Question: Jesse Baker is mentioned in D&C 124:137. Who was Jesse Baker and what role did he play in the early days of the Church?
Answer: Jesse Baker was born 23 January 1778 in Rhode Island to Benjamin Baker III and Hannah Tucker. Jesse’s father and grandfather both fought in the Revolutionary War. His grandfather was in his fifties and died from Camp fever in 1778.
As a young man, Jesse left his native Rhode Island and journeyed to Hoosick, New York, in search of adventure and fortune. He married there in New York, and he and his wife had two children. His wife died in 1830. In 1835, Jesse moved on to Ohio. There fifty-seven-year-old Jesse worked as a shoemaker and Thomsonian (herb) doctor before being converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In 1838 Jesse journeyed with the Kirtland Camp to Missouri, where he became a land owner until persecution forced him to leave the state. In writing his Missouri petition in 1839, he itemized the property loses he sustained as being about $750.00. He never received payment for any of his loses.
In January 1841, Jesse joined with the Saints in Nauvoo, trying to improve the swampland they encountered there. On January 19, 1841, Jesse was called to be a counselor to John A. Hicks in the Elders Quorum Presidency. Jesse guided the Quorum from 1841 to 1844. William Adams wrote: “Thereupon a number of elders were sent out on missions to gather tithing and donations to build the temple of the Lord, and a great deal of it was done by Jesse Baker, president of the elders quorum.”
On 26 April 1841, Jesse was ordained an Elder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by Joseph Smith and Robert B. Thompson and received a Licence to preach.
Service in the Elders Quorum Presidency ended when he was ordained a high priest in 1845.
In December 1845, Jesse received his endowment in the Nauvoo Temple and was sealed to his wife, Sarah Hawkes on February 7, 1846. Sarah is listed as having resided in Nauvoo from 1839 to 1846 (Nauvoo Community Project, 1839-1846, BYU Center for Family History and Genealogy).
Jesse died a faithful member of the Church on November 1, 1846 at the age of sixty-eight in Mills County, Iowa. Mills County is south of the Council Bluffs area and the area was first settled by members of the Church in Iowa on their way to Utah.
Source: Who's Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black; FamilySearch.org; Joseph Smith Papers