Biography - DAVID BAILEY

Captain David Bailey, of Tuscola, one of the best and most favorably known citizens of the county, was born in Edgar county, December 24, 1845, and was reared on the farm and received his education in the Westfield College. For some years he resided on his farm of 320 acres in Murdock township. In May, 1887, with his family, he removed from his farm to Tuscola, where he resides in one of the beautiful homes for which this place is noted.

In 1870 he married Miss Elizabeth Calhoun, who is a most estimable woman. They have two children, Gertrude and Edward. Captain Bailey is a Knight Templar in Masonry, and is of easy and pleasing address, very approachable and a genial companion. He is a son of David Bailey, who was born in Salem, Rockingham county, New Hampshire, August 2, 1814, of poor but honest parents, his father being a farmer and shoemaker, to which business most of the boys in that section of the country were brought up. There were nine children in this New England home, three boys and six girls, and the story of their early life is only that which has been written of so many others, of hard work and of a few months only at the district school during the winter season. David Bailey had no further opportunity for scholastic training. Indeed, while yet under twelve years of age he was put out to work. After spending a number of years on the farm Mr. Bailey found an opportunity to enter a clerkship at Haverhill, Massachusetts, but did not long remain there on account of poor health. He soon drifted into Boston, or rather to Charlestown, where he for a time held a clerkship in the state penitentiary. Late in the '30s he decided to follow the star of empire, and came west as far as Danville, Illinois, entering a general store, and it was while there that he first met Miss Hannah A. Finley, to whom he was married February 9, 1841. Of this union were born five children: three sons, Edward, president of the Champaign National Bank, of that city; David, of Tuscola, and Ozias, of Texas, who survive their father; and two daughters, Abiah, who died in childhood, and Sue Bailey Slayden, who died some years ago in Waco, Texas.

After spending some time working in Danville, Mr. Bailey went to Bloomfield, Edgar County, walking all the way because he had not the means to pay coach fare, that being the only mode of travel in those days. There he took a position on a salary. Later, with his brother Ozias, who had recently come west with a few dollars saved, he formed a partnership, under the firm name of O. & D. Bailey, and the Bailey peddler wagons became well known all over the country between the Wabash and Sangamon rivers. The brothers also operated a pork packing establishment at Clinton, Indiana, on the Wabash, shipping their product by flat-boat to New Orleans.

About 1855 Mr. Bailey moved to Monticello, thence, after a short sojourn, to Urbana, and in March, 1856, he removed to Champaign, where for a number of years he successfully conducted a dry goods business in the location where now stands the Metropolitan block, occupied by F. K. Robeson & Brother.

Aside from this Mr. Bailey was one of the original shareholders and directors of the First National Bank, and it was largely through his efforts that the charter was secured. The names appearing with his in the original articles of incorporation were James S. Wright, John F. Thomas, William M. Way, Hamilton Jefferson, B. F. Harris, John S. Beasley, Daniel Gardner, William C. Barrett, Simon H. Busey, S. P. Percival, John G. Clark and A. E. Harmon. Mr. Bailey disposed of his holdings in this institution some time during the '70s. In 1882 he became one of the charter members of the Champaign National Bank, in which his holdings were always considerable and in which he had been a director continuously since its organization. During Mr. Bailey's residence in this city he was several times elected to the board of supervisors, and also served one term as school trustee. He was a public-spirited citizen, contributing liberally, yet wisely, to every worthy enterprise, whether secular or religious. His givings were never ostentatious, but it may be said in passing that among his gifts are numbered the lot occupied by the Baptist parsonage, he being a member of that society, and the valuable ground now occupied by the city building.

Mr. Bailey gave up his residence in Champaign about 1877, traveling for a season, and finally locating in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he remained until after the death of his wife, in 1879. He then lived for a time in New York City, and finally returned to his boyhood home in New Hampshire where he resided most of the time until his death, visiting his old home and friends in Champaign frequently. March 22, 1882, he married Miss Harriet Haseltine, of Methune, Massachusetts, and only two weeks afterward followed her remains to the cemetery. He was again married, on November 1, 1886, at Salem, New Hampshire, to Mrs. Mary B. Ewins, who survives him. .She has often visited here with him and has made many warm friends, whose sincere sympathy attends her in this bereavement.

Mr. Bailey's new home in Champaign, built on the site of the old family residence, had just been completed and occupied by him, and it was his intention had he lived to spend the closing days of his life amid the scenes of his greatest successful activity. Mr. Bailey was a man of magnificent physical presence and it may be truly said that he carried within his breast a soul worthy so splendid a habitation. He sought no man's praise, satisfied to have the approval of his own conscience, and he was unmovable in his adherence to justice and right. Once his duty was made plain nothing could swerve him from it. Yet under a stern exterior beat a great, big, kind heart, as those who knew him can best testify. He was a manly man, and that means much. His character, developed in the pioneer days, may not have taken on the esthetic finish of these later times, but what it lacked in polish it made up in strength and integrity. The life and labors of such as he have made possible the greater comfort and beauty in the world of the present.

During the war of the Rebellion David Bailey, Jr., enlisted as a member of the Sixty-seventh Illinois Infantry, and at the close of his three months' term of enlistment returned home and in 1864 enlisted in the One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry, serving until the close of the war.

Extracted 22 Jul 2019 by Norma Hass from the Historical and Biographical Record of Douglas County, Illinois, published in 1900, pages 244-246.

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