Sunday, February 26, 2017

Richard Bailey (about 1735 – about 1811), Revolutionary War Soldier

Climbing My Family Tree: Betsy Ross style thirteen colony flag (public domain)
Betsy Ross style thirteen colony flag (public domain)
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Richard Bailey is my 5th great-grandfather. I don’t know much about his early life yet, but I know enough to write about his life in America.

I’ve seen indications in other people’s trees (1) that he is Irish and left from Ireland to come to the British American colonies, (2) that he is Irish and that he left Ireland to go to Scotland before going to the American colonies and (3) that he is Scottish and first left Scotland to go to Ireland before coming to the British colonies on North America. I haven’t yet been able to determine which version is more accurate, although I’m leaning toward further investigating number three first for the following reasons. The first records I found of him in the colonies were tax records for Londonderry, Chester County, Pennsylvania where he is listed as a landowner in 1773 and 1775, owning 13 acres. However, we also know that he was not a rich man because he was given a discount on his taxes, with the notation “poor & gone”. A later tax record told me that he was a weaver by trade, and later records of his sons indicate that they were Presbyterian (a Reform church based in Scotland), and had been born in Ireland. All of this together tends to indicate that Richard Bailey likely lived in the county of Ulster, in what is now Northern Ireland, before emigrating to colonies (the county of Ulster in Ireland was substantially settled by lowland Scots in the 1600 & 1700’s for reasons I’ll get into in a later entry if it becomes relevant). While the Scots emigrated to the North American colonies throughout the 18th century, there were years in which such emigration was heavier (1717-1718, 1727-1728, 1740-1741, and 1771-1773) and, for which, therefore, historians could trace to a certain root cause. Approximately 25,000 emigrants sailed from Ulster alone to ports in the New World between 1771 and 1773, and the majority of them settled in Pennsylvania. This exodus was caused by a combination of the precipitous decline of the linen manufacturing trade since 1770, increasing unemployment, extortionate rents, and the religious persecution of the Ulster Scots by the Church of England.

Richard Bailey moved to the colony of Pennsylvania, in Londonderry Township, Chester County, with his wife Mary [Wilson] and his children, looking for a new and better life. (Londonderry was named after Londonderry, Ireland, in the north of Ireland.) They would have crossed the Atlantic Ocean below decks in steerage as they were likely not rich, given the discount notation for his taxes in 1773. I’ve previously described in other entries the difficulties of crossing the ocean in steerage. It was a long hard voyage crammed in the hold of what were usually trading vessels on the return trip to the colonies. They would have shared the hold with dozens to hundreds of other people, depending on the size of the ship, the food would have been poor, and there was often sea sickness and other illness – all of this during a trip which could last eight to twelve weeks at that time. We know that Richard and Mary’s trip was not an easy one as their oldest daughter, Nancy, who was only about four years old died on the trip and was buried at sea (about 1770-about 1773). The other children who accompanied Richard and Mary were John Bailey (22 May 1768-25 November 1853), William Bailey (about 1771-24 July 1828), Mary Bailey (about 1772-?), and Jesse Bailey (4 October 1773-? – my 4th great-grandfather on my Mom's side).

Richard and his family probably arrived in Pennsylvania around the end of 1773, as the winds of revolution were rising. The tax records show he bought property in Londonderry Township of Chester County, about fifty miles west of Philadelphia. The Scots-Irish had little love for the British and were almost unanimously in favor of independence. Richard Bailey did not join the Continental Army, (or if he did, I haven’t found it yet), perhaps because he had a young family to support. However, he did join the Chester County militia, where he served as a private in Capt. John Ramsey’s Company in the second Battalion commanded by Col. Evan Evans. Capt. John Ramsay’s Company was raised out of Londonderry Township. Records in the Pennsylvania Archives show that he served at least from 1776 through 1778 and that the Second Battalion under Col. Evan Evans fought at the Battle for Trenton (NJ), and the Battle of Brandywine. The Battle for Trenton occurred after Gen. George Washington’s famous crossing of the icy Delaware River in the dark night before the morning of Christmas Day 1776 (remember the painting which shows General Washington standing up in the boat?). General Washington commanded the combined forces of the Continental Army and the Pennsylvania militias and defeated a garrison of Hessian mercenaries and captured nearly all of them with little loss of life on the American side. It was a huge morale booster early in the Rebellion, and allowed the Americans to overturn the psychological dominance gained by the British troops in the previous months. The battle gave the Continental Congress new confidence, as it proved colonial forces could defeat regulars and increased re-enlistments in the Continental Army forces.

