The Baileys of Drummond Island

Drummond Island was settled by Daniel Murray Seaman and family in 1853. In 1880, George Warren Bailey and family came to Drummond and soon the two families were united and became part of the history of Drummond Island.

In 1999, Jill Lowe Brumwell (a Bailey descendent) wrote a series of articles about the Bailey family of Drummond Island and these were published in a local newspaper, The Evening News. An index to the entire series of eight articles is here.

The Bailey Story: Installment One - Sunday, August 29, 1999

Bailey name prevalent on Drummond Island

By Jill Lowe Brumwell
For The Evening News

Editor's note: Jill Lowe Brumwell is the daughter of Kathryne Bailey Lowe and, in a series of articles, is recounting the trials, tribulations and triumphs of one of the earliest of families to settle Drummond Island.

Drummond Settlement - Historic Drummond Island is located off the eastern tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It covers 136 square miles (the third largest fresh water island in the world) and is reached by ferry service from the village of DeTour. It means many things to those who were raised there, live there, have summer homes, or the one time vacationer; and everyone knows the Bailey family is a large part of the history of Drummond Island.

To the members of the Bailey family: The year 2000 is not just the Millennium, it is the 120th anniversary of the Bailey's arrival on Drummond Island. George Warren Bailey, first of all the Drummond Island Baileys, came to the island with his family to make his new home. And, since 1880 Drummond Island has never been without a Bailey.

Research indicates that the Drummond Island Baileys are descendants of John Bailey, born 1590, an immigrant who was shipwrecked at Penaquid (now Bristol, Maine), in a great storm on Aug. 15, 1635. He came from Chippenham, England, and was a weaver by trade.

He settled first in Newbury, Mass. in the vicinity of Parker River. He built a log cabin and with one man, William Scholar, made a living by fishing and farming. The sole right of fishing in the Powow River was granted to him in exchange for a certain portion of the fish taken given to the town. In 1639, the settlement of Clochester, later called Salisbury, began.

On the list of names of those who had lots granted to them is the name John Bailey Sr. It has been shown by old deeds that his homestead lot was situated on the banks of the Merrimac running to that river on the westerly and to the Powow on the northerly side, It comprised about 50 acres.

John Bailey left a wife Lydia, son Robert and two more daughters in England. A son, John II, came with him and daughter Johanna. John II married Mary Mighill.

In 1651, John Sr. was sentenced by the court to return to England by the next vessel or send for his wife to come over to him, but the order was never obeyed and he died soon after. He left his home in Salisbury to his son John II, during his lifetime, then to the later son John III. He gave his daughter Johanna, wife of William Huntley, a house and five acres of land. To his son Robert and daughters, 10 pounds each if they came over from England; 5 pounds each if they did not. He died Nov. 3, 1651. John III married Mehitible Center.

Their son, John Bailey IV was born in 1700 and married Ann Marmoy. John Bailey V was born in 1740 and later married Sarah Emerson. Their son William H. Bailey was born in 1790 and married Betsy Hill. William and Betsy Hill Bailey's children were Frank, Henry, Francis Avery, Gusta, Clara, and George Warren.

It was in Alexandria, N.H. on Jan. 16, 1843 that George Warren Bailey was born. Almost everyone called him Warren. Bailey worked in the shipyards near Boston in his early life. He later served in the Union Army in Tennessee. When the war was over he decided to go lumbering in Wisconsin, where he met and married Cornelia Edgerton from Hartford, Conn. The couple lived in Door County, Wisc. at Fish Creek and Bailey's Harbor where he fished and lumbered. They moved to Drummond with six children, Minnie, 10; Alton (Ben), 7; Warren, 5; Marshall, 4; Jessie, 2; and Blanche, 1. A son named Guy died in Wisconsin and is buried there.

Great stands of pine and hardwood lured the Baileys to Drummond Island in 1880. They sailed out of Sturgeon Bay aboard the Goodrich Transit steamer, Oconto, which had been built in the Manitowoc eight years earlier. It was no time before the eight Baileys were deposited on a dock at Cheyboygan, Mich.

