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From: "Joan Gandy" To:
Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 3:54:29 PM
Subject: Baird's Mill
I am working on a project for my father in law Bill Baird. Do you have any more information on the distillery in the cave at Cedars of Lebanon? Where did you find the 1870s date? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Report on W.G. Baird and Bro Distillery
Very little information exists about pre-prohibition distilleries in Tennessee and elsewhere. Many were active in the state as it was easy way for farmers and mill owners to make use of excess grains such as rye and corn. There were no laws regulating production and use of alcohol. Liquor was easy to sell and less bulky to carry to market than bushels of grain.

The limestone water in Wilson County was thought to give the whiskey a sweeter flavor. At Cedars of Lebanon State Park there is a cave, which is believed to be the location of W.G. Baird and Bro distillery. A hand dug well near the entrance to the cave would have supplied the limestone water from the deep underground stream.

According to Nashville Business Directories from the late 1800s, a distillery named W G Baird and Bro operated in Wilson County, Tennessee, from 1883 to 1887. The address was listed as 49 South Market from 1883 to 1886 and 5 Ĺ South Cherry in 1887.

The distillery was approved for wine and liquors, wholesale and retail only in the year 1884. The internal revenue record and customs journal volume 31 lists the Grain and Molasses Distillers that gave bond May 1, 1885. W.G. Baird and Bro in Wilson County is listed under Tennessee.

Distilleries were registered so their output could be monitored and the appropriate taxes paid. The first record of a tax on distilled spirits after the Whiskey Rebellion is from 1862.

W.G. Baird is most likely William Gwynne Baird born in 1849. This would put him at 34 at the time of the distillery. The brother could have referred to Albert Ewing Baird, W.G. Bairdís only brother.

The next place to look for information would be the Tennessee library in Nashvilleís collection of microfilmed Wilson County newspapers from 1884 to 1887. There may be adds for the whiskey or write ups on the business. Joan

From: "Loraine Baird"
Sent: Saturday, March 23, 2013 2:42:27 PM
Subject: Baird

Hi Norma!
I descend from the Gibson Co., TN Bairds from David Baird (1826) and Julia A. McAlister. David was born at Baird's Mill, TN. and he and his parents Hardy H. Baird (1803) and Nancy Baird moved to Gibson Co., shortly after he was born. My dad, Jimmy Rimmer Baird was born in Bradford, Gibson Co., TN. I have a tree on, and always looking for more information on the Bairds. I got the bulk of my information on the Bairds from John Baird of Olive Branch, MS., around 1998, who is a Wilson Co. Baird. Nifty thing, he worked the mail train and knew my great uncle Charlie Baird, who also worked the mail train. John has since passed this world I believe, but it looks like Mary Ann Gray has published a book on the Bairds going back to Alexander, our first ancestor here. I'm a 44 year old Graphic Design student and can't afford the book right now, but she has posted the research on Ancestry, thankfully. I wondered if you had heard from her? She contacted me on Ancestry. I have very few pictures of my dad's family, but have found a photo of Wilson Baird, brother to Hard H. mentioned above, from Mary Ann Gray.

I live in Nashville, and a few years back, I drove to Lebanon, TN., Baird's Mill, and of course the old mill has been gone since the 1950's but there was a mill stone out on Chicken Road and lots of "Baird" mailboxes (:

Anyway, I'm a proud Baird, never changed my name even through two marriages, and often wear my Baird tartan tam o' shanter with a plumed clan crest pin (: I'd be happy to share what information I have, and I just happened to find your page and thought I'd drop you a line.
Infinite Blessings, Loraine A. Baird Be the change that you want to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi

Sent: Sunday, February 3, 2013 6:48:11 PM
Subject: Baird Pictures

Hi! I don't know just how active your site is these days.....I know it's been up for quite a long time, so probably it doesn't get much activity anymore. But, I just put up a new website with some Baird pictures. I don't know if you would be interested in linking to it or not. These would most appropriately go on the page with the Baird's Mill family. One of them is of John Billingsley Baird. (Either way, I put a link to your site on my site--I'm assuming you won't object).

