Matthew Baird was born in Londenderry, Ireland in 1817, and came to Philadelphia with his parents at the age of 4 years old. His father was a coppersmith. The son was educated in the public schools of Philadelphia, and at an early age secured a position as assistant to one of the professors of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, where he acquired valuable training and technical knowledge that was of the utmost use to him in his future career. In 1834 he entered the employ of the nEw Castle Manufacturing Company, of New Castle, Deleware, workers in copper and sheet iron.While filling that position he was appointed superintendent of the railroad shops at New Castle. In 1838 he was made foreman of the sheet iron and boilder department of Baldwin's Locomotive Works, and returned to Philadelphia. He filled that position until 1850, and for the next two years was engaged in the marble business with his brother John Baird, on Spring Garden Street, below Thirteenth.
In 1854 Mr. Baird became a partner with Matthias W. Baldwin, in the proprietorship of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and at the death of Mr. Baldwin, September 7, 1865, became sole proprietor of those extensive works. In 1867 he formed a partnership with George Burnham and Charles T. Parry, under the firm name of The Baldwin Locomotive Works, M. Maird & Co.,Proprietors, which continued until 1873, when Mr. Baird withdrew from active business life, though retaining an important interest in that and numerous other public and private enterprises. He was for many years a director of the Central National Bank; and at his death was a direcotr of the Texas Pacific Railroad Company; of the PEnnsylvania Steel Company; Andover Iron Company; and of the West Chester & Philadelphia Railroad Company. He was also one of the Incorporators and a director of the American Steamship Company; and a large stockholder in the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. He was eminently public spirited and was prominently identified with enterprises of a general and charitable nature. He was one of the directors of the Academy of Fine Arts; a manager of the Northern Home for Friendless Children, and contributed largely to a number of benevolent institutions. He died on May 19, 1877. Matthew Baird married, June 1, 1871, Anna Wright, born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. July 13, 1840, daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Margaretta Miller (McLean) Wright, and a descendant of early Scotch-Irish settlers in that and the adjoining county of Mongomery, many of whom were prominent in the affairs of their respective localities in Colonial and Revolutionary days. Matthew Baird also had his hands in mining interests in the Northwest Territory of Montana. He was a charter investor in the Hecla Consolidated Mining Company which Incorporated in Indinapolis in 1877 shortly before his death. Matthew Baird would not live long enough to realize his investments in the company that would go on to make millions of dollars. His son Charles would fill his father's seat with the Hecla Company and the family would retain interests for nearly the life of the company.
May 21, 1877
At an early hour on Saturday morning, Matthew Baird, who was for many years connected with the Baldwin Locomotive Works, on Broad street, died at his residence, No. 814 North Broad street, after a lingering illness. Matthew Baird was born in Ireland in 1817, and came to this country when a child. In 1834 he entered the employ of Matthias W. Baldwin as an apprentice in the locomotive works, then recently established. In 1844 he bought the patent right for a spark-catching smokestack, and associated himself with Mr. Richard French, who made an improvement on the same.
In 1854 he obtained an interest in the firm. In December of the same year and during the year 1855 he was engaged in a series of experiments in making a smoke-consuming furnace, which resulted in his invention of the fire-brick detector. In 1867 Mr. Baldwin died, and the business of the locomotive works was reorganized under the firm name of M. Baird & Co., the firm consisting of Mr. Baird, George Burnham and C. T. Parry. On the 8th of April 1873, the firm was again changed by the withdrawal of Mr. Baird. On the setting up of his one-third interest in the business, Mr. Baird received $1,660,000 as his share. In December, 1871, and previous to his withdrawal from the firm, he established his son William in business as a jeweler, at 1416 Chestnut street, in partnership with Mr. Mansfield. William died a few months after commencing business, and Walter Baird took his interest in the firm, which was continued under the same name. Last summer Mansfield and Baird failed, and Matthew Baird purchased his son's interest, and has been running the establishment ever since.
For several years past, Mr. Baird has been suffering from a complication of diseases. He was thrown from his carriage during a runaway near Darby, and sustained a fracture of his ankle, which did not heal properly, and erysipelas and other diseases set in. He was married three times, and his third wife survives him. He also leaves a large family of children. In 1866 he made a deed of trust for the benefit of his children by his second wife. At the time of his withdrawal from the firm his estate was reckoned at two millions of dollars, which, with the money received from his investments, must have exceeded $3,500,000, but, owing to the general shrinkage of values, is not valued at much over $2,000,000 at the present time.
Two of Mr. Baird's children, who have been in Europe for some time, left Liverpool on Friday for home, but before their arrival, the remains of their deceased parent will be interred."
May 21, 1877
"DEATH OF MATTHEW BAIRD
Matthew Baird, the locomotive builder, whose name is known so far as American locomotives have reached, died at his residence in this city early Saturday morning. His life is a striking illustration of the rapid rise which may be made from obscurity to distinction, wealth and influence, when native powers are directed in the proper channels.
Mr. Baird was born in Londonderry, Ireland, in 1817, and reached this country in 1821. In 1834 he entered the Baldwin Locomotive Works as an apprentice. He learned the business so thoroughly that he was employed by the Newcastle Manufacturing Company for two years, when he returned to the Baldwin Works and in 1844 bought Mr. Graves' patent for a smoke-catching smoke-stack and began the manufacture with Richard French. After having been foreman of the Baldwin Works for many years he became a member of the firm of Matthias W. Baldwin & Co. in 1854. Nine years later, after Mr. Baldwin's death, the firm was reorganized under the style of Matthew Baird, Geo. Burnham and Charles T. Parry. Mr,. Baird withdrew in 1873, when his single share amounted to $1,660,000. He enabled one son to retain the interest of an older, deceased, in the firm of Mansfield & Baird, jewelers, and his estate, which at one time estimated to be $3,500,000, is now computed at $2,000,000. He leave two children to enjoy it. Mr. Baird's concerns reached beyond his personal interests, and he was an abundant almoner of his great wealth and a consistent supporter of all that is calculated to employ the industry of the city, State and country. He was a prominent man through all the course of the late Centennial, and his life will long encourage those who are obliged to gain their way by personal effort."