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McLean County, Illinois
History and Genealogy



WlLLIAM J. BAIRD, residing on section 12, in Dry Grove Township, is a farmer, brick-layer and house-builder, and in the prosecution of his several trades is uniformly skillful and successful. Mr. Baird was born in Fayette County, Pa., in November, 1821, and is the son of Aaron and Margaret (Allen) Baird, also natives of the Keystone State.

Aaron Baird was born May 30, 1786, and died in his native State on the 18th of November, 1870, having arrived at the advanced age of eighty-five years. The mother was born April 14, 1786, and died in Pennsylvania Aug. 22, 1834. The father was a farmer by occupation, Republican in politics, and an active Elder of the Presbyterian Church, of which both parents were members for a good many years.

Of their family of thirteen children the record is as follows: the first born died unnamed; Maria became the wife of E. N. Finley; Eliza, Mrs. B. F. Miller, is now deceased; Jane and her husband, William Brown, are both deceased; John A. married Miss E. J. Wilson; Robert died at the age of two years and eleven months; Mary died when eleven months old; James P. married Miss Harriet Riley, who is now deceased; William J, of our sketch was the next child; Robert A. married Miss Nancy Acklen; George E. died when nine years old; Josiah W. died aged four years; David A. married Miss Elizabeth Ridgeway. Of the second marriage of Aaron there were born three children Emma C., Sanford W. and Haven E.

William J. Baird of this sketch was united in marriage with Miss Maria Wilkins, in Pennsylvania on the 16th of October, 1845. Mrs. Baird was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Hastings) Wilkins, natives of Pennsylvania, who are both now deceased. Their family of five children is recorded as follows: William, Jane, Nancy, James and Maria. Mr. and Mrs. Baird, after their marriage, remained in Pennsylvania until 1860.

They then removed to Montgomery County, Mo., and remained through the summer, coming in the fall to McLean County, where he has since remained. The following year he purchased eighty acres of land, and in 1868 another eighty acres adjoining. Upon his homestead of 160 acres he erected a fine dwelling in 1864, and in 1885 renovated and rebuilt it so that it is now two stories in height and makes a commodious and handsome residence. He is also supplied with all necessary barns and outbuildings and the other appurtenances of a modern country estate.

Mr. Baird learned bricklaying in his native State, and has followed it considerably in the last forty-five years. He has now practically abandoned it and gives the most of his attention to the business of his farm. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Baird included four children, as follows: Aaron died when nine days old; William W. married Miss Landgartha Hayes, and they are living in this county; Elizabeth J. is at home; James D. married Miss Ann Eliza McWilliams, and is living in McLean County.

Mr. Baird is Republican in politics and takes a great interest in the success of the temperance movement. He has been a member of and an Elder in the Presbyterian Church at Normal for a period of fifteen years. He has been an earnest worker in the cause of religion and a cheerful and liberal contributor to the maintenance of the church.

[SOURCE: Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887). Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards.]


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