Also, I didn't see a "plug" for the Baird book about these families--or maybe I just missed it. It's called A Baird Family Reunion - History and Genealogy of Some Descendants of John Baird (ca 1675-ca 1738) History by William D. Baird (1922-2006) Dallas, TX; Genealogy by Mrs. Jacqueline L. Baird, Nashville, TN. nm-llanera

Hello, I was just reading over your website on the Baird lumbering operation of Bairdís Mill, TN. Iím attaching a photo of Albert Ewing Baird (left in scan) in the event that someone is interested. His father, John Billingsley Baird, was my great-grandfather Clement Jennings T Bairdís brother. I have recently obtained a number of old Baird family photos, such as of Daniel Webster Baird (middle in scan), brother of JB and CJT, but only a few are identified. The couple on the right in the scan may be CJT and Matilda, but this is just a guess based only on the fact that my grandfather had these pictures and it only makes sense that he might have one of his parents.

I wonder if there is any way to see if other Baird descendants have pics and to share mine with them for possible identification?
Bob Baird, PhD, PG Environmental Consulting, Inc. 13040 Greenwood Church Road Ashland, VA 23005-7100 (804) 798-5555 (ph) (804) 368-8465 (fax)
br> From:
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2004 5:09 PM
Subject: Funeral Notice for Mr. J. B. BAIRD of BAIRD'S Mills TN. Dated June 12,1894

I recently obtained an original Funeral Notice for J.B. BAIRD of BAIRD'S Mills, TN dated 1894, Wilson County, TN. While searching the web to find out who this was, I came across your BAIRD web site. Thinking the information on the notice might be interesting to those who use your site, Iím emailing it to you.

The notice closely resembles a modern postcard (single rectangular sheet of paper folded once to produce a front cover, inside left and right pages, and back cover). The inside pages and back cover are blank; the front cover contains the following machine printed message. I have a scanned image if youíd like one.

The notice reads:
Funeral Notice

The friends and acquaintances of
Mr. J. B. BAIRD,
are invited to attend his funeral from his resi- dence at BAIRD'S Mills, Tenn., June 12, 1894, at 11 o-clock A. M.

Internment at Cedar Grove Cemetery, at 2 P. M.
Lebanon, Tenn., June 11, 1894

Sent: Sunday, August 01, 2004 11:58 PM
Subject: BAIRD'S Mill site

My name is JON BAIRD. JOHN BILLINGSLEY BAIRD was my g-g-g-grandfather. My great uncle is WILLIAM G BAIRD who has done extensive research into the BAIRD family history. He has also donated many artifacts from BAIRD'S Mill to the Lebanon museum. He still lives in Lebanon.

As a child I have driven past BAIRD'S Mill many times, but nearly all I knew about it was where it was. Your site has given me much more insight into my history than I ever knew or would have known otherwise. Thank you so much for composing this.


Sent: Sunday, June 20, 2004 1:24 PM
Subject: BAIRD'S Mill

I was just viewing the BAIRD'S Mill site. My interest is particularly due to the fact that an old log book I have which was property of my great grandfather WASHINGTON HILL JONES who lived at Rural Hill TN. In the book numerous references are made to the BAIRDS and BAIRD'S Mill. I am including a page from that old journal (wouldn't copy to this website) that at the bottom mentions B. A. BAIRD... I am not sure who he is or am I sure who the JONES mentioned in this payment is???

I just thought you might be interested.. Numerous mentions of helping J. B. (is that J. B. BAIRD perhaps?) and going to the mill.. are in this old book.. which is in bad shape. I am still working on capturing all of it in some form. I have transcribed some pages and scanning some as well. If you have any reference to the JONES' who lived near BAIRD'S Mill in your research, I would love to discuss with you. Council JONES (aka C.S.C. JONES is mentioned as a whip maker in an old letter that I have. Did he perhaps work in the BAIRD'S Saddle shop? Thanks for a great site.

