Enfield Shaker Elder Hiram Carlos Baker
Elder Hiram Carlos Baker
Carte de visite
Photographer unknown, ca. 1880
Collection of Enfield Shaker Museum, Enfield, NH

Elder Hiram Carlos Baker

Hiram Carlos Baker, Shaker trustee, was born December 22, 1823, in Sharon, Vermont, the son of Lot and Charlotte (Vincent) Baker.

Thirteen-year-old Hiram Carlos Baker came to the Enfield, New Hampshire Shakers in 1834 from nearby Sharon, Vermont. Hiram grew to maturity in the Church Family. He became an accomplished currier and shoemaker; he is also credited with building the Church Family sugar camp. He ran the sugaring operation until other responsibilities required that he turn it over to Shaker brother John Cummings.

At the age of 29, he was appointed an associate trustee under Caleb Dyer. For the next 46 years, he served as either trustee or elder, or both, in whatever family needed him most.

Besides being responsible for Shaker business interests, Baker also represented the Enfield Shakers in legal conflicts. That responsibility made him cautious about entanglements with the world. In 1880, for example, an infant was left on the doorstep of the Second Family office. Some of the sisters probably hoped they could keep the abandoned infant. Baker, however, recognized the difficulties that were likely to ensue if this four-week-old child were taken in. He quickly turned the baby over to local authorities.

As a trustee Hiram had many opportunities to travel to other Shaker villages and to large New England cities. But unlike many well-known Shaker trustees, he did not have a high-profile presence in the outside world. It was primarily within the Enfield Shaker community that he was known and cherished for his quiet faithfulness, his honesty, and his unwavering commitment to his Shaker faith.

Hiram Carlos Baker died March 30, 1906, at the Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire. He is buried in the Church Family Shaker Cemetery in Enfield.

Original author: Mary Ann Haagen