Alonzo Bailey, an American industrialist

Alonzo Bailey's HouseWith the new year, I’d like to get back in the habit of writing more blog entries on family history. I thought that one way I might gather up steam is to profile some new ancestors that haven’t yet been featured on the pages on this blog.

To start things off, I thought I’d write up what I know or could learn about my great-great-great-grandfather Alonzo Bailey (1799-1867). I thought this would be a quick blog post to research and write, as I knew next to nothing about Alonzo when I started writing this post over a week ago, but I’ve since realized that I’ll need at least three blog posts to cover what I’ve learned about this previously mysterious yet now impressive and fascinating man. Because of the growing size of this post and the ongoing discoveries I’m making, I’ll declare this post done for now and will update it with new information as I find it.

Alonzo Bailey was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, on December 14, 1799, to William Bailey (1768-1848) and Lucretia Tracy (1774-1859). He was the eldest of a family that would grow to include six children—three sons and three daughters. Alonzo was the first-born child in William and Lucretia’s young family, and he appears to have been a honeymoon child, having been born nine months and a week after his parents were married on March 6, 1799, in Franklin, Connecticut.

Lebanon is about 9½ miles from Franklin according to a table of distances from an 1854 map of New London County (see here for the full resolution version).

Why did they move to Lebanon? Quite simply, it was where the Bailey family lived in recent generations. Alonzo’s father William was born in Lebanon in 1768, his grandfather Isaac (1732-1817) was born and spent his entire life in Lebanon, and his great-grandfather Isaac (1708-1791) was born in Stonington on the coast but his family had moved to Lebanon by the time he was one year old. His great-great-grandfather Isaac (1681-1771) moved from Massachusetts to Killingworth, CT, by the time he was two years old, and when he grew up he was the one who was responsible for settling the Bailey family in Lebanon around 1708.

Alonzo’s great-great-great-grandfather, the Rev. James Bailey (1650-1707), was born in Salem, MA, in 1650. James graduated from Harvard College in 1669 and served as a preacher in Salem Village beginning in 1671 and continuing until 1681. His ministry at Salem Village and the feuds he had with other preachers were apparently the cause of much dissension in Salem and fed the bitterness that led to the witchcraft persecutions culminating a decade later in the witchcraft trials of 1692. In fact, it was this negative experience in Salem that led the Bailey family to first relocate to Connecticut.

As Alonzo is as far removed in generations from his ancestor James Bailey as I am from Alonzo, I doubt that Alonzo heard much (or even anything) about the Rev. James Bailey, unless Alonzo had an interest in family history that I have not yet uncovered.

The 1800 federal census finds Alonzo and his parents living in their home in Lebanon, Connecticut:

1800 census for William Bailey and family

While only William Bailey is listed by name, the other household members are listed by sex and age category:

  • Free white persons—males—under 10: 1
    • Alonzo Bailey, aged 1
  • Free white persons—males—26 thru 44: 1
    • William Bailey, aged 32
  • Free white persons—females—26 thru 44: 1
    • Lucretia Tracy Bailey, aged 25

By the time of the 1810 federal census, Alonzo had four (or possibly five) siblings:

1810 federal census for William Bailey and family

  • Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2
    • Dyer Tracy Bailey, aged 1
    • William Tracy Bailey, aged 6
  • Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
    • Alonzo Bailey, aged 11
  • Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44 : 1
    • William Bailey, aged 42
  • Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 3
    • Lucretia Bailey, aged 4
    • Almantha Bailey, aged 9
    • (unknown white female child)
  • Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
    • Lucretia Tracy Bailey, aged 35

By the time of the 1820 census, enumerated on August 7, 1820, Alonzo and his five surviving siblings are growing up. This is the last census on which Alonzo is living with his parents:

