August 11, 1925
Daily News Record
Body of Missing Woman Found on Brushy Mountain.
Mrs. John Baker disappeared from Stokesville last January.
Started walking to W.Va. Believed she was frozen to death.
Identified by pair of shoes.
The disappearance of Mrs. Martha Moats Baker, wife of John Baker, of Stokesville, who left her home January 8, last to walk across mountain to her parents home in Pendleton County has been solved.
Her body was found last Sunday in the ravine in Brushy Mountain by federal foresters. It is believed she lost her way and was frozen to death while trying to make her way over the Alleghany Mountain.
The Augusta Authorities were notified and they will hold an inquest and doubtless determine the cause of death.
C.E. and Samuel Houdershell and Arlie Smith of Forestry Services were blazing a trail across the mountain when they stumbled upon the body of the missing woman. Mr. Smith identified the body by a pair of shoes she wore.
By a coincidence he (Mr. Smith) was in a store at Sugar Grove last winter and saw Mrs. Baker purchase the shoes. The shoes were the same ones the woman's feet were encased when found.
There was no evidence of foul play. Her small grip [purse] was found along side her body. Her skull was about 8 feet from her body.
When Mrs. Baker left Stokesville and did not show up at her parents' home in Pendleton County searches were made for traces of her, but, none could be found. It was then thought she had met her death by freezing in the mountains. As it was about the time the bitter winter of January set in.
Searchers were doubtless balked in hunting for her body by heavy snow.
Daily News Record
October 26, 1987
What actually happened to the woman has remained a mystery through the years, but three bear hunters who know the story of Martha Moats Baker have placed the memorial at the spot in the George Washington National Forest, where Forest Service personnel discovered her remains seven months after her death.
"We believe she froze to death that January day," Tommy Collins of Briery Branch said. "But she could have been killed by a wild animal when she stopped to rest. We really don't know what happened to her."
Rockingham County folklore has it that it was snowing that January Sunday in 1925 when Mrs. Baker began a 20 mile hike from her home in Stokesville to visit relatives in Fletcher Run, W.Va.
The 45 year old wife and mother had made the trip many times before, but that January Sunday proved to be her last trip anywhere.
In August 1925 U.S. Forest Service personnel cutting trails on Old Brushy Mountain near Little Bald Knob spotted the remains of Mrs. Baker and buried them where they were found, 3,885 feet above sea level.
The trip from Stokesville to Fletcher Run would not have been easy for anyone to make, especially on foot, Collins said. "She would have followed the trail across Little River over Buck Mountain climbing to Little Bald Knob, then down to her family's home at Fletcher Run."
Collins said it's not known for sure why her husband, John or her son Roy, didn't search for her more thoroughly or bury her remains closer to home when they were found, but, he believes part of the reason is due to the financial situation of the people living in the George Washington forest during the early part of this century.
"There wasn't much money," he said. "Church records dating from the 20's show some Sunday collections totaling only 17 cents," Collins added.
Apparently nobody knew for sure where Mrs. Baker was supposed to be, Collins said.
The three bear hunters that placed the tombstone were Leon Huffer, Tommy Collins, and Norman Michael.
Martha Moats Baker
Froze to death near this spot
on Brushy Mtn.
Found August 30, 1925
Apparently the "found" date on her stone is incorrect, as the news article about her discovery is 2+ weeks before the date on her stone.
John R. Baker
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