This page tells the story of how we became "The Bailey's".
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Celia/Cecelia/Cicelia Watson was born around 1831 or 1832 in Edgefield, South Carolina or sold to the Watson Plantation in Edgefield to Dr. Walter Andrew Watson, a caucasian slave owner. Celia's parents are unknown. Although Celia had sisters and brothers, their names and whereabouts have not been found.
Some family records state that Celia's mother's name was Julia "Watson". Julia was African. Back in slavery times slaves took on their slave owner's last name. That is how "Watson" became a part of Celia and Andrew's last name.
Celia's first son, Andrew Watson was born around 1845, 1850 or 1857 during slavery, but he was never a slave. Andrew was the oldest of four or five half sisters and brother's on his father's side of his family. His father, Walter Andrew Watson was a General in the Confederate Army. Some family records state that Andrew's middle name was William.
Some family records state that Andrew was born in Ridge Spring, South Carolina. Ridge Spring is not to far from Edgefield.
Robert was a Cherokee Indian living in Chester, South Carolina and born around 1833. At the age of 5, Robert was stolen from his tribe and found himself on the Watson Plantation, giving Robert the name Robert Watson. By the time Robert arrived on the Watson Plantation, Celia was sold to the Bailey Plantation. Robert was then stolen from the Watson Plantation and ended up on the Bailey Plantation. The Bailey Plantation was in Monetta, South Carolina. On this plantation is where Celia and Robert were married. From this marriage Celia and Robert had their first son, John Watson Bailey. John was born around 1862, 1863 or 1868.
The City of Monetta is located close to Edgefield.
When slavery ended Celia and Robert and their two sons stayed on the Watson Plantation in Edgefield, South Carolina.
According to U.S. Census records of 1870 and 1880 Celia and Robert had more children. Their names were:
Aleck Bailey - born around 1860
Cresa Bailey - born around 1864
Sarah Bailey - born around 1864 or 1866
Julia Bailey - born around 1866 or 1868
Frances Bailey - born around 1870
Sam Bailey - born around 1870
Anna Bailey - born around 1877
Lawrance Bailey - born around 1878
Mary Bailey - born around 1879
Their whereabouts are unknown.
When Andrew turned 15 or 16 year's old, the Bailey family moved to Columbia, South Carolina along with the Watson Family. In Columbia, Andrew received what education he could from the white public schools and went on to become a house builder. At the age of 19 Andrew met and married Winfred Daniels in 1869 in Edgefield and from this union 11 children were born. Their names were:
Julia and Joseph Bailey - twins that died at 6 months of age
Isom Lincoln Bailey - born around 1886
Elliott "Bud" Bailey
Samuel Otis, John and James Bailey - triplets born
Robert Frederick "Brother" Bailey
Wilhelmina Ruth "Honey" Bailey - born around 1895
Thomas Leroy "Boisy" Bailey
They were educated in the public schools of Columbia, South Carolina. Andrew and his family lived on Henderson Street. John and his family lived on Marion Street just a couple blocks away from Andrew.
Andrew taught his sons the carpentry trade, how to draw blue prints and other parts of his business. In those days, it was hard for people to get money to put into a family business. Andrew, however, was able to pass for white which enabled him to work for other companies that hired only whites. That was how he earned money to put into his own business. Andrew traveled to different parts of the Southern States to work and returned home on the weekends to be with his family. As his children grew into adulthood, he traveled North with his sons. To his credit, he built homes from South Carolina to North Carolina, in Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia and other cities in between. Andrew built two Churches: Harrison Street Baptist Church in Petersburg, Virginia and Third Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.
Winfred Bailey was a housewife who worked hard to take care of the needs of her husband and her children. She was also a member of several ladies groups and Church groups. She taught her daughters how to sew, cook and do bookkeeping for the family business. Winfred died of an unknown illness around 1932. After her death, Andrew continued to work with his sons building houses in Richmond, Virginia until he was in his early 80's. Andrew then became ill and was moved to New York to live with his daughter, Honey (Wilhelmina) for several years. Andrew later moved back to his home in Richmond, Virginia were he died around 1950.