1820 federal census for William Bailey and family

  • Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
    • Dyer Tracy Bailey, aged 11
  • Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 18: 1
    • William Tracy Bailey, aged 16
  • Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 4
    • Alonzo Bailey, aged 21
    • (unknown young white male)
    • (unknown young white male)
    • (unknown young white male)
  • Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
    • William Bailey, aged 52
  • Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
    • Emily Wight Bailey, aged 2
  • Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1
    • Lucretia Bailey, aged 14
  • Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
    • Almantha Bailey, aged 19
  • Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1
    • Lucretia Tracy Bailey, aged 45
  • Free Colored Persons – Males – 14 thru 25: 1
    • (unknown young black male)
  • Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 3
    • William Bailey, aged 52
    • ? Alonzo Bailey, aged 21, or (unknown young white male)
    • (unknown young black male)
  • Free White Persons – Under 16: 3
    • Emily Wight Bailey, aged 2
    • Dyer Tracy Bailey, aged 11
    • Lucretia Bailey, aged 14
  • Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
    • William Bailey, aged 52
    • Lucretia Tracy Bailey, aged 45

It’s interesting to note that there are four young men living in the William Bailey household who were not immediate family members, and 2-3 of these young men were not engaged in agriculture.

Within three years of the 1820 census, Alonzo has struck out on his own. He left his childhood home of Lebanon and set out for the newly founded village of Rockville, northwest of Lebanon about 20 miles as the crow flies.

In 1821–1823, the Industrial Revolution arrived in rural Connecticut, as companies began damming up the Hockanum River to power large, mechanized mills. Alonzo got in on the ground floor of some of these industrial concerns and learned how to efficiently run such large mills.

According to an obituary for Alonzo Bailey (which my grandmother’s cousin William Noble Bailey found decades ago, and which I’m currently trying to track down: Tolland County Journal, Saturday, August 3, 1867), Alonzo “arrived in Rockville in 1823, with his wardrobe under his arm, just two years after the ‘old Rock’ was started, and established himself as one of the first settlers of the village. He “modestly applied for and obtained the job of blue-dyeing, which responsible, and then difficult position he filled, performing faithfully and satisfactorily its duties for a period of some seven years.”

William J. Cogswell, a contractor, carpenter, and cabinet maker, also came to Rockville at the same time as Alonzo, and like Alonzo, also got a job at the Old Rock Mill. Cogswell wrote in his History of Rockville from 1823 to 1871 (pages 9–11). As Cogswell also provides a good amount of detail about what it was like to be in the Old Rock Mill at the time that Alonzo arrived and began working in the Mill. I’ve also included some of Cogwell’s personal story, as his story may be similar in some aspects to Alonzo’s situation:

There were no cultivated fields to please the eye, no herds, or next to none, were seen on the surrounding hill-sides. With the exception of sixty acres of clearing, the surrounding on all sides, except on the west, was a forest. There were four dwellings then, without paint on their walls; the factory showed no paint. Three horses and two cows comprised the list of stock. There were less than fifty souls of any age in this district from 1820 to 1825, and ’26 even.

The hands in the mill wrought seventy-two hours for a week, and three hundred and twelve hours for one month’s labor. The Sabbath, in those days, commenced on Saturday, a little before sundown. On the Sabbath we all, or nearly all, attended church. The old meeting-house stood directly east of George Hammond’s one half mile. The school-house also stood near by. The church was forty by fifty, gallery on three sides. It had no long steeple, stove or chimney during all the years of occupancy. The foot-stoves were numerous. In the school-house good fires were kept up during church hours. At noon the people gathered in here to warm, and eat their dinners and tell the news.

This simple story of Rock Factory, from 1823 to 1826, is identified with the writer’s age. Forty-six years ago this month I became twenty-one years old, or a man in the law. Up to this time my home was with my parents in the south part of Tolland. They regretted I must leave then without gold to give me, but they gave me their blessing and I departed hence. From this period up to 1826 there was no improvement outside of the mill except the red paint on the mill and the two dwellings near by.

I said no improvement outside the Rock mill was visible, except the red paint on the mill and the two houses near by. The inside appearance was materially altered; the hand looms were cast out entirely. I will state here that in 1824 there were five hand looms, and five men to weave on them; also two power looms as they were called, very intricate in their construction. They did not run half the time, they needed repairing so often.

We will now take a walk through the mill in 1823. The first floor at the west or front end was finishing, boxing, &c. In this room was the desk that contained the books and accounts of the mill. By the side of this desk was a bed that turned up in the daytime, and turned down in the evening after the mill stopped, and was occupied by two supers for many years. In the middle of this room was the waterwheel. This wheel was twelve by sixteen, covered over top and sides.

