Willis Joshua Bailey – 16th Governor

Willis Joshua Bailey

Willis Joshua Bailey

Willis Joshua Bailey was a U.S. Representative and the 16th Governor of Kansas.

Bailey was born in Carroll County, Illinois, on October 12, 1854. He was educated in public schools before continuing his education at the University of Illinois, where he graduated in 1879. Soon after completing college, he accompanied his father to Nemaha County, Kansas, where they engaged in farming and stock-raising and founded the town of Baileyville. He also became active in politics, casting his lot with the Republican Party.

In 1888, he was elected to represent Nemaha County in the State Legislature; was re-elected in 1890; was president of the Republican State League in 1893; was the Republican candidate for Congress in the First District in 1896, and in June 1898, was nominated by the state convention at Hutchinson as the candidate for Congressman at large. After serving in the Fifty-sixth Congress, he retired to his farm, but in 1902, was nominated by his party for governor.

At the election in November, he won by a substantial majority and began his term as governor in January 1903. At the close of his term as governor, he moved to Atchison, where he worked as a Vice-President and Manager of the Exchange National Bank. Shortly after his retirement from the office of governor, he was prominently mentioned as a candidate for United States Senator, and in 1908, a large number of Republicans of the state urged his nomination for governor.

Bailey was always interested in the welfare of the farmers of the country, and from 1895 to 1899, he was a member of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture. He was elected a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Missouri, in 1914 and lived in Mission Hills, Kansas, until his death on May 19, 1932. He was interred in Mount Vernon Cemetery, Atchison, Kansas.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated September 2003.

Also See:

Historic People of Kansas

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About the Article: Most of this historic text was published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar,  A.M. Ph. D.; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on these pages is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.