Love and Shotguns: A Tale From the Baker-Howard Feud

Christopher Jackson 1899

Christopher Jackson

Iby Baker

Iby Baker



Christopher Jackson and Iby Baker Joined in Wedlock After Many Weary Months of Trials and Tribulations — From Prison to Altar.

One of the romances of the Baker-Howard feud culminated in the marriage of Tom Baker’s oldest sister, Iby, to Christopher H. Jackson, son of W.S. Jackson, of London, Ky., and a brother-in-law to Cooper Eversole, son of Judge Eversole.

Young Jackson is descended from Gen. Jarvis Jackson, who came to Laurel county when it was settled., ninety years ago, and who gave to the county the site of the town of London. The county hadn’t the money to put up public buildings so the general told the magistrates that he would build a courthouse and a schoolhouse if they would deed the town lots back to him., which was done. He built a substantial brick house, which stood until torn down a few years ago to make room for a modern building, and the old Laurel academy, as the school was called, is still standing, a fine old-fashioned brick structure. When Iby Baker was of school age her late father, George W. Baker, who was murdered by Jim Howard, was a prosperous lawyer at Manchester, and he also made much money in other ways. As Iby was his first girl and exceptionally bright and pretty, he determined to give her a good education. He therefore sent her to Laurel academy, and while a pupil here she met and loved the rather good-looking scion of the house of Jackson, and whose wife she eventually became, after trials enough to test any woman’s love. When he first began flirting with Iby Baker, Chris Jackson was a young married man, but the pretty bright face and the vivacious manner of the belle of Clay county made him forget the woman he had sworn to love, and his heart whent out to the mountain lassie. Iby soon became infatuated with him, but, learning that he was already married, she determined to become an old maid school-mistress. She procured a school in Leslie county, and it was not long until she was regarded as the best woman teacher ever seen in Hyden. It had required strong men to handle the wild mountain boys, and this delicate girl was worried lest she could never manage them.

She soon showed them., however, that she was mistress of the situation. Simmie Webb, a big boy known as “master of the school masters,” came to school the third morning after she took charge with a wicked-looking 45-calibre pistol buckled around him. She told him to unbuckle the pistol and put it away in her desk. Instead, he attempted to draw the weapon, but before he could loosen it in the holster he was gazing into the muzzle of an innocent-looking 38-calibre held in the steady right hand of the school mistress. He then unbuckled the pistol and handed it to her, belt and all. This cowed the bully of the school, and from that moment until she closed the session she was supreme ruler, and the worst boys were as docile as lambs.

While in school work events were taking place at London which ultimately had a marked effect on the pathway of her life. The man who loved her and the man she worshiped was arrested for forgery and indicted on several counts. His father was claim agent of the Louisville & Nashville, and Chris was charged with making out bogus claims against the company and forging the names of section bosses and foremen to them. His father appeared to have been a tool in the hands of the son, but the jury on the two counts tried against Chris found him guilty on both and fixed his punishment at four years in the penitentiary. When her husband left prison the first Mrs. Jackson filed suit for divorce, and it was granted, for under the laws of Kentucky a husband who becomes a felon forfeits all marital rights, provided the wife want to take advantage of the law.

As soon as he was free to marry again he wrote from the penitentiary at Frankfort to Iby Baker, telling her all the facts, protesting his innocence, and asking her if she would marry him when he had served out his time. The sight of a letter from him, convict though he was, rekindled all the fierce love she had for him when she was a schoolgirl, and she cried tears of joy to know that while he might be in the clutches of the law, he was yet free to make her his wife. She answered his letter, telling him that her heart had always belonged to him, and that she would bestow her hand also as soon as he was released from prison. He made a model convict, got many months off his sentence for good behavior, and was released two months ago.

In the meantime he and his mountain sweetheart had kept up a loving correspondence, and when he came back from the penitentiary one of the first things he did was to make Iby Baker his wife. They are living happily in a pretty cottage on the side of a hill just south of the London courthouse. She is an accomplished musician, and she plays on the piano that graces the “front” room the old pieces he used to love so well, and she sings for him sometimes the old songs she sang when it seemed he would forever be lost to her. She never mentions the dark chapters of his life to him, and it seems that her one desire in life is to make her husband happy. It was into this cozy, happy home that Chris Jackson was brought one night recently suffering from gunshot wounds he had just received at the hands of bushwhackers, and it was here that his pretty little wife bandaged his wounds and nursed him. But the loving wife sheds many bitter tears these days, since her brother, Tom Baker, was killed, for she believes her husband, for whom she waited so long, is “marked” by the Whites and Howards, and that his days are numbered.

“Yes,” she said a few nights ago, “I am in constant dread, for I am certain that Chris will be brought to me some night, the victim of the cowardly assassin’s bullet.”

Daily Iowa State Press (Iowa City, Iowa) Aug 4, 1899

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2 Responses to “Love and Shotguns: A Tale From the Baker-Howard Feud”

  1. Debbie Crabtree Says:

    Could someone please contact me. I am the granddaughter of Arlena “Lena” Baker she was married to George Burton who was the son of Grand Burton and Rhoda Baker. They lived at one time in Elkhorn, Kentucky. Lena was supposedly born in Shoal, Ky. I have had a difficult time finding information on my relatives and would love any assistance.

  2. Sharon hill Says:

    My great grandfather was French Terry. My great grandmother was Ella Mae Arnett. Can anyone tell me if either of these Breathitt County families were involved in any feuds in the history of The Town of Jackson.

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