On the south was a space about ten feet wide, used as a gangway in and out of the machine shop. In this shop is a grindstone, two lathes, an iron vise, and a bench on the south side of the room, twenty-five feet long. Lewis Beach and the writer of this story worked together in this room three years. Beach contrived up a new loom, more simple than those in use. The first loom was started in the shop, a lady was called down from the weave room and she, with patience and long suffering, wove the first yard on the new loom. [This lady, Miss Leonard, now Mrs. Sherman Chapman, still survives, the head of a happy household in Tolland.] This was in the early part of 1824. — We then went to work and set up ten looms; and the were run in the Rock Factory; and ten more were added in the course of a year or so. Let me say, the first ten looms were made with the tools made mention of. After a year or so we had an engine lathe and a buz saw, so called, added to the shop.

We will now walk up stairs in 1823. There are five looms, and Mulligan and McMahon, and two or three others, weaving the satinets and getting seven cents per yard for weaving. In the room also was a machine for spinning, called the Brewster machine, complicated and expensive. In the course of two or three years this frame was thrown out and its place supplied by the spinning Jack, so called, of 140 spindles. We will now walk up stairs into the carding room. In the west end of this room was an old door laid on two barrels (what for?) to sort wool on. Do you wonder who worked here at this rude table? It was Mr. George Kellogg and Mr. Ralph Talcott. Here they would spend their spare time to sort wool. These men believed in the old adage:

“He that by the plow would thrive,
Himself must either hold or drive.”

I will now add a few words more about the card room. There were two cards used for breakers, and two finishers. The machines were single, so called, because they had but one main cylinder each. Those machines were moved by hand power, and made roping. The rolls were taken up and pieced one by one. This method made an endless string until the copp was filled. These copps were transfered to the spinning jack, and twisted ready for weaving.

I have been a little tedious in this description of the inside labor that was bestowed in making cloth in those days of 1823 and 1824. — There were many experiments to make the roping from the cards, so as to do away with the billies and rope-piecing. After much labor to 1827, the roping was drawn from the cards through tubes that gave a twist sufficient for spinning. Therefore after these improvements in spinning and weaving, the old Rock Factory began to improve. It turned out 200 yards of satinet per day, and population augmented one-third more. In 1828 there wae built one house and painted white. It occupied the site where Mr. George Kellogg, Sr., resides. The house was first occupied by Mr. Kellogg, and afterwards for a boarding house; and after a few years was moved, and is now occupied by Mr. Harris. In 1830 the house where Mrs. Rose lives was built.

I have now glanced at a simple history (from recollection mostly) of Rockville from 1823 up to 1830. It was my intention to leave out the names of those whom I first met in the year 1823 at Rock Factory, but in order to show how improvements were made in the years alluded to I had to say by whom they were made. Shakspeare makes “the idolatrous fancy” of a surviving lover “sanctify the relics of a lover lost,” and the strongest memories of old age, it is well known, fasten upon the years and events of youth.

According to his obituary in the Tolland County Journal, “During these years he established a good reputation in the eyes of all who knew him; consequently Col. McLean was glad to enlist him in the enterprise of starting and conducting the business of the Frank manufacturing company, of which he became the superintendent.”

Despite searching all of the likely census districts, I have not yet found the 1830 census listing for Alonzo Bailey.

It was in 1831 that Alonzo formed a partnership with Colonel Francis McLean to build a new Mill, the Frank Mill, downstream from the original textile mill on the Hockanum River.

On July 4, 1832, Alonzo was one of a group of four men—Christopher Burdick, Isaac L. Sanford, and Chauncey Winchell—who purchased a piece of property in Rockville, Connecticut, with the intention of building what was to become known as the Springville Manufacturing Company, or the Springville Mill. As far as I can tell, the Springville Mill was a textile mill that specialized in making warps for satinets. Each of the four men brought to the business a unique skill; Alonzo’s skill was that of being a responsible mill manager, or superintendent.

