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 Six - Sunday, October 17, 1999

First Bailey Child Born on Drummond Island was Alda Anne

By Jill Lowe Brumwell
For The Evening News

Drummond Island - George Warren and Cornelia Edgerton Bailey came to Drummond in 1880 with six children. A son Guy Newell died at the age of 3 before the family left Wisconsin. Although George and Cornelia met and married in Wisconsin they were both originally from the East. George Warren Bailey was from New Hampshire and Cornelia Edgerton from Connecticut. By 1880, when they arrived here, they had brought seven of their 15 children into this world.

Their eighth child, Alda Anne, the first Bailey child born on Drummond Island, was born at the Bailey's lumber camp on Dawson Lake, near the plains, deep in the virgin forest of the island in section 19. Alda spent virtually all her 96 years on the island. She was preceded by seven children and followed by seven more.

Alda was capable of keeping up with her older siblings. However, one day when the older boys were doing hand-springs, she fell flat on her face amidst the laughter and jeers from the boys. Determined to learn how to do hand-springs she secretly practiced. The day came when the boys were showing off. "I can do that too." Alda announced. "Bet you a dollar you can't" the boys said. Much to their surprise, and chagrin, Alda performed beautifully. She sent her dollar to detour for chocolate creams. Now for that amount of money, in those days, Alda received about a peck of chocolate creams. She shared her hard earned prize with no one and ate them all herself. Though she lived to be 96 she never ate another chocolate cream.

Alda grew up with a rugged pioneer generation that asked nor expected little; only to be allowed the freedom to shape their own destiny and make a living in their favorite habit.

Doing the outdoor work was more her style than housework and even after her marriage she combined housework with trapping, hunting, fishing and farming. She was known for her skill in setting traps and accuracy in shooting a rifle. After her marriage it was she who provided her family with game, duck, venison and bear.

She married her first cousin Lewis, the son of Francis Bailey and James Cloudman, who was born in New Hampshire and came to the island via Australia. They pioneered down by the Potagannissing River.

Their farm yielded them a comfortable living, where they raised sheep, cattle and hogs, and grew crops on the rich river-bottom soil. The marshes of the Potagannissing River was the source of a rich harvest of muskrat, mink and beaver pelts each year. Maxton Bay was a super fishing ground at their doorstep with woods on the other three sides.

Alda was the idol of her many nephews who learned the lore of the woods from her. More familiar with the ways of the woods and waters than most men, Alda Cloudman earned the reputation of being, "The woman who wasn't afraid of anything."

Alda began hunting with her father while a child. She slew her first bear when she was 17 and a count showed her total bear kill exceeded 80. She thought nothing of stowing a frying pan, a blanket, and a few victuals into a backpack and setting out on a two or three day trek through the wilderness.

On these occasions - all alone - she'd find a spot to spend the night. For many years, Alda Cloudman was perhaps the only woman hunting and fishing guide in the state of Michigan.

Alda inherited her mother's artistic talent and besides painting animals she painted her brother Marshall's portrait in oils. She was also a skilled taxidermist. Many of her trophies are on display on the island.

Alda sometimes hunted with Herman Adams who was more or less a hermit and lived near her on Drummond Island. One fall, he caught a bear in a trap, and for some reason he wanted to "bring it home alive." He enlisted Alda's help in getting it out of the woods. He bear's hind foot was in the trap connected with a chain to a tree.

They got a rope around the bruin's neck and Herman elected to lead it with Alda on the trap-line. All went well with Herman breaking trail, with the lines on the bear stretched between them, until Alda never adverse to a playing a prank, began to walk a little faster than Herman, letting her line go slack and of course the bear began to gain on Herman.

When he felt the animal getting a little too close for comfort he would call out, "By the Judas, Aldie get a hold of that rope; he almost got a nip of me, that time!" The episode was repeated a few times, but Herman and the bear made it safely home.

She was a superb storyteller. Her niece, Bernice Holmes, recalled one evening at the family homestead sitting around the parlor, with plates of homemade candy, telling ghost stories. She said, "Aunt Alda was the best teller of ghost tales."

The Cloudman sons, Jim and Bailey, followed their parents' footsteps as outdoor men. The island was their "oyster" and they covered every foot of it.

Alda Anne Bailey, 1882-1978, was born on Dec. 8, 1882 and married Lewis Cloudman in 1924. Their children were James Lewis, and Bailey.

James married Helen McLeod and their children were Lewis, who drowned at the age of six, Sandra, James Lewis, and Gary Warren. Bailey married Margaret Clever and had two children, Virgina and Bruce.

The old river farm, which was pioneered by James and Frances Cloudman, parents of Alda's husband Lewis, is still in the family. Current owners are fourth generation and their children the fifth generation on the property.