Bailey family arrived in Covington County circa 1915

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Bailey family of Covington County is being featured in today’s column. A couple of informative stories in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama publication served as the major resource for this writing.

Gabriel Bailey is the ancestor who brought this family to Alabama. His father, as reported by, was Samuel Bailey who was born in 1819 in the State of Georgia. Samuel died in Randolph County, Ga., but the date is not available.

He was married to Cena Ruffion who was born in 1834. Samuel and Cena Bailey reared the following children: Charlotte, b. 1850, d. 1995, m. Reuben Pitman (1847-1925); Emily, b. 1854; Ella, b. 1856; Gabriel “Gab,” b. 1858; Benjamin C., b. 1860; John, b. ca 1872, d. 1941; Rebecca, b. ca 1872, d. 1949, m. (1) ? Williams (2) ? Holley; Bessie Lee; and Addie, b. 1875. Most if not all the children were born in Randolph County, Ga., where the family lived for many years before migrating to Alabama.

The oldest daughter, Charlotte Bailey, was married to Reuben Pitman. They reared the following children: James Allen, b. 1871, d. 1955; Mary, b. 1874; Mattie, b. 1874; Lewis/Louis, b. 1877; Leola, b. 1879; and Anna, b. 1885, d. 1991.

The son named Gabriel Bailey was born March 9, 1858, when his parents were living in Georgia. In 1889 he was married in Henry County, Ala., to Anna “Annie” Forrester. In 1900 they were residing in the Cowarts community of Henry County. By 1910, the family was enumerated as residents of Ashford in Houston County. Gabriel “Gab” and Annie reared the following children: Mattie, b. 1892, d. 1918; Samuel J., b. 1893, d. 1918, m. Mattie ?; Henry, b. 1895; Robert L., b. 1895; Willie V., b. ca 1997; Oscar, b. 1898; John D., b. ca 1899; and Acil “Acy,” b. 1900, d. 2001, m. Alice Leslie. Gabriel Bailey died in 2001 in Dothan, Ala.

Gabriel and Anna’s oldest son, Samuel J. Bailey, was married to Mattie M. ?, and they reared the following children: Matilda M., b. 1915; Marie K., b. 1917; Samuel Jr., b. 1919, d. 1995, m. Lucille Hemphill; Joseph J, b. 1922; Mattie L., b. 1914; Benjamin J., b. 1926; and private female. Samuel was residing in Perry County, Ala., at the time of his death.

The Bailey family stories published in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama features Acy Bailey and his son, Delacy Bailey; therefore most of this writing will review their biographical history.

Acy Bailey was the youngest of 10 children, and his mother passed away while he was still quite young. At 15 years of age, he moved to Gantt, Ala., in Covington County where a Mrs. Ollie Anderson looked after him. At the time Gantt was sparsely populated with black people, who were mostly individuals who were brought to the area from South Carolina as slaves or the children of slaves. Acy worked on farms where he plowed the fields with mules, which helped him decide he did not want this line of work in his future. He was able to attend school at Sweet Beulah in Boston, Ala., and Hannah College in Greenville. He accepted Christ at a young age and joined Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Gantt where he remained faithful until his death.

Acy developed political aspirations early in life as he saw so many black people being unable to vote in elections.

During the early 1960s he traveled to Montgomery to consult with black political leaders from whom he sought help for improving the political make-up of South Alabama.

From this experience he organized the Covington County Democratic Conference.

He also was a member of the N.A.A.C.P.

In 1975 he was elected to the Gantt City Council where he served for 25 years and until his failing health caused him to resign. In reference to this service, his daughter, Corine, quoted him: “The hardest part of the job is resisting friends who try to pull you their way. I just do the right thing. I was raised by my dad, Gab Bailey, to do the right thing. My favorite part of being a town councilman is the satisfaction of helping my broad-based, bi-racial constituency. I’m glad to say I have strong support from both races.”

Acy was a member of the Atlantic Lodge #83 for many years. He served as Worshipful Master at New I.D.A. Lodge #315 in Gantt, Ala.

He worked hard all of his life from when he was a young boy until into his 90s.

During the years he helped build smokestacks for buildings in Birmingham, did roofing, plumbing and carpentry on houses and business buildings.

In later years he decided to construct picnic tables and benches. During the years he was self-employed until he reached the age of 98.

His last years were spent at the Salem Nursing Home in Tuskegee, Ala.

At his death in 2001, he was buried near his home in the Gantt, Alabama Cemetery.

Acy Bailey was first married around 1922 to Alice Leslie. They had the following two children: Nelacy, b. 1923, m. (1) Edna Oates (2) Helen Currie of Warren, OH; and Corine, b. 1924, m. Vernon Emmett Crayton Jr. Acy was later married to Glister Mae Cargile with whom he had one daughter, Anna Pearl Bailey, who was married to a Mr. Staley.

When Acy and Alice were separated in 1930, Alice returned to her father’s farm with their two children. For three years they walked for five miles in cold and hot weather to St. Beulah School. Alice then moved to Andalusia where the children attended Covington County Training School for two years. At that time, Alice met and was married to Fletcher Jones, and they moved to Opp., Ala., where there was no school for blacks beyond the sixth grade. The Jones couple asked the superintendent of schools about transporting the children to Andalusia. The problem was solved by Jones buying a truck upon which the school system mounted a bus body. The children were then able to complete high school.

Acy’s son, Nelacy Bailey, was married first to Edna Oates with whom he had two children: Margaret Gail, m. Joseph Williams; and Dellissima, single. Nelacy also adopted Edna’s daughter, Zobria, who married Kent Ingram. Acy was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 during World War II. After serving for two years, he returned home in 1946 and entered Tuskegee Institute to complete a trade in preparation for pursuing a college degree. After completing a course in metal-working and roofing, Nelacy went to Warren, OH, where he worked for a couple of years and was married to Helen Currie.

He then returned to Alabama and attended Alabama State University, where he earned a B.S. degree with a major in math and a minor in science and physical education.

He taught school in Selma and Hartford before settling in Opp in 1966 where he taught math and coached until his retirement in 1981.

Nelacy was very active in his civic and religious life. He was Chairman of the Covington County Democratic Conference, member of Alabama Democratic Conference–2nd Congressional District, member of the North Covington Branch of the N.A.A.C.P., member of South Central Alabama Mental Health Board, and member of the American Legion #304 and VFW in Florala.

He united with the Nazareth Baptist Church as a child and remained a faithful member where he served as Chairman of the Deacons Board, Chairman of the Trustee Board, and President of the Southeast District State Layman Department.

He was also Worshipful Master of Millbrook Masonic Lodge #754 in Opp, member of the Royal Arch Chapter, Worthy Patron of Lilly of the Valley Order of Eastern Stars, member of the Ladies Aid Missionary Society #252 of Opp, assistant secretary of the Southwest District Association, secretary of the Ministers, Layman and Woman’s Quarterly Union; and member of the Pastors Aid Club.

Acy’s daughter, Corine Bailey, was married to Vernon Emmett Crayton Jr., and they reared three children: Vernon Emmett Crayton III, m. Angea Forrester; Corine Blenda, m. Steve Pitches; and Alice Gloria, m. Clarence Williams.

Corine completed a nursing degree and later had training in X-Ray technology.

She is still living at 91 years of age and makes her home in Opp. Appreciation is expressed to her for sharing her family records. Other sources were, the two family stories in The Heritage of Covington County, Alabama, and an interview with Mrs. Crayton.

Anyone who may find an error in the above information is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: