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 Five - Sunday, September 26, 1999

Drummond Baileys met in Wisconsin, born in the east

By Jill Lowe Brumwell
For The Evening News

Drummond Island - It was January 16, 1843 in Alexandria, N.H., when the last child of Wm. and Betsy Hill Bailey was born. He joined their other children, Frank, Henry, Francis Avery, Gusta and Clara, and was named George Warren. He was called Warren.

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Her father eventually remarried. Other children in the family were Addie, Vira, and Geradr.

While Cornelia was growing up, a young Warren was working in the shipyards near Boston. He later served in the union Army in Tennessee. When the war was over he decided to go lumbering in Wisconsin. In a few years, G. Warren had made a name for himself in the lumbering business. In the late 1860's young Cornelia arrived from Connecticut. She was well educated, for that era, and began working in the office of a large lumbering company where she met Warren. George Warren Bailey and Cornelia Edgerton had a lot in common. It was like they were cut from the same cloth. Both were born and raised in the east and came from families with the same values. It wasn't long and the two married.

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Jessie Naomi in 1879, and Blanche Bernice in 1880. Sometime before the last children were born, Warren and Cornelia made plans to leave Bailey's Harbor, Wisc. They were attracted to Drummond by all the "government land" available at $1.25 an acre.

Bailey had joined forces with two other men and were to operate under the name Smith, Bailey and Miner. The trio traveled to Drummond Island and upon seeing the great stands of pine and hardwood, began purchasing land.

Bailey returned to Wisconsin. Despite six children, one a newborn, Warren and Cornelia packed up and boarded the steamer Oconto, bound for Cheboygan. The family would travel on four vessels before they reached their crude log cabin home at Warner's Cove.

The first thing the partners built on Drummond Island was a flume between Pat's Lake and Warner's Cove. This was used to carry the logs out to the shore.

Though this was over 100 years ago, the remains of the old flume can still be seen. The family lived in the log cabin on the cover until they moved to a place inland that is still known as Bailey's farm, and lumbered that area, living there many years before building a house in the settlement.

Jessie Naomi Bailey (1879-1941) was born in Fish Creek, Wisc. on May 21, 1879. She was the second to the youngest of the six Bailey children to arrive on Drummond Island.

The Bailey household was a lively household. Jessie's first home on the island was at Warner's Cove. Her mother taught the youngsters until a school was constructed. The Bailey townhouse was built in the settlement to be closer to the school when it was built on the Town Line across from the island cemetery.

From the cradle to the grave, the community depended on one another. Certain saintly women were always available for confinements, disasters, and the last illnesses. They may have sworn like troopers, been a little on the "fast side" or were slovenly housekeepers, but when there was an emergency they descended like angels upon the stricken household.

Many a man limbered up his snow shoes and tramped through the snow to summon help. Folds took turns sitting up nights with the sick and the dying - replenishing the fires, wiping brows, administering medicine, food and tender loving care. Other neighbors took in small children for the duration and others sent over food for the patient and family.

If death came, there were certain ones in the community, mostly women who came to "lay out the body" wash, dress and prepare it for the grave. Certain men were adept at making wooden caskets, each one tailor-made. Others sewed and lined the inside and covered the outside with fabric.

If it was summer, spring or fall, wild flowers or garden-grown blooms were made in to bouquets. In winter, everyone robbed their blossoming geraniums and other house plants. Sometimes a simple cedar wreath was laid on the fresh mounded soil.

Transportation to the cemetery was often by wagon. If it was nearby, the pall-bearers carried the casket; and lowered it into the ground. At one time there was a hourse-drawn hearse on the Island.

Jessie grew up on Drummond Island, married Nelson Fisher, and took part in the young married women's activities.

The ladies got together for quilting bees, rag bees and sewing circles. A rag bee was where ladies tore or cut old garments, that could no longer be utilized as clothing, into long strips. Others sewed matching strips into longer lengths while others would roll them into balls.

Later there balls, divided into cotton, wool, or silk were taken to a Finish lady who wove them into lovely strips of carpet or scatter rugs, weaving a colorful warp through them and tying the ends into long fringes. Fancy work, as it was called, occupied the hands during leisure time, whether it was embroidery, tatting, knitting or crocheting. Sweaters, socks and mittens were home products.

Jessie and Nelson Fisher had six children, Victor, Emmet, Lillian, Minnie, Merril and Shirley Jo (Girlie). They were one of the young families that were part of the Drummond Island community.

During those years, they enjoyed the large Bailey get-togethers that were sometimes held at the Bailey farm or the Bailey house in the settlement.

However, early in their marriage, Jessie and Nelson decided to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

Like here brother, Ben, she moved to Washington where she lived most of her life and died there at the age of 63.