Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pages 12 - 16 of The Mrs Bairds Story

This post contains the last five pages of The Mrs Baird's Story, and wraps up the transcription of the document except the photo captions.  Again, the original Mrs Baird's Story post has been updated to contain the new material.


From 1919 to 1928, the new bakery was enlarged nine times.  This was one addition each year.  Competitors in the Fort Worth market were Reich's B & B (Biggest and Best), Walker's Big Dandy Bread, and Doherty's Butter Krust.

About 1920, the family induced Mrs. Baird to quit working in the bakery.  They thought she had worked long enough.  The family built a two-story home on the corner of Scott and Beach Streets.  Mrs. Baird moved there and quit working in the retail sales room.  Later she moved to 2429 Rogers Road.  She continued as active head of the business until her death in 1961.

With the bakery at 6th Avenue and Terrell doing well, Roland suggested expanding to Dallas.  Mrs. Baird could have said, "Let's just stay the size we are."  The business could really be hurt if the expansion failed.  "But she never batted an eye," Hoyt Baird recalls.  She gave her approval for that expansion to Dallas and for the others that followed.

This willingness to take on new challenges was, he feels, the most important single factor in the growth and success of the business.  It was this readiness to move ahead that helped to eventually create more than 2,500 jobs and make Mrs. Baird's the outstanding organization it is today.

Family Supervision
As the Dallas plant was being planned, the family adopted a concept that would prove wise in the years ahead.  A member of the Baird family would head the new plant for the family.  He would represent the family, supervise each day's bake, and assume personal responsibility for the quality and freshness of the products that would bear the family's name.  This concept of family supervision was a logical development.  Since the very beginning, Mrs. Baird and her family had been closely involved in business.  When they did all the baking and delivery, they had guarded quality and freshness as though their very future depended on it - and it did.  When they hired people to help them with the baking and delivery, the family continued to be closely involved and personally responsible for the products they baked.  In their growth, family supervision had been a way of life.  Now, as they contemplated new frontiers, it would continue to be.

The Dallas plant opened in 1928, with son Roland Baird heading up the plant for the Baird family.  In 1938, a plant was opened in Houston with Dewey heading the plant for the family and B.J. Barr as General Manager.  Later Mr. Barr became a Vice President and member of the Board of Directors.  That same year the Fort Worth operation moved into a new bread plant on Summit.  The plant at Sixth and Terrell was now devoted exclusively to cakes.  Hoyt Baird now headed the Fort Worth bread plant for the Baird family, with A. D. Gillespie, Sr. as General Manager.  C. B. Baird headed the Cake plant with Dudley Johnson as General Manager.

During these years of growth for Mrs. Baird's, changes were also taking place in the way the products they were baked were being marketed.  In the early 20's, wrapping was introduced for bread.  The first wrapping machines were semi-automatic, with the operator doing part of the folding.  Sliced bread was introduced in 1927.  In November 1936, Mrs. Baird's began hand-twisting bread.  This procedure, in which two half-loaf pieces of dough were intertwined to form one dough piece, continues today at all Mrs. Baird's plants.  Twisting improves flavor, texture, and keeping qualities of the loaf.

In 1949, a new plant was built in Abilene.  William D. (Bill) Baird headed the plant for the Baird family with A. D. Gillespie, Sr., as General Manager.

Plans were also underway to build a new plant in Dallas to match that growing market.  In 1950, the continuous mix process was introduced to the baking industry.  It offered a short cut in production time and a considerable saving in cost.  The planners of the new Dallas plant carefully considered the revolutionary new process and decided to stay with the yeast-raised baking method they had used since the business began.  They felt the consumer would prefer bread baked the yeast-raised way.  They have never regretted the decision.

In 1953, Mrs. Baird's of Dallas moved into a huge new plant recognized by the industry as the nation's largest automatic bread plant.

Roland Baird, who helped his mother and older brother Dewey with baking and later headed the Dallas plant for the family, retired in 1954.

The business expanded again in 1959.  Bakeries were purchased in Lubbock and Victoria and, early the next year, bakeries were also acquired in Austin and Waco. In 1969, a pie plant was purchased in Abilene.

