A few days after his graduation, in June, 1879, Willis Bailey started with a span of horses for Kansas. His location was in Nemaha County, seven miles west of Seneca, the county seat. There he opened up a ranch, and on that ranch a town was subsequently started, named Baileyville. Governor Bailey took an active hand in the management of the Bailey ranch until 1906. In that year he removed to Atchison, Kansas, became vice president of the Exchange National Bank, and for over ten years had been the managing official of this institution. His interest in banking dates even earlier, since in 1895 he organized the Baileyville State Bank and had been its president ever since. He is also a director of the Exchange State Bank of Atchison, is a charter director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Missouri, is a director in the Bankers’ Guarantee Deposit and Surety Company of Topeka, and is an active director in eight different corporations. Mr. Bailey resided at 419 L Street in Atchison.
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Governor Bailey had a national reputation as a stockman. Besides his extensive farming interests in Kansas he owned lands in Colorado and New Mexico.
From early manhood to the present Governor Bailey had given his allegiance to the republican party. In 1888 he was elected a member of the Legislature, and in 1893 was president of the republican State League of Kansas. In 1896 he was republican candidate for Congress in the First District. In the year 1898 he was nominated for eongressman at large by the State Convention at Hutchinson, and in that campaign he defeated Richard W. Blue. He was an active member of the Fifty-Sixth Congress, and then retired from public life to his raneh in Nemaha County. In 1902 he was nominated by his party for governor and in the November election he defeated W. H. Craddock, the democratie candidate, by a substantial majority. He began his term as governor in 1903 and served two years. After his retirement from the governor’s chair he was prominently mentioned as a candidate for United States senator. In 1908 a large number of republicans urged his nomination for auother term as governor. He had sought the honors of public office only as an opportunity to make a better and greater state, and a strong element in all his political participation had been his loyalty to the agricultural cause. He had worked consistently for the raising of the standards of agriculture, and from 1895 to 1899 he was a member of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture. He did much during that time to secure the retention of F. D. Coburn in the office of secretary and to co-operate with that great exemplar of modern agriculture.
Governor Bailey affiliates with Unity Camp No. 356, Modern Woodmen of America, and with Atchison Lodge No. 647, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. In 1903 he was married at Kansas City, Missouri, to Mrs. Ida B. (Albert) Weede, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Albert, both of whom are now deceased. Her father was a Nehraska farmer. Governor Bailey had two step-sons: Orlin A., who is now claim adjuster for the Union Pacific Bailway at Grand Island, Nebraska; and Vernon, a resident of Salt Lake City, Utah, and general agent for an insurance company.