Elisha W. Baily, M.D.

Alternate Spellings of Name: Elisha W. Bailey; Elijah W. Baily; E.W. Baily.


Rod of Aesclepius with Books, (Detail from Edward Sibley's Astrology (1806, public domain)

Rod of Asclepius with Books, (detail from Edward Sibley’s Astrology, 1806, public domain).

Elisha Wilson Baily, M.D. was born in Londonderry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania on 17 October 1821. He was a son of Israel Baily (1789-1823 or 1826) and Hannah Baily (born sometime around 1800), members of the Hicksite branch of the Society of Friends, and the brother of Bayard and Susanna H. (“Susan”) Baily, who wed Kersey Speakman. Born sometime around 1815, Bayard (alternate spelling “Byard”) Baily died sometime around 1836 at the age of 19. Born sometime around 1818, Susan (Baily) Speakman died in Londonderry, Chester County on 21 April 1852, according to Quaker Meeting records (Fallowfield Monthly Meeting).

Elisha Baily’s father, a farmer and auctioneer by trade, passed away when Elisha was just a young boy. His mother remarried following Israel Baily’s death, and ultimately lived to see the end of America’s great Civil War – a war in which Elisha Baily would care for men who fell on battlefields far from his beloved Keystone State. As the wife of Joshua Speakman, Hannah Baily Speakman gave birth to Elisha’s half-siblings: Col. Franklin B. Speakman, a commander of the 133rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry who became the proprietor of the Coatesville Hotel and passed away on 9 September 1901, and D. Hannah (Speakman) Jones, who wed and was widowed by Coatesville resident Harry Jones.

Early and Middle Years

Jefferson Medical College, c. 1850 (Library of Congress, public domain).

Jefferson Medical College, c. 1850 (Library of Congress, public domain).

A Unionville Academy classmate of poet and novelist Bayard Taylor and graduate of that Chester County institution, he broadened his education by beginning the study of medicine and advancing his mathematical training under the guidance of Dr. Baily of Andrews Bridge in Lancaster County, after which he became an instructor in one of Pennsylvania’s local schools for two years.

Completing his formal medical training under Professor Joseph Pancoast, M.D. at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1844, Baily was privileged to learn from one of the foremost surgeons and diagnosticians of his time. Pancoast, a fellow Quaker and chair of the Departments of Surgery (1839-1841) and Anatomy (1841-1874) at the University of Pennsylvania, had authored A Treatise on Operative Surgery the same year as Baily’s graduation.

After receiving his medical degree, Elisha W. Baily, M.D. opened a private practice as an Allopathic physician in the community of Atglen, Chester County. On 10 November 1852, he married Mary A. Cook in New York City. A native of Point Pleasant, Ocean County, New Jersey, she was a daughter of farmers and New Jersey natives, Thomas and Ann (Williams) Cook.

During the federal census of 1850, Elisha W. Baily was documented as “E. Wilson Baily,” a married physician residing at the Sadsbury, Chester County, Pennsylvania hotel of Absalom Barber.

Sometime around 1855, Elisha and Mary Baily welcomed daughter Ella to the world. From 1856 to 1861, Dr. Baily cared for patients in Bloomfield, Perry County.The 1860 federal census confirms that he resided there with his wife, and six-year-old daughter, Ella.

Civil War Military Service

Camp Curtin (Harpers Weekly, 1861; public domain).

Camp Curtin (Harper’s Weekly, 1861; public domain).

On 24 September 1861, Elisha Wilson Baily, M.D. left his family, patients and private practice in order to enlist in the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He officially mustered in for duty the next day at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, and was commissioned as an officer and Full Surgeon.

According to the Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, Pa., “Dr. Baily took medical charge of Camp Curtin for three months, then with the 47th P. V. I., under Gen. Brannon, took part in the army movements until 1863, when he was made a member of Gen. Woodbury’s staff. He had general charge of the Island of Key West, and was health officer while on Gen. Woodbury’s staff.”

One of the deaths certified by Dr. Baily at this time was that Private George Horner. A member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers’ C Company, Horner had been killed in action during the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina on 22 October 1862 – felled by “Vulnus Sclopet” (gunshot):


E. W. Bailey's Certification of George W. Horner's Death by Gunshot Following the Battle of Pocotaligo, SC, 22 October 1862, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers' (U.S. Army Death Ledger Entry, public domain).