The story of the Springville Manufacturing Company was recorded in George S. Brookes’ 1955 essay on the Company, reproduced below, in his book entitled Cascades and Courage: The History of the Town of Vernon and the City of Rockville, Connecticut:

The Springville Manufacturing Company 1 TheSpringvilleManufacturingCompany2 TheSpringvilleManufacturingCompany3

The biographical sketch of Chauncey Winchell from the 1903 volume Commemorative biographical record of Tolland and Windham counties, containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and of many of the early settled families (page 117) tells us that the Connecticut State Legislature granted an Act of Incorporation to the Springville Manufacturing Company in May, 1833.

Shortly thereafter we get another (albeit mysterious) hint of Alonzo’s political activities thanks to a brief mention on page 2 of the Wednesday, June 12, 1833, edition of the Norwich Courier, reporting on activities of the Connecticut Legislature for the afternoon of Tuesday, June 4th:

CT Legislature June 4, 1833

I don’t yet know what this petition was about, but my guess is that it was also related to the incorporation of the Springville Manufacturing Company.

Thanks to a news piece on page 3 of the Monday, March 28, 1836, edition of the Connecticut Courant, we learn that Alonzo was an active member of the U.S. Whig party. The Whig voters of Vernon have decided to elect Alonzo as their representative in the next Connecticut Whig Party Convention:

Alonzo in the Whig party March 24 1836

The U.S. Whig Party was founded in 1833 in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party. Of particular interest to Alonzo, the Whig Party favored a program of modernization as well as economic protectionism to stimulate manufacturing.

On May 31, 1836, another textile mill, the “twin mills,” was incorporated, also in Rockville, as the Hockanum Mills. Five men were the original incorporators, among them Alonzo Bailey, who acted as Secretary. The Hockanum Mills were also set up for the manufacture of satinets. The Mills burnt down in 1854, and although they were quickly rebuilt, it is unclear whether Alonzo continued his association with the Mills. While Hockanum Mills was standing, Alonzo managed both the Hockanum Mills and the Springville Manufacturing Company at the same time.

According to Alonzo’s obituary in the Tolland County Journal, while he was managing the mills, he “occupied a most prominent position in the business affairs of Rockville, second indeed, to that of no other man, and enjoyed the reputation of being a shrewd manager of affairs, sound and reliable in his judgment, a cautious, prudent, and successful manufacturer.”

The Springville Mill was situated along West Main Street, and in 1836, Alonzo had a house built for him across the street from the Mill. Alonzo Bailey’s house still stands and was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places together with hundreds of other structures in a square mile that are identified as the Rockville Historic District. On page 101 of the 1984 nomination application for the National Register of Historic Places, Alonzo’s house is described as follows:

1836. 2½-story, frame, Greek Revival style, 2-family house; asbestos siding, shallow-pitched roof, pedimented gable, doors framed with fluted Doric pilasters, sidelights; two one-story verandas.

Alonzo Bailey's House

According to page 1 of the 1984 nomination application for the National Register of Historic Places, Alonzo’s house was among the earliest buildings to survive from the original Mill Village:

The early extant development along West Main Street occurred in conjunction with the development of the Springville Mill. Chauncey Winchell, a millwright, built his homestead at 174 West Main Street in 1830 (Photograph 4). It is a classic example of the Greek Revival Style with an imposing two-story Ionic portico. Winchell also constructed the house of his partner, Alonzo Bailey, at 162-164 West Main Street in 1836. Though less imposing than Winchell’s, the Bailey house is a good example of the Greek Revival style in Rockville. Winchell may have built the houses at 152, 156, and 166 West Main Street as well. All date from the early 1830s, exhibit Greek Revival characteristics, and were owned by men associated with Winchell in the Springville Mill.

On September 22, 1836, shortly after he had his house built, Alonzo married his first wife, Lucinda Relief Pease. Lucinda was 18 years younger than the 36-year-old Alonzo and she came from Somers, a village about 9 miles north of Rockville. She was a middle child of six siblings, and she had just turned 19 when she married Alonzo. The two were married in Enfield, about 5½ miles west of Enfield, in the adjacent county of Hartfield.

On August 28th, 1837, Alonzo’s youngest brother, Dyer Tracy Bailey, died when he was only 28 years old.

