John W. Bailey, Princeton, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 15, 1830. He is the son of William S. and Caroline A. (Withall) Bailey. William S. Bailey is a native of Massachusetts, but in childhood removed West with his family, and settled in Ohio, and there he was married.
At the age of eleven years, after having spent five years in the common schools, John W. Bailey commenced as “devil boy” in a Cincinnati job office, where he remained until he had thoroughly mastered the jobbing trade; and in the meantime had begun to write sketches for the daily papers of the city. Mr. Bailey then became connected with various daily papers of Cincinnati as a reported and news editor; next assisted in establishing a Republican paper in Indiana, and in 1858 became a half owner of the Tiffin, Ohio, Tribune. His interest in this he sold in 1860, and he became a one-third owner of the Bailey Toledo Commercial. In 1863 Mr. Bailey purchased the Bureau County Republican, and has since resided at Princeton (see chap. on press).
In early life he was identified with the Abolition party, and also with the “underground railroad” business, and as he lived on the dividing line, he relates many incidents connected with the work which would read well in romance. He cast his first vote for Gen. Winfield Scott, in 1852, while strongly sympathizing with the Free Soil party under the lead of John P. Hull, realizing full well that either Scott or Pierce would be the choice of the people. He vigorously opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, in 1854, voted for John C. Fremont in 1856, and for every Republican President since that time, always the uncompromising opponent of slavery, and the firm advocate of liberty. He was among the first to favor the arming of the Negroes to help put down the Rebellion; to favor their right to citizenship and the ballot, and he maintains now that the points of the war to preserve a free Republic will be lost unless the purity of the ballot an be firmly established.
The chief energies of his life have been devoted to upbuilding the newspapers with which he has been so long connected, and his papers have ever taken the part of all enterprises calculated to benefit the public. The Republican has ever been the stanch supporter of the high school, manufactories and various improvements. Mr. Bailey has given but little attention to any other business that that of conducting his paper in the best and most successful way. However, at the beginning of the war he spent one winter in Washington, D. C., as correspondent for his paper, in the mailing department of the House; and in 1880 he accepted the Supervisorship of the Census for the Third Illinois District, embracing fourteen counties lying between Bureau County and the Mississippi River.
In Masonry he became far advanced, and is now a member of the Blue Lodge, Chapter, Council, Commandery, and in Scottish Rite Masonry he has taken the thirty-second degree. He is an I. O. O. F., and in religion is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
March 27, 1860, at Tiffin, Ohio, he was united in marriage to Miss Emma D. McClelland, who was born in Lancaster County, Penn., October 10, 1835. She is the mother of the following named children: Ella C., William J., Harry U., Howard and Mable; also two others died in infancy. The two eldest are following in the footsteps of their “dad,” and are now in he Republican office.
Source: History of Bureau County, Illinois, H. C. Bradsby, Editor. World Publishing Company Chicago 1885