Portrait of Chambers Baird

This painting of Major Chambers Baird is a wonderful family heirloom and has great historical significance for the Ripley, Ohio region due to the subject matter. But more on that later.

As you can see from the photographs, the frame ornamentation has been lost in several places and is compromised in several others. The frame actually suffered structural damage that caused a puncture through the canvas. As for the painting, the canvas and paint film are in rough condition. Heavy dirt particulates cover the front and other than the tear caused by the frame, there are further areas of loss. The exact date of the artwork has not yet been determined. At the earliest it could be Civil War era, but there is also the possibility that it was done more recently and based on a photograph. Stay tuned for more…

MAJOR CHAMBERS BAIRD. Of the men have passed from this life, whose record for good citizenship entitles them to honorable mention in these volumes, is numbered Major Chambers Baird, of Ripley, Ohio. He was a man of affairs and one who wielded a wide influence, his opinions doing much to mold public thought and action. In all his public work Major Baird was actuated by a spirit of direct and immediate serviceableness and his labors in behalf of his town and county were far-reaching and beneficial. The birth of Chambers Baird occurred at Sandy Springs, Adams county, Ohio, July 25, 1811, and his death at Ripley, Brown county, Ohio, Mar. 20, 1887. He was a son of Judge Moses Baird, an Ohio pioneer of Scotch-Irish Presbyterian stock who came from Washington county, Pennsylvania, and settled at Sandy Springs in 1790. Chambers Baird was reared on the home farm on the Ohio river, opposite Vanceburg, Ky., his home until he reached the age of nineteen years, when, in 1830, he became a student in the Ripley College, with his cousin, Stephen R. Riggs, afterward a noted minister and missionary among the Dakota Indians, as classmate. This college closing in 1832, they entered Jefferson College, in Pennsylvania, and graduated from that institution of learning in the year of 1834. After his graduation, Mr. Baird read law at Ripley with the Hon. Archibald Leggett and Col. Francis Taylor, formerly of Kentucky, and was admitted to the bar in November, 1836. He became widely known as a general practitioner, as a keen business man, and prominent citizen. In 1837 Major Baird was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ann Campbell, of Ripley, who passed from this life in 1844. On May 6, 1845, Maj. Chambers Baird was united in marriage to Miss Judith Anne Leggett, only daughter of Mr. A. Leggett, who had married two daughters of Col. Taylor. Mr. Baird still resides (1913) at Ripley and is the other of five children who were born to her union with Major Baird. Of the five children, three died in infancy, and those living are: Florence C., now Mrs. J. J. McCardy of Los Angeles, Cal., and Chambers Baird, a prominent lawyer of Ripley. It is almost impossible for a man of Major Baird’s character and ability to avoid prominence in politics and he took an active part in political life, first as a Whig, and later as a strong Republican and anti-slavery man. In 1855 he was elected State Senator from Brown and Clermont counties; in 1856 he was a delegate to the first National Republican convention which nominated Fremont. Later, he was delegate to many other conventions, and was a trusted leader of the Republican party in his State and county. In 1860 he took a prominent part in the election of President Lincoln and at the out break of the Civil War was among the foremost speakers for the Union. He was an intimate friend of Senator Sherman, Secretary Chase, Governor Dennison and other prominent men. His age, fifty years, prevented him from entering active military service, but he was appointed provost marshal by the Governor and was intrusted with the responsible duty of organizing a defense of the Ohio border. With his accustomed energy Major Baird at once set about organizing minute men and military companies, and later, in 1863, accepted an appointment as paymaster in the United States army, with the rank of major, being first assigned to the Army of the Cumberland, with headquarters at Louisville, Ky. He was later removed to Washington, where he was a resident with Lincoln was assassinated. He paid the Union troops returned from southern prisons, at Annapolis, and was mustered out July 1, 1866, after three years of service. During the period in which he was paymaster, Major Baird handled many millions of money without the loss of one cent. Community affairs were ever of deep interest to Major Baird and his services could always be secured to further any movement for the public good. He was a director of the First National bank of Ripley and later was president of Citizens’ National Bank. He was president of the Ripley Gas Company from its organization in 1860 until his death. For years he was an active member of the Ripley Fair Company and also of the Ripley Saw Mill and Lumber Company. He was an investor in various other local and outside enterprises. He declined a number of nominations and appointments to honorable offices, among them a judgeship in the Supreme Court of Ohio, not wishing to leave his home and profession. Major Baird possessed one of the largest libraries of law books and miscellaneous works in southern Ohio. His home was one of culture and refinement and beauty. In religious matters he was an active member, trustee and elder of the Presbyterian church, and for many years was a teacher of the Bible class and a delegate to the Presbytery and Synod. He always give liberally to all branches of church work, contributing not only financially, but taking a personal interest and rendering active, faithful service. While Maj. Chambers Baird was of the highest type of professional man and enterprising man of business, he was first of all a good citizen. His championship of the right and his settled convictions, from which he could not be swerved, made him a leader of no little power. In his professional life as a lawyer and in business he was conscientious, kind hearted and generous, careful and accurate; in public life he possessed the sterling qualities which command respect, while in the seclusion of home and in the social circle he displayed those winning traits which make human affection little less than divine.

Source: History of Clermont & Brown Counties, Ohio – Volume II – By Byron Williams – 1913 ~ Page 157

2 responses

  1. What a great piece – love to learn more about the history all around us! I was really excited to discover this article, it helped me explore the natural history of Ohio.

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