Jonathan Bayless has been one of the largest land owners and most prominent citizens of Crawford county for over thirty years, and is now spending the last years of a most active and useful life in quiet retirement in the city of Girard, where he is held in high esteem because of his personal worth and venerable character.He was born in the city of New York, March 13, 1829. The family in America originated with three brothers, one of whom was the great-grandfather of Jonathan, who came to this coutry in the colonial period of our history. To distinguish themselves from all others of the name they left off an s from their name, spelling it Bayles instead of Bayless. One brother settled in Virginia, one in Maryland and one in Connecticut. Jonathan is a descendant of the one who settled in Connecticut. In 1882 he added the omitted s to his name, as nearly all the other descendants have done, although his brother James, of Kansas City, still writes his name Bayles.
Jonathan Bayles, the grandfather of Jonathan Bayless, was a farmer in Westchester county, New York. He served in the war of the Revolution, from first to last, and acted as captain of his company, although he was never commissioned. He married Miss Rhoda June, a descendant of French Huguenots who fled from France at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the persecution of the Protestants. By this marriage there were eight children, four sons and four daughters.
The youngest son was Samuel Bayles, who was born at Rye, Westchester county, New York, November 22, 1796. He lived on the farm until he was nine years old, and then his parents moved to New York city, where he was educated and lived ten years; at the end of which time the family returned to Westchester county. His father died in December, 1823, and in the following spring Samuel returned to New York city and taught school there for two years. After that he was engaged in the grocery business until the spring of 1832, and in that year moved west to the territory of Michigan, where he purchased three hundred and twenty acres of government land in Lenawee county, on the Raisin river, now the townships of Madison and Dover, near Adrain. He paid one dollar and a quarter an acre for this land, and the deed to it was signed by Andrew Jackson, then President of the United States.
Samuel Bayles married, December 28, 1825, Miss Mary Hubbard, a daughter of Andrew Hubbard, a well-to-do farmer of New Rochelle, Westchester county, New York. The following children were born of this marriage: Andrew H., who is deceased; Jonathan, of Girard, Kansas; Jennie A., first the wife of Dr. Briggs, of Toledo, Ohio, and later the wife of J. H. Kennedy, of Detroit, Michigan, where she now resides; James A., of Kansas City; Samuel M., who died in St. Louis, where his widow, son and daughter now reside; Ophelia B. is the widow of Rev. Solomon S. Littlefield, who died in Detroit, Michigan, and she is now living in Evanston, Illinois, with her daughter, who married Rev. Charles Stuart, a professor in Garret Biblical Institute; Edwin L., who died in infancy; and Benjamin H., a resident of Denver, Colorado.
Mrs. Mary (Hubbard) Bayles died December 28, 1874, in Adrian, Michigan, in her sixty-eighth year, after a long, useful and happy Christian life. She was converted and joined the Methodist church when twelve years old. Her parents were life-long members of the same church, and they died on the old farm in New York where they had lived before, during and after the Revolutionary war. In repairing their old house after the war the front door was left in place as a relic, because it bore the marks of so many British bullets. Samuel Bayles died July 20, 1882, in Detroit, Michigan, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Ophelia B. Littlefield, being then in his eighty-sixth year. Early in life he too had joined the Methodist Episcopal church, and was a faithful and active member throughout his life.
At this point it will be proper to insert an obituary which appeared in the press at Adrian, Michigan, on the occasion of the death of Samuel Bayles, as indicating still further the beauty and worth of noble character that now belongs among the past. "Samuel Bayles, formerly of eastern New York, but for many years a resident of Michigan, died in Detroit, July 20, 1882, aged eighty-six years. He was converted at an early age, and from the happy day when he gave his heart to God he was a devoted, consistent, intelligent and zealous Christian. His spirit was always uncomplaining, trustful and cheerful. His place was never vacant in the house of the Lord unless he was kept away from it by Providence. He was respected by those who knew him, and in the city of Adrian where he has lived for many years his name is honored and the memory of his virtues and of his beauty of character and life will be long cherished. He lived long and well, and died a conqueror. Blessed are the dead who died in the Lord. The following peom was found in Mr. Bayles' Bible marking the chapter which he read last. The chapter was the account of the raising of Lazarus:
Tell thou to my friends when, weeping,
They my words descry,
Here you find my body sleeping,
But it is not I.
Now in life immortal hovering,
Far away I roam.
This was but my house, my covering,
'Tis no more my home.
This was but the cage that bound me;
I, the bird, have flown.
This was but the shell around me;
I, the pearl, am gone.