Robert and Celia stayed in Columbia, South Carolina raising their children. John Watson Bailey met and married Ophelia Rebecca Simkins and this union had 6 children, named:
John S. Bailey - born around 1902
Alma Elizabeth Bailey - born around 1904
Joseph Alexander Bailey, Sr. - born around 1907
Charles Bruce Bailey, Sr. - born around 1909
L. Raymond Bailey, Sr. - born around 1911
Franklin Lee Bailey, Sr. - born around 1914
John Watson Bailey was a quiet and reserved person and he owned and operated a grocery store in Columbia, South Carolina. This fact alone was not necessarily important but it was noteworthy as to the location and type of venture that made it unusual during this time period. The store was located near the main business section of the city in downtown Columbia at 1131 Washington Street, which was two blocks from the State Capital. The main purpose of the store was the grocery business but he offered other incentives to make the business more attractive. At the entrance on the right side, he had a soda fountain with tables and chairs for the customers. He made most of the ice cream and the favorite was called "Tuttie Fruttie". At the entrance on the left side was the candy case. His wife, Ophelia, made some of the candy. John had a list of regular customers who called in to his store on Thursday's and Friday's and place their orders for grocery goods. He would then have the orders delivered that day by means of horse and wagon. On Saturday's the farmers and others from the surrounding area would come into the city to care for their personal business and to meet and greet each other. Many of them would use the Bailey store as a central point. Many of his close friends and business associates referred to him as JW.
John Bailey and Andrew Bailey were both members of the Baptist faith, but they were not members of the same church. Andrew Bailey's family members were members of First Calvary Baptist Church, which was located on Richland Street. John Bailey's family members were members of Second Calvary Baptist Church whcih was located on Bull Street. John Bailey served as treasurer for his church. The two churches were less than one mile apart. Andrew Bailey's family lived on Henderson Street while John Bailey's family lived on Marion Street.
This is about Paris Simkins, Ophelia Rebecca Bailey's father and Franklin Lee Bailey, Sr., taken out of a book by Joseph A. Bailey, Sr., entitled "From Africa To Black Power"
The following information about my Dad is drawn from many sources—from a notebook put together by my Mother; from books; from my articles as a columnist for a weekly Black newspaper; from my notes and writings about my Dad; and from direct communication with Dad. The discussion will start with the earliest ancestoral history available to me. Part of the reason for taking this step back is to give a bird’s eye view of what the environment and atmosphere were like between the period of “From Africa to Black Power.”
All of Dad’s USA ancestors have been located in South Carolina, a state with a predominance of Gullah African people. Most of the Gullahs came out of Serria Leorne and Liberia to Jamacia to Barbados to South Carolina. A Dogon priest from Mali, Africa once told me that I resembled his father who was of the Vai tribe.
Primarily out of Burton’s book, the Bailey Clan as far back as I can trace began with the first family and founder of Edgefield, S. C. headed by Arthur Simkins. Born in Virginia in 1712, he was a captain in the American Revolution; a member of the Provincial Congress; a county court judge; and editor of the Edgefield Advertiser Newspaper. Control of the newspapers was important for it served the community as the voice of the rich, the well-born, and the powerful. It was also a ticket into wealthy and politically elite circles.
The available Bailey story starts with Dad’s great grandmother, Charlotte(1818-63) who was of African/Indian ancestry. She had so strongly and consistently resisted the sexual advances of her elite slave owner, Arthur Simkins, as to be an honored folk heroine. But to have his way, Arthur kept applying different pressures until he found success by forcing Charlotte to sit naked indefinately on a pile of manure. As a result of finally submitting to her lecherous slave owner, she bore their child, Paris Simkins. After Arthur was through with her he passed her on to his cousin, by whom she had another child, Andrew Simkins.
Nevertheless, the reputation of such slave women caught in liaisons with Whites did not necessarily suffer in either the Black or White communities. Charlotte’s reputation for piety and regular church attendance was emphasized in the Black oral history tradition and was acknowledged by Edgefield Whites as well—as evidenced by her receiving praise for “Decorous Christianity” in a White history of the Edgefield Village Baptist Church. She later married another slave, George Simkins, a founder and leader of the Black Baptist Church of Macedonia.
Paris Simkins (1849-1930), an extremely interesting man in his own right, fathered 16 children with his Creek Indian/African wife Mary Ann Noble (1850-1916). Paris was trained as a barber, taught himself to read, taught some slaves to read, became a lawyer, postmaster, landowner, licensed preacher, a South Carolina State legislator, second in command of the State militia, and was very active in Civil Rights.
