“Roe” was probably one of the very first persons born in Dallas, evidently born there within six months of his parents’ arrival. He seems to have been named for his father, but the source of his unusual middle name is a mystery. (Although Rowland or Roland was not uncommon, the 1850 census lists only twelve persons in the entire United States named Rolando.) He is listed in the 1850-1880 federal censuses as “G. R.” or “George R.” and signed his name that way to at least two letters. He was listed in the special Dallas census of 1868 as “Roe Baird” and the death certificates of two of his children spell his name that way as well. His full name is written as “George Rolando Baird” in the family Bible and as “Rolando” in the newspaper article announcing his father’s death.1 We also have a receipt dated in 1864 for “tuition of Rolando” made out to his father George W. Baird.2
An Enterprising Youth
He was not only the eldest child, but also evidently the most enterprising of the sons, at least as a youth. He bought his first piece of property, two acres on Elm Street, on 14 February 1868 at the age of 18. The 1870 census shows him as a 20-year old still living in his parent’s house, but with real estate valued at $1,000 and personal property valued at $2,000.3 His occupation was “clerk in store”, apparently referring to his father’s business. Shortly after the census was taken, his father sold all the stock of his grocery store on the public square on Jefferson Street to Rolando for $500 in gold.4
Judging from entries in the Dallas Weekly Herald, Rowe was running his father’s store after 1870. The newspaper frequently mentioned the store as a source of quality tea and tobacco, and carried the occasional advertisement for the business. For example, the 21 December 1872 issue of the Dallas Weekly Herald carried the following advertisement:
Geo. R. Baird of the Friendly Groceries on Jefferson has just received a large shipment of smoking and chewing tobacco direct from Richmond, Virginia, among which are the celebrated brands of “Hog’s-Eye”, “Temptation”, and “Virginia Belle”. If you use the weed, give them a call.
He Abandons the Grocery Business and Marries Emma Stewart
Although it isn’t clear when, Rolando must have quit the grocery business not long after that newspaper entry, as the advertisements stopped. It is possible that he left Dallas temporarily as well.
He married Emma Stewart on 23 February 1874 in Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas. I have a copy of the marriage certificate, which shows that a JP named W. R. Bright married them but which mentions no witnesses.5 Why they married so far from Dallas is a mystery. One possibility is that her father Moses Stewart (see separate page), who was thought to be associated with railroads, may have been in Dallas in 1872 when the railroad arrived there, and by 1874 may have moved south following the railroad construction.
Rolando and Emma probably lived in Dallas after their marriage, as the 1878 city directory shows them boarding with his mother on Houston Street. And the he court records of the 1878 suit by Alzeda Persise against Rolando’s mother Mary Baird (see George W. Baird page) contain two letters by George R. Baird of Dallas to an attorney in Robertson County, Tennessee. Both were signed “Geo. R. Baird”. In the 1880 census he was living at 1110 Elm St. near his mother and gave his occupation as “Farmer” evidently having abandoned the grocery business.6 Their three oldest children were in the household. In the 1883 city directory he was listed as a bartender for Gluckman & Co. In 1884 he was still living on Elm St. From 1886 through 1890 he does not appear in the Dallas city directories.
They may have moved to Bell County. His son Harry L. Baird declared on his World War One draft registration card (and in later records) that he was born in Temple, Bell County, Texas on 18 February 1887. There are no deed entries in Bell County for the Bairds.
In June 1890 Rolando and Emma returned to Dallas and bought a home in the Highland Addition of Oak Cliff, across the Trinity River from Dallas. The Dallas city directory for 1891-1892 lists him as a printer for Ford Brothers on Polk Street in Oak Cliff. They sold the Oak Cliff place on 14 December 1891 and again disappeared from Dallas records for a few years. The land was evidently involved in a lawsuit indirectly mentioned in the Dallas Times Herald and not pursued by me.7
By 1894 they were back in the area, as “G. R. Baird” appeared on the county tax list that year. They were apparently living a few miles south of the city in in or near the settlement of Lisbon, when Roe Baird died in early 1895.
