Summary of the Bailiff Family
DeKalb County, TN

by Kevin L. Bandy

The Bailiff family originated in Chester County, Pennsylvania. They were Quakers. Thomas Bailiff (Sr.) was born about 1716 in the British Isles. He is found on tax rolls in Chester, PA during the 1700’s. He died sometime prior to 1780. His son, Thomas Bailiff (Jr.), was born in 1769. He married Elizabeth Baker, a Presbyterian, on June 24, 1790. He relocated from Pennsylvania to Orange County, North Carolina with his in-laws, the Bakers. He was promptly excommunicated from the Quaker church. He died in the Temperance Hall community of Tennessee in 1854.

His son was Thomas Isaac Bailiff and was born February 11, 1808. Isaac and his father, Thomas (Jr.), were blacksmiths and slave owners. They relocated from North Carolina to the Temperance Hall area of Smith County (now DeKalb County), Tennessee about 1820. Isaac married Nancy Bates on December 13, 1831. She was the daughter of Isaac Bates and Didama Tubb. Isaac Bates was a slave owner in the Temperance Hall area. Didama Tubb was the older sister of Col. James Tubb of Liberty. The Tubb family was a slaveholding family as well, although Col. Tubb served in the Union Army during the War for Southern Independence. Isaac and Nancy Bailiff’s wedding was an affair and was announced in the “National Banner” and the “Nashville Whig” publications in Nashville, Tennessee.

Isaac Bailiff was a member of the Masonic Lodge at Temperance Hall. He died in 1852; two years before his father. He instructed in his will that his wife along with members of the Masonic Lodge to sell the farm at Temperance Hall and buy a farm nearer to Alexandria to raise the children. The farm was on Lower Helton and the house still stands where they lived. I visited in 1994 with Ms. Lucille Hale who resided there at the time.

Isaac and Nancy Bailiff were the parents of James Monroe Bailiff and his siblings. His brothers and sisters were: Columbus Allen Bailiff (1833-1910), Joab Bailiff (1836-1863), Mary Rebecca Bailiff (1838- ), Isaac Bailiff (1839- ), William Rufus Bailiff (1842-1927), John Bailiff (1848-1849), and Roxana Bailiff (1850-1919).

Columbus Bailiff lived in the Alexandria area all of his life. He was a member of the Alexandria (First) Baptist Church. His children moved to Florida. He has descendants in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas. Joab Bailiff died from injuries suffered in Pickett’s Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg. Joab has descendants still living in DeKalb County and elsewhere in Tennessee. Mary Rebecca Bailiff married twice and lived in the Alexandria area. William Rufus Bailiff suffered injuries to his ears from shell explosions during the War for Southern Independence. And, he carried a hearing aid for the rest of his life. He married his step-sister, Sarah Jones, as Nancy remarried after Isaac Bailiff’s death. Rufus moved to Texas and raised a family there. Rufus has descendants in Texas and Kansas. Roxana married three times; the last time to John B. Clayborn. They lived in the Alexandria area and raised a large family. She died in 1919 from Tuberculosis. Roxana has many descendants in the Alexandria area. James Monroe was very fond of his sister, Roxana, and her death date is scribbled on a paper among old deeds of his possession.

James Monroe was born December 2, 1845 and died May 8, 1927. He married Eliza Foster of the Wolf Creek Community. They were married October 6, 1865. Eliza’s father, John M. Foster, gave her a young colored girl as a wedding gift. However, she soon left as the war was over and slavery abolished.

James Monroe Bailiff served in the Confederate Calvary during the war. He enlisted on February 25, 1863. He was a member of Allision’s Battalion, Company A as was his brother, Columbus. He was shot during the Battle at Chickamauga, Georgia on the 2nd day of the battle. He and Columbus (who was suffering from Typhoid fever) were captured by Union troops and sent to prison at Louisville, Kentucky. They were released in the spring of 1864.

Joab and Rufus Bailiff served in Company A of John F. Goodner’s 7th Tennessee Infantry.

James Monroe Bailiff was one of the early deacons of the Dry Creek Baptist Church near Possum Hollow. The church was organized in 1889.

Monroe lived at Laurel Hill near Wolf Creek during the early years of his marriage. He purchased the farm in Possum Hollow in 1875. The J.M. Bailiff Farm is one of six farms listed in Tennessee’s Century Farm Program for DeKalb County. William (Bill) Bailiff and Alonzo (Lon) Bailiff were born at Laurel Hill.

My grandfather (Charlie F. Bailiff) told me that Grandpa (Monroe) had a cow loose at Laurel Hill and wanted Grandma to help him get her up. Grandma was left handed and as the cow neared her, she threw a rock hitting it in the head. The cow was knocked out cold. She thought that she had killed it. Grandpa ran with a rope and waited for her to wake up!

