JOHN R. BAER, b. 11Mar1839, d. 23May1911


from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906

John R. Baer, who has been an active factor in business and official circles but is now living retired in Oskaloosa, is a native son of Indiana, having been born in Rockville, Parke county, on the 11th of March, 1839. His father, George W. Baer, was a native of Virginia and when a young man went to Ohio, where he remained until after his marriage to Elizabeth Lundy, a native of that state. Soon, however, they removed to Parke county, Indiana, and in 1843 went to Sarcoxie, Missouri. In the fall of 1845 they came to Oskaloosa, which was then a small village, having few business enterprises and but a small number of houses. The father followed the tailor's trade for a short time and then engaged in general mercliandising, while later he bought, sold and shipped stock for many years. In this way he accumulated a handsome competency, but he lost his capital by financially accommodating a friend. In early life he was an old-line whig, and under the laws of Iowa filled the office of collector and treasurer of the county for one term, acting in the latter capacity in 1847-8. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and died in that faith in 1892, at the age of seventy-eight years. His wife, an earnest Christian woman, passed away in May, 1855, when thirty-five years of age, dying of cholera. In their family were seven children, of whom three are yet living, namely: John R.; Amelia, who is the widow of Reason Wilson, of Oskaloosa; and George W., of the Indian Territory. Those deceased are: Rebecca, wife of John W. Murphy; Mary; Martha Henrietta; and Lloyd. By phy; Mary; Martha Henrietta; and Lloyd. By Clark county, Iowa, George W. Baer had two children: Elizabeth, the wife of L. D. Fowler, of Washington, D. C.; and Byron, of Nebraska. John R. Baer was educated in the public schools and when a boy began clerking for the firm of Hardy, Searle & Young, with whom he remained for three years. He afterward spent two years on his father's farm in Oskaloosa township and was next employed by Benjamin Roop until the spring of 186o, when he drove across the country with ox-teams to a town seventy-five miles west of Denver, Colorado, there prospecting for gold. In the fall, however, he returned in the same manner to Oskaloon, being fifty-two days on the outgoing trip and thirty-one days on the return trip. He then became a clerk for George M. Downs, of this city, the store being on the present site of the courthouse. In the previous fall he cast a vote for Abraham Lincoln, which was his first ballot. He continued clerking until the 15th of July, 1861. On that date Mr. Baer, responding to his country's call for troops, became a member of Company C, Seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry, which was the second company raised in Mahaska county. He was present with his regiment at the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, in the battle of Shiloh and the siege and battle of Corinth. He also participated in the battle at Pulaski, Tennessee, where he was detailed for service in the commissary department under Captain Palmer and Hon. C. C. Carpenter, ex-governor of Iowa, and thus acted until mustered out on the 10th of August, 1864, at Chattanooga, Tennessee. When the war was over Mr. Bier returned to Oskaloosa and clerked for the firm of Jones & Tullis in a general store for two years. In the meantime Mr. Tullis purchased his partner's interest, and Mr. Baer bought the interest of John W. Tullis, and the firm of Tullis & Baer was formed and so continued for a year. At the end of that time our subject sold his interest to his partner and began dealing in stock, which he bought and shipped for three years. He next removed to Beacon, this county, where he became a clerk in the coal company's store, owned by the firm of Evans, Jones & Bacr, the last named being his father. After three years the father sold out and John R. Baer withdrew from the store and joined his father in the partnership under the firm name of Baer & Son. Two years later the father sold his interest to J. P. Davis and the firm of Davis & Baer existed for one and a half years. The junior partner then returned to Oskaloosa and became a bookkeeper in the hardware store of C. Cooper, by whom he was employed for two years. He was next deputy sheriff of Mahaska county for a year and a half under Sheriff Barr, and when his former employer sold his hardware store to W. H. Todd, Mr. Baer returned to the store, where he acted as bookkeeper for a year, when the business was sold to Knapp & Spaulding. Mr. Baer then went upon the road as a traveling salesman until the fall of 1885, when he was elected on the republican ticket to the position of county auditor, which he filled for four years, proving a capable official and retired from the office as he had entered it- with the confidence and good will of all concerned. Re-entering commercial life, he went upon the road for George Hall & Company, wholesale hardware dealers, with whom he continued for two years and later he was on the road for Huber & Kalbach Company, hardware dealers, for two years. He afterward served as deputy county auditor under J. B. Cruzen and W. T. Martin, filling the office for eight years, or until January, 1905 since which time he has lived retired. On the 8th of November, 1866, Mr. Baer was married to Miss Frances Carnahan, a native of Ohio, who died in 1900, at the age of fifty-two years. Their children are: Nellie A., the wife of C. C. Pike, of Oskaloosa; Grace L., wife of C. W. Carr, of the same city; and Bernice L. Mr. Baer belongs to Triluminar lodge, No. 18, A. F. & A. M., having been made a Mason in 1866. He also holds membership relations with Phil Kearney post, G. A. R., and in politics is a stalwart republican, having stood loyally by the party which was the chief defense of the Union and of the administration during the dark days of the Civil war. He is a representative citizen of the town and county, interested in all movements which are a matter of civic pride, and his efforts in behalf of general improvement and progress have been effective and far-reaching.

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