~ Bakker ~
Holland ~ Iowa ~ South Dakota
Arend Herman Baker
Arend was born “op den twintigsten der maand Juni des jaars duizend achthonderd acht en tachtig, des namiddag te vijf uur, te Finsterwold” (on the twentieth of the month of June in the year one thousand eight hundred eight and eighty, in the mid-afternoon at five o’clock, at Finsterwolde). He and his brother Harm were twins and the youngest of 10 children. Arend emigrated from Holland to America with his parents when he was 15 years old, arriving at Ellis Island on August 11, 1903. After arriving in America, the family first settled in rural Dumont, Iowa where Arend and Harm attended school. In 1910 Arend and Harm moved to the De Smet / Lake Preston area of Kingsbury County, South Dakota where they farmed together for several years. In addition to farming, they also owned an auction business called ‘Baker Brothers’.
In 1917, at the Kingsbury County Court House in De Smet, Arend filed his ‘Declaration of Intention’ to become an American citizen. He must not have followed through with the process at that time, because he filed another ‘Declaration on Intention’ on October 19, 1934. This was also at the court house in De Smet. His petition for citizenship was filed on August 25, 1939, and he took his Oath of Allegiance and received his Certificate of Citizenship on December 4, 1939.
Harm eventually returned to Iowa but Arend remained in the De Smet / Lake Preston area. Arend was marred to Nellie Irene Torrence on August 22, 1917, in Lake Preston, South Dakota. They made their home for several years on a farm 4 miles east of De Smet. This is where their 5 children, 3 sons and 2 daughters, were born. The children attended a one room school a few miles east of the family farm. From here they moved to a farm north of De Smet where they lived until 1949 when Arend went to work for the De Smet Cemetery Association and they moved into the city of De Smet. They first rented a home on the corner of Joliet Ave. and 4th St. before buying their home on Front St. Arend died suddenly on the morning of July 25, 1956 of a heart attack. He was 68 years old. Nellie continued to live in their home until 1992 when she went to live in the De Smet Good Samaritan Nursing Home. She died July 12, 1999 at the age of 99.
On a personal note, Arend was my grandfather but “Dad” to me because I was raised by my grandparents. When I was small and we still lived on the farm north of De Smet, I would run out to meet him as he drove the team of work horses back to the barn after a day of working in the field. He would lift me up onto the back of one of the horses and I would hang unto the harness and ride back to the barn. I cried and cried when the horses were sold because we were moving into town. When I was older, Mom told me the story of how I came to her crying because the horses had been taken away by their new owner. She told me that I said to her, “Well at least I still have my baby calf in the barn to pet.” She said she didn’t have the heart to tell me that it had been sold too. After we moved into town and Dad went to work for the De Smet Cemetery, he would occasionally take me to work with him. I would spend the day galloping around the grounds of the cemetery on my imaginary horse. Mom always told me I was like his little shadow.
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