George W. Bair
Written by George E. Honts, III (Fincastle, VA)
George W. Bair, Jr. was born November 10, 1875 at Washington College,
Tennessee, the son of George Bair and Mary Hinkle Beard. He came to Raleigh
County as a young man, with 50 cents in his pocket, that, in his words
“was all the money I had in this world”. He worked, accumulated some
savings and acquired with his brother, Robert T. Bair, a sawmill and a
tract of fallen timber near the site of the present Beckley Civic Center.
From these inconspicuous beginnings grew a thriving lumber business.
The lumber business was conducted on the site of the present-day offices
of the Beckley Newspapers. On December 20, 1897, he married Lucinda
Ellen Richmond of Raleigh County.
After the turn of the 20th Century, George Bair, again in partnership
with his brother, R.T., became the first Ford automobile dealers in southern
West Virginia. Henry Ford shipped disassembled Model T Fords to Beckley
by rail where the Bair Brothers completed the assembly of the vehicles.
Later the Bair Brothers also sold Lincoln automobiles. The story is told
that Henry Ford once complained that the Bair brothers were not selling
enough Lincolns. Upon receiving that word, George canvassed his neighbors
On North Kanawha Street, starting with Ashton File who lived across the
street, and by the end of the evening had sold six Lincolns.
In 1911 he built his home at 219 North Kanawha Street. The house
still stands and presently houses an extension of Concord College.
In 1922 the Bair Brothers completed the Bair building on North Kanawha.
George Bair served an unexpired term as mayor of Beckley, 1928-1929,
when Joe L. Smith was elected to Congress. He chose not to stand
for re-election. He served as a director of the Raleigh County Bank and
president of the Cooperative Building and Loan Association. George and
Ellen had no children, but in 1911 adopted her twin nieces, Dora Louise
(1911-1947) and Nora Ellen (1911 – 1957), whose mother had died in childbirth.
Louise married George Edward Honts, Jr. of Botetourt County, Virginia and
was survived by him and one son. Ethel did not marry. George
Bair was a life-long Presbyterian: Ellen remained a member of the Christian
Church. George Bair died in 1939. He and Ellen are buried at
the mausoleum at Sunset cemetery. Beckley.