Roe Baird’s Tragic Death
The Dallas Daily Times Herald issue of 25 January 1895 reported the story, under the headline “Rowe Beard loses an Arm”:
Rowe Beard Loses an Arm
Taken off at the shoulder. His gun, which he believed to be unloaded, had been charged by his son, and it went off while being handled
Dr. Williams this morning went out to Mr. Rowe Beard’s home, three miles west of the river, to amputate his right arm at the shoulder. As stated in the Times Herald yesterday Mr. Beard was shot in the biceps muscle by the accidental discharge of a shotgun two days ago. Mr. Beard took the gun to the field with him. It was unloaded when he last handled it, but his son loaded it when his father was not observing, and when Mr. Beard took hold of it by the muzzle to handle it as he would an unloaded gun it went off, the charge of the shot tearing away almost the entire muscle of the right arm. The attending surgeon at first wished to amputate the arm, but Mr. Beard would not consent to the operation. Yesterday mortification set in. Mr. Beard is 45 years old, and has been a resident of Dallas for twenty or more years.
The previous day’s issue is no longer available, but the issue of 30 January 1895 carried this follow-up story under the headline “Lost His Arm And His Life”:
Lost His Arm And His Life
Rowe Beard dies from the effect of his accidental wound
Rowe Beard, the farmer living west of the river who accidentally shot himself in the biceps muscle of the right arm, in pulling his shotgun out of his wagon by the muzzle last week, died yesterday. The arm was amputated at the shoulder, but the operation was delayed too long, as mortification had already set in above that point. Mr. Beard believed that he would die under the operation, and had it postponed until some of his relatives whom he wished to tell good-bye could reach him, and the delay was fatal. Mr. Beard was 46 years old and had lived in Dallas County for upwards of twenty years.
The Dallas News issue of the same date adds that he “was accidentally shot while pulling his shotgun out of a wagon at Pemberton’s place two miles south of here…(he) leaves a family in destitute circumstances.” Pemberton’s place apparently refers to the Lisbon farm of Alfred Pemberton (1839 – 1887), whose son William Pemberton had recently married George Rolando Baird’s eldest daughter.
I can’t explain the “Beard” spelling in these articles, as his name was “Baird” in every other record found. But there is no doubt that this is George Rolando Baird. The circumstances of his death match the story told by my father’s relatives, and the date of his death is within four days of the date recorded in the family Bible. These same relatives thought he was buried in the Lisbon cemetery. If so, he is apparently in one of the unidentified graves.
Emma Stewart Baird Disappears
At her husband’s death, Emma Baird was not quite 40 years old and was left with several small children, including at least two babies. Indeed, she may have been pregnant with her last child, Dolly. She would likely have married again, but there is no clear record of what happened to her. Her husband’s six brothers and sisters died long ago, and collectively produced only one child, who was herself dead by 1951. Emma Baird’s own children were all dead by 1966. We are forced to rely on the recollections of two of her grandchildren who were still alive in the 1970s, and who were interviewed by my father.
One of those grandchildren was Ramona Bevills Molen, daughter of Elizabeth Baird, who was born about 1906. Ramona’s mother died sometime before 1910, and she was taken in by her aunt Daisy Baird. Repeating what she had heard from her aunt Daisy, Ramona related that she thought Emma Baird remarried to a farmer who died not long thereafter. Emma then married to a miner named Williams. The only marriage record for an Emma Baird in the area is the Dallas marriage of an Emma Baird and T. E. Crow dated 14 April 1896. There was also a record for the marriage of a “Miss” Emma Beard and W. W. Howard on 30 March 1898.8 I could not find any trace of either Emma Crow or Emma Williams in any state in the 1900 census. Ramona further thought that Annette, or “Nettie”, died young, perhaps prior to 1900, and that Emma, Elizabeth and Dolly lived in New Mexico.
Another grandchild was Ruth Pemberton Alexander, born in 1897. Ruth related that her mother, Effie Baird Pemberton, separated from her husband about 1903 and took Ruth with her to live with Emma and Mr. Williams in New Mexico. Ruth thought that her grandmother Emma had predeceased her mother Effie Pemberton who died, she said, in April or May of 1904 near Santa Fe. That would seem to place Emma’s death about 1903. Ruth also said that Annette was dead when Effie arrived in New Mexico, and that Elizabeth and Dolly were living in New Mexico with their mother. After her mother’s death, Ruth was returned to Texas to live with her father. Her impression was that Elizabeth and Dolly may have gone to California after 1904 and died there within a year or two. I could not find any record of them in New Mexico.
