The earliest recorded Baker’s “employee” was James Baker’s brother John, whose invoice lists him working “one day in chocolate mill” sometime between 1772 and 1773. James had other people occasionally working for him, building and fixing equipment, providing day labor, or hauling materials, but regular employees do not emerge in company records until James’s son Edmund joins the business in 1791.
Beginning in 1793, Seth Blake appeared in Edmund Baker’s account books, collecting £1.10 in cash on a monthly basis for several years. It is not known specifically what type of work Blake did, but he is the earliest documented employee to return for many seasons. The chocolate business proved to be unpredictable. Edmund Baker hired workers depending on how busy he was in a particular year. Several men appeared regularly on Edmund’s payroll, including Elisha Lapham, who started working at Baker’s in 1811 and remained with the company for decades. Third-generation owner Walter Baker even named a lower-priced chocolate “Lapham” after Elisha.
In 1834 Walter Baker hired the first women to work in the chocolate mills. Two sisters, Christine and Mary Shields, are believed to be the first, but Mary Ann Barker, Abigale Delano, and Betsey Sanborn are also on record as employees at Baker’s in 1834. Many women returned for a few months every year and by 1841 a total of twelve women worked for Baker’s at various times. Only four of these women worked all season for many years. By 1846 there were “two men, two apprentices, six girls and a forelady” regularly employed in the Baker’s mills.