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Baker Scholarship June 2014
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Scholarship Honors Adair County Family Who Attended Lindsey Wilson Training School

Posted on Thursday, June 12, 2014 [9:43 PM]

Baker Scholarship -- March 2014
James T. Baker holds a picture of his late mother, Mattie Barger Baker. Baker started
the Mattie B. Baker & Sons Scholarship in memory or her and two of his brothers,
Walter and Tyler.

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- Adair County native Mattie Barger Baker was born before the first classes were held at Lindsey Wilson College.

Now, thanks to one of her sons, her legacy will be felt by future generations of the college's students.

The Mattie B. Baker & Sons Scholarship will help an Adair County resident earn a college education.

James T. Baker of Richmond, Ky., said he started the endowed scholarship to honor his mother and two of his brothers, all of whom attended Lindsey Wilson.

"We were all very grateful to our parents, we were all very thankful to our teachers, and we were thankful for being raised in a Christian home," Baker said. "In a way, this is a delayed gift really from my parents and my brothers to Lindsey Wilson."

Baker and two of his late brothers, Walter and Tyler, attended the former Lindsey Wilson Training School through the sixth grade. All three graduated from Adair County schools and then had distinguished careers -- Walter was a state senator and Kentucky Supreme Court justice; Tyler was a chiropractor; and James served the Social Security Administration.

Mattie Baker, who was born in 1899 in the Hardscratch area, used an eighth-grade education and education courses she took Lindsey WIlson to become a teacher in Macon, Ga., where she earned $35 a week.

She returned to Adair County in the 1920s where she met and married Columbia businessman Herschel Baker. The Bakers had six children, but twin girls died in childbirth and their oldest son, Herschel Porter, died at age 8 of an appendicitis.

In the early 1940s, Herschel Baker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That forced Mattie to shoulder an increasingly larger burden of supporting the family. James Baker said his mother raised chickens and planted "a large garden" on the home's five acres, which adjoined what is now the Columbia Post Office.

Then Mattie "bought a few little antique glass pieces for a few dollars and sold them to double her money," James said.

That sale began what blossomed into an almost four-decade business in the antique business. When Mattie died in December 1980, she had become one of the more well-known and respected antique dealers in the region.

"She was really enthusiastic about antiques, she really loved the business and developed a good reputation," James said. "She had second- and third-generation antique customers because she was so well-known."

In fact, about 12 hours before Mattie died, she recorded her one of her best sales, James said. By then, her business had expanded to almost three houses packed with antiques.

"When I was in school, they kidded me that I lived in the house where people were moving out every day," James said. "Because when Mom would come home with antiques, and they were piled on the front porch until she went through everything."

James Baker said he and his two brothers not only appreciated the educational foundation they received at the Lindsey Wilson Training School but also advice they received from their parents.

"One thing Dad and Mom both preached to us was save for a rainy day," he said. "They would say, 'We can't tell you when it's going to happen, but we can tell you that if you hang around here, it's going to happen.' And they were right on that. And that's good advice for anyone."

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