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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
James M. Bailey
(Reprinted from the History of Randolph and Macon Counties, 1884)
For more than threescore years this excellent citizen and industrious and progressive farmer has been a resident of Macon county, and during the whole period of his activity has been busily and productively connected with the industries that formed the foundation and have aided materially in building the superstructure of the county’s wealth, commercial greatness, and intellectual and moral standing. His whole life to this time has been passed in the county and he may safely be taken as a representative of its people, for he is thoroughly imbued with their spirit and in line, actively and practically, with all their worthy aspirations.
Mr. Bailey was born in Macon County on February 26, 1849, and is a son of Joseph and Elvira (Lovern) Bailey, natives of Virginia and early residents of this state. The father came to Missouri in 1830, and located in Macon County in 1846. He was married on March 25, 1848, and by his marriage became the father of ten children, nine of whom reached maturity, and eight of these are still living: James, the subject of this memoir; Elizabeth, the wife of E. A. Fletcher, who lives in Iowa; Rebecca, the wife of W. S. Hawkins, of Clarence, Missouri; Susan, the wife of D. W. Edwards, whose home is at Ethel, Missouri; Angeline, the wife of Henry Busher, who resides in Springfield, Illinois; J.M. and W.T., citizens of Elmer, and Lula, the wife of Angus Teskey, of Boulder, Montana. The father died on January 28, 1895, and the mother on April 14, 1905.
James Bailey grew to manhood on his father’s farm, and when he could be spared from its exacting claims and duties, attended the district school in the neighborhood. The country was yet somewhat in the condition of the frontier and its reduction to productiveness and a systematic yield of the fruits of farming, which would contribute to the sustenance of the people and had a market value, required every force that was available and left the boys and girls of the time very limited opportunities to attend even the common or local schools, to say nothing of those devoted to what is called higher education. After leaving school Mr. Bailey still continued to work on the farm with his father until he attained his majority. He then tried his hand in mercantile life by working as a clerk and salesman in a store for one year, devoting himself earnestly to the duties of his position and trying to get up sufficient enthusiasm over it to make it overcome his inclination to farming, which he still felt potential and urgent within him.
But Nature had fitted him well for one kind of a career and she stubbornly resisted his attempts to work himself up in another. The store experiences, full of variety and incident as they were, did not satisfy him, and after what he considered a fair trial of them he abandoned the effort to make them attractive and again turned his attention to tilling the soil and the pursuits allied with that. He has adhered to them ever since, and they have rewarded his fidelity with a competence for life and high standing in the county as a farmer of capacity and progressiveness and a citizen worthy of general esteem and commendation.”
Mr. Bailey is a Democrat in political faith and he makes his faith show in steady, effective and appreciated service for his party. He is always expected to take the field for its candidates then the tocsin sounds, and he never disappoints the expectation. In party work and in his general demeanor, he has shown capacity for public affairs and this has led to his being called to the administration of several township offices of trust and responsibility. He was township collector and township clerk for several terms, and was also a member of the school board for about three years. His services in these several positions were beneficial to the township and received the approval of the people. He based them on intelligence and breadth of view and conducted his work in rendering them with vigor, regularity, strict integrity and a considerate regard for the interests and feelings of all who were concerned in them.
In the fraternal life of the community Mr. Bailey has also taken an active and helpful interest. His religious connection is with the Christian church. On September 7, 1875, he was joined in marriage with Miss Honor Williams, who was born and reared in this state. All of the children born to them are living. They are: Amanda, the wife of J. D. Green, of Ethel; Allan, who resides at Elmer; Rebecca J., the wife of W. C. Sears, who lives in the same town; Stella, the wife of Otis Wright of Elmer, and Paul, who is still at home with his parents. In January, 1910, Mr. Bailey became the owner of the only hardware stock in Elmer, to which he is now giving his attention in connection with his farming.
(Author’s note) “James was a young man while the Civil War was raging. On Aug 9, 1862, a skirmish occurred between Confederate and Union forces on the family farm near Walnut Creek in Macon County. James, at the ages of twelve, sat on a high hill on the Bailey farm and observed the battle. He remarked that it seemed as if the two sides would mingle in the evening, playing cards and such, and then fight the next day. This seems unlikely, considering the bitter feelings between the two sides that has been chronicled in so much of the Civil War literature. Of course, this was early in the conflict, so perhaps it as James remembered it. It was two years later that his father, Joseph, joined the confederate forces for a seven month stint.”