What we know for certain is that Daisy and Harry Baird were living with their sister Effie Pemberton by 1900. The 1900 Dallas census shows Daisy, age 19, and Harry, age 13, living with their sister Effie Pemberton and her husband. George Washington Baird, the eldest son, was not found in 1900. If Ruth and Ramona are correct, only the three younger girls continued to live with their mother.
I have a photograph of George Rolando Baird taken in the 1880s. I also have a scrapbook dated 1890 done by Mary Jane Stewart, Rolando’s mother-in-law, for her grandson George Washington Baird. It has no entries of genealogical interest but is otherwise quite interesting. (See also the Moses Stewart family page.)
George Rolando Baird and Emma Stewart had two sons and five daughters
Effie M. Baird (April 1876 – c1904) She is shown in the 1880 census as age 4, her birth date in the 1900 census given as April 1876. She married William Meredith Pemberton in Dallas on 28 August 1892.9 They moved briefly to Jackson County, buying land there in 1897 but selling it two years later. This matches Ruth Pemberton’s recollection that her parents lived briefly in Edna, Jackson County, Texas until 1899, when they moved back to Dallas. They appear in the 1900 census of Eagle Fort, Dallas County, with sons Alfred Monroe Pemberton (1893-1949) and Raymond Meredith Pemberton (1894-1955), and a daughter Ruth Pemberton (1897-1991). Both Harry Baird and Daisy Baird are also in the 1900 household, identified as her brother and sister.
Effie’s husband petitioned for divorce in 1902.10 According to a brief account of the matter, he was awarded a divorce on the grounds of her “adultery & prostitution” on 17 October 1902.11 Effie was listed in the 1902 Dallas city directory as a dressmaker living at 727 Elm. In the 1903 Dallas directory she was listed as a janitress boarding at 122 McKinney. In an interview nearly seventy years later her daughter Ruth Pemberton Alexander, born in 1897, claimed that Effie joined her mother in New Mexico where she died in the spring of 1904. Ruth, who was then barely seven years old, apparently returned to Texas to live with her father, as the 1910 Tarrant County, Texas census shows William Pemberton as a widower, with daughter Ruth and sons Alfred and Raymond in his household.
George Washington Baird (16 November 1877 – 27 April 1955) He was evidently the son who loaded his father’s shotgun, not yet 18 when his father died. Whether he went with his mother to New Mexico is unknown. He was not found in the 1900 census, so he may have been in transit and not counted. At some point he moved to Pittsburg in Camp County, Texas where he married Sarah Virginia Hensley (1881-1974) on 5 August 1906. (Coincidently, a much older and apparently unrelated George W. Baird was enumerated in the 1900 census in Pittsburg.) Although his gravestone and death certificate give his year of birth as 1878, he gave the year as 1877 when he filled out his World War I draft registration card. A birth in 1877 is also consistent with his age in the 1880 census.12
They had at two children, both known to my father: Don Virgil Baird (18 March 1909 – 18 March 1991) and Helen Catherine Baird (26 June 1919 – 26 September 2006) who was married to, and later divorced from, William Berry. A third child, Royal Boyd Baird (1911-1912) died at the age of 15 months and is buried near his parents.13 George is in the 1910 census of Camp County, Texas (shown as age 30) with his wife Sally (age 26) and son Don (age 1). In 1920, he is in the Camp County census (age 42) with Sallie (38), Don (10) and Helen (6/12). In 1930 he was still in Camp County, with Sally, Don (21) and Helen (10).
His death certificate gives the cause of death as “acute coronary occlusion” subsequent to angina pectoris of six days duration. Oddly, the informant (his son Don’s wife) gave his parents’ names as “Robert Baird” and Emma Stewart. George and his wife are both buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Pittsburg, Texas. His son Don V. Baird and his first wife Hazel Livingston Baird are buried in the same cemetery.
