Rose Garden PhotographsLillian Mae (Crumb/Cromb) Baker was born to Truman Billington Crumb and Harriet 'Hattie' (Mixer) Crumb in North Adams, Berkshire, Massachusetts on May 27, 1872.  Like many families of that time, they were part of a westward migration moving to improve their opportunities.  By the time she was eight years old, Lillian's family was farming in the small community of Pilot Grove, Iowa, but they left Iowa and moved to the Arizona Territory between 1885 and 1895.  They probably came to the Arizona territory because their young son, Ernest, had contracted tuberculosis.  After relocating to the Mesa area, the Crumb family once again engaged in farming, and by 1890 their surname had been changed inexplicably from Crumb to Cromb.

Lillian was a very attractive young woman.  It didn't take long for her to catch the eye of an up- and-coming young man from Texas, Roland Claudius Baker, another transplant to the Arizona Territory.  Rollie and Lillian were married on October 28, 1896.  Rollie at that time owned Meadow Dairy, the first of several businesses he would own in Phoenix.  When their first child, Roland Gail, arrived a year later, it was noted in the Phoenix newspaper that with the birth of their first son, he was giving out extra milk to his customers that day.

Lillian and Rollie had four children: three boys, Gail, Harold, Forest, and a daughter, Ethel Ferne.  Education was important to Lillian Baker. At a time when it was difficult for many Arizona children to achieve even an eighth grade education, the Bakers sent all four of their children to the University of Arizona (UA).  Gail and Harold graduated with engineering degrees.  Gail had a productive career as an engineer, and Harold pursued a career in business.  Harold died unexpectedly at age thirty-five in an airplane accident. Forest received his M.D. at Northwestern University in Chicago and had his medical practice in Gonzales, Louisiana. Daughter Fern went on the grand tour of Europe after attending the university and married into the Christy family, also early settlers to Arizona.

Lillian championed education all her life. She was a founding charter member and a president of the PEO Chapter D in Phoenix, established in 1924. She was the last of their charter members when she died in 1968 at the age of 96. PEO is an educational philanthropic organization that promotes education for young women and maintains Cottey College in Missouri.

Lillian was a contemporary of Sharlot Hall. In 1924 Lillian and Sharlot traveled together to Tucson.  They must have gotten along quite well as Sharlot, in a gesture of friendship, gave Lillian a copy of her just published book, the second edition of Cactus and Pine. Sharlot wrote a lovely message to Lillian in the flyleaf and enclosed two photos taken at Orchard Ranch.

The Baker family home on Central and Moreland Avenues still survives and now houses The Old Spaghetti Company Restaurant. It is a little house tucked among high-rise buildings in the Phoenix downtown corridor.

Donors: Roland and Sharyn Baker, 2015
Photo Location: RGC-MS-39, Box B, F-Baker, Lillian
Updated: 4/1/15; D. Sue Kissel