A major, multi-year recession called the Panic of 1837 hit the United States beginning in 1837. Banks closed, prices dropped, and unemployment soared. Had the Springville Manufacturing Company been like most companies in the country, it would have been hit hard. However, in Harry Conklin Smith’s (1911) A Century of Vernon, Connecticut: 1808-1908, it was recorded that the Springville Manufacturing Company continued to return handsome profits throughout the recession:

The Great Panic of 1837 in Rockville

Between 1840 and 1848, the couple had four children, all girls:

  • Lucinda Bailey, born December 1840
  • Ellenor G. (“Ellen”) Bailey, born June 1843
  • Lucretia Tracy Bailey, born 28 October 1846
  • C. Maria Bailey, born 1848, died 1848

The 1840 census was taken just before any of the Bailey’s children were born, and shows Alonzo and Lucinda living alone in their large house:

William Bailey 1840 census

  • Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49: 1
    • Alonzo Bailey, 41 years old
  • Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1
    • Lucinda Relief Pease Bailey, 22 years old

From an article on the February 10, 1842, State Convention of the Whig Party published on page 2 of the Wednesday, February 23rd, 1842, edition of the People’s Advocate (New London, CT), we see that Alonzo has continued being an active member of the Whig party, now at the state level. In the morning session of the Convention, held in Union Hall in Hartford, Alonzo was appointed as one of two people from the 21st district to nominate and submit a list of candidates for state offices, and in the afternoon session, the committee on credentials reported that Alonzo Bailey was one of two Whig Party delegates from Vernon, CT:

Whig State Convention 1842

At the November 8, 1843, Whig Party State Convention in Hartford, Alonzo was once again confirmed as one of two delegates for the town of Vernon, as reported on page 2 of the Thursday, November 3rd, 1843, edition of the Daily Herald (New Haven, CT):

Whig State Convention 1843

My grandmother’s cousin, William Noble Bailey (1926-2012) spent years researching the Bailey family history, and he reported that Alonzo and Lucinda Bailey were divorced on November 4, 1847. While I am still looking for more documentation to support this claim, I do note that both Alonzo Bailey and Lucinda Pease Bailey are listed on the Tolland County Divorce Index as being recorded on page(?) 157. Lucinda Pease has a second entry on page(?) 180 according to this index.

In 1848, especially given that he had four young daughters in his family (Lucinda, 7; Ellen, 5; Lucretia, 1½; and C. Maria, born in 1848), Alonzo was concerned about the absence of local schools. The town of Vernon, four miles to the southwest, had its own schools, provided for by the Vernon School Society. In 1848, with a group of similarly concerned citizens led by Phineas Talcott, Alonzo helped get a special law passed by the Connecticut State Assembly to create the Rockville School Society. From the language of the bill (see below), it would appear that Alonzo was second only to Phineas Talcott in getting this law passed. The law below is taken from page 1181 of the Special Laws of the State of Connecticut, Volume 4, Part 2: Resolves and Private Laws of the State of Connecticut from the year 1836 to the year 1857:

Constituting The Rockville School Society 1848

At some point in this same year (1848), Alonzo and Lucinda’s daughter C. Maria Bailey died.

Alonzo’s father William also died in 1848, on June 17th, leaving a will and a sizable estate for a farmer. Alonzo inherited from his father, but I’ll cover the will in a separate post, as the probate documents are a detailed, 40-page series of documents. I’ll update this post with my findings once that other post is written. Alonzo was made executor of his father’s last will and testament, as evidenced by this notice published in the Tuesday, September 19, 1848, edition of the Norwich Evening Courier:

William Bailey probate notice 1848

By the time of the 1850 census, enumerated on September 28, 1850, Alonzo was living with Lucretia their three surviving daughters (ages 9, 6, and 4), and a 22-year-old woman named Mary A. Ladd (presumably a nanny or housekeeper).

1850 US Census for Alonzo Bailey

If Lucinda and Alonzo were indeed divorced, perhaps they were taking advantage of the fact that this was a two-family house (or perhaps this was when it became a two-family house)?

Also in 1850, Alonzo oversaw the building of the Hockanum Mills (more to come on this shortly), and became the Mill’s agent.