There they boarded a second steamer and proceeded to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. from where they embarked on a third vessel, sailed back down the St. Mary's and disembarked at the quarry dock (by Yacht Haven). Traveling to Drummond Island via established transportation lines wasn't easy in the old days and traveling from one part of the island to another wasn't easy, either.

The Bailey family arrived at the Drummond Island settlement and was greeted by the Seaman family who had been island residents for 27 years. The Daniel Murray Seaman family had made their home on the island since 1853. Daniel Murray died in 1863, leaving his wife Betsy Grandy Seaman to raise their large family.

The Bailey family remained in the settlement for three days, sheltered in a log house owned by Don Seaman. George Warren was fortunate enough to hire Elias H. Jones, an up-and-coming DeTour sailor, to carry his family around to their destination, Warner's Cover on Drummond's south shore.

Today, a good road leads due south out of the settlement, and Warner's Cove, only six miles distant, can be reached by automobile in ten minutes or less. But in 1880, that road was little more than a swath through the timber, extending only to the Channel Road, then leading west toward old Fort Drummond and DeTour Passage. The four miles lying between the Huron shore and the island's present "four corners" may as well have been 400 miles, so formidable a barrier to travel did they represent. The Baileys, carried to Warner's Cover by DeTour's "Ly" Jones, were compelled to travel about 25 miles by water to reach a spot only six miles distant. The three sons and three daughters brought to Drummond 120 years ago, represented less than half of their ultimate family. Eight more children - four boys and four girls - were destined to be born on the island.

G. Warren Bailey was as "downeast" as the Boston Commons. He was a tall man at least six feet, weighed close to 190 pounds, and held his frame as rigid as a ramrod. His ways must have been rigid, too, for there are stories of him walking through the woods complete with hat, necktie and "Sunday" shoes.

When he spoke, it was with the characteristically broad vowels of old Boston. His wife was cut from the same cloth. Born Cornelia Edgerton in the state of Connecticut in 1853, she was 27 when she and her family came to Drummond in 1880. Mrs. Bailey was an accountant, so in addition to her motherly duties, she kept the Bailey books and served as business head of the Bailey enterprises.

Those enterprises, incidentally, must have kept her busy, because her husband, attracted by all the "government land" available on Drummond Island at $1.25 an acre, had accumulated a lot of property to manage. The Baileys had two partners, and operated under the name Smith, Bailey & Miner. However, neither Smith nor Miner remained on the island long enough to settle down. G. Warren and Cornelia Bailey found themselves lumbering, fishing and doing a bit of hunting, trapping, and carpentry strictly on their own.

Bailey had enough money to enable him to start a lumber camp, buy the teams of horses, wagons, sleighs, saws and axes for the operation. He built a snug cabin to house the lumberjacks where he provided good food and good pay for the workers in the camp.

Cornelia Bailey made the clothes for the children and embroidery work for the decorations at their home. She was a good cook and there was always good food on the table; venison and bear meat when beef was not available. She took care of the chickens and worked in the garden. Whenever her family or a neighbor was sick, she was there ministering to their needs. She also was present to help with the laying-out if death visited a neighbor's house.

By 1880, several families resided on Drummond Island. Many had come because of the quarry (by Yacht Harbor) that was quarrying stone for the canal being built at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The Baileys fit right in to this close community of those who helped out each other. It was the hey-day of wood bees and barn raising. If fire destroyed a home, willing hands would be there with material and labor to rebuild it.

Heat for the winter and refrigeration for the summer were also major concerns. The products were there, one just had to harvest them. Several folks banded together to harvest huge blocks of ice from the frozen bay. The huge crystal blocks of ice were insulated with layers of saw-dust, easy to come by at the saw mill. The only expense was a few gallons of gasoline for the old-fashioned hand-operated ice saw. A large supply of wood was cut in a wood lot, then hauled to a destination.

The Bailey family were valued members of the community. They were energetic, high-spirited, loved to play pranks, laugh, joke, and were great storytellers.