This is a work of love and a personal journey I began around May/April 2013. I spent several months untangling the roots of my ancestors to find both my past lineage and to resurrect their memories so that tribute might be bestowed upon their names ... for had their souls not been among us, I would not be among this life. This is my Family Tree with its vast limbs and fallen leaves, its fruit of bounty and its bittersweet seeds. It is a work of research and soul searching inspired by my passionate desire to provide much more than just names with dates ... but to discover real lives with thriving spirits ... to discover from them what I felt I needed to know to understand myself, my life, my purpose. It was a crazy, twisted and mangled puzzle and I only hope I pieced it together with true meaning and destined purpose in their honour. As far as knowing absolute that all be as I unveil, I believe that it is as close as I could weave it all into an insightful picture filled with history of days past. I hope you enjoy and it brings inspiration ...
My Grandfather was Russell George Baker Sr. He was adopted by a family named Baker. There is no way for me to know who my grandfather's real parents were but the Baker's raised him with his older sister Francine (and possibly other sibblings) in the SF/Oakland area and later relocated to Sacramento CA. I only have a few details, thus far, about his work and death. Which isn’t much.
Old Aerial view of San Francisco, California. Illustration originally published in Hesse-Wartegg's "Nord Amerika", swedish edition published in 1880. The image is currently in Public domain by virtue of age.
My Grandfather Russell George Baker Sr. was a Merchant Marine but his career was short lived due to an accident where he fell overboard while working on a ship at port and died. I don’t know how old he was when that happened but he was married to my Grandmother Estelle Cecil, Baker and they had two children. Their first born was my Aunt Doris and the other was my father Russell George, Jr. He was born June 3, 1930, in Oakland, CA.
My fathers sister Doris married Marvin Humphrey and they had three children: Cathy, Jim, and Michael. I didn't know them very well as a child and not at all growing up.
To know about the Merchant Marines, check out these sites:
My Grandmother Estelle Cecil-Baker and family were all living in Oakland during my early childhood, except her one sister - my Great Aunt Catty - who lived in San Francisco. The names of her other siblings were: Forrest Sonny, Mary (who married into Madden), Catherine (who married into Thomas), Joe, and Nellie Cecil.
I remember visiting my Great Aunt Catty in San Francisco and the feeling I used to get while visiting her home - a real warmth of her era. All the houses were stacked side by side on a steep hillside with quaint landscaped frontage and lush green patio gardens.
I remember the Cecil’s were strict Catholics and from the old school ways. They were older than my grandmother. I probably remember Uncle Sonny the best. He lived in Oakland on the hill overlooking the city near the Oakland Mormon Temple. I was so amazed by this structure.
My mother tells me that Estelle’s brother, Sonny, is the one who got my dad hired at the Southern Pacific Railroad where my Great Uncle Sonny worked. In his younger years he was a tennis pro and taught tennis all over the country on the side. The only thing I remember about him to some degree was his home. I always enjoyed to going visit Uncle Sonny.
My Grandmother Estelle Cecil with her husband Ed Holland whom she married sometime after my Grandfather died.
My father’s sister Doris. I never knew my grandmother - she died in 1952/53, before I was born in 1953. She was only 45 yrs old.
My father, Russell George Baker, Jr. married my mother, Norma Jean Welsh, and they lived in the Bay Area, moving around until settling into Oakland. My two older brothers, Russell George Baker, III and John Dennis Baker were born in Berkley, CA. I was born in Lakeport, CA. My father worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad his entire working life until retirement.
He began working in the Oakland train yard as an Apprentice. My mom tells me his Uncle Sonny got him on there and there is where he remained until he was promoted to Foreman and we moved from Oakland. His job would also take him to places such as Portland, Oregon, St. Louis, MO and Washington State for car inspections, while I was growing up. On some of these trips my mom went with him and us kids stayed at our grandparents Welsh in Lakeport, CA. Other times my mother stayed home with us. I attended school in Lakeport during the third and fourth grade, though we moved before I finished that fourth year. My dad was transferred to Roseville, California, where we finally settled after leaving Oakland. He worked there until retirement. His last out-of-state job, that I know of, took him to Washington, where he spent months up there inspecting new railroad cars when I about 18. Shortly thereafter my mom and dad divorced.
Both of my parents were later remarried. My dad went on to work at the Southern Pacific Railroad yard in Roseville, California.
When my dad retired his title was General Foreman. He was a SP Railroad man almost his entire life. He passed away in 1999, one year short of turning 70 after having suffered years with emphysema ... until his breath could no longer inhale. He used an oxygen tank for a long time.
My dad wasn’t around much that I can remember as a child but the things I do remember is he was strict, and old school like the Cecil’s. His mother remarried Ed Holland, who raised my father - but my dad had told us he was raised in a private Catholic School (in Marine County, CA) and reared by the Nuns.
His discipline came from that upbringing and he ‘did not’ spare the rod - although he grew to dislike the Catholic Church, even expressed much hatred and painful memories it brought him. He did not practice the religion, nor ever taught us of it. My mother was Presbyterian and that is what us kids were raised in - until we grew up ...
I would like to add that in all those years having been raised by a railroad father, he never took us on a train ride. I do remember going to the yard a few times to see my dad when I was older, and became familiar with his work environment. When I married my dad got my husband on at the SP RR as well, but my two brothers were never interested in that field of work.
I remember my dad brought home a train set and I had a lot of fun watching and playing with it. My oldest brother still has it today. I have always yearned to take a train ride ... and perhaps one day I shall before they are no more.