Monroe and Eliza Bailiff had nine children: Zanie Bailiff (1868- ), William Monroe Bailiff (1869-1927), Alonzo Farmer Bailiff (1870-1961), Robert Bailiff (1873-1881), Eliza Francis Bailiff (1876-1959), Nancy Mary Bailiff (1878-1902), Thomas Theopolis Bailiff (1880-1973), Leslie Dee Bailiff (1884-1969), and Sellar Edgar Bailiff (1887-1900).

Monroe experienced on Snow Hill sitting in a Ford Model T car. However, he refused to allow it to be started. He only wanted to sit in one of those wagons that could travel without a horse. He died from cancer of the right eye in the spring of 1927. Eliza died the following winter, early 1928.

Zanie Bailiff died as an infant. Bobby (Robert) drown in 1881 at age 8. Edgar ran to Dry Creek to swim with some boys in 1900. He was hot and the cold spring water in the creek chilled him. He became sick with pneumonia and died a few days later. While with fever, he mentioned to his mother that he saw white and bay colored horses coming for him. When the hearse came the next day it was pulled by white and bay colored horses. Eliza Bailiff told afterwards that she was tormented that her baby saw the horses coming before he died.

William Monroe Bailiff (Uncle Bill) married and moved to Arkansas. His first wife divorced him. Monroe and Eliza cared for his two sons, Foster and Hudson. His wife remarried and later committed suicide by hanging. Uncle Bill taught school in Smithville, ran a couple of businesses in Nashville, and then moved to Toledo, Ohio. There he met and married a colored woman and had children. That marriage ended in separation and Uncle Bill moved to the Pontiac, Michigan area. He was working in a factory near a blasting furnace when it exploded searing his lungs. He died in 1927 and buried in the Potters Field, Monroe, Michigan.

My grandfather (Charlie F. Bailiff) remembered his grandmother receiving the telegram of Uncle Bill’s death and how devastated she was in hearing this tragic news.

Uncle Lon Bailiff married Netter Davis. They lived in Possum Hollow most of their lives. Uncle Lon gave an interview to Tommy Webb in 1960 at age 90 telling of life in the early days of Possum Hollow. I have a copy of that interview.

Eliza Francis Bailiff (Aunt Fannie) married and lived in Nashville. I was told that during the Depression years my great grandfather, L.D. Bailiff, would stay with Aunt Fannie and work odd jobs to get cash.

Aunt Fannie died in 1959 and is buried in the Snow Hill Baptist Cemetery. She has descendants in the Thompson Station area of Tennessee.

Aunt Nancy Bailiff married Isaac Cummings. Isaac Cummings was the son of Bridget Elledge and Polk Cummings. Polk Cummings died and Bridget remarried Pierce Kerley. Pierce Kerley’s mother, Susan Sweeney, married Samuel Braswell after Pierce’s father died. Samuel Braswell was one of the first two settlers in Possum Hollow. His log home still stands near the brick home of Gary and Betty Mullican.

Pierce Kerley as I was told was “calling” on a young widow on the ridge. An older boy was harassing the widow and Pierce shot him. He was acquitted by trial and took his family to Texas. Isaac and Aunt Nancy went with them.

I have a photo of the large two story house and occupants of the Pierce Kerley family. The house stood just across from the big spring in Possum Hollow.

Aunt Nancy died in 1902 in Blue Ridge, Texas during childbirth. Isaac Cummings died from Tuberculosis in 1905. Pierce Kerley died from kidney failure as a result of drinking alcohol in 1905 as well. Bridget Kerley raised Aunt Nancy’s children, Ray and Mae Cummings, in Collin Co, Texas. The family relocated there in 1903 after Aunt Nancy’s death. Mae Cummings died at about age 20. Ray moved to Kansas and then to California. The family has since lost contact with this branch of the family.

Uncle Theo Bailiff married twice and lived in DeKalb County all of his life. He lived in Dowelltown during his latter years.

L.D. Bailiff bought the old homestead in Possum Hollow from his parents in 1925. He raised his children there. He died in 1969.

L.D. (my great grandfather) worked in Nashville for awhile around 1905 or so. He worked in an ice plant. A man there was picking on him, especially poking him in the ribs. L.D. had asked him to stop several times to no avail. One day L.D. lost his temper and stabbed this man with an ice pick.

He didn’t stay to see if the man died. He boarded a train for Texas.

I assume that L.D. stayed out near Collin Co, TX as that is where his uncle Rufus Bailiff and family settled. Aunt Nancy of course had died, but Bridget and the children were there in Collin County, too.

L.D. told (per Aunt Louelle’s daughter, Shirley Taylor) that he rode a bicycle with a huge front wheel out in Texas. The ground was so flat it was easy to peddle. My grandfather (Charlie F. Bailiff) told me that his dad met a young woman out there and was engaged to be married. He was so homesick, he wanted to come home and see his parents again before getting married. This young woman begged him not to leave as she feared he would not come back.

In 1908, L.D. Bailiff married Amanda Helen Tramel. He never went back to Texas.