Richard Alexander Baird (1833-1882)

Richard Alexander BairdBy Guy L. Black.  Derived from the records of Gertrude L. Baird; the life story of Margaret Henrietta Camp; Gypsum Hill Cemetery records; federal census records; a book about the descendants of Alexander Baird and Mary Green, written by Gertrude L. Baird; and personal family records given to the author by his mother, Glenda Joyce Memmott Black.

Richard Alexander Baird was born November 21, 1833 in Marion, Perry County, Alabama.  He was the child of Samuel Baird, born in Tennessee, and Matilda Rutledge, born in South Carolina.

Presumably, Richard’s family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in approximately 1844, as Richard later reported that he was baptized that year.

According to the 1850 Census, Richard’s father, Samuel Baird, was a brick mason, and the family was living in WashingtonTownship, Buchanan County, Missouri at the time of the Census.  In 1850, Richard was the oldest child still in the household, and he had six younger brothers and sisters:  Elisa, age thirteen; Julia, age eleven; Andrew, age nine; Sarah, age eight; Joseph, age six; and Israel, age two.

Richard’s father died in approximately 1859 or 1860; and Richard moved to Utah sometime before October 4, 1862, because it was on that date that he received his endowments in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  Richard later married Emma Linda Hiskey on March 21, 1863 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Emma was a native of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, where she was born on June 24, 1840.

Apparently, Richard went alone to Utah, or at least his mother and some of the other members of his family did not go to Utah with him initially.  A short time after his marriage to Emma Linda Hiskey, Richard traveled east to join his mother, Matilda and two of her sons (presumably his brothers), who had been living in Doniphan County, Kansas.  In about mid-July, 1863, he accompanied his mother and brothers, and traveled back to Utah with the Alvus H. Patterson Company of Mormon Pioneers.

Richard and Emma lived in Salt Lake City, Utah during their marriage.  However, the marriage did not last.  The couple separated April 26, 1869, and received a temple divorce on August 16, 1870.

During their short six years together, Emma gave birth to two children.  On October 17, 1864 the first child, Isabella Hiskey Baird, was born.  A second child, Peter Hiskey Baird, was born January 9, 1869, just three months before his parents separated.

By the time of the 1870 Census of September 6, 1870, Emma was using her maiden surname and was living by herself with her two children in Brighton, Utah.

A few months after his divorce, Richard married again in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on October 3, 1870.  Elder Daniel E. Wells, an apostle, performed Richard’s second marriage to Margaret Henrietta Camp, age 22, born November 8, 1848 in Andrew County, Missouri.  They were sealed at that time.

Margaret had previously been married at age seventeen to Thomas Brantley, a veteran of the civil war, who served as a soldier for the Confederacy under Robert E. Lee.  Her first husband lived just one year and twenty days after the marriage.  He did not even live to see the birth of their only child, a son, also named Thomas Brantley.

For several years after their marriage, Richard and his new wife lived in Salt Lake City, where he worked as a night policeman.

Together, Richard and Margaret had seven children, in addition to Margaret’s child from her prior marriage.  Richard’s two children from his prior marriage lived with their mother, Emma, who married again in 1871, to William Coon.

Richard and Margaret’s children were:

            James Alexander Baird, male, born July 26, 1871 in Salt Lake City, Utah;

            Samuel William Baird, male, born June 13, 1873 in Salt Lake City, Utah;

            Margaret May Baird, female, born May 13, 1875 in Salt Lake City, Utah;

            Joseph Francis Baird, male, born August 21, 1876 in Salt Lake City, Utah;

            Louis Graham Baird, male, born Nov 24, 1878 in Eureka, California;

            Laura Gertrude Baird, female, born Aug 13, 1880 in St. Joseph, Missouri;

            Diannah Blanche Baird, female, born Apr 30, 1882 in Salina, Kansas.

Sometime before 1875, Richard began drifting away from the LDS Church.  Finally, on Saturday, January 30, 1875, John H. Rumel, Clerk of the 13th Ward, reported that two individuals, “Richard Alexander Baird and James A. White, were cut off from the church for apostasy, and by their own request.”

