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|Size||0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 4 items)|
|Abstract||This collection includes several volumes containing the personal diary of Everard Green Baker (1828-1890), a white plantation owner of Jefferson; Panola; and Hinds Counties, Mississippi. Included in the diary entries, kept between 1849-1876, are recounted events of what happened to the people Baker enslaved. Included are descriptions of the untimely death in 1850 of a young girl who was enslaved, who perished of worms; an obituary for an (name unknown) enslaved individual who died of diarrhea and “dropsy” (edema); and descriptions of a brutal fight between an overseer and an enslaved man. Also included are entries regarding Baker’s social life; remedies for illnesses; recipes for food; and instructions for growing vegetables and curing meat; descriptions of the home front during the American Civil War; a genealogical table of the Baker family of Jefferson County, Mississippi; a copy of Elizabeth Green’s will, 1833; and typed transcriptions of the volumes.|
|Creator||Baker, Everard Green, 1826-1890.|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.|
Processed by: Shonra Newman, March 1991
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Conscious Editing Work by: Rebecca Stubbs, July 2020. Updated abstract, subject headings, biographical note, and scope and content note.
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Everard Green Baker (1826–1890) of Jefferson County, Panola County, and Hinds County, Miss., was the son of Thomas Baker and Elizabeth Green. He married Laura Lavinia Alexander (1834-1860), daughter of Amos and Lavinia Alexander of Moss Hill, Adams County, on 6 September 1849. After Laura's death, he married Sallie Flemming around 1863. He had at least 13 children:
Everard Green Baker married 1849 Laura Lavinia Alexander
--Walter (b. 1850)
--Everard (b. 1853)
--Edith (b. ca. 1855)
--Eliza (b. 1858)
--Thomas Francis (b. 1859)
Everard Green Baker married circa 1863 Sallie Flemming
--Fred (b. 1863)
--Carrie Louisa (1865-1866)
--Alice Jeannette (b. 1867)
--Robert Lee (b. 1868) Martha (b. 1868) (twins)
--Son (name not known, b. 1870)
--Daughter (name not known, b. 1872)
Baker probably farmed cotton before the Civil War. He moved several times, living for a while in the Natchez area, probably in Jefferson County, and had family there, including his brother, Thomas Francis Baker (1825-1892), and his brother's wife, Martha Young Payne Baker. He also lived in Panola County, Miss. The U.S. Census 1850 Slave Schedule for Jefferson County, Miss., enumerated on 13 July 1850 indicates that E. Baker enslaved 3 people. The U.S. Census 1860 Slave Schedule for Panola County, Miss., enumerated on 19 July 1860 indicates that E. G. Baker enslaved 23 people in that county.Back to Top
This collection includes several volumes containing the personal diary of Everard Green Baker (1828-1890), a white plantation owner of Jefferson; Panola; and Hinds Counties, Mississippi. Included in the diary entries, kept between 1849-1876, are recounted events of what happened to the people Baker enslaved. Included are descriptions of the untimely death in 1850 of a young girl who was enslaved, who perished of worms; an obituary for an (name unknown) enslaved individual who died of diarrhea and “dropsy” (edema); and descriptions of a brutal fight between an overseer and an enslaved man. Also included are entries regarding Baker’s social life; remedies for illnesses; recipes for food; and instructions for growing vegetables and curing meat; descriptions of the home front during the American Civil War; a genealogical table of the Baker family of Jefferson County, Mississippi; a copy of Elizabeth Green’s will, 1833; and typed transcriptions of the volumes.
Volume 1 contains remedies for illnesses and recipes. Volumes 2, 3, and 4 contain diary entries. Volume 2 covers the period January 1849 to 4 July 1854; volume 3 covers the period July 1854 to February 1858; and volume 4 covers the period March 1858 to January 1876. Typescript 1 contains volumes 1, 2, and 3, and typescript 2 contains volume 4.
The diary begins with Baker moving to his new home, Richland, believed to be in Jefferson County, Miss., on 21 January 1849. He described his daily activities, particularly social ones such as hunting, dining, and visiting with neighbors, and events in his neighbors' lives such as marriages and deaths. Baker also wrote about his personal beliefs and feelings on many different subjects. In 1849, he was reading works of Dr. Johnson, and he analyzed these in his diary.
Baker had relatives in the area whom he visited frequently. His brother Thomas lived close by and married Martha Payne on 5 June 1849. He also mentioned an Uncle A. and Aunt S. (Sarah?). His uncle and aunt had a young woman named Laura staying with them, and, in March 1849, Baker began recording in his diary his love for Laura. On 6 September 1849, he married Laura Lavinia Alexander of Moss Hill in Adams County. In their early months of marriage, they went on frequent visits to Moss Hill and to his brother Thomas's house.
In 1849, Baker described visiting indigenous people of North America at a nearby encampment, where he met Chief Billy Hunt.
