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Taken from Past and Present of Vermilion County

Page 1013 1014

Clark Publishing Co., 1903

Submitted by Mary Paulius




More than one-third of a century ago Joseph Baird became a resident of Vermilion County and has since been a representative of 'its agricultural interests. He has witnessed much of the growth and development of the county within his period and has ever manifested a deep and active interest in measures pertaining to the general good. His life, though quietly passed, has been characterized by all that is honorable and straightforward in his dealings with his fellow men and he therefore commands the respect and confidence of those with whom he has been associated.

Mr. Baird was born in Adams County, Ohio. November 13, 1825, and comes of a family of Irish lineage, his paternal grandfather, John Baird, having been born on the Emerald isle, whence he crossed the Atlantic to the new world. Thomas Baird, the father, was a native of Ohio and after arriving at years of maturity he wedded Susan Hughes, whose birth occurred in  Pennsylvania.

 She was a daughter of Joseph Hughes, for whom our subject was named, and who was a stonemason by trade. The wedding of Thomas Baird and Susan Hughes was celebrated in Adams County, Ohio, where they began domestic life, the father devoting his energies to agricultural pursuits. Subsequently he removed with his family to Brown County, Ohio, where he remained until his death, which occurred about 1860. His wife survived him for only a brief period, passing away in 1862, at which time she was laid to rest by his side in Railroad cemetery, of Brown County. In his political views Thomas Baird was a staunch Democrat, unfaltering in his support of the principles in which he believed and both he and his wife were loyal and devoted members of the Christian church. In their family were eight children: John, who died at

the age of twenty-one years; Mary Jane, who wedded J. Runalds, a resident of Nebraska; Joseph Frank, who married Agnes Jordan and after her death wedded Sallie Ann Baldwin, but both he and his second wife died in Champaign, Illinois; George, who was a soldier of the Union army in the Civil war and died from the effects of his military service; Thomas, who died at the age of eighteen years; Katie Ann, who died at the age of ten years; and J. S., who wedded Julia Sparks and after her death married Rella Neville. His second wife died and he then married Mrs. Smith, making his home near Indianapolis, Indiana. Joseph Baird pursued his education in subscription schools. He was first a student at Briar Red School in Adams County, Ohio, the little temple of learning being built of hewed logs and supplied with dab seats which rested upon wooden pegs. .He became an expert at making goose quill pens and he mastered the elementary branches of learning there taught.  Later he continued his education in the Koppel School, which was also conducted on the subscription plan.

Through the winter months he there pursued his studies while in the summer months

he aided in the labors of the home farm.. At the age of fifteen, however, he put aside his text-books altogether and thereafter his knowledge was broadened through reading, experience and observation. Learning the blacksmith's trade he followed that pursuit in Brown county, Ohio, for a time and subsequently removed to Ripley in Union township near Cincinnati, Ohio, where he secured employment at his trade. While residing in that locality Mr. Baird sought a companion and helpmate for life's journey- and wedded Miss Elizabeth Ann Baldwin, a native of Kentucky, but she survived for only a few years, passing away in 1857. In 1859 Mr. Baird was again married, his second union being with Lucinda Wyckoff, who died in 1860.   In I863 he was joined in wedlock to Mary Neal, is now living with him in this county.   In the year 1863; Joseph Baird came to Vermilion County, Illinois, establishing his home upon a farm which he cu1ti1vated for some time. He then sold that property and removed to Fairmount. Later, however he rented a family farm and is now living in Catlin Township, superintending his agricultural interests. His sons, George, Frank and Smiley, had all come to Vermilion county several years before the arrival of the father and. Purchasing land here. They had become very well-to-do.

 By his first marriage Mr. Baird had six children: Thomas, now deceased, married Martha Jones and his widow resides with her two sons in Fairmount. George. The second of the family, is mentioned elsewhere in this work. Sarah Jane is the deceased wife of Henry Browning who married again and lived in Vance Township, Vermilion County, but both he and his second wife have also passed away. Frank is also mentioned elsewhere in this work. Smiley married Hattie Browning by whom he has five children and they reside upon a farm at Homer.  Charles, the youngest child of this marriage, died at the age of four years. The children born unto Mr. Baird and his present wife were two in number, but only one is non living, Samuel J., who married Etta –Allison and resides with his father upon the farm in Catlin Township. He has two daughters.


In his political views Joseph Baird is an independent. He keeps well informed on the questions and issues of the day, but gives his vote in support of men and measures rather than of party.  While living in Ohio he served as supervisor for four terms, but he has never been an office seeker, preferring that his time and attention should be given to his business interests. His life record now covers seventy-seven years and there is much in his career that is worthy of emulation. Industrious and energetic he has labored earnestly for the welfare of his family and in all business relations has been found honorable and trustworthy.  In matters of citizenship he is public-spirited and progressive; withholding his support from no measure which he has believed would prove of general good.


 During his residence in Vermilion County he has become widely known and all with whom he has been brought high regard.