Baker, Henry G.

District: 1
Hometown: Muskogee, Oklahoma, Muskogee County
Birthplace: Defiance, Ohio
Spouse: Adelaide C. Baker

Governor Charles Haskell chose fellow Ohioan, Henry Baker as the first member of the Court of Criminal Appeals from the Eastern District. At the time of appointment Baker was 50 years old. He was the only member of original three judges to have prior experiences as a judge.

Although he had been a lawyer for almost 28 years, he had devoted most of his time to oil and railroad transactions since he settled in Muskogee. Baker and his associates found paying quantities of oil in the Creek Nation and he is credited with having started the first oil company in Muskogee in 1904. Also in 1904 he was Secretary on special commission of Muskogee Chamber of Commerce on removal of restrictions on sale and lease of Indian lands.


By Luther B. Hill, A. B., With the Assistance of Local Authorities, Volume II, Illustrated, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago / New York, 1909, Page 320

JUDGE HENRY GEORGE BAKER, a leading lawyer of Muskogee, formerly county judge in Ohio, and since he became a resident of what is now Oklahoma, a prominent figure in the found and development of its oil interests, is altogether a man of note in the progress of the new state. With his associates, he was the first to discover oil in paying quantities in the Creek Nation of the Indian territory, and is now a director of the Muskogee Oil Refining Company and president of two large railroads now in course of construction–the Muskogee and Texas and the St. Louis and Oklahoma Southern. He is an officer and director in many other developing enterprises of the city and the state, and, in connection with his railroad interests, is also the founder and promoter of not a few towns. In short, his legal knowledge has been combined with his business and executive ability in a variety of large enterprises whose development are forming a part of the progress of eastern Oklahoma.

Henry G. Baker was born in new Cleveland, Putnam county, Ohio, on the 27th of February, 1858, son of Henry G. and Bennah (Van Alstine) Baker, his father being a well known merchant. His maternal grandfather was a builder and supervising architect of New York state, of substantial standing in his profession. The early education of Henry G. Baker was obtained in the public schools of Defiance, Ohio, and prior to taking up his law studies he graduated from the high school of that place. Soon afterward he commenced his professional tutelage under Hon. W. D. Hill, representative in Congress, and on the 5th of January, 1881, was admitted to the bar by examination in the supreme court of Ohio, sitting at Columbus.

Judge Baker commenced the practice of his profession at Defiance, Ohio, in association with his preceptor, Mr. Hill, with whom he remained in partnership until 1902, except for three years when he was located at Austin, Texas. The later portion of his practice at Defiance was conducted under the firm names of Hill and Baker and Baker and Phelps, and he also served as judge of the Defiance county court and in minor official positions. While a resident of that city he served as a member of the Ohio state board connected with the World’s Columbian Exposition, being appointed by Governor Campbell chairman of its education committee. Coming up to Muskogee, Judge Baker has practiced under the firm name of Baker and Pursel, but, as stated, has given the bulk of his attention to the development of oil and railroad enterprises. He is married to an Ohio lady, formerly Miss Adelaide Cober, of Toledo. By a former marriage he has a daughter, now Mrs. F. D. Segar, of Muskogee. The Judge is a member of the Town and Country Club, the Elks and other well known organizations.

September 10, 1908, Judge Baker was appointed by Governor Haskell judge of the criminal court of appeals, the criminal branch of the supreme court. His opinions rendered from that bench have a special significance and importance arising from the fact that the judicial history of the state of Oklahoma is just beginning, and that the decisions of the present courts will be the precedents for many years to come. It is fortunate that so capable a representative of the bar should have been summoned to this position.