Captain Thomas J. Bailey
Captain Thomas J. Bailey, captain of United States lighthouse station at Chicago, has in the fifty-eight years of his existence enjoyed a life that has been replete with incident, chiefly on ocean and lake navigation. From earliest recollections it was his ambition to be a sailor, and at the tender age of ten years he abandoned his home in England and ran away to sail the seas, and live his dream.
The Captain was born in Somersetshire, England, in 1840, the son of Joseph and Mary (Pickford) Bailey. The father was a farmer and native of the same country, the mother being from Witshire. Both parents lived and died in England. It was because he found at home strong opposition to his wishes to become a sailor that young Thomas stole away from his father's home and started for a seaport. He reached Portsmouth via London, and went before the mast on the school brig, serving one year. He was thence transferred to the Rosamond and later to other vessels of the English navy. For more than twenty years he was in the English navy. He served in the Crimean war, and during the Indian mutiny in Field's brigade. He served in China as chief yeoman to Admiral Hope, at which time he was boatswain. From China he went to New Zealand, and was quarterdeck officer of the vessel Cracker. From New Zealand he was transferred to Paraguay, and served through the Paraguayan war. Returning to England, Captain Bailey resigned and came to America. He reached Chicago in 1871 and located on a farm in Will county, near Joliet, and there engaged in farming. But life was not congenial, and he remained there only a short time.
Captain Bailey has been in the employ of the British and American governments most of his life. He has been connected with the lighthouse service for a great many years. For three years he was in the lifesaving service at Ludington and White Lake, Mich., and for six years he was subsequently prime keeper of the government lighthouse at Big Point Sable, Mich. From that station Captain Bailey came to Chicago in 1893 to take charge of the government lighthouse station there.
In 1874 Captain Bailey was married in Canandaigua, Mich., to Miss Mary McClure, a native of Ohio, daughter of Andrew and Elmira (Strong) McClure. Andrew McClure was born in Pennsylvania in 1811; his wife was born in Connecticut, daughter of Capt, David Strong, a sea captain and vessel owner, who sailed from Connecticut, and whose vessel was seized by the French. Captain Strong was confined to a French prison for a year, and his vessel confiscated, like many others at the time, by the French Government. When the indemnity was paid for these seizures the Strong heirs failed to receive their share. The parents of Mr. Bailey moved to Lenawee county, Mich., in 1844, and settled in Adrian. The father died in 1897, the mother in 1892, both at the age of eighty-six years. Since 1893 Captain and Mrs. Bailey have resided in Chicago. Four children have been born to them, Juliett, a stenographer; Fred L., Victor and Winfield. Captain Bailey is a member of the Evening Star Lodge No. 173, F. & A. M., at Medina, Michigan.
The lighthouse, situated at the mouth of the Chicago river, and of which Captain Bailey has charge, was established in 1859. There are six lights, as follows: One revolving light at the outer breakwater, and one lens and fog signal at the outer breakwater, one fifth- order light and lens light off the south breakwater, and one-sixth order lens and lantern on the north pier, and a fog bell stuck by clock work on the north pier. The lighthouse was built on piers in 1859, and was then all surrounded by water. There was a raised walk from lighthouse to shore, the lake having been filled since then. Originally there was only one light, which has been removed to Twin River, Wis. The present lighthouse was erected in 1859, and is one of the landmarks that escaped the fire of 1871. This is the largest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, and is among the oldest and most prominent. Captain Bailey has a crew of five assistants.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.