Image Above: 47th Pennsylvania Regimental Surgeon E. W. Bailey’s certification of George W. Horner’s death by gunshot (Vulnus Sclopet) following the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Caroina, 22 October 1862 (U.S. Army death ledger entry, public domain; click twice to enlarge).



This public domain image of Minie balls, created by Mike Crumpston in 2008, shows the size of the objects which pierced the bodies of so many Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Minie balls like these pierced the bodies of the Union soldiers cared for by E. W. Bailey, M.D. (public domain, Mike Crumpston, 2008).

The Annals further note that, “[i]n the spring of 1864 Dr. Baily was placed in charge of a hospital boat on the Mississippi river where he continued until July, alleviating the miseries he could not cure, of the brave men placed in his care. From here he was sent through the Shenandoah Valley, with Gen. Sheridan, taking an active part in the battles of Winchester and Cedar Creek, remaining until the close of the war, being finally mustered out at Harrisburg” at the expiration of his term on 23 September 1864.

Return to Civil Life and Private Practice

After the war, Elisha W. Baily, M.D. returned to Chester County and his private practice. The 1870 federal census confirms that he was residing in Sadsbury Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania with his wife, Mary, and their daughter, Ella, as well as two servants, Pennsylvania natives Mary Walker and Jacob Yelletts. Walker was shown on the census as a 25-year-old White female was Yelletts was described as a 13-year-old “Mulatto.”

In 1873, E. W. Baily, M.D. was elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature, where he served three terms as a representative of Chester County. That same year (1873), he testified in a murder trial. According to the 31 October 1873 edition of the Reading Times, Dr. Baily, a doctor living in Penningtonville, testified to the numerous wounds found and made on the body” of an unidentified man by William E. Udderzook:

…. Dr. Baily described nine distinct wounds on the body, in the side, through the abdomen and across the throat. The nose had been broken apparently with a blunt instrument, such as a spade, and the teeth driven in. He described the teeth minutely, saying that they were large, strong and healthy ones. In his opinion the deceased had been a man 35 or 40 years old, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, with a chest from 38 to 40 inches broad, and not a laboring man. The body had lost life for 10 or 12 days when found, in his judgment.

The cross-examination of the witness was directed mainly to show that his opinion of the length of time the deceased had been dead was not worth much.

The sensational trial arising from a mysterious murder were heavily covered by newspapers nationwide; the murder victim, eventually identified as Winfield S. Goss, was believed to have been killed when an insurance scam concocted by the two men went wrong. Udderzook, who had been convicted of the crime, was executed by hanging at 12:15 p.m. on 12 November 1873. The Juniata Sentinel and Republican reported in its 18 November edition that Udderzook made no confession, but uttered the final words: “All I have to say is, I am a sinner saved by grace, and I am accepted of God.”

Following these services to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Elisha W. Baily, M.D. returned to the Philadelphia area, residing there while continuing to practice medicine.

In April 1875, Elisha and Mary Baily’s daughter, Ella, wed George H. Martin in Philadelphia. Both residents of Penningtonville in Chester County at the time of their marriage, George and Ella Martin would go on to greet the arrival of their own children:

  • Zelda: Born in Point Pleasant, New Jersey on 4 March 1880, she graduated from Christiana High School, wed John Chamberlain (1865-1956), passed away at the Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on 12 August 1955, and was interred at the Old Sadsbury Burial Ground (Sadsbury Friends Burial Ground) in Christiana, Lancaster County; and
  • Norman: Born in Philadelphia on 7 February 1883, he attended Westchester State Normal School wed Susanna Carrell, resided in West Chester, and became a merchant before passing away at the Concord Villa in Concordville, Delaware County, Pennsylvania on 18 August 1963. He, too, was interred at the Sadsbury Friends Cemetery in Christiana, Lancaster County, according to his Pennsylvania Death Certificate.

By 1880, Elisha and Mary Baily were residing in Atglen, Chester County with one servant, John Stampson, a 23-year-old African American man who had been born in Maryland to parents who were natives of Washington. Sometime after Ella’s passing around 1887 at the age of 32, they adopted both of her children, Norman and Zelda Martin.

The 1890 U.S. Veterans’ Schedule noted that, at this time, Elisha W. Baily was residing at 1623 Vine Street in Philadelphia near the Hahnemann Medical College. As with many of the soldiers for whom he had provided medical care three decades earlier, he suffered chronic health problems related to his Civil War service.

