded by petty and local affairs. In my reading, studies, and planning, she has always help me company, praised my little accomplishments and insisted on progress. As I have broadened, the more clearly I have relished her keen insight, her appreciations, her criticisms, her humour. What a true sense of values she has; wealth and position mean nothing to her; love, affection, friendship mean everything. She has lived her life in service–happiness has been ever so fleeting, and now she is suffering to the end.

The cabinet card on left is labeled “Mother”, the one on right is not, but it seems this might also be her.

She wrote the following before the operation to Aunt Frank. “–And oh! Frank if only I don’t wake up. That is the best that can come to me! The best too, for Charley and Earl.– And what is life that we should moan. Why make we such ado. You all know how dead you have been, but now, God’s will be done. Good Bye.”

And yet how patient she has been. And how little there is left for us to do; to show our love. Oh, if only realization of all this had come before. Our trips, our plans, our little world – all is shattered.

May 30th, 1917

Memorial Day dawned bright and sunny after weeks of rain. Naval M. marched in parade without uniforms which are expected within week.

We are mobolized (sic) locally and our pay begins today. Saw the “Assassin” at theatre last night. Walter Sherwin starred – morbin production. The mater rests fairly and seems very bright & cheerful. Mamie (who came Sat. eve) left Wed. AM. Will be in NY in two weeks time.


Log of Earl W Baker 4/29 – 5/15/1917


, , ,

April 29th, 1917

The French & British commissions are being entertained in Washington. Viviani, Joffri (sic) & Balfour. Their purpose is to stimulate and to determine the extent of our cooperation in the war. America’s plans call for bridging the atlantic with a thousand wooden vessels and the raising 4 or more drafts of ½ million men each. American participation in extensive & immediate acro work is being urged. Wilson’s conscription program has passed Congress tho the age limits have not been agreed on.

Slabsides, date unknown, photo from Earl Baker’s collection


This P.M. rode on wheel* with Ed Maar to Slabsides (at right). Mater** told me tonight that a 2nd operation is needed. She is very discouraged & I must do my all for her.

Work – all billed & posted, save Fairview. I sales off.

Am Reading the “Harbor” a find – written by E Poole.

Refused to sign H.A.R.’s extra time pledge. Not needed yet & don’t see the connection.

*I assume he means bicycle as they used to be referred to as “a wheel”. According to Google, this is about a 10 mile bike ride one way. Go, Earl! Also, Burroughs, owner of Slabsides, was still alive when this was written. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slabsides

**This is what he calls his mother. Spoiler Alert – she’s not doing so well…

May 15th, 1917

Have enlisted with NY Naval Militia. Porter & Rogers left Mon. for Ft. Slocum. The Mater takes it very hard – I would not have gone if I had known. She feels so despondent and blue. The Hon. Peter – even – talked with me about it. The office force is pretty well shattered. The Russian cause seems lost & the state is anarchy. The Germans hence gather fresh strength on the western front. America is now even – barely comprehensive of the task. The home too, is to be broken up – but that had to come – the work & rent was too much. How I’ve enjoyed it all & how slow appreciation has dawned on me now that it is to be lost. But if I make this step – the beginning of a new epoch – manhood – it has been for the best. Pater is a brick. Work lagging a little. “I” not off – effects – minor – of the war movement. Pok’s quotia, I hear, is 1600 available men.

(Earl is only 24 years old in 1917)

Frank C Heermans in the Civil War


, , , ,

153 years ago today, Frank C Heermans died 10 Jul 1864 at Andersonville prison. He was born born c. 1842 to of Abraham, son of William (my ancestor), son of Abraham Heermans of Kingston, a soldier in the Revolutionary War. The below letter to his cousin William G Hall was written a month before his regiment would fight in Gettysburg. I do not know if that’s when he was captured. The scans were sent to me by my distant cousin Peggy Duff, who I believe got them from the Dutchess County Historical Society.

Headquarters 20th Regt N.Y.S.M.

