JOHN E. BAYLESS deserves more than a passing notice in reviewing the lives and labors of the representative men of this county. It may be a sordid sentiment which gives prominence to the man who has been successful in the accumulation of dollars and cents, but it cannot be denied that these contribute greatly to the comfort and happiness of mankind; and he who has been successful in his efforts in this direction, is involuntarily accorded a dignity and respect to which he is undeniably entitled. Mr. Bayless, a self-made man, who began life at the foot of the ladder, dependent upon his own resources, is now the owner of 380 broad acres, comprising one of the most valuable farms in Morgan County, and pleasantly located on section 14, township 16, range 12. He began as a general agriculturist, but of late years has been engaged in stock-raising, and has realized from this industry alone a snug fortune.
A Kentuckian by birth, Mr. Bayless first opened his eyes to the light in Mason County, in the Blue Grass Region, on the 24th of April, 1826, and is the son of Ezra and Annie (York) Bayless, who were natives of the same State as their son. The father died when our subject was a mere boy, and his other passed away when he was a youth of fifteen or sixteen years. They had, however, in the meantime removed to Franklin County, Indiana, lived there two years, and then came back to this county, of which he has since been a resident. About 1855-56 he purchased ninety-five acres of land, the nucleus of his present homestead, and which he had prior to this time operated upon as a renter. He labored early and late for several years, improving his land and cultivating the soil, and was greatly prospered. He invested his surplus capital in additional land, thus placing it where it could not be carried off by the absconding bank cashier, until he attained to his present large possessions. The family for a number of years occupied a small frame house, until Mr. Bayless erected his present residence, which is represented in this volume, and which is a very tasteful and commodious structure, and with its surroundings very nearly approaches the ideal country home.
Mr. Bayless was wedded March 10, 1853, to Miss Melissa J. Green, who was born in this county May 3, 1836. Her parents, William and Catherine (Long) Green, were natives of Tennessee, and came to this county during its pioneer days. Their family consisted of nine children. The father died in Iowa, and the mother in Morgan County, Ill.
The household circle of Mr. and Mrs. Bayless was completed by the birth of five children: Luther F., who married Miss Addie Johnson, is farming the home place; Dora V., the wife of W. F. Deterding; Chalmers D., Nellie and Marcus D.; the latter is deceased.
Mr. Bayless came to this county without means or other resources than his strong muscles and courageous heart, together with those principles of honor and integrity in which he had been trained by his excellent mother. He experienced his full share of the difficulties of pioneer life, bringing his land from a state of nature to its present productive condition, and he himself perfected all the improvements which we behold today. These have involved a large amount of labor, time and money, but he rightly considers that it has been capital well invested. While his personal interests have absorbed the greater part of his time and attention, he has in the meantime maintained a warm interest in the progress of his adopted county, and contributed as opportunity has offered to the furthering of those enterprises calculated for the best good of its people. Mr. Bayless has been the efficient counselor and helpmate of her husband, and has labored with him in the accumulation of their property. They enjoy an extended acquaintance in this county, and welcome under their hospitable roof its best people. In politics, he is a stanch Republican. He, his wife, and daughter, Mrs. Deterding, are members of the Christian Church at Concord.