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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Rev. William Miller Baum Jr.

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 572-573 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The Rev. William Miller Baum, Jr., pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran church, Canajoharie, for the past forty-one years, comes from a family that is distinguished for its many members in the ministry of the Lutheran church. He is the son of the late William Miller Baum, Sr., a clergyman of the Lutheran church and two of his brothers also followed their father in the ministry: Rev. John Croll Baum, a former pastor of St. Mark's church, now deceased; and Rev. Frederick J. Baum, pastor of St. John's Lutheran church of Poughkeepsie, New York. The ancestors of William Miller Baum were of German origin and came to this country in the middle of the eighteenth century. The American progenitor of the Baum family was Dr. John Christian Baum, a physician, who settled in Baumstown, Berks county, Pennsylvania, which was named in his honor. William Miller Baum, Sr., was born in Earlville, Berks county, Pennsylvania, January 25, 1825, and passed away in Philadelphia, February 6, 1902. He was educated in the Pennsylvania (now Gettysburg) College, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to which he afterward sent his five sons. His parents were Dr. John Frederick and Sarah (Baum) Baum. Dr. Baum was born in Baumstown, Berks county, Pennsylvania, May 21, 1791, and lived in that vicinity practically all of his life. During the War of 1812 he served as a surgeon in the army and was the surgeon who was called upon to dress General Scott's wound following the battle of Lundy's Lane. He died in Berks county, January 28, 1850. His wife, who was also a native of Pennsylvania, was born December 21, 1793, and died in Berks county, July 21, 1844. William Miller Baum's mother, who bore the maiden name of Maria Louisa Croll, was born in Middletown, Pennsylvania, February 13, 1833, the daughter of John Croll, banker, and Eliza (Lauman) Croll, both of whom were born in Middletown, where they lived all of their lives. The father was born there in 1797 and died in October, 1873; while his wife, whose birth occurred in 1800, lived to be more than eighty, passing away in December, 1880. Maria L. (Croll) Baum died in Philadelphia, April 20, 1891, at the age of fifty-eight, her birth having taken place February 13, 1833. Another of Mr. Baum's ancestors bore arms for his country, Nicholas Bittinger, who as captain raised a company in York county, Pennsylvania, which was known as the Flying Camp. This company was captured during the Revolutionary war and its gallant captain imprisoned on a British prison ship where he endured a long and hard captivity which induced the disease which terminated his life. In the Civil war the Baum family was represented by an uncle of the subject of this review, George W. Baum. He served as a member of the One Hundred and Eighteenth Corn Exchange Regiment of Philadelphia, and died in Philadelphia from exposure, at the battle of Fredricksburg, after an illness that lasted six weeks.

William Miller Baum is one of a family of eight children. In addition to the two brothers in the ministry already mentioned, they are: Charles Baum, M. D., George Croll Baum, an architect, Mary Small Baum and Maria Louisa Baum, all of whom are unmarried and make their home together in Philadelphia. A third sister, Mrs. Eliza Croll (Baum) Conrad, now deceased, was the wife of Harry C. Conrad of New York city. Mr. Baum was born in Winchester, Virginia, on June 30, 1858. At the outbreak of the Civil war in 1861 the family moved north to Pennsylvania, and he was entered as a pupil in the York County Academy at York, Pennsylvania, and on January 1, 1862, took up residence in York. Five years later, in the fall of 1873, he entered the college from which his father had graduated a generation earlier, Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1877. His Alma Mater conferred upon him the Master of Arts degree, in 1880, and the Doctor of Divinity degree in 1903. Meanwhile, after graduating from college the young man took up his theological studies in the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, completing the course in 1880. The clergyman's first charge was the Central Lutheran church at Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, where he was pastor from October 1, 1880, until the end of January, 1883. He left Phoenixville to come to Canajoharie to St. Mark's Lutheran church, to fill the vacancy caused by the illness of his brother, the Rev. John Croll Baum.

For forty-two years Mr. Baum has ministered to the people of St. Mark's church, baptizing their children, marrying their young people and burying their dead. As pastor, family friend and counselor he is beloved in many a home in this community, nor has his influence been limited by the membership of his own congregation. No man could play a prominent part in the life of a city, support its movements for civic betterment, aid the causes that make for higher moral and social standards and lend a helping hand to those in need for nearly half a century, without gathering about himself a host of friends and confidants from all walks of life. In his own parish Rev. Mr. Baum has been instrumental in enlarging and improving the church property as well as increasing his congregation and the scope of its activities. He was president of the old Hartwick Lutheran Synod at one time and has also held the office of president of the Lutheran Synod of New York state. For twenty-five years this devoted clergyman sat on the board of trustees for Hartwick Seminary, during fifteen of which he occupied the president's chair.

Always a factor in the civic and philanthropic work of this community, Rev. Mr. Baum was among the first to take an active part in the work of the World war. As chairman of the ministerial committee he was the guiding spirit in the assistance given our service men by that body, while his assistance and support were influential in promoting the success of the Liberty Loan drives and the work of the local chapter of the American Red Cross Society. On his vacations from his ministerial duties Mr. Baum has seized the opportunity to travel extensively. There is no form of recreation and diversion he enjoys more, and surely no pleasanter way of spending a holiday could be devised than a trip to new scenes and interesting places, either in this country or abroad.

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