Louis J. Baker, August 3, 1894, August 29, 1917
Indiana has a large number of quarries throughout the state because some of the richest limestone deposits in the country are found in this region. Indiana limestone has been used in many significant buildings in the United States, including Empire State Building and the Pentagon. Thousands of craftsmen were needed to cut, quarry, and carve the limestone. One such apprentice carver was well-liked Louis J. Baker, a young 23-year old who lived in Bedford, Indiana. On the fateful night of his death, he was walking home during a thunder and lightning storm when he was struck by a fiery lightning bolt and killed.
The men with whom he worked busied themselves to pay tribute to their young and popular colleague by replicating his workbench exactly as it had been the day he left it when the quitting whistle blew. As described in Wobblies, Pile Butts, and Other Heroes: Laborlore Explorations by Archie Green, page 357, “His fellow carvers made an exact replica of his workbench, or “banker” as stone carvers call it. On the banker is the piece of architectural stone, unfinished, exactly as he left it….Atop this stone appear his tools; a mallet, a hammer, a pitching tool, chisels, a square, a head of a broom, and his apron. The fidelity of this work is amazing; the wood grain of the bench is clearly shown as are the bent-over nails holding the bench together and the straw in the broom.”
Here was a sincere outpouring of love for one of their fellow stone carvers. They carved a fitting and poignant monument to one of their own, far more moving than most.