Sunday, February 1, 2015

52 Ancestors #5: Plowing Through (Literally!)

Ancestor Name: Homer Bradley Bailey (1907-1978)

I learned to drive on an old 1958 Ford tractor with a column shifter so this story from my Aunt Joan's brother Homer's, unpublished memoir about the family's first tractor resonated with me...and made me laugh out loud:

Summer was a thrilling time of the year. The spring field work led right into all kinds of activity. Along about this period, father purchased a Fordson Tractor. It was simply beautiful, all new and un-scratched. The wheels were fitted with steel lugs so as to hold traction in the field work.

Fordson tractor with plow. Photo courtesy of NCSU Libraries'
Digital Collections: Rare and Unique Materials

Occasionally we had friends visiting us from Detroit. A very pleasant older gentleman spent some days with us. He seemed thrilled with the farm life, enjoying the change of pace to that of the city. After watching the new machine a while, he wondered if he could drive it.

Father showed him how the machine was handled, how to put it in gear, and how to set the plow in the furrow. So the man set off down the row doing fine. It was at the far end when things began to go wrong. He forgot how to stop; yelled "whoa" several times; but the monster did not get the message. It took but a few turns of the wheel and the Fordson was clawing its way through the fence. The gentleman was completely rattled by this time. The plow caught the wire, causing the machine to stall, ending an interesting situation. 

No one got hurt. So after it was all over we had a good laugh at my parents' friend's expense."

Since the family sold the farm in 1917, the Fordson had to have been purchased prior to that date.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challengev optional theme Plowing Through!

This post was originally published on 21 October 2013.

Homer Bradley Bailey was born on 5 April 1907 in Delaware County, Ohio, to William Judkins and Lilly Mary Manson (Bradley) Bailey. He was the second of six children. On 4 Sep 1920 the family arrived in Southampton, England aboard the Cunard Line's RMS Aquitaine, which had sailed from New York City. They traveled through France to Marseilles and sailed for Cairo, Egypt, and on to Palestine. The family spent several weeks touring the Holy Lands before continuing on to British East Africa via Mogadishu, Somali, and on to Mombassa, Kenya, where they boarded a train for Nairobi and the Kenyan Highlands. Homer and his brother Paul Orrin Bailey returned to the United States in 1927 and attended Anderson Bible College in Indiana. He married Vivian Opal Lewis and became a minister. The couple had one child and then the family traveled to back to Africa where they worked as missionaries from 1933 until just after World War II ended. Their sixth, and youngest child, was born in Michigan. Homer died at the Flow Memorial Hospital in Denton, Texas, in 1978. He was buried at Roselawn Memorial Park in Denton.

Homer Bailey's unpublished memoirs weren't much for genealogy but were a treasure trove of stories about living as missionaries in Africa nearly 90 years ago.


  1. I am a little behind in my reading, but it was fun to learn about your blog from the May I Introduce to You column at Geneabloggers. This is a fun post! I am glad to have found your blog.

  2. Hi, Schalene! I wanted to let you know that I featured your post on the Week 5 recap!

  3. Thanks everyone, I enjoyed finding his memoir and excerpting this story.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story about a city folk's unsuccessful attempt at farm life. It makes me think of simpler times when every accident wasn't the cause of a lawsuit. It was uplifting that your Aunt Joan had enough of a sense of humor to laugh off fixing her fence.

    Heidi Sutton @ Ag Source Magazine