Vivian Eakes Hull - Hermitage, TN

Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 5:19 PM
Subject: BAIRD'S Mill...

I was just reading over your BAIRD Mill site and was wondering if you could tell me where the old mill used to stand exactly and if you ever heard of where GENERAL MORGAN'S men were reported to have camped when they would come through. I'd say if the pond was as you say then the troops might have camped at the pond each time. Living a short distance from BAIRD'S Mill, I'm quite curious to find out where it once stood and to find out who owns the land where it stood. Sure hope to hear something back from you.


The area presently known as BAIRD'S Mill in Wilson County, Tennessee experienced some degree of difficulty in getting established. In the early 1800's, one EBENEZER MANN made an attempt to settle there, but was promptly run down the trail by a band of Indians.

Shortly afterwards, FRANCIS LANDRETH entered the area thinking he was in Virginia. When North Carolina got around to issuing grants to the area, LANDRETH found that he had been evicted by three tentants with legal claims to his land. LANDRETH just faded over the horizon one day and vanished from the pages of Wilson County history.

At various times following the death of ALEXANDER BAIRD, each of the sons came to the area, except CHARLES BAIRD, who died young and WILSON BAIRD who died in Richmond County, North Carolina in 1819. JOHN BAIRD, MILES BAIRD & WILLIAM BAIRD arrived about 1806.

Tradition in the WILLIAM BAIRD family says that WILLIAM BAIRD came about 1802, built a house, and returned to North Carolina to marry ELIZABETH BOSTICK in 1804 and returned to Tennessee with his bride.

JOHN BAIRD & MILES BAIRD moved on a short time later to Logan County, Kentucky with JOHN BAIRD moving later to Gibson County Tennessee. THOMAS BAIRD arrived about 1812, and later moved to Logan County, Kentucky and later to Robertson County, Tennessee.

SELDON BAIRD came about 1822 and stayed in the immediate area for about 18 years, moving to a large farm on Sinking Creek, about 4 miles away. JAMES BAIRD & DAVID BAIRD followed and stayed a short time, moving on to Logan County, Kentucky. Reportedly, ELIZABETH BOSTICK BAIRD migrated with them and also moved on to Logan County.

By 1807, there was quite a settlement, made up of hardy frontier families with names like OZMENT, CLEMMONS, WINSETT, MERRITT & BAIRD.

WILLIAM BAIRD had built a home from cedar logs that stood until 1958, when it was torn away. At the time it was said to be the oldest habitable structure in Wilson County. It was sold at auction by the heirs of RIDLEY BAIRD, along with 118 acres of the original grant. RIDLEY BAIRD was the grandson of WILLIAM BAIRD and had obtained the land and house from the heirs of his father, ANDREW BAIRD.

No one knows with certainty the exact date that the first mill was built, but it was probably in early 1827. Public records indicate that WILLIAM JENNINGS BAIRD purchased the 100 acres of land known as the "Cave Tract" on December 6, 1826 and built the first mill out of hand hewn cedar logs shortly afterwards. The magnificent pond, which covered an excess of two acres, was located on the "Cave Tract" and was only a few hundred yards from the home that WILLIAM BAIRD had built some twenty years earlier on adjoining acreage.

The pond was not man made, but had been formed naturally by the shifting of limestone rock many years earlier. It was about twenty feet at its deepest point, filled with crystal clear water that feed underground from the river that ran in JACKSON'S Cave.

JACKSON'S CAVE is now an attraction for tourist in the Cedars of Lebanon State Park. The pond teemed with game fish, and became a poplar fishing spot for workers at the mill. JEROME RIDLEY BAIRD, son of WILLIAM JENNINGS BAIRD, stated in a written statement for ROSA LEA BAIRD, that his father built and operated the first mill, but at the time of WILLIAM BAIRD'S death in 1852, the mill was in the possession of JOHN "JACK" BILLINGSLEY BAIRD, WILLIAM BAIRD'S nephew.

