Ernest Baker was an African American man born in October of 1879 to Pryn and Josephine Baker. He lived his life entirely in North Cadiz, Trigg County, Kentucky. Census records show that Baker could read and write and that he worked as a porter at Sam Smith’s Saloon. According to the information on findagrave.com, Baker was married to Winnie Chappell and had two children, Lawrence (born in 1904) and Ernestine (born in 1905). One child, Elizabeth, was born after Ernest Baker’s death. In the 1910 Census, Winnie Chappell and her three children lived with her parents, Jack and Julia Chappell. Ernest Baker had younger two siblings, Jager and Lillie, who attended school. During his life, Baker attended black-only dances and was known within his community.
On January 20, 1906, Ernest Baker was accused of assaulting sixteen-year-old Mary Gentry, when she walked to the post office with her ten-year-old sister. Baker had allegedly pulled Gentry into an alley and began to attack her, while her sister called for help. In the Paducah News-Democrat, Gentry did not identify Baker positively. Baker was arrested because tracks on the ground made by shoes with rubber heels, with the stamp“Terry & White,” were similar to the tracks of shoes Baker was wearing. Baker was rounded up along with other suspects, he was found at a black-only dance that he had been known to frequent, wearing a white shirt instead of the black shirt that Gentry had claimed he had worn. Baker was taken to the Cadiz jailhouse and held there until three A.M. when a mob approached the jailhouse demanding his release into their custody. The jailer, Harry Timmons, made futile attempts to protest and quickly gave in to the mob. The mob took Baker to a beam near the jail and hung him within the hour. Baker reportedly refused to speak during his time jailed and prior to his lynching. Some newspaper accounts put Baker at 25 years old at the time of his death, while others list him as 27 years old.
Ernest Baker’s younger brother, Jager, was also the victim of racial violence. Several years earlier, Ed Sumner, a white man, accused Jager Baker of breaking into his daughter’s bedroom in Cadiz, Kentucky. Sumner stated that Jager Baker had attempted to drag his daughter from her bed, in which she screamed and garnered his attention, causing him to enter the room and shoot Jager on sight. His claim was not investigated.