Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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WHEELER, J.H. Vol. II. Pp. 697-98. Lewis Pub. Co. Chicago. 1910


Devoted to the demands of his business and possessing the ability to meet its every requirement, Lee R. Bailey is prominently associated with the advancement of the mercantile interests of Mason City, as president and treasurer of the Bailey Hardware Company being officially connected with one of the foremost business organizations of Cerro Gordo county. A son of the late James A. Bailey, he was born, February 16, 1868, in Davis county, Missouri, on a farm.

A native of Springfield, Illinois, James A. Bailey was born in that city in 1833, and five years later was taken by his parents to Green county, Wisconsin, where he grew to man's estate. During the Civil war he offered his services to his country, enlisting in the Thirty-eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and taking part in many engagements. After taking upon himself the cares of a married man he moved to Davis county, Missouri, where he tilled the soil a few years. Subsequently migrating to Kansas, he took up a homestead claim, and on the farm which he redeemed from the raw prairie he spent his remaining years, dying August 7, 1887. He married Caroline Bush, who was born in LaFayette, Indiana, in 1835, and is now living in Ipswich, South Dakota. Of the five children born of their union four survive, namely: Mrs. Anna Tuttle, of Hamlin, Brown county, Kansas; Arthur L., of Jewell, Kansas; Lee R.; and Olive, wife of Ellsworth Baleh, of Ipswich, South Dakota.

Brought up on the parental homestead in Kansas, Lee R. Bailey received a practical common school education, and as a youth learned the art of telegraphy. Starting out for himself in 1888, after attaining his majority, he accepted a position as telegraph operator on the Missouri Pacific Railroad, afterwards holding similar positions on the Iowa Central, the Northern Pacific and the Milwaukee railways. In 1893, while in the employ of the Iowa Central Railroad Company, Mr. Bailey came to Mason City, Cerro Gordo county, as an operator, and continued with the company in different capacities for nine years, at the time of his resignation, in the spring of 1902, being connected with the traffic department of the passenger and freight division, with office in Mason City.

In August, 1902, making a radical change in the occupation, Mr. Bailey, in partnership with Mr. Raymond, bought out Knopp Hardware Company and continued in business as junior member of the firm of Raymond & Bailey for two years. Mr. Raymond withdrawing from the firm in September, 1904, a stock company was formed and it was incorporated as the Bailey-Downing Hardware Company. Mr. Downing died in 1906, and his share in the business was sold out, and since that time Mr. Bailey has been president and treasurer of the company, whose name was changed in July, 1909, to the Bailey Hardware Company.

On October 10, 1900, Mr. Bailey was united in marriage with Fannie (sic, should be Fanny) B. Harding, who was born in Chautauqua county, New York, October 29, 1870 (sic, 1869 on her gravestone). Her father, George H. Harding was a carpenter by trade, and also a bridge builder. In 1874 he located in Mason City, where he followed railroad carpentry and bridge building for many years, but is now living retired from active pursuits. He married first Cynthia Brightman, the mother of Mrs. Bailey, and after her death, which occurred in 1873, he married for his second wife her sister, Anna Brightman. Mr. and Mrs. Bailey have no children.

Politically Mr. Bailey is a sound Republican. Fraternally he belongs to Benevolence Lodge, NO. 145, A. F. and A. M.; to Benevolence Chapter, No. 46, R. A. M.; to Antioch Commandery, No. 43, K. T.; and to Mason City Lodge, No. 375, B. P. O. E. Religiously Mrs. Bailey is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.

NOTE: Fanny B. (Harding) Bailey died on February 2, 1919, and was interred at Elmwood-St. Joseph, Mason City IA. Lee died on November 10, 1941 and was interred at Memorial Park Cemetery, Mason City IA.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2014



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