The Bailey Ranch
by Melissa Blosser
George Bailey followed in his grandfather and father’s foots steps watching them work and run their ranch, and is now dedicated to preserving the agricultural heritage for his own grandchildren.
“Realizing the struggles your family went through creates an appreciation for what they have done and makes you more willing to work at it and maintain the ranching life style for future generations, “ said Bailey. “Heritage binds you to the way of life and having a long family heritage in agriculture makes you appreciate people who still work to keep ranching as a way of life.”
Justus Rich Bailey came over on the McMurphy wagon train in 1864 with his wife Mary McMurphy and his two sons Ira and George.
George was only 6 months old when the small group of pioneers left Iowa headed for California, and he turned 1 year-old the day the wagon train reached Lassen County. His first night in Lassen County was actually spent at the Mapes Ranch in Wendel.
Justus spent one year in Chico then returned to Lassen County in 1865.
After several years in the Janesville area, including 9 years as a hotel owner, he acquired part of the current Bailey ranch in about 1880.
The original piece he bought was about 340 acres and Justus ran cattle until he retired in 1899.
Justus had three sons George, Ira and Walter and one daughter, Lola. The third son was Walter who bought the place adjacent to Hemphill Road from his dad, Justus.
Ira purchased the Lakecrest house from the Thompson family and then Bill bought other surrounding parcels (including Walter’s place) to make up the current Bailey ranch.
George acquired a ranch in the Tule district and his son Ira purchased a house on Lakecrest road in Janesville.
Bill ran the ranch until he sold it to his son George and his grandson George Jr., the current George Bailey, in 1972.
George Jr. took over operation of the ranch around 1995. Upon Grandpa George’s death in 2008, George Jr. took over ownership of the ranch and George Jr.’s youngest son, Lee began working the ranch with his father in 2007.
George and Margie Bailey currently live in the home located on the main homestead on Lakecrest rd. in Janesville. They had three children, Diana, Robert and Lee.
Margie Bailey played a significant role in the ranch helping to cut hay and brand cattle. With the help of her son Robert, a local contractor, she is fulfilling her dream by restoring the old home they live in.
“The house has a lot of history and I felt it was important to maintain the house for family gatherings,”said Margie. “The thought of my grandkids not being able to experience this, or this lifestyle, that was important to me,” she said.
The Baileys currently run cattle and also produce grain, meadow and alfalfa hay. According to George things aren’t always easy and as any rancher will tell you, unpredictable weather, drought high cost of operation, parts, equipment and fuel are all challenges.
George Bailey has also seen things change over time.
“Used to be that agriculture was a bigger part of everyday life for everyone and the general public had a greater respect and understanding of the importance of agriculture,” said Bailey. “Now agriculture is a smaller part of the big picture and people have lost contact with it.”
According to George he has continued this way of life because he has seen his children and grandchildren take interest, and the lifestyle breeds a good sense of values, opportunities and experiences.
“In-spite of the many frustrations, I do still enjoy the ranching way of life and I am excited to spend time with all my grandchildren and pass on the ranching life style to all of them,” said Bailey. “I don’t know any other way of life.”
Bailey Family Members
George and Margie Bailey
Susan Bailey ( Sister to George)
Children to Susan
Elliot and Willis Dow
Children to George and Margie
Diana Bailey – She has two children, Justus Negal, and Mitchel Pastor
Robert and Stephanie Bailey – They have three children, Kemper, Tucker and Samantha Bailey
Lee and Brena Bailey – They have two children Jake and Cooper Bailey
The stories behind Lassen County’s Agricultural Heritage.
These days farming and ranching is getting more difficult, farmers and ranchers will tell you, they aren’t getting rich off choosing to save the family farm.
Most people who continue to stay in agriculture do it to preserve their family heritage, or because they have come to love a rural way of life.
This column will serve to feature local people who continue to preserve their family heritage by suiting up every day to bring food to your table.
If you are interested in preserving your heritage by telling your story, please contact Melissa Blosser at [email protected] or 530.249.7828. Your story can also serve you and your family as memorabilia, for future generations continuing a rural way of life in Lassen County.