Question: Whose team did Robert Erwin Baird drive in Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company which arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847?
Answer: Robert Erwin Baird was born May 15, 1817, in Londonderry County, Ireland to James Baird and Elizabeth Erwin. He was the fifth child in a family of eight children.
In the brief history that he left, he said, “In the year 1833, my father, being very poor and in low circumstances, emigrated to America with hopes of obtaining a more comfortable living for himself and family.’ James Baird and children, Ann, William, James, Eleanor, Robert Erwin, Mary Ann, John, and Martha, left Tamlaght Finlagen district in 1833, their place of abode being Ballymore, and their destination–America–with hopes of settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The mother, Elizabeth Erwin, died in Ireland before the family immigrated.
Robert learned the trade of tailor. On July 23, 1840, at the age of 23, he married Hannah Everhart McCullough of West Goshen, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Hannah was the daughter of John McCullough and Sarah Rodgers who had come from Ireland a few years before. Five children were born to Hannah and Robert. Their names were John, Joseph, Ellen, Robert, and Hannah.
Robert and Hannah were baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in August, 1842, by Elder Jesse Burns.
Yearsley-Baird Home in Nauvoo
At a conference held in West Goshen Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, on March 23, 1843, Robert was ordained an Elder by Joseph A. Stratton. On July 2, 1843, at a conference held in West Goshen Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, he was appointed to preside over the Downington Branch. Downington was a small town; and because of the persecution, the Saints had to move to Nauvoo. They arrived in Nauvoo on May 4, 1844, just before the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum.
Robert received his Patriarchal Blessing on June 3, 1844, from Patriarch Hyrum Smith. He and Hannah received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on January 21, 1846. He was ordained a Seventy in the 10th Quorum of Seventies on October 8, 1844.
In the exodus of 1846, he went with the Saints to Winter Quarters on the Missouri River, where he went through all the hardships that the Saints had to endure at that time. Robert was asked to go with Brigham Young in his Vanguard Company to the Salt Lake Valley as an Advance Scout. They arrived in the Valley on July 24, 1847. Robert dove a team for one of the apostles, Heber C. Kimball. He headed back for his family, whom he met on the Sweet Water, coming in the Charles C. Rich Company, and with them made it back to Salt Lake on October 2, 1847.
His assignments for the next four years was to practice his trade of tailor and make clothes for the Saints. Four years later he moved to Weber County, where he took up farming for the rest of his life. In 1855, he was elected to the City Council of Ogden. He also served as Justice of the Peace. In 1857, Robert Erwin married Jane Hadley, a daughter of Mary Shooter and Richard Hadley of England. They had eight children, whose names were James, Eliza, Jane, John, Hannah, Hannah Mary, Mary, and Caroline.
One year later, he married Jane’s sister, Mary Hadley. Nine children were born of this union, whose names were Mary Ann, Elizabeth, William, Ellen, Jeanette, Robert, Joseph, Franklin, and Josephine.
He labored as a home missionary in Weber county, and on the 6th of June, 1857, was ordained one of the Presidents of the 53rd Quorum of Seventies.
He was called to go south when Johnson’s Army came to Utah. He stood guard night and day, rain or shine, for a period of six weeks. This was very injurious to his health, and he developed lung trouble, which may have shortened his life.
Robert Baird Home and barn in Ogden
In 1863, he was chosen President over Gingham’s Fort, which he renamed Lynn. This is now known as Five Points, or Second Street in Ogden, Utah. He held the position as President until his death. He was the father of 22 children. He was greatly blessed with the fine gift of healing, which was miraculously manifested on several occasions.
For about a year previous to his death, he suffered with the disease of the lungs, and he died on August 24, 1875 at the age of 58. Thirty vehicles filled with mourning friends followed his remains to the grave. He lived and died a faithful Elder in Israel, and his name is thus recorded in the archives of eternity. He was buried in the Ogden City Cemetery.