Henry and Elizabeth Baird Papers, 1798-1937


Summary Information
Title: Henry and Elizabeth Baird Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1798-1937

Creators:
  • Baird, Henry S. (Henry Samuel), 1800-1875
  • Baird, Elizabeth T. (Elizabeth Thérèse), 1810-1890
Call Number: Wis Mss V

Quantity: 3.5 c.f. (5 archives boxes and 1 flat box)

Repository:
Archival Locations:
Wisconsin Historical Society (Map)

Abstract:
Papers of Henry Samuel Baird, an attorney in Green Bay, Wisconsin, active in Territorial politics and Indian affairs, and of Elizabeth Thérèse Fisher Baird, his wife, and other family members. Correspondence, clippings, and other materials concerning the fur trade, Indians, and the Civil War draft, Peshtigo fire relief, real estate transactions, genealogy, and family matters.

Language: English, French, Ojibwa, Menominee

URL to cite for this finding aid: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-wis0000v
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Biography/History

Henry Samuel Baird was born on May 16, 1800 in Dublin, Ireland. In 1805, with his family, he migrated to America, settling in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was educated in common schools there. Having an interest in law, he entered the law office of S. Douglas in Pittsburgh at age 18. For the next four years, he worked at various law offices in Pennsylvania and Ohio, finally acquiring a position in Cleveland at the office of Reuben Wood, who became Governor of Ohio in 1850.

In 1822, suffering from ague and fever, he moved to Mackinac Island, Michigan Territory, to recover his health. While there he taught school. Although intending to return to Ohio, Baird noted the opportunities for a lawyer in a frontier area, and decided to remain. He was admitted to the bar in 1823, of a newly created district of Michigan Territory, comprising all of present-day Iowa and Wisconsin. He moved to Green Bay in 1824 where, before a special session of territorial Judge James D. Doty's court held October 4, 1824, he became the first professional lawyer in what is now Wisconsin.

On August 12, 1824, he married Elizabeth Thérèse Fisher, a native of Prairie du Chien who was raised in Mackinac and attended Baird's school. (Mrs. Baird's sister, Jane Monroe Fisher, was the widow of Joseph Rolette and later the wife of Hercules L. Dousman, both prominent Prairie du Chien fur traders.) Because of her varied knowledge of the area, her Indian ancestry, and her ability to interpret for Baird's French clientele, Mrs. Baird contributed much to his success in law and politics. Their home was the center of Green Bay social life for many years. The Bairds had four children.

Baird was prominent in Indian affairs and often critical of government actions regarding them. In 1830 he was a negotiator for the Winnebago and Menominee tribes in land sales. He served as secretary to Henry Dodge at the Treaty at Cedar Point in 1836, was commissioner at the treaty of Buffalo Creek in 1838, and was secretary to commissioner of Indian affairs, William Medill, at the council held at Lake Poygan in 1848.

His political career began in 1836 when he was elected as a Whig to the Wisconsin Territorial Legislative Council. He served as president of its first session, which began its meetings at Belmont, Wisconsin on October 25, 1836. In December 1836, Governor Henry Dodge appointed him Attorney General of the territory, a position he held until 1839. He was a delegate from Brown County to the first Wisconsin Constitutional Convention in 1846, serving on several committees. In 1853, he was the Whig candidate for governor. In this year also, he was elected president of the Green Bay village board, becoming mayor of Green Bay for two terms in 1861 and 1862. Finally, he served as Draft Commissioner for Brown County during the Civil War.

In addition to his legal and political interests, Baird supervised the sale of the Astor family property in Brown County from 1862 until his death. He also served as agent in other real estate transactions. He was elected vice-president of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in 1862. In 1871, Baird and his wife were in charge of relief work for victims of the Peshtigo Fire. In that year also, Baird was elected president of the newly organized Old Settlers' Club. He was an active member of the Wisconsin Masonic Lodge, having served as Grand Master at one time. In 1874, he was one of the organizers of the Kellogg National Bank in Green Bay. Baird died on April 30, 1875.

Scope and Content Note

The Baird Papers consist of correspondence, most of which is personal; business papers; personal financial records; writings; scrapbooks and clippings; miscellaneous volumes; and other miscellaneous materials.

The CORRESPONDENCE, 1798-1898, are mostly incoming letters, and contains both personal and business letters. While personal correspondence appears throughout the file, it predominates from 1798 into the 1820s. These early letters concern the families of Baird and his wife, Elizabeth T. Fisher, as well as other related families, including the Laframboise's. Many of these letters are in French and contain information on pioneer life in the Wisconsin area in the early 19th century. The correspondence file is arranged in chronological order, with the exception of undated letters, which are in alphabetical order at the end of the file.