The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton December 26, 1776, by John Trumbull
The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton December 26, 1776, by John Trumbull
(in the public domain)
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The Battle of Brandywine didn’t go as well.  It occurred on September 11, 1777, near Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania, and involved more troops than any other battle in the Revolution. Gen. George Washington led the American forces and General Sir William Howe headed the British Army. After the longest single-day battle of the war, with continuous fighting for 11 hours, the British Army defeated the Americans and forced them to retreat towards Philadelphia but, due to the British’ lack of cavalry, most of the American Army as able to escape.

Climbing My Family Tree: Map of Battle of Brandywine
Battle of Brandywine
Map prepared by the USMA History Dept (in the public domain)
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When he wasn’t fighting in the Rebellion, Richard Bailey returned to living and working his 13 acres in Chester County. Richard and his wife had two more children during the course of the Revolutionary War: George Bailey (abt 1776-?) and Richard (abt 1778-abt 1850). I know the Baileys stayed in Chester County through at least 1780, as I’ve found him on the tax rolls for Londonderry, Chester County in 1780.

Richard and his family moved from Chester County to the area later named Baileyville, PA in about 1790, according to the History of Centre and Clinton Counties. At that point, Centre County had not yet been formed and the land Richard bought was then in Franklin Township, Huntingdon County, PA. The History of Baileyville, a history created for the 80th anniversary of the Baileyville Community Hall Association, states that on February 27, 1798, Richard bought a 300-acre farm from Henry Drinker.  In the Pennsylvania Septennial Census for Franklin Township, Huntingdon County, taken in 1800, Richard Bailey is listed as a weaver.

Climbing My Family Tree: Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, Huntingdon County, 1800, Richard Bailey
Pennsylvania, Septennial Census, Huntingdon County, 1800, Richard Bailey
(found via
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Centre County was formed on February 13, 1800, as the result of "an act erecting parts of Mifflin, Northumberland, Lycoming and Huntingdon [counties] into a separate county" and calling it Centre. The lands that Richard had bought thus became part of Ferguson Township in Centre County (which abutted a now smaller Franklin Township in Huntingdon County). The History of Centre and Clinton Counties (published in 1883) says of Richard ”He bought extensive tracts of land and resold them in part, thus gathering about him a number of settlers, who erected their habitations immediately about, forming in time quite a hamlet, which in his honor was given the name of Baileyville. He is spoken of as a man of strict integrity, closely confining himself to his pursuits and winning the esteem of his fellow men. His children were five sons and one daughter. John, married to Nancy Charlton, had fifteen children, of whom three are living, namely Ephraim, George, and Mrs. Hannah Glenn; William, married to Jane McBride; their only living offspring is Mrs. Robert Glenn; Jesse to Jane McClelland, of whom W.H. Bailey is a descendant; George to Polly McClelland; their offspring are Perry and Mary Ann; Richard died childless; Polly married David Meek and removed to the Western States.” (The History of Baileyville also notes another daughter, Nancy, who died while crossing the ocean.)

Climbing My Family Tree: Centre County PA, approximate area where Baileyville was founded is circled in red
Centre County PA, approximate area where Baileyville was founded is circled in red
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Richard died around 1811; he was buried in the Graysville Cemetery in Huntingdon County. Per his memorial on, his gravestone says he died in 1812, but his will was probated in 1811. I haven’t figured out yet when his wife died. The History of Baileyville indicates that she died in 1807 but Richard’s will was drafted in 1808, and he made detailed provisions for his wife Mary in his will, which indicates that she was alive when he had the will drafted.

In addition to taking special care of his wife, Richard left bequests to each of his children, a grandchild, and his son-in-law. He did sign his name and did not use a ‘mark’, so he was able to write. Richard’s will is as follows (transcribed as written, including capitalizations, spelling, and lack of punctuation) with the places where signatures were are encapsulated in parens:

