Lewis M. Baird, my third great-grandfather, was born in Caswell, North Carolina in 1795, the son of Joseph Baird and Hannah Lay. His father may have died about 1798, although there are stories that he actually deserted his family. Hannah moved to the Whitley, Kentucky/Campbell, Tennessee area and may have married her distant cousin, Jesse Lay. Goodspeed's History of Tennessee (p. 1126) says of Lewis: "Lewis Millard, a native of North Carolina was of Irish origin and left fatherless when a child. He came to Kentucky soon after his father, Joseph's death. The wife of Lewis was a Virginian born of English parents. She bore 11 sons and 3 daughters.
Lewis married Elizabeth Jane Woosley in 1816 and they settled on a homestead in the Upper Elk Valley in Campbell, Tennessee. It was there in October 1862, at age 67, that Lewis was arrested by Confederate soldiers. His support of the Union cause was well-known; four of his eleven sons were serving in the Union Army. Lewis was taken to the prison at Salisbury, North Carolina and told that he would be released if he swore allegiance to the Confederacy. It is said that Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, called on him to urge him to take the oath, but Lewis refused.
A letter dated April 29, 1864, from Thomas Cayton, a prisoner at Salisbury, was sent to the Hon. S.C. Baird of Campbell County, Tennessee.
To the sons of Lewis M. Baird:
I, as comrade of your father in prison,
deem it my duty to write to you at this time to let you know his
present condition. He is in the hospital and to all human appearance
must soon be numbered with those who have been taken from the evils of
this world. There is no particular disease apparent but old age and
confinement have done the work. Having become acquainted with him soon
after his arrest, and have been with him ever since, he now seems like a
father to me. I can truly sympathize, We have slept together and I have
been able to obtain many little necessaries from him. He has stood it
very well until lately. I have often heard him say that he would like to
know how you all were and let you all know how he was but he never got
to hear from any of you at home.
I have talked to the old man upon
the subject of religion. He always expressed himself. as being
prepared, which is a great consolation. I assure you that all that is
possible for me to do shall be done for your father. Pray that God in
his great mercies may spare him yet to return home. He wishes for me to
say if he does not live to see you in this world; that you will strive
to so live as to meet him above where parting will be no more.
truly yours, Thomas Cayton
Lewis died at Salisbury Prison on May 11, 1864. His son, Samuel, to whom the above letter was sent, visited the prison in 1898 to try to find his father's burial place, but was unable to identify his grave in the row of the cemetery. At the head of the row, a monument stood with this inscription: " REST ON EMBALMED SAINTS DEEDS DEAR AS THE BLOOD YE GAVE NO IMPIOUS FOOTSTEPS SHALL TREAD THE HERBAGE OF YOUR GRAVES".