Camp A Halls landing at the mouth of the Potomic Crick Vir. June the 5, 1863

Dear Cousin

I take this opportunity to answer your last letter wich I received last night it found me as well as can be expected for a souldier hoping that these few lines will find you and all the rest of the friends at home the same, you wrote your letter the same day that we was fighting the battle of Fredericksburg (December 1862) I presume that you saw the full particulars of the fight in the papers, but for all that I’ll try to give you a little discription of the fun that I passed through. We crossed the river on Friday at one O’ck and at three O’ck we had the most of our troops acrossed then the rebils commenced to shell us, the first one that they shot bursted over our heads the second one come very near killing the colonel of the 23rd Regt he was siting on his horse behind me some three ro…(?) it just passed his head and bursted it wounded two men in his regt by this time our battaryes open upon them and silenced them, then we was marched some two miles farther down the river, they did not trouble us eny more that night. The nex morning we packed up redy for a fight, at nine O’ck the ball commenced we was under constant fire untill after dark, at three O’ck in the afternoon there was three Co of our Regt was ordered out to a road as fi…(?) the Companies was A. R. J. we was on the left and just before we reached the road John R. Margas and Nickle Gilroy got shot John R. got shot in the arm and Gilroy in the cheek we laid three days and three nights in front of the enemy and it seemed like three weeks to us, we lost only some thirty men in our Regt, but thank God I never want to see another such a fight for I can’t begin to discribe it to you, a Saturday night we laid in a ditch and you could hear the wounded boy groaning and hollowing for help, but the nex morning we took care of them a Monday night we crossed the river and cheeted rebs, we have bin here I believe ten days. To day we are doing extry duty at present unloading boats with army supplies such as hay, Oats, Corn Be (?) but the word is now that we are agoing back to General Burnsides headquarters to do guard duty to wich is only six miles from here so now I must draw my scribling to a close for I don’t believe that you can read half of it

Please wright soon and oblige your sincere friend and Cousin

F C Heermans to William G Hall

The below information about the 20th NY is from the New York State Military Museum.

(The 80th Infantry Regiment of the Twentieth New York State Militia; Ulster Guard) was active at South mountain and Antietam, encamped at Sharpsburg for one week and marched through Crampton’s gap, Leesburg, Warrenton and Stafford Court House to Fredericksburg, where it participated in the battle. Winter quarters were established soon after near Hall’s landing and occupied until Jan. 7, 1863, when the 80th was assigned, to the provost guard brigade, with headquarters at Brooks’ station and remained on duty at army headquarters until after the battle of Chancellorsville. In June, 1863, the regiment was assigned to the 1st brigade, 3d division, 1st corps, and was closely engaged at Gettysburg, where it lost 170 killed, wounded or missing out of 287 engaged. It suffered most severely in the repulse of Pickett’s charge on the last day. After the battle of Gettysburg, the 80th was again ordered to headquarters for provost guard duty and continued in this service until the end of the siege of Petersburg, when it shared in the final assault, April 2, 1865.

Log of Earl W Baker 4/5/1917 – 4/17/1917


, ,

April 5th, 1917

Balances off. G H L. Co talks of guarding central station using own men. Crude reasoning.

April 7th, 1917

Bal. off I – cash posted up to date. I readings posted.

April 8th, 1917

Easter Sunday. Elmer preached on “Arise America”

April 9th, 1917

Invited by Marion Fleming to attend High School society dance. Enjoyed same immensely. British are making gains.

April 10th, 1917

British drive still continues. Saw a dandy play “Capt. Kidd, Jr.”* funny, sentimental, fine.

*Made into a movie in 1919 with Mary Pickford, only 2 of 5 reels survive. Spoilers: the protagonists dig for treasure which turns out to be a note saying the “real” treasure is “the good health (they) will have from all of the exercise spent digging.”

April 11th, 1917

J.R. called on Wilson – offered his plan of volunteer army to go in advance of regular army. Col. Watterson writes a striking editorial advocating furtherance of J.R’s offer. “J.R. has a positive genius for the spectacular.”

Saartje note: Any WWI buffs got any idea who JR is?

Sun. April 15th, 1917

Congress – ie the House unanimously passed the 7 million war loan bill. Sat. Aunt Carrie arrived, that eve. I went out to Vassar to arrange meeting Sun.

Sun. A.M. went to Shear’s class then to hear Elmer on “Standards”. Helen V came for dinner – we went walking P.M. seems an agreeable all-round girl. Work statements off -began billing on 14th.

April 17th, 1917

Joined Provisional Company – given a good healthy setting up drill. Billed B on 16th. Posted same today.

Log of Earl W Baker 3/12/1917 – 4/4/1917


, , ,

March 12, 1917

Posted most of 10th cash. Am downstairs. Went to Library. Noted article in Collier’s in favor of broad general business knowledge & contra specialization. Met M. R. who introduced me to Miss Ginsberg. M. R. is verbose – friendly. Studied Coml. Course slightly (?)* 11 P.M.

*the (?) was his note

March 17, 1917

Russia is in the way of becoming a Republic. The reigning house have abdicated in favor of the Duomo. All with comparatively little bloodshed or interval of time. So the Great War here accomplishes democracy, and turns history into a new period.

Tonight, Wilton Lackage, courtly villian & Blanche Bates in 11 P.M. Plot risque, acting superb.

Billiard – Highland & Hyde Park. N Hamburg/2. Too many sweets.

Opened Coml. Course books last eve. Am appreciating the book “Fellow Captains” by S Cleghorn. New thought in variations. Veget. diet still dormant. Am over indulgent. 12 PM

Am slack and not progressing; sheer impotence.

