KYCLAY-L ArchivesArchiver > KYCLAY > 2002-01 > 1010879951
Subject: Re: [KYCLAY] THE CLAY COUNTY WAR, by Jess
Date: Sat, 12 Jan 2002 18:59:11 EST
In a message dated 01/12/2002 3:50:07 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> When they interviewed me for this documentary, they had me talking longer
> than the film lasted when aired. While I was watching, if I had blinked
> twice I might have missed seeing myself. Of the comments I made that were
> not used was that Dr. Abner Baker, was most likely gay. He was 33 years old
> when he married 16 year old Susan White in 1844. They lived with his
> brother-in-law, Daniel Bates who had married his sister Mary Baker in 1824.
> Dr. Baker reported that Susan had told him of having sexual intercourse
> with various males, among them slaves of the family and her professor at
> Richmond. When I first read about this I asked why should she do this . I
> came to the conclusion that perhaps 33 year old Dr. Abner Baker was
> incapable of, as it has been politely described, "of consummating the
> marriage" and she may have told him this to provoke his libido..Some years
> ago a PhD candidate at the University of Kentucky wrote me that he was
> writing a thesis on that subject and asked me for some details.
> Daniel Bates had a fetish about kidding his brother-in-law. In his agitated
> state with his unhappy marriage and other things including uncomplimentary
> remarks Daniel Bates made about the his dog was what caused a crazed Dr.
> Baker to kill Daniel Bates.
> Dr Baker gave himself up to two Clay County Magistrates, Theophilus Tolman
> Garrard and the elder, John Gilbert. John Gilbert had been a friend of Hugh
> White, the progenitor of the White family in Clay County. Their conclusion
> was that Dr, Bates was a mono-maniac and advised the doctor`s brothers, who
> were doctors in Knoxville, Tennessee to take him out of the country. They
> sent him to Cuba for about a year..
> So much pressure was put on the Governor of Kentucky that the governor
> pressured Dr. Abner`s father, Abner Baker, Sr. to persuade the brothers to
> bring the accused back to stand trial because he would be found not guilty
> by reason of his being a mono-maniac. The elder Abner Baker had resigned as
> Clay County Clerk in 1833 and moved to Garrard County
> However, the jury did not buy the defense argument that a person could be
> perfectly sane when discussing any subject except anything touching on his
> wife, then he became a raving maniac. Allen E. Robertson had recently moved
> to Clay County from near Richmond in Madison County and it was for this
> reason Allen was chosen to be an inside guard of Dr. Baker while he was in
> jail. Robertson, many years later told Rev. Dickey that Dr. Baker could
> talk reasonably about anything but that when you mentioned his wife he
> would froth at the mouth in rage.
> The father of Dr. Abner Baker, same name, was the first County and Circuit
> Court Clerk of Clay County when it was formed in 1807. He had been
> pressured to accept the position at the urging of friends in Mercer,
> Madison and Garrard counties. It was important for people in the Blus Grass
> that had land claims in the mountains,to have a friend in the clerk`s
> office where land titles were recorded. Abner Baker was also in financial
> trouble having invested heavily in river bonds that did not turn out as
> expected. Abner Baker was also a distant cousin of Robert Baker, Sr. who
> came to what was to be Clay County in 1803. He may have been influenced to
> do so by Francis Clark and others in Mercer County. When, December 4th,
> 1806, the Kentucky Legislature passed a law forming the county of Clay, the
> law specified that the first court was to be held "at the home of Robert
> This Robert Baker, also known as Julius Bob, was the father of Robert
> Baker, Jr. also known as Boston, the father of George Baker. George Baldy
> Baker married Rachel Strong, whose mother, Ann Wilson, was a sister to my
> great grandfather Pleasant Wilson. That is how it was that I was kin to the
> Tom Baker, a second cousin to my father. So it was through my grandfather
> AlfredWilson that I was kin to the fighting Bakers, but a Baker descendant
> through a Bker friendly to the Whites.
> If you are really interested in a detailed account how I fit into all this,
> and it is complicated with Gilberts, give me a mailing address and I will
> send you a 16 page pamphlet: A LATTER DAY LOOK AT KY MTN FEUDS. You can
> send me three dollars in the SASE if you are so inclined to help keep me
> out of the poor house.
You make an interesting point about Abner Baker being gay. All I know about
him is the things I've read by you, John Ed Pearce, & others, but it's clear
that he was mentally unbalanced, and that the source of his problems were
sexual in nature. His sexual disorder(s) were probably what caused him to
abuse his wife. If she were a bad woman, whatever the problems were couldn't
be his fault.
As to the jury not believing that he could be crazy in only one area of his
life, that was the prevalent thinking in those days. However, we know better
than that nowadays. As a clinical psychologist, I know that a person can be
completely rational in every area of their their life & still be delusional
about a single subject. Delusions are a symptom in several mental diagnoses,
including schizophrenia, paranoia, & psychotic depression.
When I worked at the old Longview State Hospital in Cincinnati during my
predoctoral intership, one long-term resident there was convinced that her
long-dead son came into the window of the hospital during the night & slept
with her. She was a pleasant woman, interesting to discuss & debate with.
She was a model patient so long as no one tried to convince her that she was
mistaken about her son. However, she became violent when challenged on that
topic to the point where she would rant & rave, sometimes needing to be
sedated. The root of this unfortunate soul's pain was a lifetime of neglect &
abandonment. The one person who had ever cared for her was her child & she
simply was not about to give him up.
I you are correct that Abner Baker was gay, one might speculate that the real
object of his affections was Daniel Bates, not Susan White. I would fit with
the delusion that they both preferred each other to him, and would account
for him killing Bates. Just a thought.