But while the passing years brought growth, they also brought sadness. Mrs. Baird died June 3, 1961 after a long, eventful, and certainly gratifying life.  She had often said she was far prouder that her children had grown up to be good citizens than she was of the fact that she had founded a successful business.  At her funeral, the officiating minister described Mrs. Baird as "an ideal woman in the eyes of God."  He said Mrs. Baird had fulfilled the highest traditions of American life but, in all the fullness of her work, she had always been a devoted mother and family woman.  In Mrs. Baird's memory, the Texas Senate passed Senate Resolution No. 13.  In the Resolution, the Senate said that Mrs. Baird has been "a living example for mothers, wives, business executives, Christians and good people the world over."  Copies of the Resolution were sent to her family with deep regard of the Texas Senate.

Dewey Baird died March 25, 1965.  Dewey was the oldest son and had been active in the business from the very beginning.  He had been his mother's first assistant and, during the years, had gone on to become President and eventually Chairman of the Board.

C. B. Baird, Mrs. Baird's youngest son, died May 27, 1969.  When the business started, C. B. had been only 5.  But he soon took an active part in the young business, became an officer and member of the Board of Directors and, until his death, headed the Fort Worth Cake Plant for the Baird family.

Others who played vital roles in the growth of the business are also gone.  Charlie Longguth, the iceman who became the Company's first route salesman, died in 1956.  C. C. Gressett, who joined the company as a bookkeeper in 1924 and rose to Vice President and General Manager of the Dallas Plant, also a member of the Board of Directors, died in 1962.  A. D. "Tiny" Gillespie, Sr., who joined the Company as a relief driver and later managed two bakeries, died in 1967.  He had risen to Vice President and member of the Board of Directors.  Dudley Johnson, who was the Cake Plant's first general manager and whose career spanned from route salesman to Vice President and member of the Board of Directors, died in late 1967.

B. J. Barr, who played a major role in establishing Mrs. Baird's products in the Houston market, died in 1975 after a long and colorful career in the baking industry.  He joined Mrs. Baird's in 1938 and went to Houston as General Manager.  He was later named Vice President and General Manager of the Houston plant.  In 1957 he was named Executive Vice President.  He retired in 1959 but continued as a member of the Board of Directors until his death.

Lillian Hughes started as a cashier in July, 1925 and during the ensuing years saw the organization grow from one plant to eleven.  "All through the years," she said, "I learned one very important thing.  Any employee who enjoys his or her work and does it well can expect advancement.  The opportunity is there for everyone."  When she retired on July 31, 1975 - the first employee to log 50 years of continuous service - Mrs. Hughes held the top level position of Corporate Secretary of Mrs Baird's Bakeries Inc.

William D. Baird, Chairman of the Board and grandson of the founder, died in 1976.  When Bill was born the family business was housed in a two-room wooden building at 1811 Washington.  He started working in the bakery as soon as his parents would let him, later supervised design and construction of bread plants at Fort Worth, Abilene, and Dallas, and for many years headed production for all Mrs. Baird's plants.  There were and are many others in every area of the business, who have made lasting contributions to Mrs Baird's Bakeries.

In February 1970, Mrs. Baird's announced another expansion.  Land was purchased for a new Cake Plant.  The site was a 30-acre tract in South Fort Worth on Interstate 35, ideally suited for statewide distribution.  Ground was broken September 28, 1970.  The plant was completed in 1971 and production began early in 1972.  The former Cake Plant at 6th Avenue and Terrell was closed in September, 1972, and all production moved to the new Cake Plant.  In May, 1976, a bread plant was acquired in San Antonio, bring the total number of plants to 11.

