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William Bailey

BAILEY, William Washington (deceased).--Among the most prominent and highly respected citizens of Macomb, Ill., at an early period, was the subject of this sketch. He was born near the Natural Bridge, in Virginia, November 25, 1797, and died in Macomb on March 22, 1872. He was a son of William Schreve Bailey and wife, who were natives of Virginia. After living in his native state until 1818, he removed with his father's family to Adair County, Ky., where his father, who was a farmer by occupation, passed the remainder of his life. Mr. Bailey attended the district schools in his youth, whenever opportunity offered, and helped his father in the operation of the farm. As his father was a slaveholder, he assisted in the supervision of the place after the latter's death. In 1833, he came to Illinois, and engaged in the dry-goods trade in Macomb, conducting the second store of this kind opened in the town. In this line he continued nearly all his life. Although he owned the farm which is now the property of his son, William S. Bailey, he gave it little personal attention. He was one of the early stockholders of what is now the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway, and was also one of the principal promoters of the movement to determine the location of the old McDonough College.

About the year 1819, Mr. Bailey was united in marriage, in the State of Kentucky, with Elizabeth Walker, who was a member of a prominent family in that State, some of whose members came to Illinois and are related to the Walker family of McDonough County, including Cyrus Walker, a distinguished member of the bar. Ten children resulted from this union, three of whom died in infancy. Those who reached mature years were: James, William S., Joseph, Samuel, Mary, George and Henry. The last named died in the army in 1861. Of the entire family the sole survivors are William S. and George, who are prominent citizens of Macomb. Mrs. Bailey died in August, 1856, and on May 5, 1864, Mr. Bailey was married to Hannah A. Dean. This union was without issue. Mr. Bailey's second wife, Hannah A. Dean, came to Macomb from Woodstock, Conn., in the fall of 1854, to teach in the old McDonough County College, Rev. J. Pillsbury being at that time president of the institution, and she continued teaching until her marriage, for a part of the time being connected with the public schools, and becoming one of the most widely known teachers in McDonough County. She still resides in Macomb and retains in her possession the records of the historic old college with which she was connected fifty years ago.

In politics, Mr. Bailey was an old-time Whig, and afterward a Republican. Religiously, he was a member of the Presbyterian Church in Macomb, with which he united one year after its organization on June 9, 1832, and in which he was an elder for about forty years. He was a man of marked intelligence, high character and genial temperament, and his influence was always exerted for good. He was one of the most substantial and useful of the early residents of Macomb.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907. Submitted by Joanne Scobee Morgan <>

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