One of the things we Scots are known for is our resilience in the face of some of the harshest of adversities. This is especially true among the Scot women. Their lives, regardless of on which continent they lived, were typically not easy. But Scot women know when it is time to rise and provide for their families and communities.
If you have ever traveled through North Central Texas, there is an area that spreads pretty far and wide around the I-35W and I-20 corridor where the smell of fresh baking bread beckons drivers to pull over and just waft in the aroma. The heavenly smell of Mrs. Baird’s Bread is a hallmark of the Fort Worth experience and I am willing to bet that not too many of the current day locals know that Mrs. Ninnie L. Baird was actually even a real person.
It was at the turn of the last Century that William Baird relocated his family to the city that claims to be “where the West begins.” William, a restaurateur by trade, started off small on the downtown streets of Fort Worth by opening a fresh popcorn cart. It wasn’t long before his success found him opening a second cart, which was run by the eldest Baird son, only aged 8.
Only a few short years later, William was stricken with diabetes which was, in 1908, an incurable and usually fatal condition. While he ran his recently opened restaurant, it was Ninnie who stayed home and baked her bread and other tasty treats in a wood fired stove. Whatever wasn’t consumed by the Baird clan was shared with friends and neighbors. But it was her baking talent that was soon identified as a means to provide for her family after her husband fell too ill to work.
Early 1900’s Fort Worth was not a city that offered comforts enjoyed by other big cities. Life was still hard for those trying to scratch out a living. But scratch out a living, Ninnie did. In fact, it wasn’t long before demand for her baking rendered her original wood stove obsolete. Through a combination of cash and future baked goods, Ninnie made a deal with The Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Fort Worth for a larger oven that would allow her to bake up to 40 loaves at a time.
Through the passage of time and with the steady increase in demand, Mrs. Baird’s Bread continued to grow into the company that is famous throughout the state of Texas today. True to the strength and hearty nature of Scot women, Mrs. Baird lived to the age of 92, when she passed away on June 3, 1961. The state mourned and honored her, with even the Texas State Senate passing a resolution that declared Ninnie L. Baird was “a living example for mothers, wives, business executives, Christians, and good people the world over.”
Ninnie L. Baird, like most Scot women, did not recognize barriers that held lesser women back. From the day her husband died, she not only provided for her family, but she became part of the fabric of her adopted home state and her memory lives on with each vehicle that passes the bakery that today bears her name.