Daisy Baird (16 May 1880 – 30 August 1966) Ramona Bevills Molen told my father that Daisy’s birthday was 16 May, which matches the date her husband provided for her death certificate — although the year of birth on the death certificate is clearly incorrect. Her death certificate (she died in Houston) shows her father’s name as “Roe Baird” and her birth date as 16 May 1889, which is clearly a misstatement of her age by about nine years. (The informant was John Molen, Ramona’s husband.) Ramona said that Daisy had polio and was taken in by her Stewart grandparents after her father’s death. Ramona may have been misinformed on this point, for Daisy is in the 1900 Dallas County household of her older sister Effie Pemberton. Her age given as 20 and her birth date as May 1880.
According to Ramona, Daisy married twice: first to Louis A. Bradley, then William David Vick. She had no children herself, but did rear her niece Ramona Bevills. All this appears to match what records are available. Louis A. Bradley is listed in Houston city directories as early as 1903, his occupation listed as painter. How Daisy ended up in Houston is not clear but she apparently married Bradley about 1909. The 1910 Houston census showed that Daisy, age 26, and Louis A. Bradley, age 35, had been married about one year. Her niece Ramona Baird (sic), age 4, was the only other member of the household.
Louis Alexander Bradley (whose first name was corrected to “Louie”) filled out a World War I draft registration card on 18 September 1918 showing that, while he gave a home address in Houston, he was employed as a painter at Gerstner Field in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Strangely, he listed his nearest relative as “Romona Baird”, who was only twelve years old at the time. Bradley’s address was 843 Waverly and Ramona’s was listed as 839 Waverly. He was evidently already separated or divorced from Daisy, although the 1918 city directory was still showing Daisy Bradley residing at 843 Waverly. 14 On 26 November 1919, apparently having obtained an official divorce from Daisy, Louis A. Bradly married a widow named Addie Brothers.
By the 1920 census Louis A. Bradley and Addie were maintaining a household in Houston. Subsequent city directories list Louis and Addie Bradley but not Daisy. Daisy was not located in the 1920 census, but her ward “Miss Ramona Bevill” was listed in the 1920 Houston city directory as a clerk. Neither were located in the 1930 census, but the 1940 census shows Daisy living in the Houston, Texas household of her husband William D. Vick, age 40, whose occupation was listed as crewman on an oil ship. Her age was listed as a very generous 47.
Daisy’s death certificate states that she had been confined to bed for twenty years prior to her death. She was buried in the Abbey Mausoleum at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery. Her second husband William D. Vick died in Houston on 27 May 1974 and is also buried at Forest Park Lawndale. Her niece Ramona, as Mrs. Nona Molen, “daughter” (sic) was the informant.
- Harry Long Baird (18 February 1887 – 24 December 1945) My grandfather, he married Allie Anthony on 21 February 1915 in Omaha, Morris County, Texas. They had one child, my father. See the separate page.
Elizabeth Baird (c1885 – c1909) According to her daughter Ramona, “Bess” married George Bevills (or Bevels) sometime after 1904 and moved with him from New Mexico to California after her mother’s death. She had one daughter, Ramona Bevills Molen (1906-1985), born about 1906, who died in Houston, Harris County, Texas on 20 February 1985. Elizabeth must have died sometime before 1910, when 4-year old Ramona Baird was living in the Houston household of her aunt Daisy Baird Bradley.15 (Note that her surname in this record was “Baird”. Whether that suggests her mother was unmarried or that Daisy did not know her last name is unclear.) Ramona’s birthplace was listed as California.16 Daisy, who raised Ramona from infancy, was the chief source of Ramona’s knowledge of her family, and one cannot help but wonder how much of Daisy’s stories were actually true.
