BAILEY, Gen Joel., was born in Pennís Manor, Bucks county, Pa., on September 26, 1789. His parents, Joseph and Lydia Bailey, were Quakers. His ancestors were among the original settlers of Pennsylvania, coming from England in 1682.
He learned the trade of a blacksmith in his native county, and in 1810 removed to and settled in the then little village of Harrisburg. He was an active, intelligent, enterprising young man, who started in the world "on his own hook" and to make his fortune. He established a blacksmith shop on the site of the Hotel Columbus, opposite the present postoffice building, at the corner of Third and Walnut streets, Harrisburg, more than eighty years ago, and for many years did all the important work in his line of business in this section. Much of the iron work of the old State capitol was manufactured or done under his supervision. Subsequently he was largely engaged in contract work. He was one of the principal men in the construction of the Chesapeake and Delaware canal, the Wiconisco Feeder, the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, the Cumberland Valley railroad, and the Gettysburg or so-called "Tape Worm" railroad, building many of its sections and culverts, the latter of which stand to-day as monuments of engineering skill and construction. These are yet to seen in the present Gettysburg and Harrisburg railroad.
From his earliest youth Mr. Bailey was much interested in military affairs. He was first lieutenant in Capt. Richard M. Crainís company, which served in the war of 1812-14, and which marched to the defense of Baltimore under the command of Gen. John Forster, of Harrisburg, who had charge of the Pennsylvania troops. In 1829 and 1830 he was keeper of the State arsenal under the administration of Governor Wolf, and there are, in the possession of his son, letters referring to orders for guns, ammunition, etc., from George B. Porter, adjutant general and subsequently governor of Michigan Territory under General Jacksonís administration, and subsequently from Simon Cameron, who also served as adjutant general under Governor Wolf. For several years General Bailey served as brigade inspector of the militia of Dauphin county, and was afterwards brigadier general of the troops comprised in Dauphin, Lebanon and Northumberland counties.
For many years General Bailey was prominent in political affairs, having all his life adhered to the principles of the Democratic party. He was the warm, personal and political friend of William Findlay, George Wolf, James Buchanan, David R Porter, Francis R Shunk, Daniel Sturgeon, Judge Samuel D Franks, James R Snowden, William Hopkins, Arnold Plumer, George Sanderson and other worthies of the past. In 1821 he was one of the commissioners to fix the seat of justice of Juniata county, Lewistown being chosen. He was chief burgess of the borough of Harrisburg in 1832, and sered several times as a member of the borough council. While chief burgess he approved an ordinance enacted June 25, 1832, which was also signed by N.B. Wood, president of the council, "authorizing a loan to be applied in improving the streets, lanes and alleys of the borough of Harrisburg." The loan was to be for $20,000, but whether it was ever accomplished there is no record. In 1833 he announced himself as a candidate for the Legislature for Dauphin county, but was not elected owing to the then condition of affairs regarding the Anti-Masonic movement. He was also prominent in Masonic circles, having been for many years a member of Perseverance Lodge, No 21, A.Y.M., of Harrisburg.
General Bailey was a remarkably fine-looking man. He stood about five feet ten inches in height, was straight as an arrow, his shoulders were broad and square, and these were surrounded by a splendid head of brown hair. He wore side whiskers, which gave a pleasant effect to his handsome, intelligent face. He was a superb horseman, and when mounted looked the born soldier. In his manner he was extremely pleasant, and he was the life of every social circle in which he moved. In his actions, public and private, he was generous and benevolent, and his fellow-citizens of all classes were warmly attached to him.
His domestic life was a very happy one. He was married march 10, 1814, to Elizabeth Seidle, of Berks county. He was the father of eight children, six boys and two girls, the only survivor being the youngest, Mr. George Bailey, who still resides at the old homestead, No. 222 Locust street. General Bailey died on the 16th of October, 1845, at the comparatively early age of fifty-six years. His wife survived him thirty years, dying on the 14th of August, 1875, aged eighty-three years.
In all the relations of life, whether as husband, father, citizen or soldier, he bore himself as a man and Christian. His death was a cause for sincere sorrow and mourning, not only in Harrisburg, but throughout the State of Pennsylvania. He was buried with Masonic and civil services, and with the honors of war by the military of Dauphin, county. His remains are interred in the Harrisburg cemetery.
Historical Review of Dauphin County
Date of Transcription: 14 November 2000
Copyright (c) 2000 - All Rights Reserved: Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.