Oran Vaughan is shown at Pioneer Village, which he founded, with (from left) his wife, April Kelly and Ellen Key.

Bailey Descendents Celebrate $4.20 Land Deal


Searcy Daily Citizen, November 9, 1948


he 110th anniversary of the purchase of 500 acres of land in White County was celebrated on Sunday, November 7, by descendents of Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Bailey, the land having been owned and cultivated continuously by the same family.
          The Baileys with their five children came from Tennessee in 1820 and settled in White County, three miles from where Pangburn is now located.  On November 6, 1838, Elijah Bailey received a deed for this land for payment of unpaid taxes of $4.20.
          About 40 persons, the majority descendents of Elijah Bailey and his wife, met at Little Red school, which is in the vicinity of the land, and where all except the youngest generations have attended school.  At Little Red, once a thriving trading point with a large cotton gin, post office and several stores, only the school building remains, and it now is used only for church services, the school having been consolidated with the Pangburn school two years ago. The building, erected about 1885, was the community center for many years and was used for school, church, Sunday school and various community gatherings, oyster suppers, strawberry suppers, barbecues, etc.  
Until recently a second story housed the Masonic Hall where dances frequently were held.  The “fiddlers” were in the middle of the long hall, with a “set” of young people frolicking through the intricacies of a quadrille at each end of the building to the lively tunes of “Turkey in the Straw,” “Arkansas Traveler,” and “Swing That Pretty Girl,” and the call of “Do se do,” “Swing your partners,” and “Ladies to the center, gentlemen to the wall, take a chaw tobacco and balance all.”  Chaperoned by a few couples of the older people (who no doubt took an occasional fling at “Swing Corners”), the dancers did not go home until the break of dawn.
          When the pioneering Bailey and his brother Abner settled in the wilderness, they found only a few trappers and hunters, making an uncertain living from trading furs and hides to dealers from Pennsylvania who made infrequent trips on a keel boat.  A military road, built about that time from Sainte Genevieve, Missouri, to Fulton, Arkansas, passed near the Bailey land and was the only road in that section except Indian trails.  Other early settlers had acquired land from the government or purchased tracts by 1840.

The 500 acres now is owned by Oran Vaughan of Searcy, great-grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Bailey, and the heirs of Mrs. Ida Lewis, granddaughter of the Baileys.  Mr. Vaughan, referring to the low price which his great-grandfather paid for the land, states that it can be redeemed by payment of taxes plus interest compounded annually at 10 percent, a small matter of about $100,000 at this date. 
He made this offer at the 100th anniversary celebration on November 6, 1938, when it was only about $57,500, but has had no takers so far. 
Mrs. Ola Wood, granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Bailey and the only living member of her generation, tells of a cow owned by her son, Boyce Wood, which is a descendent of a cow owned by Elizabeth Jane Bailey Sutherlin about 75 years ago.  At the request of Mrs. Sutherlin a heifer of each generation was named “Keeps,” indicating that she was not to be sold, but kept to perpetuate the line.  There’s no telling how many generations there have been in this lineage.  This is the second celebration and it was decided to have these gatherings annually in the future.
Two great-great-great grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Bailey
[3] were among those who attended the affair. 

They represented the sixth generation of the family since the Baileys came to Arkansas.  They are Terry and Dawn Butler of Pangburn.  Others were Herschel Lewis and Mrs. Alma Naylor of Little Rock; Mrs. Ola Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Prince Wood, Joe Wood, Patsy and Sunny Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Boyce Wood, Adele, Laquita and Mariola Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Wood Temple, Robbie, Norma and Lanny Wood, Mr. and Mrs. Houston Butler, Terry and Dawn Butler, all of Pangburn; Mr. and Mrs. Shelby Wood, Mary Sue and Tommy Wood, Bald Knob; Mrs. Tom Miller, Judsonia; Mr. and Mrs. P.C. Wood Jr., Heber Springs; Mr. and Mrs. W.A. King and Julianne King, Kensett; Virgil Lewis, Mr. and Mrs. Barney Hartsell, Miss Swan Hartsell, Oran Vaughan, Mr. and Mrs. L.W. Sutherlin, Jane and Patricia Ann Sutherlin, Jetta Marie Nowell, Miss Virginia Lightle, all of Searcy; Mrs. Joe Sexton, Walnut Ridge.

Oran Vaughan made a brief talk and gave the invocation before dinner was served.  A sumptuous feast, featuring big platters of fried chicken, coffee, homemade cakes and pies and other delicious home-cooked food, seldom seen in these modern days of restaurants and fast-order “eateries,” was followed by an hour of music.  Mrs. Sexton, accordionist, Miss Hartsell, pianist, and a group of young vocalists rendered old-time songs. 


It was decided to make this celebration an annual affair. vvv

[1] Thanks to the efforts of Oran Vaughan and others, the Little Red school is now preserved at Pioneer Village in Searcy.

[2] According to Oran Vaughan, writing in 1962, Elijah Bailey’s purchase contained 160 acres.  The sale occurred in November 1837 and took place at the first Tax Sale held in White County, involving the Southeast Quarter of Section 33, Township 10 North, Range 7 West.  “So long as Arkansas was classed as a territory, no property taxes were assessed,” Vaughn stated.  “When admitted to statehood in 1836 the first were levied.  That quarter-section had been patented to Jacob Brader, a veteran of the War of 1812, as a land bonus.  When the tax was levied he failed to show up to pay and the land was sold for taxes (for a total of $4.20).”    Oran Vaughan died at age 76 on September 16, 1972, and was buried in Searcy’s Oaklawn Cemetery. [3] style='font-size:10.0pt;font-style:normal'> Elijah Bailey was the son of John Bailey, who prepared the following will August 1, 1829, witnessed by John Story, Burthaney Xcouner and William Chandler and filed in Red River Township of what was then Pulaski County in August 1830: “Know all men by these presences that I, John Bailey, of the aboved county and territory of this day, divided my property with my wife and children agreeable to my wish it being my last will and testament.  In the first place, I give to my son, Stephen Bailey, one cow and calf, also I give to my son, Elijah Bailey, one cow and calf, also I give to my son, Nimrod Bailey, one cow and calf.  The balance of my estate I give my son, Abner Bailey, to take charge of and do the best he can with and support his mother with of the same during her life and the property is to remain my wife’s, Elizabeth Bailey, during her life and at her death, I wish my son, Abner Bailey, to have everything that remains.  This is my last will and in my proper mind.”