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Baird, Zebulon

submitted by J. Douglas Robinson and Mary Cook Hyder
Zebulon Baird, son of William Baird and Margaret O’Riley was born in NJ in 1764. After the death of his father, he, his sister, and all of his brothers except John, went south with their widowed mother. They settled near Morganton, in Burke Co. They brought the first wagon up Saluda Mountain. Zebulon and his brother joined Daniel Reynolds in buying land and selling lots which helped to create the town of Morristown, now known as Asheville. They donated land for the first courthouse in the center of the town called “the Square.” It was built near the site of the present courthouse.

They also purchased a grist mill on a branch of the French Broad River, be- low the mouth of the Swannanoa River. This was probably the first grist mill in Buncombe Co.

The Baird brothers were the first merchants in town. They had a store near the present Northwestern Bank building. They made trips to the coastal towns with furs, meat, flour, molasses, and other goods, trading for dry goods, cookware, shoes, etc. to sell in their store.

The Bairds were noted for their ready wit, dynamic personalities, and good business sense.

Zebulon served as a Captain in the Army during the Revolution. Later he served in the House of Commons (1800-1803). He was also in the Senate between 1806 and 1822.

Zebulon married Hannah Erwin, daughter of Alexander and Sara (Robinson) Erwin. They had seven children: John, who married Laney Wilson; James, who married Isabella Walker; Andrew and Joseph, who both lived in Ashe- ville; Adolphus Erwin who married Lorretta Hunter; Myra Margaret who married David Vance and became the parents of Zebulon Baird Vance; Sara Ann, who married Bacchus J. Smith; and Mary Adelaide, born 1826.

Zebulon lived until his death on the eastern side of the French Broad River about two and a half miles north of Asheville. He became ill while riding the road between Reems Creek and his house and died March 9, 1824.

“Old Buncombe County Heritage – North Carolina, Vol. I”
article #218, p. 143

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