Baird Markham was born March 28, 1887, in Decatur, Texas, and he enlisted in the 1st Texas Infantry at age seventeen, serving two years. He relocated to Oklahoma in 1911, opening the Markham Mercantile Company in the town of Kiowa. He relocated to Oklahoma City in 1918 and joined the Oklahoma National Guard that year as a Major.
After training at Camp Funston, Kansas, Markham was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and placed in charge of the Officers Training School. He assisted with organizing the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Oklahoma National Guard and was promoted to Colonel. On January 15, 1923, he was promoted to Major General, and he was appointed as both the Adjutant General and the commander of the 45th Infantry Division.
During this time with the Oklahoma National Guard, Markham faced many challenges, including leading the 2nd Infantry Regiment during the 1919 coal strike in Haileyville. At the time he assumed command of the division, racial tensions in Oklahoma continued to plague the state. Among Markham’s duties as commander was to aid in bringing KKK members to justice. He presided over the 1923 hearings in Tulsa as part of this effort. Ultimately, Governor Jack C. Walton was impeached, and Markham resigned as the Adjutant General in 1925. He remained the division commander until 1931.