Memorable Mountain People - Bedent E. Baird

The Baird family were among the early settlers of Valle Crucis, having come to the region from New Jersey. Bedent Baird, born in 1770, settled on the Watauga River, about a mile from where the Mast General Store now stands. He was, in many respects, an unusual man for his time and place.

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Baird owned the largest library west of the Blue Ridge. He was well educated, trained in disciplines rarely encountered among the hard-working residents of the mountains. Such was his interest in things classical that he named his one son Euclid, after the famed Greek mathematician. Finally, he did not share the faith in God that others in his community held.

In spite of all this, he was very well regarded in the community. What is now Watauga County was part of Ashe back then, and Baird represented the county in the legislature. He was also a magistrate for many years. And he had a great sense of humor.

Bishop Ives was then developing the Valle Crucis mission. He was keenly aware of the needs of the country, and one day announced he was looking for a good site for water power. What he wanted to do with that water power is not recorded. Baird told him he knew the very spot.

Baird had built a rough road to the top of Beech Mountain. Up they mountain he and the bishop rode. Then they followed a trail to the north pinnacle of the mountain. There was an overhanging shelf of rock that overlooked Beech Creek. "This is the finest site for water power in the mountains," Baird declared. Ives saw only one problem: "But where is the water?" "That is your part of the business," Baird said, "I have provided the site - all I agreed to do."

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