|Birth: ||Apr. 10, 1855|
|Death: ||Jan. 1, 1929|
E. E. Baker was born on a farm near Aurora on April 10, 1855, the son of a farmer who had moved from New York state to Illinois. he left school in 1870, at age 15, and went to work as an office boy in the Chicago office of Anderson Steamer and Heater Co., a small company founded two years earlier in a booming little village down the tracks called Kewanee. The firm made boilers to heat hog feed and, in 1871, produced their first boiler for home heating. He didn't know it at the time, but boilers were destined to shape Baker's future and make him a very wealthy man. Six years after going to work for Anderson, the office boy from Aurora, now 21, moved to Kewanee. Anderson had been purchased by William Haxtun in 1875 and the company was now Haxtun Steam Heater. Baker came to Kewanee as a bookkeeper and general handyman, and within eight years, by 1884, he was on the board of directors and treasurer. In 1875, Haxtun employed about 30 people. In 1884, that grew to 500, and by 1890, there were 1,100 employed. Besides steam boilers, the firm also produced apparatus for steam heating systems, including radiators, pipes or tubes, valves and fittings. National changed the name of the company to Western Tube in 1891 and the following year decided to get out of the boiler business and concentrate on producing pipes, fittings, radiators and other items for steam heating systems. Double E saw an opening. Along with several associates, the boiler production line was purchased "on nerve alone," and in 1892, Kewanee Boiler was founded as a separate company. It continued to operate in the Western Tube plant, which would later become the Walworth Company. Starting with 80 employees, Kewanee Boiler had grown to 200 in 1900 when it needed more room, left the Western Tube plant on North Main and built a new factory along the tracks about a mile west of downtown, a site the firm would occupy until 2002. By the 1920s, Kewanee Boiler had hit its peak employment of 1,300 and was sending boilers around the world. By rail and truck they left Kewanee for government buildings, schools, factories, homes and even the Statue of Liberty.
E. E. Baker would remain president until his death on Jan. 1, 1929. He married Jennie Hallin in 1900 at age 45. His ultimate legacy, however, is the Kewanee Park District. He announced at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in 1919 that he would donate $50,000 toward a park system if the people of Kewanee would pass a referendum to establish a park system and match his donation by authorizing $50,000 in bonds. The issues both passed and Baker was elected first president of the park board. Northeast Park was the district's first acquisition, followed by Chautauqua Park in 1922 and Baker Park in 1924. Baker also donated money to build a small park across the railroad tracks from the Boiler plant on a triangular piece of land. It was called Liberty Park and later moved to the north end of West Park and the original site became a parking lot. In 1924, Baker established a foundation known as E. E. Baker, Incorporated and funded it with $400,000 in stocks and bonds. The interest was to be used primarily for upkeep of the parks, but also to support the crippled children's clinic established by the Rotary Club and taken over later by the Elks Lodge, and "to assist worthy boys and girls through college."
Note: He is buried in a personal Mausoleum on lot 740
Pleasant View Cemetery
Plot: Lot 740, B section BC, block 4
Maintained by: Har37x
Originally Created by: K. Roberts
Record added: Jun 21, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 92280475