Samuel Baker

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The name of Samuel Baker appears on the list of people who participated in the Camp of Israel, also known as Zion's Camp. He was the oldest member of the camp at age 79. Brigham Young University professor Alexander L. Baugh shed further light on Baker and his relationship with Joseph Smith.

George A. Smith [the youngest boy with the group] provided some of the best information about Joseph Smith’s dog. In 1834, young George was one of over two hundred Mormon volunteers who made up the Camp of Israel (later known as Zion’s Camp) that marched to western Missouri. In compiling his account of the day-to-day travels and events associated with the trek, George reported that on Thursday, June 5, 1834, the company crossed the Mississippi River from Illinois into Missouri, then camped a mile west of the settlement known as Louisiana. The presence of the Mormon company alarmed some of the local inhabitants, who were aware of their presence and were leery of their intentions. On this occasion Samuel Baker, the oldest member of the camp, presented Joseph Smith with a dog. George reported, “There was a Gentleman in our Camp named Samuel Baker, from Norton, Medina Co. Ohio, who was nearly 80 years old and had walked the whole journey. . . . Father Baker brought with him a large and very faithful watch dog and being satisfied that the spies who were watching our Camp sought the life of Joseph, presented the dog to him; this dog was greatly attached to Joseph and was generally by his side, keeping close watch of every thing that approached the camp.” . . .
During the company’s month-long travels the dog had become “attached to Joseph.” For this type of bonding to take place, the Prophet had likely paid considerable attention to the dog during the journey (petting, stroking, feeding, engaging in playful interaction), which resulted in him becoming attached to the canine as well. Recognizing the fondness Joseph Smith and the dog had for each other, Baker was willing to relinquish ownership.[1]

The dog served as protection for Joseph Smith. It was possibly an English mastiff named Major. It is not known whether he was named Major by Samuel Baker, the original owner, or by Joseph Smith.

Baker was not listed among those who died of cholera.[2] A Festival of the Camp of Zion was held in October 1864 in Salt Lake City. A "Roll of Zion's Camp" was included in a Deseret News article about the festival, which included those who went with Joseph Smith and were present in the Social Hall in Salt Lake City. Baker's name is not included.[3]