Christopher “Chris” Baker, Evergreen Cemetery

“Custodian of Medical College Morgue Dead – Chris Baker served at the Institution for the Past Seventy Years – Chris Baker, colored, former custodian of the dissecting room of the Medical College of Virginia, and holding the distinction of never having been farther from the building in which he lived than Memorial Hospital, died yesterday morning at 1:15 o’clock at the scene of his lifework.

Though his age was never accurately known, he must have been, according to the best information, between eighty and ninety years old, and had been connected with the Medical College of Virginia for nearly seventy years. He succeeded his father, Billy Baker, in the position he held.

Other colored people in the community and all over the State, where Chris’ fame had spread, had the idea that the keeper of the dissecting room gathered in the bodies he watched over in some uncanny way, and many could not be induced to venture near him. Apparently he was just as averse to mingling with his neighbors, for the trip to Memorial Hospital in an ambulance was the only known instance of departure from the basement in which he lived.

The immediate cause of death was paralysis, from which he had been suffering for about two years. Burial will be Tuesday afternoon at 2 o’clock in Evergreen Cemetery.”

Richmond times dispatch, June 9, 1919

To date, I note with some irony that Christopher Baker’s headstone has not been located in Evergreen Cemetery, although his wife’s, Martha Wilkerson Baker, was found in 2018, one year after I researched and added Chris Baker to the Evergreen Cemetery database on Findagrave.

The remains of many of the people that Chris Baker illegally removed from Richmond’s African American cemeteries were respectfully re-interred in 2019.

Categories: Evergreen Cemetery - Richmond, Evergreen Cemetery Chronicles, Hanover County, Richmond, VirginiaTags: , , , , , , , ,

Nadia K. Orton

Professional genealogist and public historian. Graduate of Duke University. President of the Sacred Grounds Project, Inc. Studying historic African American cemeteries and communities.

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