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          Thomas M. Bailey,D.D., was born at Grace Hill, Antrim county, Ireland, on December 27, 1829. His parents were Joseph and Margaret (Warden) Bailey, both of Scot-Irish descent. They had eleven children, of whom Thomas was the youngest.

          Until his fifteenth birthday Thomas Bailey attended the village school academy. A natural taste for the outdoor life made him want to become a simple farmer, which was the occupation of his father. But the elder Mr. Bailey wanted better things for his son and apprenticed young Thomas to a merchant firm in Ballymena, four miles from his home. Here he worked for four years, walking home every Saturday night, to spend Sunday with his family.

          By close and systematic attention to his work he won the confidence and esteem of his employer and formed business habits which he would follow for life. He was next employed by Baker Brothers, a firm of well-known Quaker merchants from Dublin. They promoted him rapidly to superintendent of their store. He held this position for three years. During this time, he studied at night, preparing himself to enter Trinity College. He changed his mind, however, and went to London instead, where he pursued a study in British and Foreign Society school preparatory to go abroad as a missionary. He was at this time a Moravian in religious faith. Upon finishing his studies, he was sent out by the society as a missionary to the Island of St. Thomas, in the Danish West Indies. He entered this work expecting it to be his life’s work, but an attack of fever undermined his health and his physician ordered him to Santa Cruz, where he energetically and successfully ministered to churches and gathered the young into Bible schools. While a missionary in Santa Cruz he became acquainted with Baron Joseph von Bretton, his wife and her sister, Miss Alice Keirulff, to which he formed a strong attachment. They were shortly married in the home of Baron von Bretton. She became his faithful and efficient helpmeet until her death in 1886.

          About the time of his marriage, Thomas Bailey had a change in his religious views. He resigned his position as missionary. Thomas and Alice Bailey came to the United States and settled in what was then Edgefield district, in South Carolina. Here they joined the Gilgal Baptist church, and Thomas was baptized by the Rev. E. L. Whatley. Thomas Bailey was soon called to pastor the Baptist churches in that part of the state and preached with great acceptance. Thomas and his wife remained in Edgefield for two years before moving to Alabama where he preached in churches in Dallas and Lowndes counties. In 1867 they moved to Iowa, and for a short time he pastured at Newton. But the climate proved too severe for his wife’s health, so they returned to Alabama to resume his work.

          In 1874 Dr. Bailey was elected secretary of the mission work of the Alabama Baptist state convention. He became a resident of Marion, Alabama. He remained in this position until January of 1886. During this time he visited churches, district associations, preached and made addresses on missions and education all over the state. He was instrumental in building up the churches and increasing their interest in mission work. He spent eleven years in this position of arduous toil and self-sacrifice. But his iron constitution, clear intellect, and sense of humor, together with a genial disposition enabled him to endure the hardship without serious injury.

          In December of 1885, Thomas Bailey was elected corresponding secretary of the state missions for the Baptists of South Carolina. He entered this work on the first of January 1886, and was unanimously re-elected every year. His life was full of work and constant visiting of churches and public gatherings all over the state. The degree of D. D. was conferred upon him by the Howard College of Alabama.

          Dr. Bailey was a great preacher of emence ability and a platform speaker of unusual powers. He was a man of wisdom, good sense, and an understanding of human nature. He was broad-minded and sympathetic to people. He readily comprehended the situation, made quick decisions and reached his conclusions without hesitation. Always hopeful, cheerful, encouraging, he was a safe counselor and his advise was sought by churches as well as pastors throughout the state. During his twenty years of service in the state of South Carolina his work grew rapidly. The denomination he represented has grown to the largest membership of any state.

          Dr. and Mrs. Alice Bailey had seven children before her death. Dr. Bailey later married Sue McMillan of Barnwell county, South Carolina. She studied under Dr. W. B. Johnson, on of the leading educators of this state. She was known as a woman of superior grace and intelligence.


Men Of Mark in South Carolina, Volume I


James Calvin Hemphill



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