Biography of Dr. Thomas Jefferson Bailey

Dr. Bailey was a native of Kentucky, born in Lincoln county, January 17, 1803, whith his father, John Bailey, had removed with his family from Virginia. There the father died, and Thomas J. grew up to manhood. He read medicine at Danville under the able preceptor ship of Drs. Smith and McDowell, till he was prepared for practice. Prior to removing to Missouri, in 1828, he married Miss Harriet Sproul, a native of the same county as himself. He settled first in Ralls county, this State, where he practiced medicine till 1837, removing thence to Springfield, when that town was a mere hamlet. Both himself and wife were well pleased, and, resolving to stay, located on a forty-acre tract between the two cities of Springfield. Here he began a most successful professional career, and for nearly a quarter of a century ministered to the sick in his plain, simple way that built him the large practice out of which he realized a fortune. His sympathetic disposition and moderate charges made him beloved of all, no one ever complaining of excessive bills. His plain style won confidence, and he was never a man to judge others by dress or outward appearance; but always looked within to find the man. He thoroughly believed that ” ‘Twas not in rank or wealth or state, but ‘get up and get’ that makes men great.” Dr. Bailey was a staunch Whig, who found foe men worthy of his steel in such Democrats as John S. Phelps, John P. Campbell, Nicholas R. Smith, and several others of Springfield and vicinity, with whom he coped all alone for several years, till joined by Col. Marcus Boyd in 1841. These leaders began collecting and organizing the Whigs; and though weak in number and frequently defeated, they still continued to gain strength, till by shrewd management they carried the county against the “Invincibles” in 1858. In 1860, Dr. Bailey favored the Bell and Everett ticket, and “The Union, the Constitution and the Enforcement of the Laws.” When the civil war came, he gave his support to the Union cause. Too old for active military life, he stood as a reserve, and did all he could to further the success of the Federal arms. After the war, he took great interest in railroad building, and did active work at Jefferson City to secure the building of the “Frisco” by legislative support. He died of pneumonia, April 17, 1869. His large estate he parceled out by will, to his wife, his relatives and the volunteers who fought the battle of Springfield in 1863; and lastly, giving his ex-slaves what he considered a fair remuneration for their services. The large monument in the National Cemetery was paid for exclusively by him. Mrs. Bailey survived till 1873, when she, too, took her departure to the land of rest. Though they died childless, they were always liberal and charitable to needy children. Remembered by all, loved by many, the entire community mourned the loss of these two worthy people, and none live but can say to them in their graves, “Equidistant in pace.”



Holcombe, Return I. History of Greene County Missouri. Western Historical Company, St. Louis. 1883.

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