Architect of the Union

As of the 23rd May 2022 this website is archived and will receive no further updates.

was produced by the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk based in the Statistical Laboratory in the University of Cambridge. The aim was to help improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining.

Many of the animations were produced using Flash and will no longer work.

Take a map, locate South Africa. Zoom in, zoom way way in, locate Zeerust and Swartruggens. This is where it all started David was born in 1972 in South Africa. I was born in 1978 in Zeerust, RSA. For the briefest moment, David and myself were within 60km from one-another when he visited his father in Swartruggens, only to meet more than 30 years later thousands of miles on the other side of the world. September 2010, Las Vegas; on a Friday night I randomly met David in a bar. Through conversation my South African heritage came up, to which he replied that he was from South Africa too. I switched to Afrikaans. He replied that he left there when he was 6 years old, and doesn’t speak Afrikaans. After we met for coffee, I didn’t hear or see David till February 2011. I asked him about his South African connection: “I left when I was 6 years old, and never saw my father again.“ This absolutely peeked my interest. “Did you not want to find your father?” “I was going to look for him before I went to the military, but my mom told me it’s an insult to Mark, the man that raised me”. David and I started a romantic relationship in March 2013 From the beginning I asked David if he minded if I was going to look for his father. He said no, and so the grit, perseverance and determination that has taken my all over the world by myself from the age of 17 kicked in. “This is a mystery I can solve”. I shared the story with a few South Africans, they too were intrigued, and with very little clues we all searched… and searched. Nothing came to fruition. David’s father’s last name was Baird; I spoke with many people in South Africa with the last same name, one even immigrated to the US to whom I spoke. Those I spoke with, proudly spoke about their Scottish Heritage, and assured me that they were related, but didn’t know David’s father: David Wegeling Baird. There was not much to go off from what I found on-line. It all lead to dead-ends. Curiously my mom told me: “I went to school in Swartruggens with a John Baird”. Could this be, could my mom have gone to school with David’s father brother?! 2015 I took David to South Africa. I was proud to show him beautiful South Africa. Prior to us leaving, I asked Martha (David’s mother) whether she had clues for us to find David’s father. Her response was swift: “I don’t have any clues, and you should let sleeping dogs lie.” “Fuel to the fire!”. I knew at that moment, that there were secrets to be uncovered, and I’m the person to uncover them. During our trip to South Africa, we met up with David’s god-mother Lesley. Off the bat, I asked: “Lesley, we are trying to find David’s father, do you have any clues for us?” “You know Margaretha, it’s been 35-40 years, I really can’t remember much, except that we had to drop David off in Swartruggens for visitations.” You could have pushed me over with a feather… The very John Baird my mom went to school with, was in fact David’s father’s brother. As motivated as I was to solve this mystery, I was now even more determined to get it done. As we would find out later, the timing of solving the mystery was not there yet. 2015 With the internet, and all it gives us; has not yet given up its secrets on David’s father. This tiny and remote area where I was from; a short distance from the Botswana border had more in store. This time the connection was with Mark McIntosh. The man Martha married after David’s father and moved to the States with. The story of how Mark’s parents met in South Africa. During the 2nd World War; South Africa was a British Colony, the Queen ordered a cement factory to be built in South Africa. The factory… Slurry. 30km from Zeerust, in between Lichtenburg and Zeerust. Much rebuilding had to be done in South Africa after the Boer Wars, The Depression and now the world was at war again. An engineer from Canada and and Engineer from the United States arrived in South Africa during the 1940s and lived next to one-another in Lichtenburg. Both of them had children: Janet, the American off-spring, and Brian, the Canadian 19-year old boy that was in the Military Police stationed in Northern Rhodesia. On his time off, Brian would come from now Zambia, to visit his folks in Lichtenburg. There he met 22-year old American Janet. The two got married in South Africa, and had the first born in Johannesburg, shortly after leaving to go back to Canada, and then to the United States. Telling Brian and Janet that I was from the very area that their love-story began brought tears to Brian. Suffering from dementia, somehow the memories became crystal clear. He tells of how he climbed up to the highest point of the factory, the rivers where he fished, and the passionfruit he ate. He still remembered the Afrikaans name, grenadella. He told of how he remembered talking to a Boer, that was a quiet man, a man that suffered through the Boer War and the concentration camps. Janet lit up: “Margaretha, we loved it there, it brings up so many good memories.” I took