DR MINERVA BAIRD, in her writings on the BAIRD family entitled, "BAIRD-JENNINGS FAMILIES" states that WILLIAM BAIRD came from North Carolina and built the first mill, which was on his property. DR MINERVA BAIRD'S work is filed with the State of Alabama Archives in Montgomery, Alabama.

Power for the mill was generated by horses, both "ground hog" style, where several teams pulled around and around in tandem, and "railroad" type, where horses converted weight to power by walking a tread wheel.

By the early 1840's, JOHN BILLINGSLEY BAIRD was the guiding genius of what would become known as BAIRD Enterprises. The firm name was JOHN B BAIRD & BROTHERS. On January 24, 1846, JOHN B BAIRD and his father, SELDON BAIRD, bought the Planters's Hotel and lot in Lebanon, Tennessee for $3,443.00 and operated it for many years as "BAIRD'S HOTEL". It stood on the west side of North Cumberland Street, just off the square.

About the same time, JOHN B BAIRD, equipped the mill for the large scale making of flour and meal. In the spring of 1851, a new steam powered mill was put into operation by John B BAIRD. At the time, this mill, Page's Mill on the Cumberland River in western Wilson County, and DR JOHN SELBY'S Mill on the east bank of the Cumberland River in Nashville, were the only steam mills in the river valley. The mill drew patronage from a wide area, even north of the Cumberland River, some twenty miles away.

During this period, the saw mill was enlarged and a general store was opened. The store, a large two-story building, stood at the Northwest corner of Central Pike-Chicken Road and Murfreesboro Road intersection. In the store building, a furniture factory was operated, using lumber from the saw mill. Spool beds were a product from the factory and many can be found in homes in Wilson County today.

Across Murfreesboro Road from the store and furniture factory was a shop in which the Limber-Jack Harrow was manufactured for use in farming. Also in the building was the BAIRD Saddlery where saddles and harnesses were made. The saw and grist mill were on Chicken Road, back off the highway.

On January 20, 1860, a post office was established at BAIRD'S Mill named "Ponville". Actually, it was a transfer of the post office at Huddleston's Cross Roads, located a few miles south-east of BAIRD'S Mill. DANIEL R FAKES, son-in-law of SELDON BAIRD, appears as the last postmaster at Huddleston's Cross Roads, and as the first at Ponville.

The name Ponville must cetainly have referred to the large pond, but the letter "d never appeared in the official spelling of the name. In 1874, the name was changed to "BAIRD'S Mill" and continued as that name until it's discontinuous in 1903 when RFD "Rural Free Delivery" was put into place by the Post Office Department. There were only two postmasters, A. E. BAIRD and W. G. BAIRD.

We associate the date "December 7th" with the second world war. The 1862 residents of BAIRD'S Mill remembered the date because on that morning, HANSON'S infrantry brigade joined JOHN HUNT MORGAN'S forces there and then proceeded toward Hartsville, Tennessee where they defeated DUMONT'S federal brigade. MORGAN'S troops camped at BAIRD'S Mill before and after the Hartsville battle.

For more than 30 years, including the war years and the period of reconstruction, BAIRD Enterprises prospered. But it suffered bankruptcy in the depression of 1870. However, the period of it's greatest prosperity was still ahead. The firm of JOHN B BAIRD & Brothers disappeared. WILLIAM BAIRD, C. H. BAIRD & T. F. CLEMENT faded from the picture, and JOHN B BAIRD, though active until his death in 1894, was not again to be a member of the firm. His two sons, WILLIAM G BAIRD, ALBERT E BAIRD, and a son-in-law, MONROE M BOND, carried on the businesses. The firm name became A. E. BAIRD & Co and W.G. BAIRD & Co successively.