Not long after the excommunication, Richard packed up his family and moved from Utah.  Richard had begun homesteading land in Salt Lake County, and filed a homestead claim on March 21, 1871; but before January, 1878, he had abandoned the claim and left the State.

The family moved to the Sacramento, California area, where work was more plentiful.  Except for his stint as a police officer in Salt Lake City, Richard worked most of his life in the masonry trade, as had his father.

In Sacramento, Richard resumed his work as a mason, working for the Union Pacific Railroad doing construction work wherever his contracts with the railroad required his assistance.  Richard built white rock stations and houses all along the railroad tracks from Sacramento, California to Salina, Kansas.

Roberta Flake Clayton reported that the climate in Sacramento was very hard on Margaret’s health, so the family relocated again, this time to the St. Louis, Missouri area, sometime between late November, 1878 and June, 1880.  However, it is more likely that the relocation was related to Richard’s ongoing work for the Union Pacific Railroad, and was because of his employer’s needs for station houses in the Missouri area.  In Missouri, Richard also reportedly scouted and guided settlers across the southern route from Missouri River ports.

At the time of the 1880 Census, on June 9, 1880, the family lived at 171 Fourth Street, St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri.

While in St. Joseph, the Baird’s seventh child was born, and their sixth child, a son, Louis, died.  Neighbors discovered the Baird’s were Mormons.  As a result, the prejudice was so strong against Richard and Margaret that the community did not offer them any assistance.  Margaret had to prepare the body herself, and Richard obtained a metal casket.  Because of the unfriendliness of the people, the casket, with the baby boy inside, was kept inside the Baird’s house for the remaining two years the family lived in St. Joseph, Missouri.  At the end of that time, Richard moved his family to Salina, Kansas, where his brother, Andrew Jackson Baird, lived.

In Kansas, the people were much kinder, and so there the baby was finally buried.  The keeping of the child’s body was a great trial to Margaret.  She said she often dreamed of it, and that it was a constant sorrow.  None of the Baird’s histories offer any explanation why the boy could not have been buried in Missouri, in spite of a lack of assistance from the community.  Perhaps Richard and Margaret preferred to bury their son in a friendlier place, and were willing to suffer the hardship of having the body in their house for two years.

Richard and his brother, Andrew Jackson Baird, worked together for more than a year in the contracting business while Richard and his family lived in Kansas.

Margaret had been taught to store a good supply of food.  Consequently, her cellar and basement were always well stocked.  One of Margaret’s common practices was store butter in forty gallon wooden drums of salt brine.

While the Bairds were living in Kansas, the family noticed that some of their stored food was missing.  One night, Richard heard a dog bark.  Thinking that a thief was trying to steal their food, he went out into the dark night.

Outside, Richard came face to face with a large yellow dog.  The dog sprang at Richard repeatedly.  In the melee that ensued, as Richard fought off the dog he was bitten in a number of different places, including his shoulder and neck.

The dog was discovered to have rabies.  Because no serum was available to counteract the disease, Richard spent the next nine weeks in a progressively worsening condition.  He obtained a priesthood blessing, but even that did not stop the progression of the disease.  Richard was concerned that he would become violent in his rabid condition as death approached.  He prayed fervently that he might die peacefully.

As the end neared for Richard, his brothers, also afraid of a possibly violent death, brought ropes and chains, planning to tie and chain Richard down.  Mercifully, Richard’s passing was peaceful on April 20, 1882.

As Richard was a member in good standing of the local Masonic lodge, and a Thirty-Second Degree Mason, his lodge looked after his widow and paid the funeral expenses.  Richard was buried in the Gypsum Hill Cemetery in Salina, Saline, Kansas on April 22, 1882. However, the designated plot in the graveyard does not contain a legible grave marker with any details regarding Richard (although grave markers next to the place where Richard was buried contain information on Richard’s brother, Andrew Jackson Baird).