In the name of God Amen I Richard Bailey of the town of Furgison in the County of Centre and state of Pennsylvania (yeoman) being in Perfect health of body, and of sound mind memory and understanding (Blessed be God for the same) but Considering the uncertainty of this transitory life to make and publish this my last Will and Testament in the manner and form following Towit Principally and first of all I Commit my Immortal soul into the hands of God who gave it in my Body to the Earth to be buried in a decent and Christian like manner at the direction of my Executors hereinafter named and as to such worldly estate where with it hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give and dispose of the same in the following manner. Viz First it is my Will and I do Order that all my just debts and funeral expenses be justly paid and satisfied as soon as can be conveniently after my decease. Item I Give and Bequeath unto my Dear Wife Mary Bailey the use and privilege of the Dwelling House we now live in for and during her natural life together with all my household furniture and Kitchen utensils at her own disposal Item I Give Devise and Bequeath unto my two sons William Bailey and George Bailey their Heirs and Assigns forever all that part of my Plantation whereon we now live and Occupy to be Equally Divided between them according to Quality and Quantity they paying my just debts their out and also paying on to my Other Children and Legaties the several sums of money to them Respectively bequeathed in Three years after my Decease and likewise paying onto my said wife the sum of Twelve pounds yearly and every year for and During her Natural life for her maintenance and support and it is my will and I do order that my sons William and George Bailey is to provide and keep for my said Wife One Milch cow for her own use and provide and find a Horse for her to Ride when she may Choose and also to Cut Hawll and Chop all the fire word that shee may stand in need of Ready to put on the fire and also to let her have any part of the Garding to plant or sow what she pleases and likewise to sow for her own use one half Bushel of Flax seed as long as she may Chuse Item I Give Devise and Bequeath unto my son John Bailey his Heirs and Assigns for Ever all the Land he now has in his possession being part of my second plantation be there some More or Less likewise I Give and Bequeath unto my son John Bailey the sum of Forty Pounds Item I Give Devise and Bequeath unto my son Jess Bailey the sum of Twenty-two pounds Ten shillings Item I Give Devise and Bequeath my son Richard Bailey the sum of Twenty-two pounds Ten shillings Item I Give Devise and Bequeath unto my soninlaw David Meek the sum of five shillings Item I Give Devise and Bequeath unto my daughter Mary Meek the sum of Ten pounds to be Laid out in clothing for herself as she may choose Item I Give Devise and Bequeath unto my Grandson Richard Bailey son of John Bailey the sum of Five pounds to be laid out in Schooling and Cloathing of the said boy Item I Give Devise and Bequeath unto George Bailey my son all my Live Stock of cattle of every sort that I may or am Possessed of at my decease And lastly I Nominate Constitute and Appoint my son John Bailey and my friend John Gray of Huntingdon County to be the Executors of this my last will and Testament here by revoking all other Wills Legacies and Bequests by me heretofore made Declaring this and none Other to be my Last Will and Testament. In Witness whereof I have here unto set my hand and seal this twentieth day of April in the year of our Lord one Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight 1808

N B the interlining done}
Before signing }                                                       (signature:         Richard Bailey)

Signed sealed published and Declared by the said testator as his last will and testament in the presence of us who in his presence and at his Request have subscribed as witnesses.

(Signature: Robert Gardner)
(Signature: William Gardner)

Obviously, I would like to know more about the early life of Richard and his family. I would also like to solve the mysteries concerning when he and his wife died exactly, if possible. And I would like to fill in the gaps in what I do know about his life in Pennsylvania. If you think I've gotten something wrong, or you have details to add, or a hint you think I'd like to explore, please leave a comment below or send me an email at the address contained under the Contact Me tab above. I know there are at least two other Bailey families in the Centre County/ Huntingdon County/Mifflin County area at the time as I kept running into other Bailey families with differing kids in my research (and I think that one of the two is of German descent, not Scots or Irish). Trying to make certain that my data followed one person & his family was not always easy so I may have made mistakes despite the care I took. (Given that the same names are repeated in descending generations following each child, the multiplicity of records stays confusing for the next few generations.)                                                                    
If you're wondering whether your Baileys and my Baileys match, I've done a DNA test with AncestryDNA and I've tested my Mom there as well, and I know my cousin John had his DNA tested there too. I've also loaded Mom's and my test results onto GEDmatch. So if you've done your DNA testing we could try to see if we match, if you want. Contact me!

18th-century tax records, Chester County Pennsylvania,; The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania, by Waylon Fuller Dunaway, University of North Carolina press, Chapel Hill, 1944 (pp. 30-32, 39, 46-48, 155-157.);;;; The Ulster Scots,; “A Tempestuous Voyage at Sea and a Fatiguing One by Land”: Ulster women in Philadelphia, 1783-1812 by Sarah Riblet, an honors thesis in history, presented to the faculty of the Department of History of the University of Pennsylvania, 2014,; Pennsylvania Archives, Second Series, reprinted under the direction of Charles William Stone, Sec. of the Commonwealth, edited by John B. Linn and Wm H Egle, Vol. XIV, Harrisburg: EK Meyers. State Printer. 1890,; Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution: Associated Battalions and Militia, 1775-1783, compiled by William Henry Egle, ;  Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR Genealogical Research Databases, database online, "Record of Richard Bailey", Ancestor # A004744,;; ;”Explaining Pennsylvania’s Militia” by Thomas Verenna in The Journal of the American Revolution (June 17, 2014),; Centre County GenWeb Project,; The History of Centre and Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania, by John Blair Linn (1883 Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts. Press of J.B. Lippincott & Co, Philadelphia); The History of Baileyville, the town, the Iron Works and the Railroad, 1790-2013, produced by the Baileyville Community Hall Association in conjunction with its 80th Anniversary Celebration October 5, 2013, Diana Albright, Project Coordinator; Will and testament of Richard Bailey (Centre County Pennsylvania, Will book A, page 68); Richard Bailey, Find A Grave Memorial # 67441,