Mathias Baeker

Mathias Baeker, also known as “Becker”, was born 1836 in Prussia.

As a young man Mathias immigrated to the United States and by the late 1850s had settled in western Michigan. He was living in Grand Rapids when he married Prussian-born Theresa Lux (b. 1838) on February 7 or 11, 1857, in Grand Rapids; the ceremony was performed by Rev. Francis Cuming (who would become the first chaplain in the Third Michigan). Mathias and Theresa had at least ten children: Albert J. (b. 1857), Wilhelm J. (b. 1859), Edward V.M. (b. 1861), Mathilda (b. 1863), Pauline (b. 1865), Augustina (b. 1869), Delia (b. 1877), Maggie (b. 1878), Frank L. (b. 1880) and Hiram (b. 1883).

In 1860 Mathias and his wife were residing in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward where he worked as a cooper.

Mathias was 25 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted as Second Sergeant in Company C on May 23, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles”, a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)

Mathias claimed that during the battle of First Bull Run, on July 21, 1861, he was injured by being ruptured, “which extended into the scrotum by the violence of the action. . . .” He was reported sick in the regimental hospital from November of 1861 through February of 1862, and was discharged for hernia and rheumatism on March 4, 1862, at Camp Michigan, Virginia.

After his discharge from the army Mathias returned to Michigan, living briefly in Kent County, then moving to Allegan and by May of 1868 was living at 822 Harrison Street in Saginaw, Saginaw County, working as a peddler and cooper. He was living with his wife and children and keeping a boarding house in Saginaw’s Second Ward in 1870. He was still living in Saginaw in 1880 with his wife and children, in 1888 and 1890, reportedly suffering from a rupture and rheumatism and in Saginaw’s Fourteenth ward in 1894. In fact, he probably resided at 822 Harrison for the remainder of his life.

In 1888 he applied for and received pension no. 525354, drawing $10.00 per month in 1905. (He may have been a witness for Jackson Bennett’s pension application.)

At some point his wife Theresa was committed to the Michigan State Asylum for the Insane in Kalamazoo, where she died on January 27, 1903. Mathias then married one Catherine Decker (she was divorced from her first husband in 1897), on January 29, 1903, in Saginaw.

Mathias was still residing at 822 Harrison in Saginaw when he died on June 5 or 13, 1905, and was presumably buried in Saginaw.

His widow applied for a pension (no. 833161) but the certificate was never granted.