As Mrs Baird's Bakeries moves toward the 80's, the same ingredients that brought the organization this far are still at work.  It is still a family-owned business with W. Hoyt Baird as Chairman of the Executive Committee.  Vernon Baird is President, Allen Baird is Executive Vice President, Clayton Baird is Senior Vice President, and Carroll Baird is Vice President of Operations.  Three grandsons, Bob Baird, Bryon Baird, and Arthur Baird, and one great granson, Scott Baird, also hold top level positions.  There is still the dedication and respect for baking a good product that Mrs. Baird instilled in her family at 512 Hemphill and 1811 Washington.  The business that started in a home kitchen has grown until more than 2,500 families have joined the family that started it all.  W. Hoyt Baird evaluates the contribution of this ever-growing team of employees this way: "There is no way this business could have succeeded without the cooperation and dedication of our employees.  The secret of success in any business is people, and we have had - and still have - the very best!"

This, then, is the story of Mrs. Baird's until the present.  But time does not stand still, and neither will this business.  This Company's history has been a story of vitality, of teamwork, of growth, and of progress.  Its future will be the same.

- end -

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pages 8 - 11 of The Mrs Baird's Story

Continuing the transcription with pages 8 through 11, I've posted the new material here and once again updated the original Mrs Baird's Story post.

Pages 8 and 9 contain a large image of the Bud Briggs painting of the Baird home at 512 Hemphill. The text continues on page 10.


While they were chatting and deciding what they wanted to buy, the horse would most likely be sampling a customer's lawn. "Sampling" meant grabbing a mouthful of grass and pulling it out by the roots. If the conversation at the back of the wagon lasted too long, Ned the horse might step up on the lawn with both front feet for a better go at the grass. Lawn owners didn't like this. A housewife, at the back of the wagon, would suddenly yell, "Get that horse of my lawn!"

When a group of customers had been served, the driver would quickly close the wagon's rear doors. The moment Ned heard the doors close, he took off. He was on his way to the next customer, and some greener grass in the next block. Ned knew all the stops. He would stride down the street and, when he came to a customer's house, wouild stop abruptly. There were times when Hoyt would be off the route for a day or two. When he returned, Ned might suddenly stop in front of a strange house. Sometimes it took a lot of urging to get Ned to move on. Later, Hoyt would learn the house was a new stop added while he was gone.

As Hoyt drove his wagon along the sales route, he often saw Bruno Reich, who operated a wholesale bakery route, serving stores with a truck. He could not help envying Bruno and longed for the day when he could have a truck for his route. That day came sooner than he expected.

In 1917, the family bought a Ford car. They had a panel body built for it, took off the passenger seats, and bolted the panel body in place to make a panel truck. The truck was painted a cream color and "Eat More Mrs. Baird's Bread" was lettered on each side. About this time the Bairds took on three wholesale accounts. These were the Telephone Exchange at Rosedale and Jennings, which bought only pies; the Telephone Exchange at Lamar and 10th, which also bought pies; and the Sandegard Grocery at 10th and Houston.

Sandegard's was a large store that also had a delicatessen. The delicatessen served sandwiches and lunches. At first the store took only cakes, and built a special case for these. The store was served daily, with delivery twice on Saturday. Later bread was added. It was displayed on top of the cake display case. People would often stop Hoyt when he came in with a basket of bread and take the freshly baked loaves out of the basket before he could put it on top of the display case. No one back at the little bakery realized, as the first grocery store was added to the sales route, that this was a most significant event. For it was with the grocer and his customers, not house to house, that the organization's future would lie.

Wholesale Begins
In September of 1918, Hoyt entered the army and the sales route had no driver. The family decided to discontinue the retail route and go wholesale. Dewey hired the bakery's iceman, Charlie Longguth, to operate the new wholesale route. Longguth was to remain the bakery's No. 1 route salesman for many years. (He retired in 1951.)

By this time Sandegard's had 15 or more small stores and had become a sizable local chain. Apparently Manager Harry Adams had been impressed with the way folks in his first store liked Mrs. Baird's Bread. He put Mrs. Baird's Bread in all Sandegard stores. This took amost all the bread the little Washington Street bakery could bake. But not for long.

In early 1919, the family bought a lot at Sixth Avenue and Terrell from a Mr. Casey, who operated a drug store across the street. They built a brick building on the lot. It was the first bakery they had built themselves and they were justly proud of it. The building was 30 feet wide and 72 feet long. The family installed a Peterson Peel gas-fired oven. The oven had a capacity of 400 one-pound loaves. They also purchased a hand wrapping machine.