In 1851, Alonzo became a Life Member of the American Colonization Society. Only two people from Rockville appear to have joined this society, Alonzo and his business partner Chauncey Winchell:

Alonzo Bailey American Colonization Society 1851

The American Colonization Society (or “The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America”) was founded in 1816 with the goal of finding a permanent home (outside the United States) for free blacks. Because the American Colonization Society appealed to people on all sides of the slavery issue, we can’t really infer anything about Alonzo’s beliefs towards slavery other than he thought that having free blacks in the United States would serve to inflame enslaved blacks. The Republic of Liberia began as a settlement of the American Colonization Society in 1822. In 1855, Alonzo donated $15 to the American Colonization Society, $10 between March 20 and April 20, 1855, and $5 between October 20 and November 20, 1855, as attested to by receipts printed in volume 31 of The African Repository. Between October 20 and November 20, 1860, Alonzo donated another $7 to the American Colonization Society, as attested to by receipts printed in volume 36 of The African Repository. Given that he was a Life Member of the American Colonization Society, Alonzo probably made several other donations to the American Colonization Society for which I haven’t yet found the documentation.

In 1851, Alonzo is recorded as contributing $25 to the Endowment Fund of the Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education, which was formed to provide financial support to struggling colleges in mid-western and western states. His donation was recorded on page 48 of the Eighth Annual Report of the Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education At the West.

In late August or early September, 1852, Alonzo made an annual pledge for $5 through the First Congregational Church and Society to The American And Foreign Christian Union, as recorded on page 335 of volume 3 of The Christian World: The Magazine of the American and Foreign Christian Union. We can assume Alonzo was Presbyterian as the First Congregational Church of Rockville is a Presbyterian church.

In August, 1854, one of the mills that Alonzo Bailey oversaw—the Hockanum Mill—was burned down and considered to be an act of arson, as reported on page 2 of the Saturday, August 19, 1854, edition of the Connecticut Courant:

Factory burned down in Rockville 1854

A more detailed article on the Hockanum Mill fire appeared on page 2 of the Saturday, August 26, 1854, edition of the Times (Hartford, CT). The fire is now believed to have been accidental, and rather than a $50,000 loss, as the Connecticut Courant article estimated, the Times article places the uninsured losses at about $20,000, and makes it clear that much of this loss falls upon Alonzo Bailey personally:


On August 21st, 1855, Alonzo was chosen as one of nine directors at the first meeting of the stockholders of the Rockville Bank, as reported on page 1 of the Saturday, August 25th, 1855, edition of the Connecticut Courant:

The Rockville Bank 1855

In 1856, Alonzo was concerned about the absence of a formal fire fighting system in Rockville. Along with a group of like-minded concerned citizens, Alonzo helped get a law passed by the Connecticut State Assembly to create the Hoccanum Engine Company, No. 1, of Rockville. Alonzo was one of a group of four men named in the bill to create and incorporate the fire engine and hose company. The law below is taken from page 530 of the Special Acts and Resolutions of the State of Connecticut, Volume 3: Resolves and Private Laws of the State of Connecticut from the year 1836 to the year 1857:

Incorporating The Hoccanum Engine Company 1856

On January 15, 1857, at the age of 57, Alonzo married his second wife, Catherine Noble, my great-great-great-grandmother, in Mansfield, Connecticut. Catherine was born and raised (for at least her first 10 years) in South Willington, a village about eight miles east of Rockville. I don’t yet understand the connection to Mansfield (about 6½ miles southeast of South Willington), but perhaps Alonzo had business in that area and/or perhaps Catherine moved to that area in later childhood. Catherine Noble was almost 31 years old when she married Alonzo, who was 26 years older than Catherine.

Alonzo and Catherine’s first child, a daughter, was born 13 months after they wed, on February 22nd, 1858. I found this brief announcement on page 3 of the Saturday, March 6th, 1858, edition of the Connecticut Courant:

Catherine Isabelle Bailey birth notice 1858

In total, Alonzo and Catherine had three children together, including Alonzo’s only son, my great-great-grandfather:

  • Catherine Isabelle Bailey, born 22 February 1858
  • William Noble Bailey, born 22 June 1860
  • Mary E. Bailey, born 18 September 1863

By the time of the 1860 census, enumerated on June 25, 1860, we find Alonzo living with his new wife Catherine Noble Bailey, their two-year-old daughter [Catherine] Isabelle, presumably their 3-day-old son William Noble Bailey (who is not listed on the census, as the census asks only for “the name of every person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June, 1860, was in this family”), Catherine’s step-mother, Sarepta Chamberlain Noble, and Alonzo’s three surviving children from his first marriage, Lucinda (aged 19), Ella (aged 16), and Lucretia (aged 13). Only Lucretia is listed as having attended school within the year, so perhaps the young Rockville School had no place yet for children over 15 years old? Alonzo’s real estate was valued at $3,000, and his personal estate was estimated to be $12,000.

