Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 13, 2012

Civil War vet finally gets headstone


---- — BATTLE CREEK (AP) — Under a dying pine tree, off in an all-but-forgotten corner of Battle Creek's Oak Hill Cemetery, George Bailey can finally be found.

The gray headstone stands out from the others in the area, some of which are 75 years old. This one, though, is brand new and says simply, "George W. Bailey, 1st Serg., Co. I, 1st USCT."

Bailey was buried here after his death on May 17, 1929, but because he died poor, there was no money for a headstone. So here he has lain, with no headstone to mark him or his second wife Martha, who died eight years before him and lies next to him.

But all that changed thanks to the initial curiosity of the Battle Creek Historical Society and the diligence of one of its genealogists, Bellevue resident Joann Werner.

"This one has taken me places I never thought I'd go," she said.

It began about two years ago when, a freelance genealogist who thrives on diving into old records and asking questions was given a list of Civil War soldiers' names from the Battle Creek area and asked to discover what she could about them as a run-up to the war's 150th anniversary. One of the names was George W. Bailey.

He died, probably penniless, in 1929 at the age of 87 in the Calhoun County Home.