Total investment for the 6th Avenue and Terrell bakery was $8,800.00. The oven cost about $3,500.00. It was purchased on credit from the Peterson Oven Company.

In June 1919, the bakery began operating in the new building. The business continued to grow. The family bought a second truck, also a Ford, and put on a second sales route.

Shorty after, two routes increased to four, and Fort Worth distribution looked like this:

Route No. 1 - Charlie Longguth, serving the South side.
Route No. 2 - Ben Dollins, who operated the downtown restaurant route.
Route No. 3 - Howard Townsend, whose route reached from Rail Road Avenue to Magnolia on the South side.
Route No. 4 - Arlie Whitley, who served the North side.

These four routes covered all of Fort Worth except for the East side. Route No. 5 was later added to serve the East side, which included Polytechnic area. Claude Leath was hired as salesman for this new route.

Page 1 of the Mrs Baird's Story

This a transcription of page 1 of the Mrs Baird's Story. I've also updated the original Mrs Baird's Story post with page one.

The Mrs Baird's Story

They came to Texas in a chair car and brought Fort Worth its first steam popcorn machine. The story of the Baird family and the baking business they started.
In 1901 William Allen Baird, then a young man of 33, came to Texas to "look around" and see what kind of opportunities the Lone Star State might hold. Back in Tennessee he and wis wife Ninnie had operated a bakery and restaurant at Trenton and later a bakery at Covington. He liked what he saw in Fort Worth, decided to introduce the first steam popcorn machine in the city, and called his wife in Tennessee and told her to bring the family.

The family boarded the train for Texas in May, 1901. The steam popcorn machine had cost $425, so the family rode in the chair car section. Mr. Baird and his wife Ninnie had four children then. They were Bess, 11; Dewey, 9; Hoyt, 4; and Roland, 1.

Arriving in Fort Worth, the family moved into rented quarters on East Belknap. Mr. Baird set up his steam popcorn machine at the corner of 7th and Main in downtown Fort Worth. Painted bright red and fitted with lots of brass, the popcorn machine had a clown and a steam whistle on top. It was quite an attraction. Eight months later, Mr. Baird bought a second machine and put it at 5th and Main. Dewey, the oldest son, operated this machine.

A restaurant on Exchange Avenue was put up for sale. Mr. Baird, who had operated restaurants in Tennessee, con-

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cochran Renamed to West Tucker

According to the Sanborn Fire Maps, in Fort Worth, Texas, Cochran was renamed to West Tucker. I researched this because the publication The Mrs. Baird's Story says, on page 3 of the publication.
The family now lived at 512 Hemphill, on the corner of Hemphill and Cochran.
The address of 512 Hemphill today is still in the same place. I just wanted to verify the renaming of the street.

Ninnie Baird Becomes an Orphan

Ninnie Baird's father, Elisha Harrison was killed in May of 1882 leaving her an orphan, her mother having passed away in 1874. I received a newspaper article that details the story of the killing.

From an unknown newspaper, dated May 6, 1882.

Shot Dead in the Road.

Last Monday evening, three miles north of Trenton, Elisha Harrison was found dead in the Trenton and Dyer Station road, about 7 o'clock, with a pistol shot wound in the left side. A coroner's jury was summoned, Esq. H. C. Pearce presiding, and the following state of facts was developed: Elisha Harrison had been postmaster at Dyer Station for some years past and up to last winter and fall, when he ws removed. He had made threats before the day of the killing against all concerned in having him removed, and on that day said in Trenton that he intended "cursing out the whole set," and mentioned the name of H. J. Marcum as one of those he intended cursing out. Late in the evening, Harrison left town on horseback and is supposed to have stopped on the road where the killing took place and he hitched his horse and then went to meet Marcum as he came up. and he was found about fifty yards from his horse, back towards Trenton, and his hat was found midway between his horse and his body. Harrison was found with an open knife in his pocket with the point down. Suspicion pointed at once to Marcum. He left Trenton with some plow handles he had bought in town, was overtaken by a man named Kelly, who took him in his buggy until their roads separated, about half a mile from the place where Harrison was found dead. A gentleman living near the place of the killing heard some loud talking and soon afterwards, heard a pistol shot. He went down the road and saw a man he didn't know walking rapidly away with plow handles on his shoulder. Marcum has since given himself up, but we have not heard the result of the trail.

