A German Jew who was born in Baden, Germany on April 12, 1837, Baer immigrated to this country and settled in Fort Smith in June 1867. Before then, he had spent some time as a wholesale clerk in Van Buren and served in the Arkansas Confederate forces. Baer was the first president of the National Bank of Western Arkansas, which became First National Bank in 1887.
The Encyclopedia of the New West, published in 1881, described him as "five feet and four inches, of stout, muscular build and blue eyes." He never married. The first large industrial operation in Fort Smith was established by Baer and Logan H. Roots; the Fort Smith Oil and Cotton Co.
At his death on September 24, 1886, he was worth about $500,000. In 1888, the three-story Baer Memorial Temple was built in honor of Bernard Baer, a Mason. Logan H. Roots, Post Grand Master for Belle Point Lodge No. 20, conducted the dedication ceremonies in that year. Baer's heir donated $10,000 toward to help pay for its construction. In 1919, the top floor was destroyed in a fire but the remaining two floors of the temple building were restored and today house architectural offices.
See Herman Baer.
Source: "Bernard Baer," Jan Ford, an unpublished collection of excerpts from "The Encyclopedia of the New West," The Fort Smith Elevator, Oct.1, 1886; "A Debt of Gratitude," Arkansas Gazette, Dec. 9, 1888.