The William Noble Bailey family

The photo that is the focus of this post is a charming family portrait, and one of the favorites in my collection. You might recognize it as the uncropped, unrotated image from which this site’s header image is derived.

The house is in the Olympia, Washington area. Since I’ll be heading up that area to do some family history research in late August–early September, I figured this would be a good time to post something about William N. Bailey and his family, some of my Olympia-area ancestors.

This post won’t go into much depth about the Bailey family, but I’d like to give you enough to that you know at least a little about everyone pictured in the photo. I’ll write more about the house itself in a later post.

William Noble Bailey (1860-1923), the father of the pictured family, is seen wearing a hat and standing behind the picket fence.

William was born on June 22, 1860, to Alonzo and Catherine (Noble) Bailey. He was the fourth of fifth children, and the only son in the family. His father Alonzo was the manager of two textile mills and was a prominent businessman, and a seventh-generation New Englander. As the only son of a successful businessman from an old New England family, William was well-positioned to become a successful businessman himself simply by staying in Rockville, CT, and taking up where his father left off. Unfortunately, his father died unexpectedly when William was only 7 years old. According to his obituary, 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.”  He died aged 67 years.

William probably got a generous inheritance from his father, but he never had the opportunity to learn his father’s business or to succeed him in his position. At some point between 1880 and 1886, William moved to Larimer County, Colorado.

Ellen Caroline (“Carrie”) Severson (1859-1921), the mother of the pictured family, is seen standing with her husband behind the picket fence. She’s the middle daughter of Sever Severson, the Norwegian wagonmaker who died while serving in the Civil War when Carrie was only five years old.

Carrie was one of five sisters raised by Sever’s widow Martha Arnesdatter (Field) Severson in Black Earth, Wisconsin. For reasons I haven’t been able to determine yet, Carrie left Black Earth and travelled to Larimer county, Colorado, by the time she was 20 years old. She appears on the 1880 census, living with her oldest sister and brother-in-law Mary and Peter Anderson. She’s listed as a dress maker on the 1880 census.

Carrie married William on March 24, 1886, in Fort Collins (Larimer County), Colorado. The couple had their first child, my great-grandmother Lucinda, in Fort Collins on February 20, 1887.

Lucinda Tracey Bailey (1887-1960), the oldest of William and Carrie Bailey, is the woman standing beside her bicycle in the family portrait. At the time of this photo, Lucinda was a school teacher. Her bicycle was probably her transportation to and from her teaching job.

On the 1900 census, Lucinda (then known as “Lulue”) was 13 years old and living in Tumwater with her family. By the time of the 1910 census, when she was 23, she and her family were living at 313 East 9th Street in Olympia. I would guess that this photo is probably from around 1910. Lucinda married Frank Ross McMurry two years later on August 14, 1912. Lucinda and Frank would go on to have three children, including my grandmother, Dorothy McMurry.

William Alonzo Bailey (1893-1970), the middle child of William and Carrie Bailey, is standing on the viewer’s right, in front of the fence, next to his mother. If this photo were taken in 1910, William would be about 17 years old here, and he definitely isn’t that old. A date of about 2–4 years earlier (or 1906–1908) seems more likely.

William was born on November 25, 1893, in Henrietta, Texas. I have no idea yet why the young family moved from Colorado to Texas, over 650 miles to the southeast. On a related note, a Wikipedia article on Henrietta mentions an interesting fact about Henrietta that might explain Lucinda’s later choice of teaching as a profession:

By 1890, the population had reached 2100, and the town boasted a 400-seat opera house, five churches, a new jailhouse, and a school. From 1893 to 1895, it had a college – Henrietta Normal College – for the training of teachers. It remained the economic hub of the county at the turn of the 20th century.

William himself (or “Bill” as he would later go by) would grow up to become a civil engineer and a highway engineer. He would also later serve as a private in the Army during World War I. Bill married a Danish girl named Agnes Hansen in 1923 and had two children.

Dorothy Mary Bailey (1896-1987), the youngest child of William and Carrie Bailey, is in the dress at the center of the fence, between her two siblings.

Dorothy was born on October 7, 1896, also in Henrietta, Texas. She and her family had relocated to Tumwater when she was 3 or 4 years old (they were there by the time of the June, 1900, census).

As Dorothy looks about 10 in the photo, but no older than about 12 or 13, the estimated date for the photo of about 1906–1908 seems warranted. I’d guess that the photo was taken closer to 1906.

Dorothy (or “Dot” as she would later be called) became a cashier and an office manager, and married her third cousin, Clarence H. Bailey, in 1923. Clarence also served in World War I, and I have some of the letters that he wrote to her during the war that I’ll share in a later post.

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