J. M. Baer is Chief of the Fire Department at Circleville. There is nothing which adds so much to the safety and security of the people of a town or city as an active, well-trained, vigilant and excellently equipped fire department. The history of the measures for fire prevention in Circleville is an interesting one, for the handy ''blue bucket," and the nimble feet of such as would help, composed the equipments of the early residents. Now there is a fire department that is a credit to the city. Mr. Baer, who is Chief of the Fire Department, is a practical and first-class engineer, and is one who thoroughly understands his business. He was born in Jackson Township, Pickaway County, Ohio, as was also his father, John Baer. The grandfather, John Baer, Sr., was originally from the Keystone State, but an early settler of Pickaway County, Ohio, where he purchased a wild piece of land in Jackson  Township,on Darby Creek. On this he erected a rude log hut, and there passed the remainder of his days. He was of German descent.


John Baer, Jr., father of our subject, was reared amid pioneer scenes, and received his scholastic training in the log schoolhouse of early days. At an early age he commenced farming and stockraising for himself, purchased a farm, and on this died, September 20, 1852, when about thirty-five years of age. He was married in Pickaway County to Miss Catherine Starritt, a native of Pennsylvania, who came with her father, Solomon, to Ohio, when but a child. Here she grew to womanhood, and married Mr. Baer. After the death of her husband, she kept the family on the farm until 1867, when she sold out and moved to Marion, Ohio. There she resides at the present time, and is now Mrs. Wilson, having married again. By her marriage to Mr. Baer she became the mother of six children, as follows: An infant (deceased), J. M. (our subject), Elizabeth (Mrs. Rector), who resides in South Bloom field; John, with our subject in the fire department; Sarah (Mrs. Morn, of Columbus), and Franklin, who died at the age of twelve years.


Our subject's birth occurred on the 6th of January, 1845, and his time was divided in youth between working on the farm and attending school taught in the primitive log schoolhouse of pioneer days. He attended principally during the winter months until seventeen years of age, and at the age of twenty he began farming on a part of the old place, the same, consisting of five hundred and six acres, being left by the grandfather. This he continued for two years, and then rented a farm four miles from Circleville, and carried on seven hundred acres, when only twenty-three years of age. In 1879, he located in Circleville, and for two and one-half years was engineer in the Heffner warehouse. Previous to this, when about sixteen years of age, he was engaged with a threshing-machine and continued with it all one fall. He had always delighted in machinery of all kinds, and when he was seventeen years of age he came to Circleville and began learning the machinist's trade. Eight months after, he returned to the farm, but his love of machinery lingered with him, and when twenty years of age he was the owner of a threshing-machine, used steam, and threshed all over the western part of the county. He became one of the best-known threshers, and continued in this business for twenty-two years. He then came to Circleville, as above mentioned, and in 1881 became Engineer of the Fire Department, holding that position for two years. He then resigned, and one year later was placed on the police force, which position he held for thirteen months, and again resigned. For four years after this he was in the employ of what was then the Portage Straw Board Company, but what is now the American Straw Board Company; and after this, in May, 1889, he was appointed Chief of the Fire Department, by Mayor Bolin (now deceased), and re-appointed by Mayor Lowe.


Mr. Baer was married in Jackson Township, Pickaway County, to Miss Virginia Buckles, a native of Darby Township, the same county. The fruits of this union have been three children: Cynthia, a graduate of the High School of Circleville; Franklin, at home; and Cora. Mr. Baer's second marriage was to a sister of his first wife. Miss Rosaltha Buckles, who was also a native of Darby Township, Pickaway County, Ohio. Her father, Rev. Abraham Buckles, was a minister in the Methodist Church. Mr. Baer had the misfortune to lose his second wife. She left two children, Walter and Henry. Mr. Baer is a Democrat in his political views, and is a member of the Democratic Club. He has been a delegate to county and State conventions, and is at present Chairman of the Democratic County Central Committee. In 1891, he was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the county Socially, he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

 

From PORTRAIT & BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF FAYETTE, PICKAWAY AND MADISON COUNTIES, OHIO - Chapman Bros. [Chicago, 1892]