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105 chapter 8 “A Most Horrible State of Affairs” Holmes’ contention that Moses Baird was “a man of large connexions [sic]” was an understatement.1 This succinct phrase underscores the next phase of the feud as it escalated out of control. Baird was very popular in both Burnet and Llano Counties, and the brothers were connected by marriage, friendship, and business to a number of large families in the area who in turn had ties to others. These alliances provided a small army of fighting men, many of whom would have sought vengeance even had John Baird not. Prior to this, the feud had been a private vendetta, but it had now escalated into a full scale war. The opportunities for peace were gone. The Baird family originated in Ireland, their grandfather William Baird having settled in Missouri. One of his sons, Hartshorn, married “Arminty Eten” there on August 11, 1846.2 Census data indicates that Hartshorn “Beard” [sic: Baird], age twenty-eight was born in Missouri. Living in the household were his wife, Areminthy, age twenty-four, born in Tennessee, and two sons: John R., age three and Moses B., age one. Both of the brothers are noted as born in Missouri. Hartshorn Baird’s occupation is listed as carpenter.3 Records at this point become unclear. By 1860 the family had relocated to Burleson County, Texas. Hartshorn Baird had apparently died, either in Missouri or enroute to Texas, for A. P. Baird is listed as head of household in the 1860 census. Her age is now given as twenty-nine, a native of Tennessee. There are four children in the household: John R., age thirteen, Moses, eleven, Marietta, eight, and 106 Chapter 8 Laura, six. All of the children had attended school within the previous year. The family was not wealthy, having real estate valued at $300 and personal property at $312.4 By 1868 the Bairds had moved to Burnet County. On October 23, Moses Baird was paid four dollars for serving two days as a court bailiff.5 On September 17, 1869, his brother John purchased four halfacre lots from Hugh Allen for $400.6 The following year found the family living along the Colorado River in western Burnet County. The head of household was their mother, now listed as Lucy A. Baird, age forty-four, “keeping house.” Both Mary and Laura had attended school during the previous year, but John and Moses listed their occupation as “driving stock.” The family declared $400 in real estate and personal property valued at $100.7 John Baird enlisted in Company Q of the Minute Men under F. C. Stewart in Llano County on September 8, 1872, serving until August 9, 1873. Official reports describing the activities of the company are lacking, but John Baird served as first corporal for the company.8 On May 1, 1873, John married Nannie Robison.9 The young couple apparently had a daughter, Edna, born in 1875. The census for 1880 indicates that Lucy Baird and Edna Baird, age five, were living in the household of Samuel Olney.10 Both brothers were involved in various land deals between 1873 and 1875.11 DeVos correctly points out that the Baird brothers had “records of multiple arrest . . . back to 1869.”12 Burnet County’s District Court records confirm this although details of most of these indictments lack specifics regarding the incidents. However, from them a pattern emerges that indicates that the pair were hot tempered men given to fighting.13 From these same records an insight into how the community viewed the family and their standing in Burnet County society can be gleaned. On April 5, 1871, John Baird was charged with two counts of aggravated assault. Baird posted a $250 bond, his bondsmen being W. B. McFarland,14 M. J. Bolt15 and B. H. Cavin.16 All of these men were well respected within the community, and all of them had ties to the cattle trade. Court records for Burnet County indicate that the Cavins were occasionally in trouble, as were most cattlemen of the day, over livestock .17 Legal difficulties notwithstanding, the Cavins were generally well regarded in Burnet County. Brief items about them were not un- 107 “A Most Horrible State of Affairs” common in the local paper. One noted that, “Mr. Rusk Cavin, who lives two miles below town, on Hamilton creek, has just threshed his wheat. The yield is very fine, averaging 20 or 30 bushels...


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