Wilson has called for an extra session.

April 2nd, 1917

Wilson made a wonderful speech to Congress – calm, logical, coherent, and clear cut in its definitions. His peroration “from Luther” is Lincolnesque in its eloquence.

April 3rd – 4th, 1917

Congress declared war – first the senate -latter the House where pacifists mustered 50 strong. The Pres. has signed the declaration & the allies are rejoicing. 5 Billion $ will be raised of which 3 will go as loan to the allies.

The conscription problem holds the stage. Considerable opposition may loom up against service abroad. Teddy R. is for once with the administration as are Taft & Bryan who has offered his services as private.

Poughkeepsie Female Academy – 2


, , , ,

Back in 2015 I published letters to my 2nd great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Knickerbocker of Madalin (Tivoli), Dutchess County, NY from her classmates at the Poughkeepsie Female Academy sent between 1853 and 1855.

The first article about the school is here.

Recently, I found a brochure and a sort of program tucked in with things belonging to her (then future) husband Dr. John E Losee of Upper Red Hook.  Below are the pages from the “program”, and below that are three pages from the “brochure” which is undated, but is definitely of the same period.

Log of Earl W Baker 2/25/1917 – 3/11/1917


, ,

Feb 25, 1917

Sat. billed and posted parts of G, K & L. eve – Liberty with Lewis. Sun. Shear at Trinity held forth on moral fibre not being spared from temptation but trial by fire & emergence of the man. Also the key to success being desires & determination. (Power of will). Then to hear Elmer on Spiritual Reserves, the backing of the fine things of life – appreciations – culture – art, etc. when our first best fails us. In PM went with Lewis to station and up to H.A.R. cottage tastefully arranged & furnished some original ideas & work – fine view. Enjoyable afternoon – listening to myself talk. Am beginning to appreciate results of thrift. 11:45 P.M.

Feb 26, 1917

Accomplished nothing all day at office. Are changing over downstairs. Holland, it seems certain, must enter the war – 7 of her vessells were sunk. Eng. is impatient over US attitude Wilson addressed Congress to ask for armed neutrality & merchant marine convoys. Must get in some health methods in Mar. diet, excercise, etc.

March 11, 1917

Sat. I bal. “I”. Sun. arose late. to church – read “Gueed”* Walked with Lewis — The last week or so have been sunk in sensu ✱  but am now erect once more. Last Sun. heard Rabbi Wise, a liberal Jew, proclaim his kinship to the unitarians. Last Thur. heard a concert by Burr, Campbell, etc. Last Mon. Lyman Howes movies**, attended two dances.

Am going downstairs in office tomorrow. 11 P.M.

*his Rs look nothing like the U-shape in this word

**Lyman Howe, early movie-mogul showed films with a phonograph playing music and sometimes Foley sound effects and his own narration. The shows would travel to a given location to be screened. More info at Explore PA History site.

Log of Earl W Baker 2/19/1917 – 2/23/1917


Feb. 19, 1917

Billed B started to post G. Eve attended lecture at YMCA by Vining. He preached gospel of the strenuous enthusiastic sacrificing radical life scoffed at will power love as the pilot* and proclaimed desire & ideals as the real dynamics of life. Preached new thought – self affirmation – eliminate failure from vocabulary by substituting “arrested success”. Endorsed H Munsterberg & H Bergson**. 11 P.M.

*”love as the pilot” was written in with a caret and not that legibly. As this sentence makes no sense, it’s probably wrong.

**Hugo Münsterberg German-American psychologist and college mentor of the guy who created Wonder Woman “one of the pioneers in applied psychology, extending his research and theories to Industrial/Organizational (I/O), legal, medical, clinical, educational and business settings” (Wikipedia) and Henri Bergson “known for his influential arguments that processes of immediate experience and intuition are more significant than abstract rationalism and science for understanding reality.” (Wikipedia)

Feb. 22, 1917

Tuesday – posted G. – in eve went to “Pals First” with Courtenay & Wise*. Had ½ opportunity for acquaintance – maybe with more ease, savoir-faire, etc. Wed posted I – billed H. Rutherfords in eve. Am sensu-plus.** Thur. posted H. eve Institute at High School – “King” on Eyes that See not & Ears that hear not. Fluent flowery facile oratory. 11 P.M.

*Assuming this was a play. Seems to have been made into a movie in 1918 and again in 1926.

**Maybe Latin for “more sensible”?

Feb. 23, 1917

Fri. took of sales G& I ✱ Must commence a rigid food basis – no meat, tea or coffee, cake, pie or sweets & less quantity. 10:45 P.M.

(Saartje’s note: I am eating a huge chocolate chip cookie while typing this)