To learn about the Southern Pacific Railroad, check out these sites:
My Grandfather Baker married Estelle Cecil - who was born in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, where her family had come from before settling in the West, Oakland Bay Area, California.
Click on the map image for more Bluegrass Kentucky Info - Some of my Wattenburger family also came from Kentucky.
The Cecil’s were from England when they came to Maryland where they purchased land and settled in that area, after having left behind a history that I’ve stumbled upon which has been well preserved in the writings. As time went on they spread out across the lands. To know more about the Cecil history please see the Cecil Family Line below.
This was my Grandmother Baker, Estelle Cecil, my dad’s mother - whom died before I was born and, saddly, I never knew her.
The Cecil family has always been a mystery to me and I really know nothing about them, other than my fading memories of early childhood visits. My dad was a loner type, not expressing strong family bonds, not even with his own children.
I know she was born in Kentucky in 1907 and her family moved to the Bay Area, CA. where she met my dad. And she died at 45 years old in Oakland, Alameda, CA, from a main artery rupture in her heart.
But... What I was able to do is trace the Cecil name as my curiosity drove me to explore some kind of ‘roots’. Perhaps to help me understand better not only the Cecil heritage but some of my own inner workings..
So from here on I will bring forth the Cecil Ancestry and give this part of who I am a deeper understanding ...
The Cecil's come from a very long line of Welsh decendants, with a rich and historical past. It is an ancient and distinguished surname, borne by the Earls of Salisbury and Exeter, the Barons Burghley, and the Viscounts Wimbledon, is of Old Welsh origin, and derives from the Old Welsh male given name "Seisyll(t)", apparently ultimately from the Latin "sextilius", a derivative of "sextus", "sixth(-born)".
The name was borne by various saints and popes in the early centuries of the Christian era, and subsequently adopted in their honour. Early bearers of the Welsh form of the name were Seisyll ap Clydog (flourished 730), first King of joint Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi, and Seisyllt ap Clydog (flourished 925), Lord of Gwynedd.
History show the name Cecil is first found in Devon where they were seated from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.
The name is well recorded in the Welsh border counties, appearing as "Saissil" and "Seisil" respectively in the Domesday Book of 1086 for Herefordshire, and the 1188 Pipe Rolls of Shropshire.
The Cecils were originally Welsh gentry, and David Cecil, grandfather of Lord Burghley, who had espoused the cause of Henry Tudor, came to court in London after the latter became king in 1485. William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520 - 1598), was lord high treasurer, 1572 - 1598, and chief adviser to Elizabeth 1. His eldest son, Thomas, became first Earl of Exeter, and Robert, another son, was created Earl of Salisbury in 1605.
A Coat of Arms held by the Cecil family is a shield divided per barry of ten silver and azure, over all six black escutcheons, three, two, and one, each charged with a lion rampant of the first.
The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Seisil, which was dated 1205, in the "Pipe Rolls of Herefordshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Some of the first settlers of the Cecil family name or some of its variants to the New World were:
John Cecill who settled in the Barbados in 1663;
William Cecill arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682;
Joseph Cecil arrived in New York in 1823;
Thomas Cecil arrived in Philadelphia in 1866.
I found this video and enjoyed it so thought others may too.
** Life in the New World
St. Mary's City Historic District, Reconstructed Catholic Church
I have traced our Cecil family directly from England to St. Mary’s, Maryland in the 1600s where they built their lives for many years. From there, some traveled to Kentucky. Reading through history I came to learn that Maryland was the area the Catholic settlers had purchased land but they had much disputes with the other religions before peace was reached.
My Cecil family were Catholics as I remember clearly. It’s interesting to read how the Catholics in those times were considered most unwelcome in the New World. Catholic Persecution in America.
There are many books published about the Cecil family, including the genealogy of the Maryland roots where my ancestors first built their lives in America and came to the West Coast, Bay Area sometime in the 1800s after the birth of my Gramdmother Estelle.
The Cecils have been in America since Colonial days. Our earliest proven ancestor, Ivilliam Cecil ca l66p-1749, had sons John and Phillip. Although Johns descendants have been well recorded by various genealogists and family historians, the descendants of Phillip had not been recorded until Mr. V.'alter V. Ball published his research in I96I. His full and exhaustive study of the Maryland Cecils barely touched upon the segment which moved to North Carolina, a bit before and after I8OO. Our genealogy investigates the North Carolina Cecils and deals with the descendants of two of the 4th generation family members who settled there. North Carolina Court House and Archives records were researched by Henry Reeves, Lexington; by Yancey otone Cecil, High Point; and by this author. In 1350 to 13^4 a family of six Cecil brothers, sons of John Ball and Nancy [liams] Cecil, migrated to Missouri. Missouri Court Hse. and research of other primary source materials was done by the author. All Court House and Archives materials are established with full referrenc.
Research has failed to reveal a record of Revolutionary V.'ar service in our Cecil ancestry. However, Samuel Cecil 1794-1974, and John Ball Cecil I785-I86I, both served from North Carolina m the War of 1812. Samuel is the ancestor of many of the present day North Carolina Cecils and John Ball Cecil was the father of the six Cecil brothers who migrated to Missouri. John Ball Cecil is buried in the Cecil Family Cemetery at Cornelia, Missouri, and this author has entered and verified his name on the Roll of Veterans of the War of l8l2 who are buried in Missouri. Membership is held by the author in the National Society of Colonial Dames XVII Century, and some supplemental lines recently presented and approved included descent from 'William Cecil 1665-1749 and Killiam Eyams [liams] I6 -1703. Thus, those who are interested in an affiliation with a patriotic organization based on Colonial Ancestry, have those lines available.