Josiah Bryant Bailey was born Oct 23, 1835, near Door Village, LaPorte County, Ind. He was the son of Pioneer John Bailey, who was born in Virginia about 1800 and settled near Door Village in 1832.
Josiah's mother was Matilda Bryant Bailey, born Sept. 25, 1812, in Virginia and reared in Sullivan County, Ind., who moved to LaPorte County in 1832. She married John Bailey in 1833.
Josiah's brother was Simon T. (1838-1918) and his sister was Mary E. (1834-1907), who married Thomas Hamilton.
Sometime after Josiah's father died on a horseback trip to Ohio in the 1830's, his mother married an early Lake County settler named Reuben Chapman (1810-1890). Rueben and Matilda were parents of a son named Oren Lemuel Chapman, who lived most of his life in Kansas.
Reuben Chapman came to Cook County, Ill., in 1831 and to Lake County, Ind. in 1834. He brought Matilda and her young son, Josiah Bryant Bailey, to Lake County before 1848. There were few people here then as the 1850 census showed 715 families in all of Lake County.
It is presumed that Josiah received his schooling and learned farming while living with his grandfather Bryant in Pulaski County, and while with his mother and stepfather in Lake County. In 1857 he married Nancy E. Kile (1838-1876), the daughter of Sarah and John Kile and the granddaughter of Abraham and Margaret Lafler, who settled near Lowell in 1837.
About the time of his marriage, Josiah acquired land in Yellowhead township, Kankakee County, Ill., just west of Sherburnville and north of the road to Grant Park. It is believed he worked somewhere for wages to earn money to purchase the land, or his stepfather, Reuben Chapman, may have had money to loan him at the start.
Quoting Elliot Buse from his writings, "The Bailey's," "he obviously was a hard worker considering the amount of land he acquired, starting practically from scratch. Of course, he had the help of his three sons part of the way. Many times I have heard it remarked that "J B" and his boys worked awfully hard to get their land."
Historian Ball writes that "Josiah Bailey's life was of that sturdy, upright character such as stands as its own justification and is the mark of the career of a good citizen." He was very interested in all that concerned the welfare of his community in West Creek Township, serving as township supervisor for a time, and he sponsored the building of gravel roads in the area.
"J B" Bailey spent many years as a cattle farmer, buying western cattle in Chicago, driving them to the West Creek farm where they were dehorned and put to pasture, and later in the feed lot. When fattened on the year's hay and corn crop, the herd would be driven back to Chicago and sold. Two or three days drive were required for the trip, and fire arms were carried for fear of holdups.
When the Monon Railroad came thru Lowell, the long over-the-road drives came to an end. This was the time when "J B" expanded his operations.
In 1860 there was a huge wheat crop due to the ideal weather in the New West. At the same time there were crop failures in Europe for several years. Wheat was $1.23 a bushel in 1861. Beef cattle sold for $7.75 cwt in 1861, then rose to $15 in 1865 due to the Civil War years. Horses also sold at premium prices at that time.
The Bailey Ditch, which empties into the Singleton Ditch, was dug soon after 1882, using horses and slip scrapers. It took care of 400 acres of the Bailey land and was several miles long. This was a big undertaking and very costly at the time. It is interesting to note here that the first wagon bridge in Lake County was built across the Kankakee River in 1889.
The children of Josiah and Nancy Bailey were Levi Elroy, Charles T., Grace and George Bryant.
Levi Elroy, known as "Roy," was born in 1858 and was married in 1880 to Emma Hayden, daughter of Daniel and Louise Hayden. Their children were Nancy, Murray, Merritt and Bennett. Levi engaged in farming in Kankakee County, Ill., for three years, then in West Creek. In 1902 he was elected to the office of Lake County Treasurer and moved to Crown Point, where he took an active part in local political affairs.
Levi and Emma's daughter Nancy married Loren Love and their children were Robert, Ruby and Ethel.
Their son Murray married Elsie Ohlenkamp and their children were Betty and Shirley.
Levi's son, Merritt, was married to Bernice Sharp, and their daughter is Phyllis Bailey Grubb. Bennett Bailey's two sons are Bill and Roy.
Charles was known to be a practical agriculturist and was highly successful in raising prize livestock and coach horses. He devoted much time and money to raising the grade of cattle to a high standard in this county and was prominent in livestock and fair circles. Charles married Tillie E. Grimes in 1888. Their children were B. May, Ray, Earl and Hilda.
Son Ray married Edith Atkinson and their children were Forrest, Francis, John and Louise. Earl married Alice Atkinson, sister of Edith, and their six children were Charles A., Mary Glenn, Donald, Jewel, Margaret and Barbara. Hilda married Frank Strickland, Jr., and their two children were Sigrid and Dawn.
Charles Bailey's wife Tillie died in 1897 and in 1899 he married Esther Starkweather from Michigan. The Charles Bailey farm was known as the Lanthus Stock Farm, the same name given to the post office established there in 1890. The post office existed until the time rural free delivery mail service was started from Lowell after 1900. The farm and post office were named after a tree growing nearby.
Josiah's daughter, Mary Grace, was born in 1867 and was educated in Lake County schools. On Dec. 21, 1887, she was married to Adelbert Barhite, and their son, Ceylon A. was born in 1888. In 1895 Grace married Fred T. Buse, a native of Dubuque, Iowa.
They had one son, Elliot E. Buse, who later wrote the family history entitled "The Bailey's of West Creek." Much of the information for this month's column was taken from his writings.
Fred Buse was a railroad man, and also had an interest in the LaCrosse Leather Co. for a short time. He and Grace then returned to Lake County to successfully farm the old Bailey homestead known as the Hickory Grove Farm.
Josiah's son, George Bryant Bailey, was born in West Creek Twp. in 1870. He grew up and was educated in Lake County schools and at Valparaiso College. After returning from college, he became a partner with his father in the business of buying and feeding cattle. In 1891 he married Julia Foster (1872-1961), who was born in Parker, Kansas. George and Julia had one son, Leon Lamont Bailey born in 1892.
The Rev. T.H. Ball, historian, wrote the following about George B. Bailey: "He is an agriculturist and a man whose standing as a staunch businessman is unquestioned." George loved to hunt and fish and was a great horseman. The writer of this column can remember watching him expertly judge horse shows in the 1920's. He enjoyed an extensive western horse back hunting trip with his wife Julia.
When the Lowell National Bank was organized in 1903, he became Secretary and then soon after was elected Vice President. At that same time, F.E. Nelson was President and B.H. Wood was Ass't. Cashier.
George B. Bailey held the post of President of the Bank until his death in 1949. His "Diamond Farm" for many years had been well cared for by his son Leon, who married Fern Pletcher in 1914. Like his father, Leon ran a successful farm and was also associated with the Lowell National Bank, as a director. Leon and Fern's only child, Helen P., is married to Ray McIntire and they now operate the Diamond Farm. The McIntires assisted with information for this month's story.
Josiah Bryant Bailey died Nov. 25, 1902. He was in ill health for several years before his death, but a few months before he died he made his first trip to the east. He wanted to see Washington and after some weeks there, became severely ill. On the way home he was taken to the hospital at Parkersburg, West Virginia, for several days, but died not long after arriving home.
Some of the information for this month's column was taken from the following: "Bailey's of West Creek" by Elliot Buse, 1968; "Encycopedia of Genology and Biography of Lake County 1834-1904" by Rev.T.H. Ball; "Souvenir Album of Lake County, 1906" loaned by James Baker; "Hayden Family Record" written by Thuel A. Hayden.