Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Bailey Family

Samuel A. Bailey
Sometimes the most enjoyable research is the stuff that comes out of the blue, and ends up somewhere you never thought it would go. A few days ago, commenter M.S. left a few stories and a few questions over on the Forum, so I decided to take what I thought would be a quick look and give a quick answer. The innocent question that sent me off involved an old woman named "Miz Bailey", who the commenter's brother remembered as living in an old house in the woods near Hercules Road and Newport Gap Pike. I figured that if I was lucky, I might be able to find her in a census and uncover her full name. I didn't expect, however, to be digging back over 200 years, and clearing up a few questions about some old maps along the way.

To get right to the answer to the question first, "Miz Bailey" was in fact Margaret Mabel Bailey, who died unmarried in 1953. The house in which she lived her entire life, and which never had electricity, was located a few hundred yards east of Newport Gap Pike, and south of Hercules Road. I can't be sure exactly what house she was residing in, but it's likely that it was one that had been in her family for well over 100 years by the time of her death. The Bailey family's history in Mill Creek Hundred goes back even further, at least three generations prior to Mabel and 150 years before her passing.

The first Bailey I can pin into MCH is Amor Bailey, who shows up first on the 1804 tax assessment of the hundred. While (as you would figure) I found him in the 1810 census, I could not locate Amor in 1800 in MCH. This means either I or the enumerator missed him, or more likely he first arrived in MCH sometime between 1800 and 1804. He and his wife Joanna had at least two children (and probably more), beginning not long after 1804. Although I haven't found any marriage information for them, my guess is that they wed and moved somewhere in this 1800-1804 timeframe. Trying to figure out exactly where people were using early census data is tricky at best, but in 1810 and 1820 Amor and his wife Joanna seem to be farther west in the hundred, possibly somewhere between Corner Ketch and Milford Crossroads (this however, is about as clear as the lyrics to Louie, Louie). In 1830, though, it appears that he may have moved into the area north of Brandywine Springs.

Among the other children in the Bailey household, there were at least two sons -- James and John. These sons would carry on the Bailey name in the area for years to come. James Bailey (1806-1863) married Margaret Peeky (daughter of another local family) in 1832 and had several children. One of those was Samuel Amor Bailey (1839-1919), the man in the photo above, and the father of Mabel Bailey. The other son, John Bailey (1808-1896), also married and remained in the area. Where they lived can be deduced by looking at the old maps, and it seems to imply that what might have been Amor's original house is still standing (I don't have a death date for him, but he seems to have died between 1830 and 1840).

Faulkland Area, 1849

Faulkland Area, 1868
Since James married first, it would make sense that he would move out of the family home and erect his own, while John, who probably didn't marry until after his father's death, would remain in the older house. The maps seem to bear this out. Unfortunately, the 1849 map gives only first initials, making it impossible to distinguish between James and John. By 1868, though, James has died, and his son Samuel is shown on the map in a house to the east of Hyde Run, near the Woolen Factory of Henry Clark. John is shown in a house to the west of Newport Gap Pike, presumably one built by, or at least bought by, his father Amor Bailey. This house still stands on Wordsworth Dr. in the development of Hyde Park. Samuel's house, possibly the one Mabel Bailey lived in until the '50s, has been lost.* See "New Find" below.

Margaret Peeky Bailey, wife of James Bailey

After John's death in 1896, and his wife Elizabeth's the same year, it appears that the house and farm may have been taken over by their son Thompson (1863-1941). In later censuses, the unmarried Thompson is shown living with his widowed sister Virginia Garrett, his sister Sarah Brackin, her husband Watson, and their children. Who lived in the house after Thompson's death, I don't know.

Jennie Bailey (kneeling), with cousin Margaret Stotsenburg Hulett
On the other side of the road, Samuel Bailey continued to work his farm until his death in 1919. In 1920, his widow Jennie Bailey (1845-1921) is presumably living in the same house with her daughter Margaret Mabel. Mabel remained in the house after her mother's death the following year, and stayed until her own passing in 1953. Later maps show Samuel as also owning a house slightly to the northeast of the one on the above maps. Maybe M.S. remembers whether Mabel lived in this house or the older one deeper in the woods. Presumably, any carriage house found in those woods would have been built either by James or Samuel Bailey, or by Henry Clarke, depending on where exactly it was. (Clarke's woolen mill will hopefully be the subject of a future post, too.)

I want to thank M.S. for starting me on this investigation, and exposing me to a family I had yet to delve into. I think it's a fascinating link from the old MCH to the new. In the 1950's, well into the era of suburbanization in the region, you had a woman whose father was born in 1839 living in a secluded house in the woods with no electricity. It's always fun to see where one little vague memory can take us. And I hope that gives you a little insight into who old Miz Bailey was.

New Find (11/29/11):

It didn't quite seem enough to justify a whole new post, but a picture I found (you can zoom out with the buttons on the upper left) on the Hagley website seems to show the Bailey house in 1939. The picture is of the Brandywine Sanitarium (Emily Bissell Hospital), and looks east across Newport Gap Pike. Amongst the trees on the far side of the road you can see a white house. I'm fairly certain that this is the house owned by James and Samuel Bailey, and at the time of the picture occupied by Mabel.

Bailey House, 1939. Newport Gap Pike in foreground.

Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
  • James Bailey was a mechanic in Henry Clarke's woolen mill.
  • The Baileys, Peekys, and Huletts were all members of Red Clay Presbyterian Church, and many of them are buried there, including almost everyone mentioned in the post.
  • I haven't been able to verify it, but I think the land for Emily Bissell Hospital may have been purchased from the Bailey family (either them or the Yearsleys). On the other hand, when the first TB sanitarium was built, the Baileys were apparently concerned about the possibility of infection spreading through Hyde Run and into their cattle, who drank from the creek.
  • Samuel Bailey attended the Media Classical Institute, a Presbyterian-affiliated school in Pennsylvania.
  • The description of Mabel Bailey as "an old woman living in the woods without electricity or running water" may tend to imply that she was "out of touch" and uneducated. Neither is true. She was educated (as were the Baileys in general -- see above) and enjoyed opera. Mabel had a battery-powered radio with which she listened to the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoons.
  • Mabel was offered good money to sell her property (presumably from Hercules), but refused to part with her family home.


  1. I've added some additional information at the end of the post. It's not uncommon for me to come across more info after I publish, or to have relevant facts that I just can't fit comfortably into the narrative of the post. Rather than put them in comments that might get overlooked, I think I might start making "Additional Facts and Related Thoughts" a regular addition to posts. I'll comment on the post that I've added something when I do. But, I promise not to use an acronym for it.

  2. The Baily/Bailey family in Mill Creek Hundred most likely descended from Joel Baily, a Quaker, who came from Bromham, Wiltshire, England and ended up in Chester County about 1682. The family proliferated in Chester County and some of the kids eventually made it to Mill Creek Hundred,a short hop, skip, and a jump! I'm not sure where Samuel Amor Bailey fits in but, my guess is that he was a descendent of Joel Baily.

  3. Thanks for the tip. I'll have to look into it.

  4. I've added a link and close-up of an aerial photo that I believe shows the Bailey house in 1939, while Mabel was living there. I just love examining old pictures for hidden little gems like this.

  5. The house where Miss Bailey lived towards the end of her life was in the woods south of Hercules Road. My older brother remembers the house (it was either demolished or collapsed after her death), and our neighbor, whose property adjoined the woods, would visit her there.
    When I was a teenager, I found the remains of a house there - just some foundations and some door and window frames - not much more than a shack, from the size. I also found some 19th century patent medicine bottles buried near there, and an apple tree that was still living, if not bearing fruit. I assume that this was the house. An excellent place to be a recluse - much better than right off Newport Gap Pike.

    The woods extended from behind property owned by residents of Hercules Road to right behind the Home for the Blind, and property that evidently belonged to the Sanitarium on the other side. From what I can see on the maps site, it has mostly disappeared.
    I wonder why she chose to live in the woods as a recluse?

  6. I lived along the woods in Brandywine Springs when I was growing up and have now moved back into the house I grow up in. The foundation I think you are talking about has been destroyed because of a new sewer line for the neighborhoods on hercules road. There were other foundations and stone walls that were in those woods also but have been bulldozed under for the new neighborhood (Greenville Overlook).

    1. you are right take old drive way back from 41 takes by old pump station follow the sew line goes right nthrough the house foundation in wooded hill