Biography of Seth J. Bailey

Seth J. Bailey. The gratifying success which had crowned the efforts of Seth J. Bailey, of Chanute, clearly and emphatically evidence the business skill, perseverance and enterprise of this individual, who had been engaged in business here since the fall of 1900. This is a utilitarian age, one in which advancement and progress come through activity in the industrial and commercial interests of life. There is nothing to which America owes her pre-eminence among the nations of the earth so much as to her inventions, and each year sees additions to the list which bear marked impress upon the world of trade. It is not as an inventor, but as a manufacturer of inventions that Mr. Bailey is known. He had the foresight to see the possibilities of a certain appliance and the courage to back his judgment, and the result had been the building up of one of Chanute’s prominent and substantial business concerns, the Sunshine Mantle Company, manufacturers of incandescent gas mantles.

Mr. Bailey is a native son of Kansas, born in the City of Topeka, May 2, 1868, his parents being Dr. M. and Lanra A. (Jarboe) Bailey. The family is of English origin, and was founded in Pennsylvania prior to the War of the Revolution. William Bailey, the grandfather of Seth J. Bailey, was born in either Pennsylvania or Ohio; at least it is known that be was in the latter state in pioneer days and there was engaged in farming and died before the birth of his grandson. He was of Quaker stock and married a Miss Garrettson, Dr. M. Bailey, the father of Seth J. Bailey, was born near the City of Salem, Ohio, in 1835, and was there reared and educated. As a young man he went to Muncatine, Iowa, in which city he was married, and about the year 1857 came to Kansas and for a time practiced medicine at Emporia, where one of his intimate friends was the late Senator P. B. Plumb. When the Civil war came on he became assistant surgeon of the First Kansas Volunteers, and later was made surgeon of that regiment, remaining with it throughout its various campaigns. Near the close of the war he was in Iowa, and after peace had been declared took up his residence at Topeka. He remained there, however, only until 1868, when he went to Fort Sill, Indian Territory, as surgeon of the Nineteenth Kansas Regiment, and continued in that capacity for six months, after which he returned to Topeka and again took up the practice of his profession. In 1871 he came to Chanute, and while he continued to practice his calling at various times from that year on, the greater part of his attention was given to a private banking business, conducted under the style of M. Bailey & Company. His medical degree was secured from the St. Louis Medical College and he was a man of skill and learning in his profession, but possessed various other talents as well. He was widely known for his personal integrity and public spirit, and during the two terms that he served as mayor of Chanute gave the city excellent service. He always supported the policies of the republican party. He was a member of the school board and did much to advance the cause of education. Doctor Bailey married Miss Laura A. Jarboe, who was born in 1839, in Illinois, and died at Chanute, in 1914, having survived the Doctor twenty-one years. Their children were as follows: L. L., who as a miner and mining expert visited Asia and other parts of the world and died at Chanute, in May, 1916; Seth J., of this notice; William J., who is a hardware merchant of Tecoma, Washington; Mabel B., who married Fred Grubb and is a resident of Chanute, Kansas; and Mare, who is superintendent of a copper mine at Bisbee, Arizona.

Seth J. Bailey attended the public schools of Chanute and was graduated from the high school here in 1886, following which he spent two years at the Kansas University, at Lawrence, where he had as a classmate William Morgan. He then spent two years in the bank of M. Bailey & Company, with his father, and for the following two years was variously employed, during which time he took trips to Maine and Colorado. Mr. Bailey then went to the Malay Peninsula, Asis, where he was associated with his brother, L. L., in gold mining, being identified with a British company which had a large concession there. After 1½ years he returned to Chanute and engaged in the mantle manufacturing business. The Sunshine Mantle Company was established in the fall of 1900, with a capital stock of $100, a modest start from which had grown the present great business. The factory, located at 208-210-212 East First Street, is 50 by 65 feet, two stories in height and including a basement, and is fitted out with the latest and most highly improved equipment for the manufacture of incandescent gas mantles, commonly known as Welsbach mantles. The trade had grown steadily, particularly during recent years, and now covers the entire mid-continent gas field, including the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas. This great growth of business may be accredited to the efforts and abilities of Mr. Bailey, who is accounted on of the progressive and energetic business men of the city. Mr. Bailey is a director in the Chanute Building and Loan Association and belongs to the Commercial Club, of which he was president for one year.

In political affairs Mr. Bailey is a stanch republican, and had served as a member of the Chanute City Council. He had also been a member of the library board and in various ways had aided in his city’s growth and development. His religious connection is with the Episcopal Church, of which he is senior warden. Fraternally he is affiliated with Cedar Lodge No. 103, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons; Chanute Chapter No. 21, Royal Arch Masons; and Chanute Commandery No. 44, Knights Templar; Chanute Lodge No. 806, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; and (by inheritance) the Loyal Legion. He owned his own comfortable home at No. 946 South Highland Avenue and is interested in other realty holdings at and adjacent to Chanute.

In 1891, at Pittsburg, Kansas, Mr. Bailey was united in marriage with Miss Edna Sawyer, daughter of Hudson and Franess (Crane) Sawyer, the former of whom, now deceased, was a minister of the Episcopal Church, while the latter survives and resided with her son-in-law and daughter. Mr. and Mrs. Bailey are the parents of one daughter: Lael B., who is the wife of W. M. Gray, Jr., of Chanute, secretary of the Sunshine Mantle Company and general superintendent of the factory of this concern.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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