March 31: Death of pioneer lumberman William T. Bailey

On this day in Duluth in 1914, pioneer lumberman William T. Bailey died in Rochester, Minnesota, where he had gone to seek treatment from the Mayo Clinic. Bailey was born in Baylysboro, Ontario, in 1842. When he was seven his father set out to California to try his luck in the gold rush—and was never heard from again. One biographer noted that from that point, Bailey “had to support himself by his own industry and resourcefulness, but in spite of early limited advantages in school he kept his mental horizon broadening with successive years through reading and intimate contact with men and affairs.” Bailey found work in the lumber business in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and came to Duluth in 1880 to established his own lumber company. It was “his resourcefulness as an organizer, as an executive and a shrewd business man that enabled him to achieve prominence in the lumber industry rather than the possession of extensive capital.” The William T. Bailey Company became one of the largest lumber outfits northern Minnesota and had mills and logging operations in several states. When he died, local newspapers heaped praise upon him, noting that “His splendid manhood won his fellow-men and to him was given the unswerving loyalty of a legion of friends.” At his funeral at Duluth’s First Presbyterian Church his pall bearers included noted industrialist August Wolvin, lumberman Robert Whiteside, former Duluth Mayor Charles d’Autremont, and then current mayor William Prince.

William T. Bailey. (Image: Duluth Public Library)