Biography of Winfield A. S. Bird
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For thirty-five years a Topeka lawyer, Mr. Bird’s name had become widely known over the state not only in the legal profession, but as a practical farmer and stockman, by his various distinctions in Masonry and other fraternities, and by his important services in the State Legislature.
In his own character and in an carnest ambition to acquit himself well among the world’s useful workers, is to be found the secret of his snccess. He was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, August 31, 1855, and spent his early life there. His father, Archibald Bird, was born in the same county November 22, 1823. He was a man of considerable enterprise, owned and operated a farm, also conducted a saw mill, and made an excellent record of service as a Union soldier during the Civil war. He was in the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. His death occurred April 12, 1896, and resulted from wounds he had received while serving his country. Archibald Bird married Elizabeth Ann Heilman, who was born in Allegany County, Maryland, March 25, 1826, and died in Pennsylvania, May 4, 1906.
When Winfield A. S. Bird was an infant his parents moved into the woods on White’s Creek in Pennsylvania, and when he was eight years old he witnessed the Battle of Gettysburg, a historic event which made a deep impression upon his youthful mind. During one day of that battle he carried water for the wounded soldiers. On his father’s place he did his share of the work in reclaiming the land, was also employed about the saw mill, and in a limited way attended the Pine Grove district school until he was sixteen. There was borne in upon him when quite young the necessity of securing an education, and it was largely through self application that he accomplished his desire. He finally succeeded in passing a teacher’s examination, and for the next five years taught school, at first in his native state and then in Richardson County, Nebraska. He went to Nebraska in March, 1878, and while teaching he also read law, having borrowed books for that purpose. On September 8, 1880, he realized one step in his ambitious career when admitted after examination before a committee of the bar at Falls City, Nebraska.
Nineteen days after this examination and his admission to the Nebraska bar, he arrived in Topeka, Kansas, September 27, 1880. Since that date he had been continuously identified with the Kansas bar, had proved himself an untiring worker in his profession, and many times his name had been associated as attorney with some of the important cases tried before the State and Federal courts.
His most enjoyable recreation, and also an object of no small profit, is in looking after his fine farm in Pottawatomie County, consisting of 255 acres and known as Walnut Glen Farm, Registered No. 1. Here he specializes in Shorthorns and Durham cattle and Poland China hogs. As a result of the expenditure of much money and labor he had improved his farm with every convenience of country life conducive to buman happiness.
There is no man in Kansas more widely known along fraternal lines than Mr. Bird. He had taken overy possible degree and order in the Masonic fraternity, including the thirty-third degree of the Scottish Rite, the Toltec Rite, being grand chancellor of the Grand Council of that rite, and had served as presiding officer of all four bodies of the Consistory. He is a past exalted ruler of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is a past grand chancellor for the State of Kansas and the Knights of Pythias, and had served five times as representative to the Supreme Lodge in the Knights and is a member of the Pythian Sisters. For thirty-six years he had been a member of the Indspendent Order of Odd Fellows and is past grand. Mr. Bird had occupied practically every official position including that of Great Incohonee in the Improved Order of Red Men, and is a member in good standing of the Knights and Ladies of Security and the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
He might be denominated as a rock-ribbed, stalwart republican, for he is uncompromising in his politics. In 1887 he was appointed attorney for the City of Topeka, and subsequently was three times elected to that office, serving eight years in all. In 1904 he was elected to the lower house of the State Legislature, was re-elected in 1906 and again in 1914. In all three sessions he was chairman of the Committec of Cities of the First Class. At the first session he was anthor of the Pure Food and Drug Act, now on the statute books. In the second session he introduced the bill creating a commission form of city government. During the last session he introduced two important bills that are now laws: Municipal Farm Homes and the Mother’s Pension Bill. During the last session Representative Bird introduced sixty-four bills, and he holds the record of having introduced more bills and having more of them passed than any member at any one session of the Kansas Legislature. He was nominated for the Legislature on the republican ticket.
His career also shows that his patriotism and love of country are deeply seated. For over fourteen years he was a member of the Kansas National Guard, enlisting as a private and being honorably discharged as judge advocate general with the rank of major. He had been an extensive traveler in the land of his birth, and had for years practiced the principle “See America First” long before it became a slogan. He had visited every state and territory of the Union, and every city except Duluth of 50,000 or more inhabitants, and had also lingered about practically every spot of historic interest in the United States.
On March 21, 1883, Mr. Bird married Miss Mary Dodge of Hiawatha, Kansas, and a native of Ohio.