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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Hon. Winfield Austin Scott Bird, member of the Kansas House of Representatives from the 38th District, and one of the leading attorneys of Topeka, whose portrait is shown on the opposite page, is recognized as one of the prominent and useful men of the “Sunflower” State. Mr. Bird was born August 31, 1855, in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and is the seventh member of a family of 13 children born to his parents, Archibald and Elizabeth Ann (Heilman) Bird.

Mr. Bird was reared on a farm in Somerset County and attended the public schools until the age of 16 years when he entered a Normal School. After completing a course of six months, he began to teach school, first in Pennsylvania and later at Fall City, Nebraska. His study of the law was prosecuted under many discouraging conditions but he finally was prepared for his examinations and was admitted to the bar, at Fall City, September 8, 1880. On the 28th of the same month he came to Topeka, where he has been located ever since, practicing his profession alone, with the exception of one year, during which time he was in partnership with L. S. Ferry. He was ambitious and soon entered into politics, making himself felt in this field as he had already done in his profession. In 1887 he was appointed city attorney of Topeka, served two years as such and then served six subsequent years by election on the Republican ticket. In the fall of 1904 he was elected a member of the House of Representatives, leading the ticket by more than 1,800 votes.

Mr. Bird’s record in the House of Representatives is a remarkable one and shows very conclusively his deep interest in public affairs and his fidelity to the people who have placed important trusts in his hands as a legislator. He introduced 43 bills, three more than any other member, and 26 of these, either in the original bills or the committee substitutes, or submitted Senate bills, passed the Senate and are now laws. The most important may be enumerated:

Bill authorizing the city of Topeka to lay water mains across the State Hospital grounds, by which the city may remove its water mains from all danger from floods of the river.

Bill appropriating $28,500 for the Boys’ Industrial School north of the city.

Bill appropriating $10,000 for rebuilding the north and south approaches and steps to the State Capitol, and $10,000 for paving the walks and drives in Capitol Square.

Bill providing for boards of control of public utilities in cities of the first and second classes.

Mr. Bird was a member of the conference committee on the part of the House that secured the appropriation for the Old Soldiers’ Home at Dodge City. As chairman of the committee on cities of the first class, he wrote the substitute bill which provides that when a voter registers, he shall not be required to register again so long as he does not move, and continues to vote at each subsequent election. As will be seen Mr. Bird’s energies are directed along practical lines and the bills he has advocated and introduced are all of a public-spirited nature, showing careful and thoughtful consideration of the district’s welfare.

On March 21, 1883, Mr. Bird was united in marriage with a daughter of Sydney Dodge, of Hiawatha, Kansas. Mrs. Bird is a member of the Congregational Church, of which he is an attendant. They are prominent in the social life of the city, being the dispensers and recipients of much hospitality.

Since 1883 Mr. Bird has been a member of the Bar Association of the State of Kansas and is also a member of the Shawnee County Bar Association. His offices are located at No. 601 Kansas avenue, Topeka.

Mr. Bird’s fraternal connections are numerous and important. He is a 32nd degree Mason, member of the various branches of the Scottish Rite; is past exalted ruler of the order of Elks; past grand chancelor of the Supreme Lodge of the Knights of Pythias; a member of the Shawnee Tribe, No. 14, Improved Order of Red Men, of which he is the present great senior sagamore of the United States, attending every session of the above order in his State since 1890 and every one in the United States since 1895; and for the past 25 years he has been a member of Shawnee Lodge, No. 1, I. O. O. F. Socially he is connected with the Lake View Shooting and Fishing Association.

Although Mr. Bird has met with gratifying success and has attained an enviable position, he owes little to outside influence. What he is he has made himself, climbing from humble positions—farm boy, lumber worker and railroad section hand—to the elevation secured through his own abilities. To have thus succeeded, in the face of the fierce competition of modern days, is something to induce a measure of justifiable pride.

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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