It’s difficult to write about a hero when the evidence is lean. The town of Orford in Grafton County New Hampshire today has a little over 1,2000 residents. When World War I was announced it had about 800. Though small, the town contributed its share. Some who served include (list not complete): Edward Carr, Roland E. Downing, Leonor A. Field, Parker E. Foote, Samuel Roswell Morrison, Wesley Newton Robie, Fay F. Russell, Ray Namon Streeter, Frank W. Swett, Joseph Allen Thompson, and Harvey L. Washburn.
One soldier did not return home. Harry Frank Baker was born on 26 September 1896 in Orford, New Hampshire, son of Henry G. & Inez A. (Smith) Baker. His father was a blacksmith, and Harry grew up in the town and was educated in the local schools. The 1900 U.S. Census he was living in Orford with his family and siblings George Henry, Martha A. “Mattie” (m. Joseph Pecor), Edward C. “Eddie”, Winnie F. and Fred Alvin “Freddie.”
I have not been able to locate Harry Baker’s WWI Registration form, so it is possible that he was already a member of the National Guard either in New Hampshire or in another state. What is known is that Harry Baker died on 15 October 1918 in the Bronx, New York, his occupation, “Soldier.” There is no cause of death given, so it cannot be determined if he died of disease or accident. The only military hospital in the Bronx at this time was General Hospital #1, an emergency war hospital also known as The Columbia War Hospital that was located on the so-called Williamsbridge, or Gun Hill Road. Possibly this is where Harry Baker died, the likeliest cause being influenza.
Harry’s body was returned home to Orford where he is buried in his family’s plot in Orford Village Cemetery. Harry F. Baker’s name is inscribed on the Roll of Honor in Doric Hall of the New Hampshire State House.
His tombstone reads:
HENRY G BAKER
B A K E R
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].