Jess Alexander BAKER

The Handbook Of Texas Online

BAKER, JESS ALEXANDER (1856-1921). Jess Alexander Baker, merchant and state representative, the son of Daniel Marlin and Angeline E. (Chism) Baker, was born near Georgetown, Texas, on October 11, 1856. In 1871 he moved with his father and younger brother to Granbury, where he worked as a tinner, making and repairing tin kitchen utensils. Four years later he opened a store in partnership with his brother Daniel Oscar to sell leather goods, wagons, buggies, and farm implements. By 1895 he was also vice president of the Hood County Milling Company, the Granbury Quarry Company, and the First National Bank of Granbury; he held the latter position until his death.

Baker was elected in 1906 as the Democratic candidate for the Seventy-sixth legislative district (after 1913, the Ninety-seventh district). He sat in the Texas House of Representatives for Hood, Erath, and Somervell counties for five terms (1907, 1909, 1911, 1915, 1917). Throughout his political career he supported progressive measures and became especially noted for his advocacy of compulsory school attendance and woman suffrage.qv During his first term in the Thirtieth Legislature (1907) he introduced a suffrage amendment to the Texas constitution and did so again during his third term in the Thirty-second Legislature (1911). In 1917, during the Thirty-fifth Legislature, Baker cosponsored two suffrage bills, one to grant women primary suffrage and another to submit a women’s suffrage amendment to the state’s voters. Baker married Alice Ballen in 1880; they had a daughter and a son who survived into adulthood and a daughter who died in infancy. Baker died in Granbury on May 18, 1921.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Willie D. Bowles, History of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1939). Minnie Fisher Cunningham Papers, Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library. Dallas Morning News, May 19, 1921. A. Elizabeth Taylor, Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas (Austin: Temple, 1987). Texas Legislature, House Journal.

Elizabeth York Enstam