Contributed by Gigimo
Description: The Original "Bill" BAILEY. Not a Colored Man But an Ohio Veteran of the Civil War.Date: January 18 1904
Newspaper published in: Aberdeen, WA
William BAILEY, the original "Oh, Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey?" was before the Wyandot (Ohio) County Board of Pension Examiners not long ago, being examined for an increase of his quarterly allowance. Mr. BAILEY modestly states that the incident on which the song was founded occurred many years ago, when he was a boy attending school in Bucyrus. He was always of a roving disposition, and at the age of 15 was preparing to go West. One of the wits in the class, after he had seen that Mr. BAILEY's mind was fully made up to leave, made a remark at the depot that was quickly taken up. Just as Mr. BAILEY stepped on the passenger coach one of his friends, a man by the name of Joseph PARKER, said: "Oh, won't you come home, Bill Bailey?" This was the first Mr. BAILEY and his friends ever heard of the remark, and it has clung to him to this day.
Mr. BAILEY was born in Seneca County, New York, and at the age of 4 came to Seneca County, Ohio. He then went to Crawford County, where he remained until he was 15 years old. He drifted West in the employ of the Northwestern Fur Company and located at Indianola, Texas. Here he was captured by the Comanche Indians in 1851, and was held prisoner for fifteen months.
After he was released he drifted to Dakota in 1861, and from there went to Springfield, Ill., where he enlisted in the Twelfth Illinois Infantry and served through the Civil War. He also was a member for eighteen months of the United States Volunteers in the war with Mexico.