By the time old Elijah Bailey died in 1853 at his farm just north of Stanford, Kentucky, all but one of his children had dispersed to homes elsewhere. It was left to 52-year-old Winford Green Bailey to settle his father’s affairs. Elijah’s farm had been in the family for more than 50 years and the son had resolved to keep it going, but maintaining it along with his own property soon became too burdensome. After two years, he regretfully decided to sell.
In a letter to his brother recently added to the collections of WKU’s Special Collections Library, Bailey expressed his anguish at leaving the farm for the last time. “I lingered a while alone in the yard,” he wrote, “and surveyed with my eye the old house, yard, garden, orchard and fields.” He thought of “fond parents now no more, and beloved brothers and sisters, some of whom gone to the world of spirits, others alive but scattered in the world.” Departing down the “old familiar lane,” Bailey turned once more to gaze on the family homestead, “soon to be occupied by strangers,” and reflected on the simple truth that “this is a changing world at best — it ever has been and ever will be so.”
A finding aid and typescript of Winford G. Bailey’s moving letter can be downloaded here.