A great era in the use of lumber was opening. Barbed wire had been invented by LUCIEN B SMITH and WILLIAM B HUNT. It had contributed enormously to the agricultural development of the west where vast acreage made protection of crops and livestock virtually impossible. Machinery for the rapid production of barbed wire was devised in 1874 by JOSEPH F GLADDON and P W VAUGHAN.

For this, post were required and they were shipped (squared red cedar) from BAIRD'S Mill in tremendous numbers. The use of wooden blocks for street paving had become very popular, so BAIRD'S Mill supplied these in great numbers. Most of the main streets of Atlanta, Georgia were paved with cedar blocks supplied from the mill. Within a period of a very few years, A1 BAIRD sold more than a million dollars worth of lumber from the mill.

The paneling that adorns the lobby of the famous Palmer House Hotel in Chicago was cut and planed at the mill. Sometime during the 1870's, the mill was completely destroyed by fire. When rebuilt immediately after the fire, a spoke and handle operation was added in a new part of the mill.

In the late 1870's, a distillery was opened that produced bourbon whiskey for the market. Though something of an adjunct to the grist mill, it was not located in the immediate area of the mill, but nearer the area of the cave, where a well was sunk to the great stream. This was done in order to take advantage of the unlimited supply of pure limestone water.

When the transfer engine came into being in the 1880's, it brought with it the itinerant sawmill (traveling from place to place). Instead of timber being cut and hauled to the mill, the mill moved to where the timber was standing. Some of this was done with portable engines, which had to be drawn by horses or oxen, and an engine which not only propels itself but also pulled a load. These new techniques brought a flood of mills into being.

Among the first of those who operated such mills, were: JOHN WES BENNETT, at SIMON'S Bluff; "BUCK" EDWARDS on Hurricane Creek and ASAPH ALSUP on the creek near Hebron. With new uses for timber came new products. The telegraph brought a need for poles, so the red cedar of Wilson County was ideal. The Lebanon Record reported in 1869 that a contract had been made to get poles for the telegraph wires from Lebanon to Gallatin, Tennessee.

Five years later, DR JOHN KILLEBREW'S comprehensive book, "Resources of Tennessee", said that telephone poles from Wilson County "go out from Nashville by every railroad to distant points each day".

ALBERT EWING BAIRD was a clerk in his father's store, buyer of cedar logs and travelling salesman for the mill. In the summer of 1881, ALBERT EWING BAIRD received copies of the "Canadian Lumberman", the only publication in this country devoted to timber. Knowing of the quiet exploitation of Southern hardwoods by eastern interest, ALBERT E BAIRD conceived the idea of starting a lumber paper to prevent "the timber owner of the south from selling their lumber for a song and then paying for the singing". It was called the "Southern Lumberman".

ALBERT E BAIRD'S uncle, DANIEL W BAIRD, had retired from the sawmill business a few years before to establish the "Wilson County News" in Lebanon. Uncle and nephew reached an agreement to print the new publication in the Lebanon shop, located on the ground floor of the spacious courthouse. The first number was dated December 1, 1881. On the night of December 13, 1881, after the second number was printed, the courthouse caught fire from a nearby livery stable, and burned down. PERRY BRAXTON MARTIN, foreman of the print shop, got enough help to save much of the type and "sort" of a printing press.

This equipment was moved to BAIRD'S Mill and installed on the second floor of the furniture factory; DANIEL BAIRD and PERRY BRAXTON MARTIN with it.

Working in the factory as a cabinet maker, was ROBIN C HATTON ABERNATHY. He had grown up in a Pulaski, Tennessee print shop where he had helped LAPSLEY MCCORD in the nocturnal printing of the ritual of the Ku Klux Klan. He turned his hand to his old trade and, with MARTIN, he printed the magazine which ALBERT BAIRD had conceived and which was to become the trade journal of the Southern Lumber Industry. By this time MONROE BOND was dead.