Over me as over treasures
Had a spell been cast.
God hath spoken, at his pleasure
I am free at last.
Thanks and praise to him be given,
Who has set me free;
Now for evermore in heaven
Shall my dwelling be.
There I stand his face beholding
With the saints in light;
Present, future, past unfolding,
In that radiance bright.
Tolling through the plain I leave you,
I have journeyed on.
From your tents why should it grieve you,
Friends, to find me gone?
Let the house, forsaken, perish,
Let the shell decay;
Break the cage, destroy the garment
I am far away.
Call not this my death, I pray you,
'Tis my life of life
Goal of all my weary wanderings,
End of all my strife.
Think of God with love forever,
Know his name is Love;
Come to him, distrust him never,
He rewards above.
I behold each deathless spirit,
All your ways, I view;
Lo! the portion I inherit
Is reserved for you."
Jonathan Bayless came with his parents, Samuel and Mary, from New York city to Adrian, Michigan, when he was three and a half years old. When he was seventeen years old he began teaching in the winter seasons. His first school was at Medina, Michigan, then for two winters at Sylvania, Ohio, for two winters at Monroe City, Michigan, and then at his home school. He assisted his father on the farm during the balance of each year. He continued in this way until he was twenty-five years old, and then, on March 1, 1854, married Miss Eugenia Briggs, a daughter of William R. Briggs, of Lenawee county, Michigan. He and his wife at once took up their residence on their own eighty-seven acres near Adrian. By this marriage there were three sons and two daughters: Ella M., wife of W. L. Eddy, living near Girard, Kansas; to them have been born five children, Frank Bayless, Eugenia May, who died in infancy; Leonard Jonathan, Lucy Isabel, Henry Newton. Nathaniel, living in Girard, married Fannie Straub, and they have two children, John Henry and Pearl Ida. Irving J., in the hay, grain and coal business in Kansas City, married Lillian Estella Terry, of Fort Scott, Kansas. Mary L. married H. W. Barclay, the proprietor and operator of a corset factory in Newark, New Jersey; they have two children, Gaylord A. and Mary Louise. William B. died in infancy.
March 10, 1864, Bayless sold his farm in Michigan, and on March 1, 1865, opened a drug and grocery store in Mendota, Illinois, where he did well for a time. But finding that more than half of his customers were Germans who wanted a treat to beer after each purchase (something he could not conscientiously do), he decided to sell out and go elsewhere. On December 18, 1865, he sold all his property in Mendota, and in the following spring bought lots and built a store in the new town of Pleasant Hill, Missouri, and he and his brother Benjamin engaged in the furniture and undertaking business. In August of the same year, while on a trip to purchase goods, he was taken suddenly ill at St. Louis with typhoid fever. Mrs. Bayless came to take care of him, and was stricken with the same disease and died September 24, being buried in the St. Louis Evangelical Alliance cemetry, now called the New Pickers cemetery.
On August 5, 1867, Mr. Bayless was married at Adrian, Michigan, to Miss Charlotte Briggs, a sister of his first wife, and she died at Pleasant Hill, Missouri, of typhoid fever, August 30, 1868. and is buried beside her sister in St. Louis. Mr. Bayless married for his third wife Miss Mary E. Curtiss, in Racine, Wisconsin, December 28, 1870. One daughter was born of this union, Delia R., who died in infancy, and Mrs. Mary E. Bayless died Februry 28, 1874, she and her little daughter being buried in the cemetery at Girard, Kansas.
In the summer of 1871 Jonathan and Benjamin Bayless sold their business in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, and dissolved partnership, Benjamin going to Denver, Colorado. Jonathan, because of poor health, came to Crawford county and settled on a farm of one hundred and sixty acres five miles northwest of Girard, which land he had purchased two years before of John H. Gorden. He reached Girard on January 17, 1872, and lived on his farm until the spring of 1890. He devoted his time and efforts to general farming and the handling and raising of stock. He also planted, as soon as he came to the county, an apple orchard of forty acres. He gradually added to his landed possessions in this county until at one time he owned seven hundred and sixty acres, but now retains only three hundred and sixty acres.
Mr. Bayless was married to his present wife October 4, 1874, her maiden name being Rebecca A. Hartsock, a daughter of Lewis Hartsock, a farmer of Crawford county. They moved from the farm to the city of Girard in the spring of 1890, where they have a pleasant and comfortable home in which to pass their remaining years, both being in good health for their age.Pages 361-367 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Thomas Hughes and Joel Joseph, students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, in April, 2003.
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