About the Bairds
Henry S. Baird, 1800-1875
Elizabeth Baird, 1810-1890
b. Dublin, Ireland, 1800
b. Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, 1810
d. Green Bay, Wisconsin, 1875
d. Green Bay, Wisconsin, 1890
Henry Samuel Baird was a territorial politician and prominent early Wisconsin settler. Elizabeth Therese Baird was the daughter of a British fur trader and a French-Ottawa mother.
The Bairds were connected to most of the founders of modern Wisconsin through family ties, marriage, business interests, and politics. They participated in or witnessed the birth of nearly all the state's important social institutions. They helped shift millions of acres of land from American Indian to government ownership. They watched hundreds of towns grow from frontier backwaters to cities teeming with new immigrants. They saw Wisconsin's landscape transformed from unbroken forest and prairie into thousands of bustling farms.
Elizabeth Therese Fisher was born in Prairie du Chien in 1810. When Elizabeth was two-years-old, she and her mother moved to Mackinac. Elizabeth grew into a woman of great personal charm and intelligence and moved easily among both the Indian and white communities.
Henry S. Baird was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1800. He migrated to Pittsburgh with his family about 1805 and studied law in Pennsylvania and Ohio. In 1822 he moved to Mackinac Island, Michigan Territory, where he taught school. In 1823, he was admitted to the bar and he became the first practicing attorney in Wisconsin. While teaching, one of his students was Elizabeth Fisher.
Settling in Green Bay
Elizabeth and Henry married on August 12, 1824, when Elizabeth was 14. They set up house in the frontier settlement of Green Bay. Elizabeth's detailed knowledge of the fur trade, her American Indian family connections, and her ability to interpret for French clients soon made their home a center of Green Bay social life. It also contributed to Henry's success in politics and law.
Witnesses to Wisconsin's growth
During their lives, Wisconsin's environment, politics, economics, culture, and languages were completely transformed, and Henry and Elizabeth were usually involved. When the Bairds settled in Green Bay, Wisconsin was home to less than 150 pioneer families. By the time Elizabeth died in 1890, its population was approaching 2 million.
Involvement in Indian Affairs
Henry's law practice involved much work on Indian affairs, in which he often criticized government actions. He represented the Ho-Chunk and Menominee in 1830 land transactions, was a quartermaster general during the Black Hawk War of 1832, and served as secretary to the U.S. negotiator at treaty councils in 1836, 1838 and 1848.
Championing Territorial Government
When Wisconsin Territory was created in 1836, Henry presided over the government's first official meeting. A decade later he was a delegate to the first constitutional convention. Always active in politics and business, Henry ran in 1853 unsuccessfully for governor. During the Civil War he served two terms as mayor of Green Bay. In 1871 Henry and Elizabeth jointly took charge of the relief effort for victims of the catastrophic Peshtigo Fire.
Henry died in Green Bay on April 30, 1875. Elizabeth died in Green Bay on November 5, 1890.