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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Colonel Andrew D. Baird


DISTINGUISHING characteristic of the Scottish notables in America is the fact that few of them owe any part of their popularity or position to early advantages. Self-taught, self-made, self-reliant, they owe their eminence to native energy well directed and to industry that looks upon honest toil as the purpose of life. Such men, when the rewards of their work come, either in fortune or public esteem, are found unchanged. Colonel Andrew D. Baird, of Brooklyn, N. Y., is an eminent illustration of this characteristic. He has made his fortune by sheer industry, and won distinction by fighting gallantly for the Union in twenty-nine battles. As a citizen he has been outspoken, manly and straightforward in maintaining the principles which he believed were calculated to advance the interests of his adopted country.

He is a native of Kelso, Scotland, where he was born in 1839, and with his parents came to America in 1853. He followed the occupation of his father, that of a stone-mason, and at an early age was a master of his calling. He had already taken charge of several important contracts when the Civil War broke out. He joined the 79th Highianders, shouldering a musket as a private in Company A. At the disaster of Bull Run he showed his mettle by holding the remnants of his company together; he was made sergeant on the field, and in a short time was captain of his company. At Chantilly he was severely wounded, and still carries a bullet in his arm as a memento of that field. He was again wounded at Blue Springs, and still again at Petersburg. He was repeatedly commended for conspicuous bravery, and in the terrific struggle at Fort Sanders his prowess was the theme of universal admiration. In the campaign before Richmond he received his commission as major, and latterly commanded the regiment as brigadier lieutenant-colonel in the final campaign; and among the 2,400 men who had served in the regiment Colonel Baird and another gallant officer, Henry C. Heffron, were the only officers who had fought in every battle in which the regiment had taken part. He inherited his soldierly qualities from his Celtic ancestors, some of whom fought in the wars against Napoleon.

At the close of the war Colonel Baird returned to Brooklyn and entered into partnership with his former employer. The firm soon acquired a reputation among builders for honesty and fair dealing that was not surpassed in the growing city, and their business prospered. Meanwhile Colonel Baird took an active hand in local politics. In 1876, he was elected Alderman, and at the expiration of his term he was re-elected by an increased majority. He served on many committees with great credit, and was latterly one of the leaders of the Republican party. His career at this time was particularly interesting as opposing many corrupt deals and literally rising from mere partisan politics into civic statesmanship. He was offered the position of Postmaster, but declined. The industrial classes recognized in him a typical representative, whose honesty and integrity have never been questioned, and no employer of labor is held in higher esteem among his many hundred workmen.

He holds important positions in many business and social organizations. His connection with the Williamsburg Savings Bank is most interesting; as a boy he deposited his first savings in this bank; in 1886 he was elected a trustee; in 1909 he became Vice-President, and in January, 1914, was chosen President. This is one of the strongest savings banks in America, having a surplus of more than eight million, and deposits of nearly seventy million dollars. Colonel Baird is also Vice-President of the Manufacturers’ National, and a director of the North Side Bank; a member of the Executive Committee of the Nassau Trust Company, a trustee of the Realty Associates, a director of the Eastern District Hospital, Chairman of the Building Committee of the Brooklyn Public Library, President of the Trustees of the Industrial Home on South Third Street, member of the Executive Committee of the Eagle Warehouse Co., President. of the Brooklyn Daily Times, and President of the New York and Brooklyn Stonecutters’ Association. He is President of the Hanover Club, a prominent member of the Union League Club, member of the U. S. Grant Post, G. A. R., and a trustee of the 79th Highianders’ Veteran Association; he was a Commissioner of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration and marshal of the Scotch contingent. He is a trustee of the Ross Presbyterian Church, and is in hearty sympathy with all religious and philanthropic work. He is a member of the St. Andrew’s Society of the State of New York and the New York Caledonian Club.

In 1866, Colonel Baird married Miss Warner, who died in 1875, leaving two sons and one daughter; in 1884 he married Miss Catherine Lamb. His father died in 1873, and his mother in 1907, at the age of eighty-four. He had three brothers and one sister. He has visited his native place several times, and is enthusiastic about everything Scottish.


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