About forty yards from the site of the printing office was the mill and this magnificent pond, deep and clear, and teeming with game fish in it's two or more acres. Before the printers went to work in the mornings, they felt they must catch just one more fish. Between fishing and normal mechanical mishaps, the paper could never be brought out on time. After several numbers, the Southern Lumberman magazine took refuge from the fish pond and located permanently in Nashville, where it established itself as a venerable institution of the trade under the editorship of STANLEY F HORN and the business management of J. H. WHALEY.

DANIEL BAIRD died in 1915. A. E. BAIRD died in 1942. JAMES H BAIRD, a son of DANIEL BAIRD, was for many years editor and publisher of the Southern Lumberman. He, too, died in 1915. WHALEY and HORN acquired the publication from his estate in 1917.

Improved methods of milling, resulting in the making of whiter flour, had put all but the very largest roller mills out of business. The forest were exhausted, or so it was thought, and saw milling was curtailed. By, or a little after the turn of the century, there remained at BAIRD'S Mill, only the store and a blacksmith shop. Before his death in 1919 W. G. BAIRD had gained a large fortune. At this time the properties passed out of the hands of the BAIRD Family.


Among the master millers and millwrights were JAMES K POLK MURPHY and TOLLIVER ARNOLD. TOLLIVER ARNOLD was the husband of DEBORAH BAIRD ARNOLD.

Just before the turn of the century, the BAIRD furniture factory building was taken over by BUD HUDDLESTON, who operated a store. This operation later became the property of BEN HUDDLESTON and TAL HUDDLESTON, who sold out to BYRON QUARLES, who later sold it back to BEN and TAL HUDDLESTON. They eventually sold it to their nephew, GRADY. After that came HOWARD EADS, then ERNEST THOMPSON who was the last man to operate the Huddleston Store. Then came ROSCOE GENTRY who had the store for over forty years. CARL MORSE owned it when the original building burned in 1967. The MORSES have rebuilt and still conduct a store on the site.

In 1925, the great magnificent pond was accidentally drained by someone dynamiting in it for fish. The phenomena of its beginning also held true in its ending. The water drained back into the underground stream that has fed it for so many years, again possibly due to the shifting of the limestone rock.

In May of 1933, a windstorm destroyed the old mill hand barracks, the last building standing in the immediate area of the mill. Today, 1990, the area has grown over with bushes and small trees, but the depression representing the deepest part of the pond can still be seen from Chicken Road.

Sent: Friday, August 23, 2002 7:26 PM
Subject: Thank You for BAIRD Website

I just wanted to send you a note of thanks for putting the BAIRD information on the web:

My g-g-grandfather is mentioned, DANIEL R FAKES. This was wonderful information to add to my genealogy research. If you happen to have any other information about DANIEL, I would be most appreciative. I've also added it to my family tree as much of MARY CLEMENTINE BAIRD'S lineage that I could find, but would of course be interested in greater detail or those ancestors before JOHN BAIRD in Virginia.
Again, Many Thanks,

From: Nancy Megehee
Sent: Saturday, July 05, 2003 10:40 PM
Subject: Baird's Mill and Ponville

I have corresponded with you before about your website ( and how much I appreciated the information posted there. I included this information in my family tree and have shared my tree with other researchers.

MAMIE BAIRD of Lebanon, Tennessee called me this evening after looking over my information and told me that "Ponville" was misspelled as "Ponyfile" in the notes (which came from your website). In addition, I have checked the postal records at the National Archives and found the spelling there of "Ponville". Mrs. BAIRD is extremely familiar with the area around BAIRD'S Mill, and wanted to make certain no one got confused by an incorrect spelling. So I wanted to let you know about this so that you can make note of the correct spelling.

I'm copying MAMIE BAIRD in case you'd like to correspond with her. She has a wealth of information about the BAIRD family in Wilson County.


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