By 1892, Elisha and Mary Baily had decided that a change of scenery was needed to improve Elisha’s health. So, they moved back to Sadsbury Township, Chester County (roughly two miles west of Christiana).

As they witnessed the dawn of a new century, Elisha and Mary Baily continued to raise their grandchildren, Zelda and Norman (shown as “Bailey Martin” on the 1900 federal census) at their Sadsbury Township home in what was now Lancaster County. Dr. Baily supported his family as a farmer at this time. Also residing and working in the Baily household were two African American servants, George Hall (born in Pennsylvania in May 1883) and William Washington (born in Pennsylvania in January 1891).

Two years later, on 10 November 1902, Elisha and Mary Baily celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Note: Although Beers’ Biographical Annals of Lancaster County states that Mary widowed Elisha on 8 January 1903, this is incorrect. The 1910 federal census confirms that Mary Baily was still alive and residing with her grandson/adopted son, Norman, at his home in Coatesville, Pennsylvania in 1910. Furthermore, her death certificate states that she died on 8 October 1918 – one of the many who perished during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. She was interred at the Old Sadsbury Burial Ground (Friends Burial Ground) in Christian on 14 October 1918.

After a long and full life, Elisha W. Bailey, M.D. widowed Mary Baily on 4 December 1904 – claimed by subacute congestion of the lungs. Town and Country and People’s Advocate and Press of Perry County both reported in their 7 December editions:

Dr. Elisha W. Bailey, a resident of this place after the war for some years, and well remembered by our older inhabitants, died at his home in Sadsbury township, Lancaster county, on the 4th inst., at the age of 83 years. He was a native of Chester county, graduating from the Unionville Academy with Bayard Taylor, the noted author, and matriculating at Jefferson Medical College in 1844. He was a surgeon of the 47th Regiment Pa. Vols. in the Civil War, served as health officer at Key West, and while practicing his profession at Atglen represented Chester county three terms in the Legislature as a Republican.

A Mason, he had also been a member of the Adams Lodge in Perry County, Pennsylvania. Researchers currently believe that he was laid to rest at the Old Sadsbury Burial Ground (aka the Sadsbury Friends Burial Ground) in Christiana, Lancaster County since this is where his wife and children were later interred.

His wife, Mary, followed him in death on 10 October 1918. A victim of the Spanish Flu epidemic, she succumbed to complications from pneumonia. The “Friends Intelligencer” (Vol. 75, p. 701) reported her death as follows:

Mary A. Baily, wife of Elisha W. Baily, and daughter of the late Thomas and Ann Cook, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, died suddenly from pneumonia on Tenth month 10th, in her 89th year, at Atglen, Pa., where she had been spending the summer months. She is survived by a beloved and only living sister, three grandchildren, and a host of friends, who will long remember her for her example of patience and kindliness to all. In the words of a notable woman poet of Japan, her end is best summarized,- ‘Without the shadow of a cloud to darken my soul, the sun of my life sets in a clear evening sky.’




1. Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, Vol. I. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.

2. Biographical Annals of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and Many of the Early Settlers. Chicago, Illinois: J. H. Beers & Co., 1903.

3. Birth and Death Records (Baily and Martin Families). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics.

4. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.

5. Elisha W. Baily, in Journal of the American Medical Association (44:51). Chicago, Illinois: American Medical Association.

6. Elisha W. Baily, Bloomfield, Pennsylvania: Town and Country and People’s Advocate and Press, 7 December 1904.

7. Elisha W. Baily, in Second Day of Udderzook’s Trial – Examination of Witnesses – The Question of the Identity of the Murdered Man. Reading, Pennsylvania: Reading Times, 31 October 1873.

8. Martin-Baily, in Married. West Chester, Pennsylvania: The Village Record, 13 April 1875.

9. Mary A. Baily. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Friends Intelligencer, Vol. 75, p. 701, 1918.

10. Susanna H. Speakman, in Fallowfield Monthly Meeting Records, in Fallowfield Births and Deaths, 1811-1921; Collection: Quaker Meeting Records; Call Number: MR Ph 172. Swarthmore, Pennsylvania: Swarthmore College.

11. U.S. Census (1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1930) and U.S. Veterans’ Schedule (1890). Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

12. U.S. Civil War Pension Index (Application No.: 1136[or 7?]045, Certificate No.: 890671, filed from Pa. 4 November 1892. Application No.: 818325, Certificate No.: 591711, filed by widow from Pa. 13 December 1904). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1904.


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