During the first few years of his journal, Baker occasionally mentioned farm work and of the people he enslaved; however, he wrote more about his social events and activities. He wrote more personally about the people he enslaved than is typical in many farm journals, including such items as the description of the untimely death in 1850 of a young girl who was enslaved, who perished of worms.
After the first year of marriage, Baker wrote that he intended to live with his brother Thomas for a year and allow him the use of the people he enslaved. Thomas also owed money to Baker, which he hoped to pay back under this arrangement. Laura and Baker had their first child on 30 June 1850.
In 1852, Baker and Laura moved to a new home, probably in Panola County, Miss. Baker described the surrounding country as a swamp. He wrote increasingly about farm operations after the move. The chief crops were corn and cotton. He was interested in medicines and remedies and included detailed descriptions in his diary of illnesses and treatments that were tried on his family and the enslaved. He continued to include personal information about the people he enslaved in his diary, such as his efforts to make their Christmas holiday pleasant, their good work during one of his illnesses, and an obituary for an (name unknown) enslaved individual who died of diarrhea and “dropsy” (edema) On 26 May 1854, he recounted a story about an enslaved individual who stabbed an overseer twice because the man was going to whip him, and how the overseer in turn had stabbed the enslaved man 25 times.
In July 1854, Baker purchased a residence in town and moved his family there. He felt it was better than living in the swamp where there was no social life. On 30 December 1854, he wrote that he had exchanged plantations with Thad Sorsby, a neighbor of his in the swamp, also getting his house in town. This apparently allowed him to move his enslaved from the swamp closer to town. Baker became increasingly pious during these years, frequently writing long entries on his religious feelings. He also recorded the text and the preacher from Sunday services in his diary.
By 1855, Baker and Laura had three children, Walter, Everard (Nevy), and Edith. Baker wrote about their growth and development in his diary. Periodically he would weigh and measure his family.
On 7 September 1856, Baker wrote that he had purchased the Bryant Place. The family moved there, and, after this time, his farming operations were on a larger scale. He described picking, ginning, and pressing cotton. He also raised cattle and hogs. He continued to write about the health of everyone on the plantation and remedies to treat them. On 20 September 1857, Baker mentioned that two of the people he enslaved were getting married. He performed the ceremony and played the violin while they danced.
In 1858, Baker ran for the office of policeman in Beat Number 4 and won. During 1859, he periodically mentioned attending police court. Around this time, he made references to going to hear preaching at the campground. On 11 September, he mentioned a meeting held by the enslaved at the campground. Baker frequently wrote in his diary about trying to lead an upright, Christian life.
In the spring of 1860, there was a great deal of sickness at the plantation. Baker's wife, Laura, died on 2 July. This was a great source of grief to Baker, and, for several years afterwards, he wrote in his diary about his depressed state. He had six children, and initially thought of giving the youngest, Franky, to Mrs. A. (his mother-in-law?) as he felt he could not be properly taken care of at the plantation. However, this plan ended with an argument between Mrs. A. and Baker. He eventually took Edith, Lolly, Eliza, and Franky--the four youngest children--to his brother Thomas's house to be cared for, with two servants to look after them. Lolly died in September 1861, and Baker moved the remaining three children to Mrs. A's house.
It was about this time that Baker began writing frequently about his resolve to be moderate in his eating habits. He had always had a weak digestive system, and he felt by eating only certain foods and by eating lightly he could cure his disorders. He mentioned different diets he tried. This was part of his larger philosophy that following the natural order of things would result in a longer, happier life. Eating too much, or eating bad foods, was not following the natural order.
In diary entries written between 1861 and 1865, Baker occasionally mentioned the Civil War. In 1862, he became fearful that the Union army would cut him off from contact with his children, so he moved them back to his plantation. Also in 1862, his horses were taken by the Union army and his cotton was burned by the Confederate army. In 1863, he served in the Confederate army. He was worried about the miserable condition of the country and saw ruin ahead.
Sometime during the Civil War, Baker married Sallie Flemming. He eventually had seven children with her, although one girl died in infancy. By the end of the diary, Baker had had 13 children, two of whom had died.
In 1865, Baker wrote a little about emancipation and his efforts to use freedmen to work his plantations. This apparently did not work. Initially, the formally enslaved remained with him but eventually left. The rest of the diary documents his efforts to improve his financial situation. In 1866, he sold his plantation and moved to Hinds County. He and his older boys worked in the fields to produce cotton. He mentioned in July 1872 that he had learned more about the practical aspects of planting during that year than in any other.
On 21 July 1867, Baker mentioned that he had attended the ordination of a Black preacher, where he heard remarks by Marion Dunbar, a Black man from Jackson.
The last entry in the diary is dated 30 January 1876.Back to Top
Volume 1: Remedies
Volume 2: 1849-1854
Volume 3: 1854-1858
Volume 4: 1858-1876
Typescript 1: Volumes 1-3
Typescript 2: Volume 4