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George W. Baird, Grand Master, 1896

For many years Brother Baird has been prominent and active in Masonic, naval, literary, and social circles. Born in Washington, District of Columbia, in 1843, he received his early education in the private and public schools of this city, and when quite young was apprenticed first to a printer and later to a machinist, at which latter occupation he quickly attained proficiency. A natural draughtsman and ready free-hand sketcher, he prepared detail drawings from which work was gotten out when he was less than twelve years of age. At nineteen he entered the Navy as an Acting Third Assistant Engineer, serving in the West Gulf Blockading Squadron on the "Mississippi," "Calhoun," and "Pensacola," and was under fire twenty-three times during his first year of service. At twenty (the lowest age permitted) he entered the regular Navy, and served through all the grades to that of Chief Engineer. In August, 1895, he was appointed Superintendent of the State, War, and Navy building, was transferred to the Line of the Navy March 3, 1899, promoted to Captain December, 1902, and retired as a Rear Admiral April 22, 1905.

Admiral Baird has been remarkably prolific in inventions for the betterment of conditions in the Navy as well as along other lines. Among them are: A fresh-water distiller, an evaporator, pneumatic tell-tale, steam trap, automatic throttle, boiler feeder, etc. He also invented and worked out, proportioned and wrote up the system of ventilating ships by aspiration which is now universally used in large steamships. He was one of the pioneers in incandescent electric lighting, having installed the first incandescent electric-lighting plant ever used in a government ship of any nation, the "Albatross" a steamer built under his superintendence and of which he was chief engineer for nearly five years. This vessel being intended exclusively for deep-sea exploring he perfected plans for special machinery for that purpose which proved eminently successful. He was a member of the board which powered the enormous gun shops at Washington, where he introduced the high-speed engines, rope transmission, etc., which are now in use in that plant.

As an essayist on scientific subjects he has attained first rank. Following are a few of his writings: "Absorption of gases by water and the organic matter contained therein," (Franklin Institute Journal, Vol. 00, 1870); "An improved distilling apparatus for steamships," (F. I. J,, Vol. 64, 1872); "Pneumatic Steering Gear," (F. I. J., Vol. 71); "The Flagship Trenton," (Naval Institute, Vols. 4 and 5); " Ventilation of ships," (N. I., Vol. 6, 1880); " Engineering reports from the Albatross," (G. P. O., 1882-3-4-5-6);

"Electric lighting on shipboard," (Science, Vol. 2, 1883); "Flight of the flying fish," (Science, Vols. 8 and 10). In the French Academy it was said: "It remained for an American naval officer to prove by mathematics the flight of this fish."

Brother Baird is Past President of the American Society of Naval Engineers, a member of the Geographical Society, Sons of American Revolution, Cosmos Club, and Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. After the reorganization of the public school system in Washington, in 1906, he held the very important position of President of the local Board of Education for several years.

In Masonry Brother Baird has long been unusually active. He comes of a family of Masons, his father, grandfather, and three uncles on that side being members of the Craft, while on his mother's side tradition has it that every man for eleven generations back was entitled to wear the lambskin apron. He was initiated, passed, and raised in Tolerancia Lodge, No. 4, at Lisbon, Portugal, in July, 1867; affiliated with Naval Lodge, No. 87, in Vallejo, California, in 1870, and affiliated with Hope Lodge, No. 20, of this jurisdiction, in 1875, of which last lodge he became Master in 1883. He was also elected an honorary member of Naval Lodge, No. 4, of Washington, D. C, February 6, 1902. He received the Capitular degrees in Washington R. A. Chapter, No. 2, Washington, D. C, being exalted January 25, 1882, and serving as High Priest of that Chapter during 1890. He was knighted in Washington Commandery, No. 1, in January, 1891. He received the first fourteen degrees of the Scottish Rite in Portugal in 1867; the Rose Croix grade in Evangelist Chapter; the Knight of Kadosh in Robert de Bruce Council, and the Consistory grades in Albert Pike Consistory. He was crowned a thirty-third degree Mason October 26, 1901, in the A. A. S. R., Southern Jurisdiction of the United States.

Since the death of Brother Singleton Brother Baird has most ably and acceptably filled the position of Chairman of the Committee on Correspondence.

AHGP District of Columbia

Source: History of the Grand Lodge and Freemasonry in the District of Columbia, compiled by W. Brother Kenton N. Harper, 1911.

 
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