Sunday, November 7, 2010

From Hobby to Business: My Great-Grandfather's Talent for Woodworking

My great-grandfather, George D. Baker (born George D. Holcomb) created beautiful wooden crafts. His craft began as a hobby after purchasing a small wood kit, and eventually turned into a small business for himself.

My great-grandfather was the father of 11. His oldest five children were with his first wife, Ruth Miller, who died a little more than a week after the birth of their last child. The infant was placed for adoption, and my great-grandfather cared for the others, as a single father, until he married my great-grandmother, Elizabeth F. Beard, who he had seven more children with (one whom was born still).

My great-grandfather began making items, such as cigarette boxes, sewing kits, bookends, and more. My great-grandmother was quite confident in her husband's wood-crafting skills, and suggested that he market his crafts to people around his hometown. A few weeks prior to Christmas 1945, she brought some of his creations into town where she was able to gather multiple orders, keeping my great-grandfather busy for several weeks.

Orders for his wood products continued to come in, keeping my great-grandfather busy in his woodworking shop each morning. He eventually started making and selling large items, such as corner closets. In a newspaper article, published in the News and Citizen on 29 July 1946, he quoted "I built the first one for my wife, then several persons visited here, saw them and ordered them for their own homes." (Oh, how I would love to have one of his corner closets).

Below are photos of a jewelry box he made. The box is currently in the possession of my grandfather's cousin in Florida. (Update 01/01/2014: During a family reunion in Aug. 2013, the box was gifted to me by the aforementioned cousin. It now sits proudly on my living room bookshelf. Thank you so much, Mona!

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