In 1863, Alonzo was taxed $1 by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for owning a single one-horse carriage:

Alonzo Bailey 1863 IRS tax assessment

In 1864, Alonzo was again taxed $1 by the IRS for owning a single one-horse carriage:

Alonzo Bailey 1864 IRS tax assessment

Interestingly, the 1864 IRS tax list is the only document I’ve found that lists a middle name or initial for Alonzo. He is listed as “Alonzo B. Bailey”. I do not yet know what the “B.” stood for.

In 1865, Alonzo was taxed $4 by the IRS for three items: $1 for a carriage, $1 for a watch, and $2 for a pianoforte:

Alonzo Bailey 1865 IRS tax assessment

In 1866, Alonzo was taxed $66.80 on his $1,336 income (an enviably low tax rate of 5%). As this was less than the $76.70 tax he had withheld, he could expect a $9.90 tax refund. In addition to the income tax, the IRS taxed him another $3 for two items: $1 for a watch, and $2 for a pianoforte. As others were still being taxed for carriages, it would appear that he no longer had a carriage in 1866.

Alonzo Bailey 1866 IRS tax assessment

Alonzo died on July 25, 1867, in Rockville, Connecticut.

The Connecticut Courant newspaper, published in Hartford, CT, ran the following death notice for Alonzo on Saturday, August 3rd, 1867:

Alonzo Bailey death notice Connecticut Courant 3 Aug 1867

According to the Alonzo’s obituary in the Tolland County Journal, Alonzo was “stricken down suddenly” and had “been cut off as it were, in an instant, in the full flush of health, and in the midst of active labors.”

His death notice on page 3 of the Wednesday, July 31st, 1867, edition of the Norwich Aurora paper provides some more specific details of his death:

Alonzo Bailey death notice Norwich Aurora 1867

He was 67 years old when he died, and left a generous estate and a will, which I’ll cover in another post and will then update this post.

More from Alonzo’s obituary in the Tolland County Journal: “Commencing life poor, he formed habits of economy which never forsook him, in the days of greatest prosperity.” He “was of that number who planned and built the public institutions, of which we are now so justly proud. His name is found conspicuous on the records of our earliest educational and religious organizations, and on the subscription list, among the most liberal contributors. He was ever active and efficient in the establishment and in sustaining institutions for mental improvement and self culture, and ranked among the ablest of the village debating club.” Alonzo “was ever a modest and unobtrusive man, retiring, and somewhat diffident in his manners; plain and unostentatious in his personal habits, rather strongly conservative in his habits of thought, and opinions, but vigorous and decided, honest and unswerving in his integrity.”

Alonzo’s Tolland County Journal obituary includes this puzzling statement as well: “In the vigor of his manhood, and maturity of his usefulness, Mr. Bailey was turned aside from the chosen sphere of his active life, and has since lived quietly among us, declining the activities and responsibilities of his former years.”

5 thoughts on “Alonzo Bailey, an American industrialist

  1. Discovered your blog today. Beautiful presentation, great writing and research!

    I am researching my 3rd-great-grandmother Alethea (Alithea/Alathea) Bailey/Bayley, and am looking for birth/parentage documention. Maybe you have come across information that could help?

    The will of Isaac Bailey/Bayley (husband of Alethea Torry/Torrey) of Lebanon, Connecticut (signed 18 Jan 1812) lists 10 children:
    Daughters: Alethea, Rhoda, Clarissa, Sally and Eunice
    Sons: Isaac, William, Israel, Seth and Erastus

    I believe his daughter Alethea is my 3rd-great-grandmother, and sister of your ancestor William Bailey (1768-1848). Various online family trees give birth years for all ten children, including Alethea, but don’t list source documentation, other than unsourced Ancestry family trees or “family information.” Some say 1766 birth (Lebanon, CT), and 1869 death in Ohio (age 103?!), but no documentation.