The large quantity of personal family correspondence includes photostats of letters exchanged by Baird and his future wife during their courtship; about three dozen letters written by his father, Henry Baird, while he was living at Cleveland, Ohio, from 1822 to 1832, and in 1835-1836 when he was employed by the government to teach farming methods to the Indians at Neenah (Winnebago Rapids), Wisconsin, and letters written in 1836 by Henry S. Baird to his wife and to his father describing the sessions of the territorial legislature meeting at Belmont. There are also letters addressed to Mrs. Baird from the wives and sisters of officers who had been stationed at Fort Howard for brief periods. Mrs. Baird's own letters, frequently written in French, depict frontier living conditions in Green Bay and other Wisconsin communities, and family correspondence of later dates reflects the changes in social and political life which occurred as the state became more populated. Other correspondence of Mrs. Baird concerns relief for victims in the forest fires of 1871.

The increase in Baird's public activities in the 1830s is reflected in his business correspondence. Of note are Baird's letters to Lewis Cass (December 1833) asking for Cass' support in Baird's effort to gain the office of District Attorney in the proposed Wisconsin Territory; and his descriptions of Belmont, Wisconsin (October 1836), at that time temporary capital of the Wisconsin Territory. Other interesting business letters include those to Washington, D.C. in late 1849 to secure troops at Fort Howard in anticipation of trouble with the Menominee Indians. In late 1850, there are a few letters from Colonel Francis Lee to W.H. Bruce, the Indian agent at Green Bay. Baird's reluctant acceptance of the Whig nomination for governor can be found in a letter of September 21, 1853. During the 1860s when Baird was Draft Commissioner of Brown County, there are many requests for exemptions, letters protesting the draft, and similar items. Finally, in the early 1870s, there are many letters connected with the relief work of Mr. and Mrs. Baird after the Peshtigo Fire. While the correspondence file includes business correspondence, all other material dealing specifically with Baird's business interests will be found in the file of business papers. Those letters dated after Baird's death includes the correspondence of his wife, and Tenney family correspondence concerning the writing of a book on the Tenney genealogy.

Selected List of Prominent Correspondents

John Quincy Adams
August 26, 1846
Orlando Brown, Commissioner of Indian Affairs
August 28, 1849
January 22, 1850
George W. Crawford, Secretary of War
August 28, 1849
Ramsay Crooks
November 15, 1839
August 27, 1845
August 24, 1858
March 10, 1861
July 31, 1861
September 18, 1861
October 24, 1861
December 1, 1861
December 15, 1861
Henry Dodge
June 8, 1837
January 5, 1838
November 21, 1838
December 5, 1838
James D. Doty
December 29, 1849
Jane F. Dousman
October 13, 1868
August 12, 1874
T. Dousman
June 17, 1818
Lyman C. Draper
November 13, 1882
Lucius Fairchild
December 2, 1871
December 18, 1871
Hamilton Fish, Governor of New York
February 8, 1849
Horace Rublee
April 23, 1849
October 18, 1852
December 21, 1852
April 1, 1873
Eleazer Williams
January 10, 1837
December 29, 1847

The BUSINESS PAPERS, 1812-1875, include material pertaining to Baird's activities as Draft Commissioner during the Civil War; deeds; financial records; legal material; mortgages; and real estate notes. The material in each of the six categories is arranged in chronological order. More specifically, the papers concerning his activities as Draft Commissioner consist of non-correspondence materials such as lists of drafted men, railroad rate schedules for troops, soldiers' passes, military orders, attempts of draftees to prove non-citizenship, and similar materials. Also included are a few items relating to the Ladies' Aid Society and its wartime activities. Deeds include warranty deeds, land patents granting land to various people signed by President James Madison, a donation by Indians of land to “Madilon Lafrombois” [sic], and other materials. The financial records consist mainly of attorney's tax receipts, and records concerning the sale of property. The legal materials consist of indentures of servants, petitions, agreements, and other items. Of note are a statement concerning the trial of Chief Oshkosh for murder (November 5, 1830), and various legal agreements with Indians (March 1844). The mortgages include printed and hand-written documents. Finally, the real estate materials contain Baird's license to act as an agent, and miscellaneous notes.

The PERSONAL FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1820-1875, is comprised of household bills and other personal records. This material is arranged in chronological order.

The WRITINGS file, circa 1830s-1933, consists of the work of a variety of people. The Baird family writings include work by Henry S. Baird, Elizabeth T. Baird, Louise Baird Favill, and Therese S. Favill. Henry Baird's rather extensive writings contain addresses to his Masonic lodge, to the city council, and before the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, and cover such topics as Indian responses to treaties, life of North American Indians and early Wisconsin history. In addition to addresses, there are other essays and articles covering subjects from eloquence to Indian relations. These writings are in chronological order, with undated manuscripts in alphabetical order by title. The writings of Elizabeth T. Baird include anecdotes on the Civil War, notes concerning the history of Michilimackinac, and observations on Indian customs. Louise Baird Favill wrote an essay entitled “Three Periods of Sculpture,” presented to the Madison Woman's Club, and an undated series of recollections of early Madison. Finally, Therese S. Favill's writings consist of a study on lace, and a translation of a novel by Anatole France. These groups are in chronological and/or alphabetical order. The writings of other authors consist of notes on the genealogies of the Grignon and Tenney families; and miscellaneous writings such as “The History of Alton Street,” by Anna Tenney, poems, eulogies, descriptions of Green Bay homes, and other topics. These latter two sections are in chronological order, with undated materials following each in alphabetical order.

