Hon. George T. Baker

HON. GEORGE T. BAKER, civil engineer, president of the Iowa State Board of Education, former mayor of Davenport and former state representative of Iowa, is one of the most prominent men of the state, honored alike by his community, his state and his nation. He was born on a farm in Iowa County, Iowa, July 9, 1857, and educated in the district schools of Iowa, Hall's School for Boys at Ellington, Connecticut, McClain's Academy at Iowa City, Iowa, and the Iowa State University, which latter institution he left after one year, and, going to Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, there completed four years of special work in civil engineering, in 1879.

With his graduation from Cornell Mr. Baker entered upon ten years of active railroad construction work, being engineer of location, construction and maintenance on the C. R. I & P., Walbash and Santa Fe Railways, and had charge of the building of the high bridges built across the Mississippi River at Muscatine and Clinton, Iowa. He was consulting engineer of the high bridge at Winona, Minnesota, and in all of his work displayed ability of a rare order. From 1893 to 1910 he was engaged in general construction work on railways, paving, sewerage, water works and heavy building construction.

Always a very staunch Democrat, he has served his party well, and has been honored by it most signally. Elected to represent his district in the Iowa State Legislature, he served during the Twenty-sixth and a special session, and secured much constructive legislation for Scott County and the state at large. In 1898 he was elected mayor of Davenport, and during the two years in office he gave great satisfaction to the people of his city. In 1900 he was sent to the Democratic National Convention as delegate at large. From the inception of the Davenport Park System, of which the people are justly proud, to the present he has been identified with it as engineer, member and president of the park board. He has been a member of the Iowa State Board of Education since its organization in 1909, and is now its president. His business interests are diversified, and embrace lumber and farm interests in the South, and oil lands in Oklahoma. Instrumental in organizing the Davenport Industrial Commission, he has been its president since 1925. He is a member of the board of directors of the Davenport Public Museum.

On September 29, 1928, President Coolidge appointed Mr. Baker a member of an emergency board under the terms of the railroad labor act, to investigate and report to him within thirty days regarding the rail dispute among railroads in western territory. Associated with him on this board were: James R. Garfield, of Cleveland, Ohio' Walter P. Stacey, chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court; Davis R. Dewey, professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Chester H. Howell, of Berkeley, California, the latter formerly a member of the California Railroad Commission, and now an editor.

The local press in commenting on the appointment of Mr. Baker said in part:

"This is the first time that an emergency board for the settlement of railroad wage disputes has seen appointed by the President. The recently enacted railway labor act, which supplants the old railway labor act, which supplants the old railway labor commission, provided a permanent Federal board which shall settle all disputes.

"Failing to settle a dispute, however, the Federal board must report to the President, who then may appoint an emergency board. The law provides that while this board is investigating neither party in the dispute may make any changes in original conditions for thirty days. This provision has been taken to mean that there can be no strike during that time.

"It is generally believed that appointment of such a board will defer a strike for a least sixty days. The conductors and trainmen on the roads affected had voted to strike, subject to the call of the proper offices."

The work of this emergency board is a matter of history, and is especially interesting as being the first efforts made along a new line.

In 1879 Mr. Baker was married to Miss Clara I. Poole, now deceased, who was born in New York, and three children were born to their marriage, namely: Ethel, who is the wife of L. H. Brandt; Georgie E., who is the wife of R. E. Risley; and Sue, who died in 1919. Mr. Baker is an Episcopalian. He belongs to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and has always been zealous in behalf of his order. So long a leader in state politics and development projects, Mr. Baker's scope of usefulness has been broadened, and his future is looked forward to by those who have long recognized his superior abilities and attainments, both as an engineer and citizen.