    Here’s what I know:

    Alethea/Alithea Bailey (m. Horatio Sims 5 Nov 1797, Lebanon, Connecticut)

    An Alethea Bailey is the daughter of Isaac Bailey/Bayley and Alethea Torry/Torrey (m. 19 Dec 1765, Lebanon, Connecticut).

    Horatio Sims was born in Lebanon CT in 1776, was living in nearby Hebron CT at time of his marriage in 1797; He and wife Alethia were in Hebron CT in 1800 census, and moved to Madison County, NY shortly thereafter.

    The grave marker of Alethea, wife of Horatio Sims (Erieville Cemetery, Nelson, Madison County, New York) suggests her birth year as 1775:
    Wife of Horatio Sims.
    Died Sept. 18, 1838
    Aged 63 years, 4 months

    I’ve scoured the Lebanon index of town records, index of church records, the Bailey genealogy published in the 1890s, but no luck so far. The Sims genealogy published in the 1930s, lists Alethea only by name (wife of Horatio).

    Any insights? Thanks!

  2. I have been researching and looking for my husbands great grandfather Isaac Weslie Bailey b. 1844. Died 1910 in a horrific train accident. The family story states that he was born in Connecticut and was adopted by a Bailey who ran a business across the river. I see your Alonzo has many Isaac Baileys in his grandparents and great grandparents. It appears that his birth would have been just before the time of divorce? I was wondering if you thought possible that he was born from another father and then adopted by Alonzo? As they seemed to have stayed together in the future at least in the same home? I’ve been searching since 1993. I have not found any record whatsoever of his parents. Isaac Weslie Bailey first shows up in Bradford County PA and Marries an Indian woman by the Name of MaryAnna Justin. The family claims that he was also indian but was adopted by a Bailey. Thanks for you help. Julie Bailey

  3. Hello Mike-

    My name is Greg Bailey, retired (2002) prof of electrical engineering, San Diego State University.

    After reading your interesting article on Alonzo I realized we share the same Great-Great-Grandfather, William Tracey Bailey of Buffalo. Here is a playlist of my ancestors- John, John 2, James, Isaac 1-3, Wm Torry, Wm Tracey, Wm Watson, Chauncey Earl, Wm Chauncrey, Greg, Todd, Isaac (age 15).

    Like many Bailey genealogy sleuths, I found that Hollis needs a little help in the period from James to Wm Torry? Specifically, the three Isaacs. Can you give me a hint how one weaves their way from Iaaac 1 to Isaac 3?

    Many thanks-

    Greg Bailey

    • Greg,

      A few years back I invested some time researching my Bailey line. I was particularly interested in the children of Isaac III (1732-1817) and Alethea Torrey, but my research included many other sources. I’d love to compare notes.

      Very cool, btw, that your grandson carries on the Isaac Bailey name! In the direct line of Isaac Baileys, I found that Isaac Bailey V was the last. As I recall, he was born 1795 in Lebanon, CT, and died in York, Livingston County, NY, in 1881.

      My line (I haven’t verified some of the earlier dates/info):
      John Bailey (1590-1651)
      John Bailey (1613-1691) married Eleanor Helena Emery
      James Bailey (1650–1707) married Mary Carr
      Isaac Bailey (1681-1711) married Mercy Saxton
      Isaac Bailey (1708-1791) married Abigail Hunt
      Isaac Bailey (1732-1817) married Alethea Torrey
      Alethea Bailey (1775-1838) married Horatio Sims
      Velina Sims (1807-1893) married Nelson Richardson
      Eliza Sims Richardson (1842-1915) married Francis Marion Hakes
      May Velina Hakes (1874-1962) married Henry Dise
      Frederick Hakes Dise (1917-1989) married Dorothea Deiss
      Me (1959-tbd)
      plus two more generations!

      my gmail address is allendise


    • Greg, I think I just sent you a message regarding Bailey genealogy, but I am not seeing it. Please let me know if you’ve received it or not. Thank you! – Allen

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