Concho Street Renamed to East Myrtle

According to the Sanborn Fire Maps, Concho Street was renamed to East Myrtle in Fort Worth, Texas. Theodore A. Lipps, the first non-family employee of Mrs. Baird's Bread lived on that street. I've updated the post, The First Baird Employee with this information.

Pages 2 and 3 of The Mrs. Baird's Story

I stumbled upon another researcher of the Baird family and was provided with pages two and three of The Mrs. Baird's Story. I've transcribed those pages here, and have added them to the original post of The Mrs. Baird's Story.

sidered going back in the restaurant business. He decided this one was a good buy. It might also be good business, he reasoned, to buy "run down" restaurants, fix them up, operate them, and then sell them. So he sold his popcorn machines and bought the restaurant. In those days of slow transportation, you had to live near the place you worked. So the family moved to Rosen Heights.

Santa Fe Restaurant
In 1903, Mr. Baird sold the Exchange Avenue restaurant and began operating the Santa Fe Restaurant across from the Santa Fe Depot. It was here, Dewey Baird often recalled, that as a boy of 12 he stood on a box to help his father make nickel pies. Then he and his father hauled the pies 8 or 10 miles in a lunch wagon to the Swift and Armour packing houses on Fort Worth's North Side. The family lived next door to the restaurant. Later that year, Mr. Baird sold the Santa Fe Restaurant and began operating a bakery on Jennings Avenue. The family moved to Daggett Street. The old Fort Worth (Central) High School was on the next block where the Justin Boot Company is now located.

With Mr. Baird now operating a bakery, his wife could take a short rest from her own baking chores. Usually she baked all the bread for her family and did it very well indeed. She had often helped her husband with the baking back in Tennessee. But now one of the boys could bring bread home each day from the bakery.

Her "vacation" from baking did not last long. The Little Chicago Restaurant, between 10th and 11th Streets, was put up for sale. Mr. Baird sold the bakery and bought the Little Chicago. The family moved to West Broadway. At the Little Chicago in 1904 you could get a full meal for 15 cents. Dewey helped his dad at the restaurant.

512 Hemphill
In the early part of 1905, Mr. Baird sold the Little Chicago Restaurant and began operating a restaurant on 15th Street. Hoyt, who was now 8, picked up the meat for the restaurant early each morning at H. E. Sawyer Grocery on South Main and took it to the restaurant on his bicycle. He started the fire in the stove and made hot cake batter. When his father arrived to start serving breakfasts, Hoyt went on to school.

The family now lived at 512 Hemphill, on the corner of Hemphill and Cochran. Mrs. Baird was once more baking all the bread for her family. She often baked more than she needed and gave the extra loaves to her neighbors. They liked her bread and she soon gained quite a reputation around the neighborhood for baking good bread. In fact, her neighbors urged her to bake enough for them too whenever she baked. And even in those days they referred to her bread as "Mrs Baird's Bread."

Finally, in 1908, Mrs. Baird decided to take her neighbors' suggestion. She would bake bread to sell. Her husband was still operating the restaurant, but his health was not good. He suffered from diabetes, and this was long before the discoveries were made that would mean so much to people with this illness.

Mrs. Baird started baking in her small four-burner wood-fired kitchen range. At first the boys delivered the freshly baked bread on foot after school. They carried the loaves in baskets. The baskets had hinged tops, which raised at each end, much like modern picnic baskets. Mrs. Baird put a clean flour sack in the bottom, put in the loaves of still hot bread, and then covered them with another clean flour sack. Each basket held about 6 one-pound loaves of bread. Later the boys used a bicycle to make deliveries.

As more people wanted to buy her