One of the many stories of Paris began as he was playing with his infant son in the kitchen of his home. Suddenly he became aware of a Ku Klux Klan mob gathering outside his home with the expressed intention of killing him (probably because of his involvement with the Black militia). Calmly, while holding his infant son in his arms, Paris faced down the mob and preached a sermon, directing comments to each of them. Whatever he said caused the KKK members to back off and leave him unharmed.
Paris died September 26, 1930 and his children wrote the following article in a newspaper entitled A Brief Narrative of the Life of Paris Simkins, ESQ., of Edgefield, S. C.: “Nearly four score and ten years ago, within a little hut in Edgefield County, within a few miles of the Court house, was born a slave boy, Paris Simkins. He was loved by the old coachman of his master, who had by stealth learned to read. At a tender age, one night between mid-night and dawn his Mother, Charlotte Simkins, heard him running thru the grassy path, almost out of breath. He tapped lightly upon the door and called in a whisper, “mother, mother, get up and open the door, I have learned my A, B, C’s.!”
He and the old coachman had hid in the swamp and struggled with the alphabet all night, for it was against the law for a slave to be taught to read. When the Civil War broke out, he a youth of less than twenty years was taken along as a barber. He witnessed several battles, and was at the great battle of Gettsburg. After the din of the battles, he with another slave boy, ran and stumbled over the battle field from one wounded and dying soldier to another taking water to them and rendering whatever aid they could knowing that it was not for their cause that they were dying.
When General M. C. Butler was wounded, he soon located him where he had been carried to a house nearby. There he hurried to him to be of whatever aid he could, for they were from the same town. General Butler was glad to see him and spoke very kindly to him.
After the war he returned to Edgefield and opened a barber shop, and it was there that he battled with determination, with all odds against him, for an education. He studied every spare moment, and was assisted by the Rev. Mr. Luther R. Gwaltney and another learned scholar whose name cannot be recalled, for they took great interest in him. His barber shop was his class-room for he never attended school a day of his life. In after years we found in the home many college text books and asked him how came they here, then it was he told us the story of his life as very few know it. His children loved him and always regarded him with respect and reverence knowing the sorrows, disappointments and discouragements with which he has undergone.
In 1868 he was married to Miss Mary Ann Nobles, 16 children were born to them, eight of whom survive him. 19 grand-children and 5 great-grand-children. He was married and baptized by his friend and counselor the Rev. Mr. Gwaltney and is the last of the original members of Macedonia Baptist Church. From eary manhood to a ripe old age he was a great Sunday School and church worker. For many, many years he taught the Bible Class of his church. He arose to great prominence in his church, the community and his state. With the same determination, as in his apparently hopeless struggle for an education, so, also, in later years he resolved to become a lawyer.
Day by day, step by step, only God knows how, he climbed upward to his goal. In 1872 he was elected to the Legislature of South Carolina and served four years. It was during this time that he had the privilege of entering the law class of the University of South Carolina, for a brief period, and from there he received his diploma. In 1885 in Columbia, S. C., he was admitted to the bar and became a lawyer of no mean ability.
In the year of 1884 he drew up the Constitution and By-Laws of The Mutual Aid and Burial Society and was its first president. When in his community there was seen the need of a secret order of K. of P., he was advancing in age, but there being no one to take the lead and direct it he was again pressed into service. A life of service has he to lay down at his Master’s feet. To the poor and distressed he was always a friend in need.
One of his outstanding characteristics through life was faith in God. Never once was he known to falter in faith. On Friday, Sept. 24th, his children standing by his bed, realized that he was crossing “The Bar” asked if he had any pain; in a matter of fact way, so characteristic with him, he said , ‘no, I have always prayed that I pass out without pain.’ So as long as his words were audible he talked with God. And never had a pain. His children. Sept. 26th, 1930.”
One of Paris’ daughters, Ophelia Rebecca, married John Watson Bailey—a White/Indian/African mixture—from neighboring Ridge Springs, S.C. John’s father, Robert, had the “mixed blood” of White, Negro, and Cherokee Indian. Robert’s wife Cecilia Watson, was a slave. Ophelia and John had five children—Alma, Joseph (my Dad), Bruce, Raymond, and Frank.