Just ten days after her husband died, a baby girl was born to Margaret.  As soon as the baby was old enough, and Margaret was able to endure the trip, the Masons chartered an emigrant car to take her household belongings and hired a nurse to accompany her and her family to Utah.  She eventually moved to Snowflake, Arizona, where she died on June 4, 1941 at ninety-three years of age.[i]

[i] Vital Records, Cemetery, and Obituary Sources:  Birth Certificate:  No primary source available.  Secondary source:  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, “Sealing of Couples, Living & By Proxy,” Volume D, pp. 199-200, Entry 5454 (22 November 1861 – 29 December, 1866), Family History Library Special Film, Roll No. 1149514.  This is live sealing record for the marriage of Richard Alexander Beard and Emma Linda Hiskey in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on March 21, 1863, performed by D. H. Wells, with witnesses, W.W. Phelps and S. L. Sprague.  The record states Richard’s birth date as November 21, 1883 in Marion, Perry, Alabama.  Richard’s youngest brother, James Hyrum Baird, recorded the birthdates of his parents and all his siblings in his journal.  James’ son recopied the information from his father’s journal.  The journal record confirms that Richard was born November 21, 1833.  Gertrude L. Baird, Compiler, The Descendants of Alexander Baird and Mary Green (Baird Family Organization, Ogden Utah: 1972), p. 4.  Marriage License:  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Sealing of Couples, Living & By Proxy,” Volume D, pp. 199-200, Entry 5454 (22 November 1861 – 29 December, 1866), Family History Library Special Film, Roll No. 1149514.  This is live sealing record for the marriage of Richard Alexander Beard and Emma Linda Hiskey in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on March 21, 1863, performed by D. H. Wells, with witnesses, W.W. Phelps and S. L. Sprague.  Death Certificate:  No Kansas death records exist prior to 1885.  Roberta Flake Clayton, Life Story of Margaret Henrietta Camp, 10 April 2007, available from; Internet; accessed 21 August 2007 indicates that Richard died in Salina, Saline, Kansas ten days after the birth of his youngest child.  Both Gertrude L. Baird and indicate that the couple’s youngest child was Diannah Blanche Baird, born April 30, 1882 in Salina, Saline, Kansas.  By simple calculation, Richard died April 20, 1882.  This is consistent with the cemetery records of the Gypsum Hills Cemetery in Salina, Saline, Kansas, which shows an “R. A. Baird” buried in location C,12,13 A of the cemetery on April 22, 1882 (two days after the calculated death date).  Gypsum Hills Cemetery has an online search feature at <> (Accessed July 23, 2007).  Electronic copy of web site in the possession of Guy L. Black.  Guy L. Black contacted cemetery officials by telephone on July 23, 2007.  They took digital pictures of the gravesites.  No marker existed at R. A. Baird’s grave site, but in close proximity they located and took pictures of other graves, including the grave marker of Richard’s brother, Andrew Jackson Baird, who died in 1923.  Also buried in Gypsum Hill Cemetery is Richard’s young son, Louis Graham Baird (reported by the cemetery as buried on March 21, 1881 in location C,12,01).  Gertrude L. Baird’s book has two different dates for his death.  She first indicates that Richard died on April 10, 1882, about three weeks before the birth of his youngest daughter (pp. 37, 38).  She then indicates that he died April 20, 1892 (p. 39).  Gertrude L. Baird, Compiler, The Descendants of Alexander Baird and Mary Green (Baird Family Organization, Ogden Utah: 1972), pp. 37–39.  Based on the cemetery records, it is more believable that the death occurred April 20, 1882, and that he was buried two days later.  Grave Location and Cemetery Directions:  Grave is located in Gypsum Hills Cemetery, 2020 East Iron, Salina Kansas 67401 Telephone: 785-826-7390.  Fax: 785-826-7466 E-mail: <>.  Burial occurred on April 22, 1882 in location C,12,13,A.  Obituary:  Saline County Journal (Saline, Kansas), Volume XIL, No. 13, Thursday, 27 April 1882, page 3, column 3.