David to the factory his “adopted” great-grandparent’s parents help build. He got to see Lichtenburg too. Back in the US, Brian got a painting of Slurry. Pointing to the highest point of the factory: “I climbed to the top!” Not long after our trip Brian died. The trip was hugely successful. April 2016, my mom (an attorney) came to the US. All 3 of us; my mom, David and myself went to see his mom in California. Martha volunteered a file to my mom that has all the information about David’s father, including information about his birth date, and his full name: David Wegeling Baird born on the 4th of November 1936. I memorized this. This was the clue that I needed to solve the mystery. The divorce decree also stipulated that David was to go for vacations to South Africa. That never happened. Martha then tells us that David’s father refused to give up his parental rights before they left South Africa for Mark Macintosh to adopt him. Not exactly the actions of a man that had the intentions to abandon his son. March 2017 the relationship came to an end. I continued my search, hoping that the internet will catch up and reveal information that can lead to a revelation. We’ve heard his mother’s side of the story; I would like to hear his father’s side of the story. September 2018 on my way to Europe with time to kill at the airport, the internet finally caught up, and revealed a vital clue: The gravestone outside of Krugersdorp, Sterfontein: “David Wegeling Baird: Born 4 November 1936 Died 27 February 1993.” This is the first time in the more than 5 years I have searched that I found something that could truly connect me to some answers. I continued the search. “Maybe his father got married again… maybe he had children… siblings to David”. The search delivered: David’s father got married again to Amelia-May Smit, and she had 2 daughters, Amelia-May and Ingrid. David has sisters. Through Facebook I messaged them in Afrikaans, as they are Afrikaans like myself: “Hello, you don’t know me, by chance, are you related to David Wegeling Baird born on the 4th of November 1936.” 2 Days later, sitting in a cafe in Barcelona my phone pings: “yes, that was my father, how can I help you?” “I know your brother” a pause… Amerlia “can you take a call?” MB: “Yes” Amelia: “We knew we had a brother, but didn’t know how to find him. (He no longer carried his father’s name). He was always a presence in our house. My father loved him, and never stopped looking for him. He always sent him gifts and cards, but they always came back. We don’t know whether the address was no good, or whether they were returned on purpose.” MB “What was your father like?” Amelia: “My father was a magistrate, a game warden and an opera signer. He was a strict dad, he liked his things a particular way, loved cars and bikes. My father build a waterfall for David’s 21st birthday in our backyard in February 1993. A few days later my father was killed on his motorbike. He went to buy flowers for my mother, and was going to take us to get pet bunnies later that afternoon. I was 7, my sister, 4. How do you know my brother” MB: “I don’t want to influence the relationship with your brother, we were in a romantic relationship, but are no longer together.” Amelia “Let me talk to my mom and sister, I’ll get back to you” Amelia continued sending me photos of David’s father, and even of David before he left as a 5 or 6 year old. He was always a presence in their household. David, a spitting image of his father. Two days later I am in England. Amelia calls me: “Margaretha, I’m ready to meet my brother, can you set it up, are you sure he wants to know us?” MB “I’m positive!” I texted David: “David, please take my call, I have vital information to share with you, Sincerely, Margaretha” Once I saw he read the message, I called him: “David this is Margaretha, I found your father, he passed away, he never stopped looking for you, he loved you. David, your grandmother’s dying wish was to see you one more time. David, you have 2 sisters, they are amazing and they are beautiful. Your sister is getting married on December 1st, who knows, maybe you can walk her down the aisle. David, your sister is on standby, she wants to meet you.” David burst out in tears: “Margaretha, how did you do this. I will take this to the grave with me. Let me get composed, and I’ll call her.” David spoke with his sister Amelia-May: “Hello Amelia, this is your brother David…” November 2018 David flew to South Africa and gave his sister away on her wedding day. A beautiful union. I requested videos of their first meetings. This union is my masterpiece. David, or anyone that has crossed his path could have done this, but it was me, my persistence, perseverance and determination that solved this mystery. I knew from the first day I took this on that this would profoundly change many many lives. And it has. Even though the relationship was unsuccessful; I’m happy I could have done this. This is so much bigger than me, and the relationship that I had with David. Should David’s sisters relocate to the US, and their children grow up here ever ask the question of how they got to the US, this would be how they came to live in the United States. The holes in the hearts of the 3 siblings and a stepmother have now been filled. The truth has prevailed.
Total votes: 262
Date submitted:Sun, 10 May 2020 15:23:16 +0000Coincidence ID:10452