Colonel Thomas Baker - Founder of Bakersfield
Colonel Thomas Baker was the visionary founder of the city of Bakersfield
and the source of its name. Bakersfield is a monument to his pioneer spirit,
hard work and creativity.

Baker, born in 1810 in Ohio, started his career as a lawyer but soon headed
west for greater opportunities. After a distinguished stint as a state senator
and colonel of militia in Iowa, he set off for a new life in the booming
California of the 1850s.

After moving to Kern County and founding the city of Visalia, Baker began
his greatest project. He reclaimed swamp land on the Kern River and began
developing it into what he envisioned as “an important city.” To entice settlers
he planted an alfalfa field where travelers could refresh their livestock. Known as
“Baker’s Field,” it gave its name to the burgeoning town.

Colonel Baker is credited with having laid out Bakersfield’s streets. He also chose a
prime piece of land for his final resting place, amid a breathtaking panorama of
mountains and plains. He declared “Here at last I have found a resting place and here I
expect to lay my bones.” Baker was laid to rest there in 1872, his gravesite marked by
a striking stone obelisk. When the city needed to build a new cemetery, it could find no
finer place than the land surrounding Baker’s grave, which became Historic Union
Cemetery. His gravesite is space 61-14.