SOURCE: HISTORY OF KANSAS STATE AND PEOPLE
WRITTEN AND COMPILED BY WILLIAM E. CONNELLEY
ISSUED IN FIVE VOLUMES
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, INC.
CHICAGO - NEW YORK - 1928
VOLUME IV, PAGES 1785/1786.
THOMAS BAIRD is a retired farmer, banker, and businessman of Arkansas City and is one of the few survivors of that pioneer group of men who were attracted to the southern Kansas border at the beginning of the decade of the '70s and established and developed the first homesteads around Arkansas City. Mr. Baird in his time has had a wide variety of business interests and undertakings, but has always been closely identified with agriculture, an evidence of which is the fact that for a half century he has been a faithful member of the Grange or Patrons of Husbandry, one of the oldest agricultural organizations in America.
Mr. Baird was born in Ontario, Canada, about forty miles from Detroit, Michigan, on July 26, 1849. He was reared there, attending the public schools of Canada, and in 1868, at the age of nineteen, came to Kansas. He first located at Paola, but in 1871 moved to Cowley County, which had been organized the previous year. He took up a claim four miles west of Arkansas City. Since it was difficult to make a living from a bare claim, he followed his trade as a contractor and builder in Arkansas City until 1878. He then settled on a farm, and during the next twenty-eight years gave his fuoll time and energies to his farm and his increasing landed interests there.
About 1907 he moved his home into Arkansas City and gave up the heavy responsibilities of actual farming. He became one of the organizers of the Union State Bank, and for about two years was its president and remained on the Board of Directors until he found indoor work uncongenial, but he still remains one of the large stockholders of the bank. He owns stock in a number of local enterprises. He was one of the organizers and was vice president of the Henneberry Packing Company and remains a stockholder in its successor, the Keefe-LeSturgeon Packing Company, one of the important business enterprises of Arkansas City. He is a stockholder in the Arkansas City Daily Traveler.
It was on his birthday, July 26, 1871, that Mr. Baird put his stake in the ground marking out his original homestead claim. The land constituting that claim is now part of a fine body of land aggregating a thousand acres, which he owns. Oil has been developed on part of his land.
Mr. Baird is an independent in politics. During the '90s he was prominent in the populist movement. His family attend the Presbyterian Church, and he is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, member of the Wichita Consistory, and belongs to Midian Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Wichita. He is a member of the Farmers Union and has served on the local school board.
Mr. Baird married, February 7, 1877, Miss Adelia DeMott. She is likewise a native of Canada, daughter of William and Tabitha Ann (Sleigh) DeMott. The DeMotts were among the pioneers of Cowley County. Mrs. Baird was eleven years of age when, in December, 1869, her parents came to Kansas, remaining at Ottawa for a few months and in April, 1870, moving to Chanute, and in February, 1872, to Cowley County, where they settled on a farm four miles southwest of Arkansas City. Her father died there September 20, 1878. Her mother died April 20, 1884. Mrs. Baird had two brothers, Fred C. DeMott and William John DeMott. The latter died at Ottawa, Kansas, when eighteen months old.
Fred C. DeMott, brother of Mrs. Baird, is one of the leading businessmen of Arkansas City, being president of the Union State Bank. He was born in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, August 18, 1863, and was about nine years old when the family settled in Cowley County. He finished his education there in the local schools and remained at the old homestead until 1899, when he moved to his present farm a mile and a half south of Arkansas City.
On January 2, 1908, he was one of the men who instituted the Union State Bank, and on January 3, 1909, he was made its president, an office he has held ever since. He is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, member of the Midian Temple of the Mystic Shrine, was one of the organizers of the local Grange and for some years one of the directors of the Farmers Union. He is a member of the Masonic Grotto and the Rotary Club, and his wife belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Fred C. DeMott married April 15, 1888, Miss Bell Booton, of Cowley County. They have three children and several grandchildren: Charles F. DeMott, born February 16, 1894, graduated from the Arkansas City High School, spent two years in Kansas Agricultural College at Manhattan, operates the home farm, and by his marriage, on December 25, 1917, to Miss Nina Nelson has a daughter, Lillian Rose, born September 16, 1921; Lura Maud DeMott, born in February, 1898, was graduated from high school and the State Teachers College at Emporia, taught for four years, and is now the wife of Harry McLaughtor, of Sumner County, Kansas, and has a son, Frederick Wilson, born September 26, 1921; and Lydia Gertrude DeMott, born March 2, 1902, a graduate of the high school of Arkansas City, also had experience as a teacher, and is now the wife of Vernon Chaplin and has a daughter, Virginia, born July 27, 1925.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Baird had three children, William T., Charles M., and Mabel. William T. was born on the homestead farm, May 20, 1878, was educated in local schools and the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan, and after some early years as a farmer moved out to Tulsa, Indian Territory, when that now famous city had a population of only thirteen hundred, and has been prominently identified with the farming and oil industries of that community, in which his father is interested with him. He is unmarried. Charles M. Baird, the second son, was born April 22, 1880, in Cowley County, was educated in public schools and the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, and now carries the burdens of managing the Baird farming interests, comprising about a thousand acres of land. He is a member of the Farmers Union of Arkansas City and the Grange. He married Miss Leonora Hadekin, and they have a family of five children, named Berlin, Marlin, Albert, Mabel Adeline, and Walter. Mabel Baird was educated at Arkansas City, at the Kansas State Agricultural College and Fairmount College at Wichita, where she graduated in music. She is the wife of C. M. Drennan, who was assistant superintendent of the Keefe-LeSturgeon Packing Company of Arkansas City, and is now manager of the Ark Warehouse at Arkansas City. He is president of the State Warehouse Association.