The Dr. Isham G. Bailey House was traditionally built by Dr. Isham G. Bailey (1813-1885) in about 1842 in the Greek Revival style. This area of North Mississippi was owned and occupied by the Chickasaw Indians until the Chickasaw Cession of 1832. By 1836, the land had been platted and surveyed, and two land speculators, Thomas Mull and Samuel Reeves, purchased the land. In 1842, this land was then purchased from Mull and Reeves by Dr. Isham G. Bailey, a physician and planter originally from Lincoln County, Tennessee but living in Fayette County, Tennessee at the time of the land purchase.
The traditional story of Dr. Bailey’s purchase and construction of this house is brought into question based on further deed and census research. First, the land that the Bailey house stands on was not included in Dr. Bailey’s land purchase in 1842. Second, according to census records, Dr. Bailey and his family were still living in Tennessee in 1850, and likely didn’t move to Marshall County until about 1855. The most likely explanation is that Thomas Mull and Samuel Reeves sold this property to an unknown third party, sometime in the early 1840s, and this unknown buyer built the original 1842 one-story, hip-roofed, brick cottage built on a raised basement. While the original deeds have been lost, it then seems that Dr. Bailey and his family purchased this home in about 1855 and began the significant Greek Revival/Italianate alterations and additions that can still be seen today.
Regardless of who originally constructed the Bailey House, it is undisputed that by 1857, Dr. Bailey and his family were living in the Early Grove area of north Marshall County, and that the new additions to the original house were complete or nearly-complete. By the outbreak of the Civil War, the Bailey House was at the center of a large 844 acre plantation that spread north across the Tennessee border. Dr. Bailey himself was one of the richest planters in the area, with a total value of $107,055 (over 3.3 million dollars in 2019 money).
Dr. Bailey lived in the house with his wife, Susan Bailey (1822-1864) and his children, Neal, Cullen, Nancy and Elizabeth. The Bailey family owned numerous enslaved people, who resided in at least two slave cabins on the property (not extant). The Bailey cemetery, located near the house, contains the graves of numerous Bailey slaves. After the end of the Civil War, many of the former enslaved peoples remained on the Bailey property as sharecroppers, and the sharecropper agreement between Dr. Bailey and two former slaves, Cooper Hughes and Charles Roberts, survives to this day.
The Bailey family were influential members of the Early Grove community. Shortly after Isham Bailey’s arrival in Marshall County, his two brothers, John J. Bailey (1817-1895) and William H. Bailey (1821-1884) also arrived in the Early Grove area. The Baileys, along with Maxwell Wilson and William Abernathy, built St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1856, and then the Wilson Hall school shortly thereafter. The St. John congregation did not survive the Civil War, and the church building itself was destroyed in the early 20th century, though the church’s cemetery (where the Bailey family are buried) survives today.
Unlike other plantations in the vicinity, the Bailey House remained unscathed during the Civil War, and the Bailey family and their descendants continued to live in the house for many years. After Dr. Isham Bailey’s death in 1885, the house and land were inherited by Bailey’s sister Louisa Bailey Parr and her husband William Parr. The house and property remained in the hands of the Bailey-Parr family for over a century. Much of the surrounding land was leased out to other landowners, while the Bailey House itself remained a weekend retreat for family members. In 1985, the Bailey House was purchased by James K. Dobbs III and his wife, who conducted extensive repairs to the house. Since 1995, the house has been owned by Katharine Manning Loeb, who has continued to restore and expand the Bailey House.
The Dr. Isham G. Bailey House is a one-story, hip-roof raised-basement Greek Revival rural brick cottage, with later Greek Revival and Italianate additions and still-later modern additions, mainly to the north and east facades of the house. The main house is only 200 feet from the main Early Grove road, however the house is mainly accessible from an elliptical drive from the south. The original 1842 core of the house was constructed as a two-room with center hall raised basement cottage. The 1855 additions to the house included four new rooms, an L-plan hallway, and two new entrances, on the east and south sides of the house. The 1855 additions to the house created the distinctive triple-gabled look seen from the south side of the house. A modern screened porch and sunroom have been added to the north and east elevations of the house, though the original walls have clearly been preserved under the modern additions. Several moderns cabins and a barn are located around the Bailey House, a lane of cedar trees mark the south approach to the House (and are likely original to the house) and several beautiful and very old bodoc trees (maclura pomifera) are located to the west of the house.
Thank you to the current owner of the Bailey House (also known as Cedar Lane Farm), Katharine Manning Loeb, for permission to photograph her beautifully-maintained antebellum house and surrounding property.