The SCRAPBOOKS and CLIPPINGS, 1841-1937, contain three scrapbooks and two folders of loose clippings. Two scrapbooks of materials concern Appleton, Wisconsin, and its residents, Lawrence College, and Eleazer Williams. The third scrapbook is of clippings from a series of reminiscences of Mackinac Island and Wisconsin Territory written by Elizabeth T. Baird in 1886-1887 for the Green Bay State Gazette. The folders of loose clippings and memos concern Kaukauna, Wisconsin, and Eleazer Williams. The clippings are in chronological order.

The MISCELLANEOUS VOLUMES consist of five volumes: a French catechism; an Indian prayer book; and three copy books containing English and French poems, lists of daily activities, and other memoranda.

The MISCELLANEOUS file consists of various items such as lists of books, maps, menus, programs, minutes, word games, et cetera. Also includes muster rolls of companies of Menominee Indians in the Black Hawk War of 1832. These are arranged first in alphabetical order, and chronologically thereunder.

Other Finding Aids

Portions of the Henry and Elizabeth Baird Papers have been digitized and are available online. The digital collection includes the correspondence and selected business, family and personal papers. The digital collection also includes a more in depth description of the materials digitized.

Direct links to the documents in CONTENTdm can be found in the register's Contents List.

Related Material

See also: Elizabeth T. Baird Papers (M82-140, M95-171)

Administrative/Restriction Information
Acquisition Information

Presented by Mrs. Louise S. Favill, and Elizabeth Tenney Cheney, Winnetka, Illinois in 1941, 1944, 1952, and 1962. Accession Number: M62-109


Processing Information

Processed by Kris Crary and Joanne Hohler, April 10, 1974.


Contents List
Wis Mss V
Series: Correspondence
Box   1
Folder   1
Box   1
Folder   2
Box   1
Folder   3
Box   1
Folder   4
Box   1
Folder   5
Box   1
Folder   6
Box   1
Folder   7
Box   1
Folder   8
Box   1
Folder   9
Box   2
Folder   1
Box   2
Folder   2
Box   2
Folder   3
Box   2
Folder   4
Box   2
Folder   5
Box   2
Folder   6
Box   2
Folder   7
Box   2
Folder   8
Series: Business Papers
Box   3
Folder   1
Civil War Draft Commission, 1862-1865, undated
Box   6
Folder   1
Financial Records
Box   3
Folder   2
1816-1856
Box   3
Folder   3
1857-1863
Box   3
Folder   4
1864-1875, undated
Box   6
Folder   2
Box   6
Folder   3
Mortgages, 1837-1858
Box   3
Folder   5
Real Estate, 1843-1874
Series: Personal Financial Records
Box   3
Folder   6
1820-1857 June
Box   3
Folder   7
1857 July-1862
Box   3
Folder   8
1863-1875, undated
Series: Writings
Baird Family
Henry S. Baird
Box   3
Folder   9
Box   3
Folder   10
Box   3
Folder   11
Undated, C-S; fragments
Note: Digitized content also available online.
Box   4
Folder   1
Elizabeth T. Baird, undated, C-W
Box   4
Folder   2
Louise Baird Favill, 1893, undated
Box   4
Folder   3
Therese S. Favill, Post-1880, undated
Other Authors
Genealogical Notes
Box   4
Folder   4
Grignon Family, 1932-1933, undated
Box   4
Folder   5
Tenney Family, 1878, 1885, undated
Box   4
Folder   6
Miscellaneous, circa 1871-1925, undated
Series: Scrapbooks and Clippings
Box   4
Folder   7
Appleton, Wisconsin, and Residents, circa 1891-1937, undated
Box   4
Folder   8
Appleton, Outagamie County, Lawrence College, and Eleazer Williams, circa 1899-1907
Box   4
Folder   9
Green Bay State Gazette Series of Reminiscences by Elizabeth T. Baird, 1886-1887
Note: Digitized content also available online.
Box   4
Folder   10
Kaukauna, Wisconsin, 1841-1934, undated
Box   4
Folder   11
Eleazer Williams, circa 1930-1931, undated
Series: Miscellaneous Volumes
Box   5
Folder   1
French Catechism, circa 1815
Box   5
Folder   1
Indian Prayer Book, undated
Note: Digitized content also available online.
Box   5
Folder   2
Three Copy Books, undated
Note: Digitized content also available online.
Series: Miscellaneous
Box   5
Folder   3
Box   5
Folder   4