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Willis Joshua Bailey

Gov. Willis Joshua Bailey

  • January 12, 1903 - January 5, 1905
  • Republican
  • October 12, 1854
  • May 19, 1932
  • Illinois
  • University of Illinois at Urbana
  • Married Ida B. Weede; two stepchildren
  • Representative


WILLIS J. BAILEY, the sixteenth governor of Kansas, was born near Mount Carroll, Illinois on October 12, 1854. In 1872, he graduated from Mount Carroll High School, and in 1879, he graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana. Bailey moved to Nemaha, Kansas and established successful careers as a rancher and farmer. He also was instrumental in founding the town of Baileyville, as well as the founding the Baileyville State Bank, where he later served as president. Bailey entered politics in 1889, serving as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, an office he held until 1891. He also served on the State Board of Agriculture from 1895 to 1899, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from March 4, 1899 to March 3, 1901. Bailey won the 1902 Republican gubernatorial nomination, and was sworn into the governorship on January 12, 1903. During his tenure, funds were secured for a Kansas display at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the construction on the state capitol was completed, railroad commissioners and the office of state printer became elective positions, and a law was sanctioned that banned gambling devices. Also, aid was granted in 1903 to flood sufferers, tuition schedules were slated at state universities, and sugar beet compensations were approved. After leaving office on January 5, 1905, Bailey resumed his duties as president of the Baileyville State Bank. In 1914, he served as director of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, and eight years later, was named governor of the bank, serving in this capacity until his death. Governor Willis J. Bailey passed away on May 19, 1932, and was buried at the Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Atchison, Kansas.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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