Biography of Edwin Baldwin

Edwin Baldwin, merchant and lumberman of Baldwin county, was born March 18, 1848, and is a son of Henry C. and Sarah M. (Hartley) Baldwin. Henry C. was born in North Carolina in 1822 and there grew to manhood, attending school at such times as his services could be spared from the farm. He came to Alabama when a youth in company with his brothers. He entered a grocery in the capacity of clerk and further improved his education by attending a night school, and thus obtained for himself a reliable education. Early in life he developed an ability to do business for himself, and soon secured a position on one of the Tombigbee steamers, quickly rose to the position of pilot, and followed the occupation for many years on the Alabama and Tombigbee rivers. Nor did he confine his operations to rivers alone, but acquainted himself with the coast and general lay of Mobile bay and the gulf of Mexico. He was elected colonel of a regiment in 1862, but resigned his commission to take charge of government steamboats during the war, after which he resumed his former occupation. Being a man of broad intelligence and extensive acquaintance, he became captain of several boats, later owned a line of lighters and passenger boats, and eventually amassed a fortune. In 1875 he built the Hotel Grand, a noted summer and winter resort, located at Point Clear, at a cost of $75,000, and under his direction it was operated successfully for two years. When his death occurred in 1878, he was regarded as the best steamboat and deep water navigator in Mobile. He was the builder of the first set of ways and docks in that city, and did much toward the upbuilding of its commercial interests. He avoided litigation and was never known to have anything in the way of law suits. He was a good business man and politically was a democrat.

Mrs. Susan M. Baldwin was born in Mobile county, in 1832, and there grew to womanhood, much care being bestowed upon her early education. She was married in her sixteenth year and became the mother of nine children, six of whom now survive-three girls and three boys. Early in life she united with the Methodist Episcopal church and lived a consistent life till her death, which occurred in 1862, in her thirtieth year.

In 1865 Capt. Baldwin married Miss Anna Wilson, of Wilcox county. She still survives, is the widow of Frederick Swain, and resides in Louisiana. Capt. Edwin Baldwin grew up in Mobile and spent his early life in school. In 1863 he left Spring Hill college and joined a military company then being formed for actual service in the then existing war. In this company he served a year, then was transferred to the Forty-sixth infantry, in which he served until peace was restored. He then attended school till 1866, in which year he went on board an Alabama river steamer, as clerk, following this occupation with efficiency till the following year, when he was appointed boarding officer of the port of New Orleans, and served as such till removed by Federal authority in reconstruction days. He then became clerk of the steamer Sarah, which plied between New Orleans and Mobile, and later entered a wholesale house as clerk, and followed this occupation nearly three years; then went to Texas and entered a wholesale grocery house at Galveston. In 1870 he crossed they plains on the old Chisholm trail with 2,000 cattle, passing all through the great western ranges. The latter part of 1871 he returned to Galveston and went on the prairies as a cow boy and became conversant with all the phases of a ranchman’s life, including stock dealing, mercantile pursuits on the Guadaloupe river, but finding the business not to his liking he returned, in 1873, to Mobile and went aboard the steamer “Annie,” as captain and pilot, remaining in this occupation till 1875, when he came back to Mobile and established a steamboat supply house and grain business, and remained there till his father’s death; he then took charge of the steamer “Annie,” as master and owner, and followed this business till 1885, during which time he had become owner of a number of crafts of all denominations and had extended his business to all parts of the gulf and river points; in 1885 he sold out his entire business and went to Monterey, Mexico, and engaged in the stock brokerage and commission business, following this occupation three years, during which time he did business at Valedino and Laredo, Mexico, learned the Mexican language, and in co-partnership with Mr. T. P. Hartley built up an extensive and lucrative business. In 1888 he returned to Mobile, after having sold out his Mexican interests to his partner. January 18, 1888, Mr. Baldwin was united in marriage to Miss Nellie Kapahn, daughter of George Kapahn, one of Baldwin county’s prosperous merchants and-former partner of Charles F. Zundel. Mrs. Baldwin was born in Mobile, in 1865. She was married in her twenty-fourth year and is now mother of three interesting children: Alfred J., born November 24, 1888; George H., born December 8, 1889, and William, born in 1890. Mrs. Baldwin affiliates with the Catholic church. Mr. Baldwin engaged in mercantile pursuits in 1888 at Point Clear; then moved to his present beautiful home, located in the west prong of Fish river, at the post office known as, Marlow. He has a large and well assorted stock of general merchandise, valued at $6,000, and does a large cash business. Since his locating here he has built a nice residence and furnishes accommodations as a hotel for winter and summer visitors to the south; he has built a steam saw-mill, and deals extensively in lumber and juniper blocks. He has a grist mill, with gin attached to the saw-mill, and has the only gin adapted to the ginning of Sea Island cotton in Alabama. He owns some 3,000 acres of land, including fine tracts of virgin forests of pine timber. He has made successful experiments with and is now a producer of the famous Sea Island cotton. Mr. Baldwin owns a sixty-ton schooner, a naphtha launch, and a fleet of smaller boats on his premises; he also has a fine vein of pottery clay, operates three potteries and a brick yard; also owns and operates a ferry across the river at his store. He contemplates the erection of a cannery in the near future for the canning and preserving of all kinds of fruits and fish, which latter abound in the clear waters of Fish river. He is, one of Baldwin county’s most progressive men. He is ever ready to assist all enterprises for the advancement of Baldwin county, and takes pleasure in welcoming immigration to his fertile country.


Memorial record of Alabama : a concise account of the state’s political, military, professional and industrial progress, together with the personal memoirs of many of its people.. Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1893.

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