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Biography of Andrew Baldinger

Excerpted from Galveston, History Of The Island And City 1879, by Charles W. Hays

This old merchant and citizen is a native of Switzerland, and was born in the cantonment of Argua, in 1813. He received the rudiments of an education in the village school. His father was an industrious farmer, and young Baldinger worked on his father's farm until he was seventeen years of age, when he emigrated to the United States, and landed in the city of Baltimore in 1831.

Shortly after his arrival here, he apprenticed himself to C. A. Medenger, a prominent baker, to learn the trade. After serving faithfully until he had thoroughly mastered his trade, he worked for Medenger until the Texas Revolution broke out. Taking a deep interest in the struggle, he left Baltimore and went to New York, where he embarked for New Orleans, and from thence, with a detachment of troops and some passengers, about sixty in all, set sail for Texas in the small brig Eldorado, commanded by Captain Lowe. After being out from New Orleans about three days, the brig grounded on Tempelier Island. The shipwrecked passengers safely reached the island, and remained there about four weeks, when they were taken off by the schooner Active, and, after being out two weeks, the Active finally made Galveston in June, 1837. The only improvements on the site of Galveston at that time were a few mud huts, which were occupied by a garrison of soldiers. Mr. Baldinger went to Houston; remained there about a month; found he had arrived too late to take an active part in the war, and returned to New Orleans in July, and from thence took boat up the river to Pittsburg, and from thence returned to Baltimore. He remained there but a short time before he determined to return to Texas; went to New York, and embarked on the brig Potomac, Captain Hitchcock commanding, and arrived in Houston in December 1837.

Here he found employment at his trade, and remained until February, 1838, when he determined to come to Galveston and start a bakery of his own. He leased a portion of the lot on the corner of Strand and Tremont streets, now occupied by the large clothing house of Halff, Weis & Co. The corner portion of this lot, at that time, was occupied by Leander Wescott, who owned it, and had erected a frame building, in which he established a bar-room and restaurant. Here Mr. Baldinger erected his first bakery with his own hands, assisted by one man. It was a rough and primitive frame. The oven was built in the rear, and covered with canvas. While Mr. Baldinger was engaged in building an oven, Mr. Fox, who had come here a short time before, was also engaged in building one, and a rivalry sprang up between the two, to see who should have the first bread. Mr. Baldinger, in his eagerness to surpass his rival, did not properly support his oven, and when he attempted to remove the braces, the oven caved in, and gave his rival the honor of baking the first bread. Nothing daunted by this accident, he at once set to work and rebuilt his oven, and if Mr. Fox did bake the first bread, Mr. Baldinger baked the first pies, and Colonel Yard and other old Galvestonians still smack their lips and expatiate upon the good qualities of Andy Baldinger's pies.

He remained here about a year, when his business increased so rapidly that he purchased the lot formerly occupied by the Grand Southern Hotel, but now by the business house of G. Seeligson & Co., for three hundred dollars, and erected a two-story frame house and bakery. In 1840 he formed a partnership with John Durst, and united the grocery with the bakery business, and conducted it very successfully for ten years. They also had a boarding-house, and it was one of the largest in the village at that time. In 1850 Mr. Baldinger sold out his full interest to Mr. Durst, purchased the property where his store now is, corner of Mechanic and Twenty-second streets, and erected a two-story frame, and engaged in the grocery business exclusively. After being engaged in this line for a number of years, he abandoned groceries, and put in a large stock of crockery, glassware and house-furnishing goods, in which business he is now.

In 1840 Mr. Baldinger married Miss Catharine Wild, a native of Switzerland, her parents emigrating when she was yet a child. She has been to him, in the upward struggle of life, a worthy and noble helpmate, and he attributes much of his success to her assistance and economy. Mr. Baldinger was a member of the "Galveston Guards" when Colonel Yard was First Lieutenant, and always promptly responded to the call in time of danger, during the days of the Republic; was strongly opposed to annexation, and was one of the few who had the courage to vote against it. Although never aspiring to any public position, he was elected the municipal Council in 1842, when J. M. Branham was Mayor; and again, in 1862 under the Mayoralty of Thomas M. Joseph. He was opposed to secession, but when the State seceded, and war was proclaimed, he was loyal to his State, although too old to render active service. During hostilities, he removed to Houston, closed out his business, and paid, in obedience to the command of the Confederate Government, ten thousand dollars he owed Northern merchants for goods; but immediately after the war, he again resumed business, sold property in the city, and paid his creditors in the North every dollar, with interest.

Mr. Baldinger's life is an evidence of what can be accomplished by quiet energy and rigid economy. His capital, when he began business, was but a few hundred dollars, and his trade. He did not seek to get rich, but determined to live within his means, and not be wasteful. By his rigid adherence to this plan, he has amassed a competence, left his impress upon the city in monuments that will live after him. Notable among these are the business house he occupies, the large and commodious business house on the corner of Strand and Tremont streets, and his residence, on the corner of Avenues I and Bath. Mr. Baldinger invested his money, as he made it, in buying and improving property. While he is, and has been, a close man in his business affairs, and economic in his expenditures, he has responded cheerfully to all measures inaugurated to enlarge and enhance the trade and commerce of Galveston. He has now been in active business for thirty-eight years, and has an untarnished reputation as a merchant, and an unimpeachable record as a citizen. The rigid adherence to honesty and economy is, and has been, the secret of his success.

Owner/SourceBob Mueller
Linked toAndrew BALDINGER

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