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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Ashley D. L. Baker

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 294-297 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Portrait of Ashley D. L. Baker

Portrait: Ashley D. L. Baker

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For considerably more than half a century Ashley D. L. Baker has been a conspicuous figure in the professional, financial and public life of Gloversville, where he is known as a lawyer, judge, banker and public-spirited citizen. Some years ago he retired from his profession as a lawyer and since resigning his position as president of the Fulton County National Bank in 1924 has presided over its board of directors as chairman of the board. Born in the town of West Monroe, Otsego county, New York, July 28, 1843, Mr. Baker is the son of Samuel P. and Mary H. (Atherton) Baker. His father was born in the town of Lenox, New York, in 1800, and as a young man moved to Constantia, (part of which was afterward changed to West Monroe), Oswego county, where he farmed and conducted a tannery for many years. He died in 1888, at the advanced age of eighty-eight. His wife, a native of Lynchburgh, Vermont, died in 1883, at the age of eighty, her birth having occurred in 1803.

Ashley D. L. Baker spent his boyhood in West Monroe, where he obtained his elementary education, after which he studied in the seminary at Whitestown, New York, and Mexico Academy of Otsego county. With his two brothers, the Hon. W. H. Baker, a former member of congress, and S. Park Baker, he took up the study of law privately and later attended the law school at Albany, where he completed his preparation for the bar. He passed his examinations and was admitted to the New York bar in 1866, and the following spring came to Gloversville to establish himself in the practice of his profession. As he was a total stranger here, without friends or influence, the practice the young attorney built up was the result of his own efforts and a tribute to his ability in his chosen profession. For about forty-five years Ashley D. L. Baker was one of the foremost members of the Fulton county bar, enjoying the prestige and practice that is accorded a lawyer of outstanding ability and unquestioned integrity. About twelve years ago he gave up his law practice and has since devoted his attention chiefly to his financial interests.

In 1902 Mr. Baker was elected to the presidency of the Fulton County National Bank of Gloversville, an office he continued to fill with signal success for twenty-two successive years. Toward the conclusion of his last year of office he served notice that he would not become a candidate for reelection, so the board of directors chose him as its chairman in 1924. In this manner the bank is able to avail itself of Mr. Baker's long experience and excellent judgment in financial matters when formulating its policies, without burdening him with the more or less routine duties devolving upon one of its executive officers. The Fulton County National Bank, the second oldest in the county, is one of the strong financial institutions of this section of the state. In 1901, before Mr. Baker assumed the duties of president, it was capitalized at one hundred and fifty thousand dollars and had a surplus amounting to the same figure. When the fine new bank building that now houses the institution was erected in 1912, the capital had been increased to three hundred thousand dollars, while the surplus had grown to an equal sum. Now the capital is half a million and the surplus four hundred thousand, while the deposits average between four and five million. These figures tell briefly the story of a remarkable growth and expansion that is due very largely to Mr. Baker's constructive work as president of the bank.

Mr. Baker was elected judge for Fulton county in 1878 and served on the county bench for six nears, presiding over the deliberations of his court with a becoming dignity and displaying a knowledge of the law and fairness of judgment that won the confidence and admiration of all who came before him. At the time the city of Gloversville was incorporated the citizens honored Mr. Baker by selecting him for their first mayor. In many other ways he has given substantial evidence of his interest in the civic life of his city, never refusing to aid any good movement that had for its purpose the advancement of the public welfare. Politically Mr. Baker is affiliated with the republican party. Since joining the Congregational church in Gloversville in 1873 he has been active in its work and for years has held the office of deacon. Mr. Baker is also a Mason, a member of the blue lodge, the chapter and the Knights Templars; and he belongs to the Eccentric Club, in which he is one of the oldest members, both in length of membership and age. Although he has completed more than fourscore years, his eighty-first birthday has found Mr. Baker bearing the burden of his years lightly and enjoying a robustness of health and vigor of mind that would do credit to a man many years his junior. He is now enjoying that "last of life, for which the first was made", and freed from some of the burdens of an active life, is finding time for some of the pleasures and interests that once he was forced to push aside in favor of pressing business and professional matters.

In August of 1870, Mr. Baker was married to Alice Judson, the daughter of Alanson and Jane (Ellison) Judson. The Judsons were natives of this state, early settlers in Gloversville and a prominent family here. The happiness of this young couple was destined to be short. Their only child, Park, died at the age of five months, and on March 11, 1875, the young wife was claimed by death. In June of the following year Mr. Baker married Marion Judson, a sister of his wife, and to them were born three children: Alanson, who is engaged in the leather business at Johnstown, New York; Mary, the wife of Dr. C. F. Chaffe of Rochester; and Alice M., now Mrs. G. W. Heacock of Ilion. Mrs. Baker died in April, 1902. In September of 1907, Mr. Baker was married to Mrs. Dorothy (Ingerson) Paul, daughter of Jeremiah Ingerson of West Monroe, New York. Mr. and Mrs. Baker make their home at No. 83 Washington street, Gloversville.

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