Ramona had a photograph of her father George Bevills and her mother Bess, with his father William Bevills, but she did not know when or where the photo was taken. We can find no record at all of these Bevills in either New Mexico or California. One candidate to be that person is a man named George Sidney Bevel who was born in Rogers, Arkansas on 7 August 1877 to William Bevel and his wife Martha.17 He was enumerated in the 1900 census of the Oklahoma Indian Territory (Chickasaw Nation) in the household of his father William Bevels and mother Martha A. Bevels.18 In 1910 and 1920 he was enumerated in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma (formed from the Nation in 1907) with a wife named Mary Emma Coley whom he had married on 22 December 1901 and several children born 1903 and later.19 He was enumerated in San Diego, California in 1930 and 1940, and died there on 26 April 1957. If that was Ramona’s father, we can’t explain how or where he knew Elizabeth Baird or how he came to father a child when married to another woman.
To add to the confusion, Daisy listed her niece as Ramona “Baird” in the 1910 census and Louis Bradley listed her as Ramona “Baird” as the contact on his 1918 draft registration card. The Houston city directory of 1911 listed her as Ramona “Baird” as well, but by 1920 she was listed as “Miss Ramona Bevill.” I note the possibility that she was illegitimate (such children took the surname of the mother) and the Bevills story was a legend cooked up by her aunt Daisy.
Ramona also apparently developed her aunt’s habit of taking several years off her age. She is buried in the same cemetery as Daisy, the Abbey Mausoleum at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery, with her birth year listed as 1914. Her husband John Molen is also buried there.
Ramona also had a photograph (now lost) obtained from Daisy Baird that she said showed Emma, Elizabeth, and a small girl thought to be either Annette or Dolly on a porch – again the time and place were unknown.
- Annette Baird (??? – by1910) Annette and Dolly are supposed to have died young, but after Emma, in an accident of some sort, according to Ramona Bevills Molen. This must have been prior to 1910, for neither Annette nor Dolly seem to appear in the 1910 census. Daisy Baird called her “Nettie”.
- Dolly Baird (ca1895 – by1910) According to Elizabeth Baird’s daughter Ramona, Emma Baird was pregnant with Dolly when Rolando died. She also thought that Dolly died after 1904 but before 1910, perhaps in California.
- See the page on George Washington Baird for both references. [↩]
- Among the family records in the possession of Georgia Brown Fowler, kindly provided by Robert E. Fowler. [↩]
- Dallas County 1870 census, Precinct 1, p199. [↩]
- Dallas County Deed Book N, p102. [↩]
- The Navarro County clerk parted with the original marriage certificate in 1971, now in my possession. [↩]
- Dallas County 1880 census, District 3, City of Dallas, 1 June 1880, p2. Geo. R. Baird 30 TX TN KY farmer, Emma (wife) 25 OH OH OH housekeeper, Effa (daughter) 4 RX TX TX, G. W. Jr. (son) 2 TX TX TX, D (daughter) 4/12 TX TX TX. [↩]
- February 25, 1891, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 1, col. 5. [↩]
- Dallas County Marriage Book Q, p248 [↩]
- Dallas County Marriage Book L, p585. [↩]
- Index to divorce cases, Dallas County, Texas. The filing of the case was reported in the 14 August 1902 issue of the Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 7, col. 4. [↩]
- The Dallas Journal, Volume 47 (Dallas Genealogical Society, 2001), p63, listing divorces granted in Dallas County. [↩]
- He is listed as age 2 in 1880. The “as of” date for that census was June 1, so a person born in November 1878 should have been listed as age 1. [↩]
- There are no dates on his gravestone, but the Texas Birth Index notes the birth of a child, gender not noted, on 22 August 1911 who must have been this son. [↩]
- Daisy was listed with Louis at that address in the 1911 directory, but was not listed at all in 1913 or 1915, and was listed as a laundress at a different address in 1917. [↩]
- Harris County, Texas 1910 census, SD 8 , ED 44, page 19A. [↩]
- The census lists both parents as born in Texas. One wonders if Daisy actually knew where Ramona’s father was born. [↩]
- From World War I Draft Registration card. He wrote his name as “Bevel” without the “s”. Although he gave the year as 1877 in this document, the 1900 census gives his age as 23 and birth as August 1876. [↩]
- 1900 census for Township 4, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, page 45B. The family appears as “Bevels”. [↩]
- Marriage Registers of Chickasaw Nation, 1910 and 1920 censuses of Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. [↩]