James Baird and Sarah Wade were married in Halifax County, Virginia on 12 Nov 1789. Sarah Wade, born about 1755, was the first child of Robert Wade, Jr. and Anne Stokes. The Wades and Stokes were prominent families in Virginia and the Stokes ancestry has been traced back to the 11th century. Sarah was a widow when she married James, having married her first cousin, William Wade, on 26 Jun 1772. She and William had three children, Edward, Anne, and William Stokes Wade. William Wade died before 16 May 1782. James and Sarah had at least three sons while living in Halifax County, Virginia, whose names were John, born about 1790, Robert, born 29 Aug 1792, and James L., born about 1794. Sara Wade's ancestry and the descendants of James Baird and Sarah Wade are available on the RootsWeb WorldConnect Project.
No documentation has been found regarding James Baird before the marriage. There were several James Bairds in Virginia before 1789 but no links between these James Bairds and the one who married Sarah Wade have been located. Family tradition states that the Bairds were from Glasgow, Scotland. There is reason to believe that some of the name Baird first came to Scotland in 1175 with King William the Lion, when he returned from his captivity in England. By the 18th century the surname Baird was very popular in Scotland and the Glasgow area, making the search for him in Scotland very difficult.
A Scottish naming tradition states that the first son is named after the father's father, the second son after the mother's father, and the third son after the father. James followed this tradition for the second son, Robert, named after Sarah's father, Robert Wade, Jr., and the third son, James L., named after himself. If he followed it for his first son, then James' father's name is John. There is no record of what the "L" in James L.'s name stood for but some family members think his middle name is "LeGrand" since he named his second daughter, Carolyn LeGrand Baird. Sarah most likely named him after James LeGrand, who was William Wade's sister's husband. James LeGrand may have been the guardian of Sarah's children after William died. Not all the given names of James and Sarah's grandchildren are known, but there are some unusual names among the ones that are. Some of these have been explored for Scottish connections but nothing found.
There is a possibility that James may have been related to John Baird, Esq., a prominent attorney, merchant, and land owner who lived in Blandford, Prince George County, Virginia. John Baird, Esq. had many business dealings with Sarah Wade's family and one member of that family evidently named one of their children after him. It is possible that John Baird, Esq. may have been requested to locate a socially suitable husband for the widow Sarah Wade among his extended family in Scotland. John Baird, Esq.'s brother, Peter, was a sea captain and the family was involved in trade with Scotland. It would have been easy for James to have come to America on one of the cargo ships and not be recorded in any ship's manifest. John Baird, Esq.'s ancestors had been the lairds of East Muckroft, Cadder Parish, Lanark County, Scotland since at least the 16th century. East Muckroft is on the outskirts of Glasgow. Unfortunately, although I have researched this family since 1998, I have found no definite connection between them and James.
In 1805, after selling all the land they had acquired in preceding years, the family left Halifax County. It is not known where they went but it is possible that it might have been Smith County, Tennessee, since Sarah's first born, Edward Wade, married Elizabeth Fisher of Smith County on 26 Feb 1807. In 1810, Edward Wade and James' sons, John and Robert, are residents of Bedford County, Tennessee but it appears that James and Sarah did not move there until after 1812. While in Bedford County, both John and Robert both served under Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812. I believe James Baird died in Bedford County about 1820. By then his three sons had left to pursue their fortunes in Alabama.
In 1818 Robert Baird moved to that part of Alabama which would soon become Perry County. His brother, James L., may have moved with him since he is there by 1819. John Baird, his Tennessee wife, and his young son and daughter moved to Dallas County, Alabama by 1820. In about a year Robert moved to Jefferson County, Alabama, where he later married Susan Tatum on 17 Mar 1822. He then returned to Perry County with his new wife. His mother, Sarah Wade Baird, probably lived with him sometime during his second stay in Perry County. Meanwhile, the new town of Cahawba was selected as the state capital of Alabama and a building boom started there. John Baird built the Planters Hotel there in 1822 and his brother, James L., operated it. Robert Baird may also have been involved in this venture. Unfortunately, the town of Cahawba turned out to be a poor site for the state capital so it did not last long. James L. Baird moved to Jefferson County, Alabama and married Jane M. Tatum, sister of Robert's wife, Susan Tatum, by 1823. Robert Baird and his family moved back to Jefferson County about 1824. The two of them raised their families and spend the rest of their lives in a small town originally named Hagood's Crossroads, later changed to Mount Pinson, and finally to just Pinson. John Baird also left Cahawba and in 1825 was living in Jefferson County. I believe he moved to Madison County Alabama, where he remained several years. He was in Fayette County, Alabama by 1843 where he spent the rest of his life.
Many of James and Sarah's grandchildren left Alabama and removed to other parts of the United States. Several went to Mississippi and Texas. Later, several of James and Sarah's grandsons and granddaughter's husbands served the Confederacy in the War for Southern Independence. Much of their everyday life before, during, and after the war, is retained in letters they wrote to their relatives in Pinson, Alabama. These letters, many of them addressed to Robert Baird and his wife Susan, were stored by them in their house in Pinson. Other documents, such as deeds, were also carefully retained. In the 1850s, photography became popular and pictures of family members and friends were added to the collection. Shortly before or after Susan Tatum Baird died, her son, Edward James Baird, moved into the house with his family and continued the tradition of adding to and saving these artifacts. Edward was followed in this tradition by his youngest daughter, Ida Tatum Baird Hunter. Kay Hunter Whaley, Ida's granddaughter and the present owner of this collection, has carefully preserved it since she was a young girl. The collection contains two photo albums. The oldest album, referred to as the "Baird Album," is not dated but the newer one belonged to Ida Tatum Baird Hunter and has a copyright date of 11 Oct 1892. In addition to these albums there are seven daguerreotypes, and hundreds of other loose pictures including cabinet cards, cartes-de-visite, tintypes, and postcards. Many of the people in these pictures are not identified and one of the purposes of this web site is to provide widespread distribution of these pictures for possible identification.