My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  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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ANDREW BYRD. Although this gentleman is a son of one of the prominent and early settlers in Greene County, and has successfully carried on an agricultural life within its bounds for a number of years, it is probably true that his greatest fame rests upon his discovery of the celebrated Magnetic Springs. Several years since the old United Presbyterian Church was put up at public sale, and he bought it with the intention of turning it into a double dwelling. He had the changes in it nearly completed, and his sister-in-law and family had moved into one part. In order to have water convenient he determined to dig a well under the middle of the building, but the water being found to have a peculiar smell he was advised to fill up the well, but this he refused to do. It was found when the plasterers were ready to put on the white coat that the water from this well had turned the plaster yellow, and that the water was magnetic. Mr. Byrd took some of it to Prof. Hoff, of Waynesville, for analysis. The peculiar qualities of the water becoming noised abroad, people came from various parts of the State to bathe in the liquid, which was found to have a wonderful effect upon those affected with rheumatism or kidney complaints. Mr. Byrd was obliged to dispose of the property to capitalists from Dayton, who organized a company, and refitted the old church, and in the summer of 1888 added many improvements for the comfort and advantage of those who wished to resort to the curative waters. Mr. Byrd received $8,000 for his discovery, the property having cost him $635.

Those acquainted with National characteristics would readily discern in the subject of this sketch traits derived from natives of Scotland and Holland, whence his ancestry is traced. His father, Andrew Byrd, Sr., was born in Virginia, to which Grandfather Byrd had come from Holland. The father married in his native State Miss Mary Halker, the daughter of a Scotchman, who had accumulated much property, which he lost during the War of 1812. The newly wedded couple made their home in their own State until early in the nineteenth century, when they removed to Ohio, locating in Greene County. They occupied a farm in Spring Valley Township, which is now the home of Mr. A. H. Myers. The place cost them $7 per acre, and had scarcely any improvements upon it, their residence for some time being a log house. The estate included two hundred acres, nearly all of which was improved by Mr. Byrd, who built the brick house now standing there, our subject having carried brick for it. Marketing was done at Cincinnati during the early years.

The elder Mr. Byrd was a prominent man in his day, being very popular, and having the respect of all who knew him. He was free hearted and generous to a fault, and helped many poor neighbors in their struggles to gain a sustenance or acquire a competence. During the War of 1812 he served his country as a soldier. His wife, Mary, died in 1820, and he afterward took for his companion Miss Sarah Griffee, who was also a native of the Old Dominion. She bore him a number of children, three of whom are now living. He died in 1834, and his widow survived until 1888. His first marriage had resulted in the birth of twelve children, five of whom are living at this time.

Andrew Byrd, Jr., was born August 10, 1813, on the home farm in Spring Valley Township, Greene County. He grew up in the wilds of this then new locality, and began life for himself at the age of fourteen years. Going to Xenia he worked in a blacksmith shop under Russel Rice for a short time, and then went to Shelby County, where he learned the trade of cabinet-making, and worked there for two years. Returning to this county he labored at his trade until 1832, in the fall of that year going down to Bellbrook and casting his first Presidential vote for Andrew Jackson. He then went on horseback to Palmyra, and thence to Callaway County, Mo., where he remained all winter, in the spring going to Hannibal and taking the boat for home. During the passage the passengers suffered from cholera, and he escaping gave his services to the sufferers.

For years Mr. Byrd devoted his attention to agricultural labors, from which he has retired to enjoy the fruits of his former industry. His farm comprises one hundred and forty-eight acres, his residence property being a square south of the Magnetic Spring, with three houses upon it, and he also owns another house in the corporate limits of Bellbrook. He is in excellent circumstance, financially speaking, and personally possesses an abundance of energy and sturdy common sense, leading to a due amount of respect from his fellow-men.

In 1834 Mr. Byrd was united in marriage with Miss Sarah, daughter of Nathan Bull, who was drowned in the Miami River. The union was blessed by the birth of six children, one of whom is now living. After many years of happy married life Mrs. Byrd breathed her last in 1867. Three years later our subject became the husband of Lydia Duck, whose parents. Jacob and Rachael (Pennywait) Duck, were early settlers here, whence they had come from Virginia. Mrs. Byrd is one of a large family, three of whom are now living, and is four years younger than her husband. She is a member of the Universalist Church, and a woman whose lack of fine educational advantages in early life is more than overbalanced by her good sense, amiable disposition and excellent character.

Mr. Byrd has served on the School Board, and takes an interest in politics, having first voted for a Democratic candidate, but afterward having been a Whig and finally a Republican. He agrees with his wife in religious belief.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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