The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Bailey Springs…

was a resort for the well-to-do in the early days of the state. Our hometown area in the beautiful Tennessee Valley has a history rich in culture where our forefathers made the most of the natural resources that abound. Jonathan Bailey founded a natural springs and health resort in Lauderdale County in the 1820s. The location of what was known as Bailey Springs was five miles northeast of the city of Florence. Today the town of St. Florian is located nearby and a Bailey Springs Road still exists. Bailey Springs was in Section 10, Township 2, Range 10 west. By 1858 it was owned by A. G. Ellis & Co. The resort property had been acquired by several owners since Ellis held ownership. There was a women’s university at Bailey Springs  in the 1890s. It was named Bailey Springs University. As attested to  by the photo below that appeared in The Florence Times Sunday Morning edition of the newspaper on 24 August 1976 (page 41) the area promoted visitors to the ‘taking of the waters’ and recorded their visit by photos, many published in the local newspaper.

Bailey Springs Resort
The Shoals area abounds in natural resources, fertile land, and strong people

One other documentation for the hotel and springs are the “Arrival Notices” that were published in the paper. This was excellent public relations for the area; they did an admirable job promoting the springs which promoted the area simultaneously. The Florence Gazette made a feature article out of the guests lists for Bailey Springs Resort. The Gazette published the arrival guests lists for two decades, the 1850s and the 1860s. The Arrivals at Bailey Springs for most of the month of May 1859 are listed below as they were published in the Florence Gazette in their Wednesday, June 1 1859 edition of the paper; they appeared on page 3. The names are given here just as they appeared in the Gazette. Local names that visited the resort include: Dr J T Hargraves, LM or TM Lewis, John R Price, Mrs Malony, John C Bliss, Miss A Howell, James Boddie, W H Key, S G Barr, Ed Brown, L Lorance, Mrs Coffee and daugher Kate, Dr J W Stewart, Dr. D S Beloate, W A Pettus, B F Foster Jr, H O Pettus, R D and James Martin, A Alexander, W A Key, James Boddie, B Nelson, J W Chisholm, R T Boroughs, Miss Mollie Karsner,  Tip Davis, and The. Allen Jones. South Florence was the name for what would become known as Sheffield. Some well-known and prosperous planters from Courtland, Lawrence County were also among the guests at the resort.

F Shoemake Memphis
Mrs Shoemake do
Mrs W B Donaho do 4 children & 4 ser’vts
Col Sam’l W Evans & serv’t Oxford Miss.
Mrs. Mary K Evans & serv’ts Oxford Miss
Master Rob’t Evans do
Dr M K [H]arrison Aberdeen Miss.
O F Hames Carroll Ten.
Wm B Wiggs Memphis
Jno H Brinkley do
James S Woodell do
M P Asher do
The. Allen Jones Florence Ala.
J Coffee Simpson do
Patrick McDonald Memphis Tenn.
Jas Harrington do
Jas F Hall St Louis
Jas Brady & Wife Memphis
Z J Carthel Trenton Ten.
Rob’t Manning Missouri
Geo TG White NY
Mrs Paul Chandion? and servant Mobile
E R Shapard __ Tenn
T P Davidson Memphis
Miss Davidson do
James O Kerr Miss
Miss LA Kerr do
Tip Davis Florence
Miss Mollie Karsner do
Miss Fannie Fible Louisville
Miss Mollie Dies do
B F Karsner Jr do
R T Boroughs Florence
F S Furgeson Tuskeegee Ala
Wm L Thompson La
Geo R Anderson & servant Athens Ala.
W C Prewitt Madison Arkansas
Miss L Prewitt do
Mrs W H Hunt Memphis
J W Chisholm County
B Nelson do
L H Cole Waterford Mis
W J Anderson Helena ark
A C Horton and family Memphis
J S McGehee Como Mis
M F Gilchrist do do
P P Gilchrist Courtland Ala
W A Key County
Jas S Boddie do
D P Ludlow New York
S T Kirby Georgia
Mrs Kirby & serv’t Ga.
James Buford Miss
William Painter Memphis
Miss Maggie Silver do
J D Barnard Huntsville
Mrs Barnard & serv’t do
A McAlexander Florence
MJ Gilchrist do
Mrs E H Bourdmon NY
Miss C F Bourdmon do
M L Webb Mississippi
C W Martin [Pon]totoc do
Mrs Martin do
Miss Doke & se’vt do
Sam’l Adams Memphis
Jas Martin cypress fac’y
R D Martin do do
H O Pettus Florence
R C McCarly do
S F Tate do
D H Campbell Courtland [A]la.
Col John L Moore Memphis
B F Foster jr Florence
Wm Morris Memphis
Rob’t Dyas N. Orleans
Miss M Dyas do
Wm V Chardavoyne Courtland Alabama
Mrs Chardavoyne Courtland Alabama
B S Gibson Madison ark
Thos Bufort and servant Giles Tenn.
Giles H Reynolds and ser’vt do
Master Reynolds do do
George W Carroll Tehula Mississippi.
R H Oglivie Tenn.
Mrs. Ogilvie do
W B Donaho Memphis
Col J Branch’s two servants Tenn
Thos M Jone’s 1 ser’vt  
E B Hornbeak Mem.
Mrs. Jas Fletcher ser’vt & 2 children do
Mrs K Henderson do
Thos Williams ark
W A Pettus waterloo ala
Dr. D S Beloate county
Dr J W Stewart do
Mrs Coffee do
Miss Kate Coffee do
W Wainright miss
John Bell Tenn
Miss S Bell & ser’vt do
R N McVeigh Phila’d
L Lorance Florence
Ed Brown do
S G Barr do
Wood Yeatman & Co’s servant
W H Key County
James Boddie do
Miss A Howell do
John C Bliss  Florence
Mrs Malony do
Thomas Taylor do
Jno R Price So Florence
L?M Lewis Florence
Miss Shappard Memphis
Dr H F Harris McLemoresville Tenn
Jas Ackinson do
John Burns Memphis
Dr J T Hargraves and serv’t Florence Ala
Geo Shall Memphis
John B Fassitt Phil’ado = abbreviation for ditto

Shoals Creek or Shoal Creek has always been picturesque and a favorite site for local residents for family gatherings and fun by the young citizens. The photo below shows a group enjoying recreation at Shoals Creek in Bailey Springs. The photo is vintage 1880-1889 and was photographed by Turner & Son, Florence and Gadsden, Alabama. It would be so nice to know the names of the people in the group; they likely have descendants who are still in the area. The photograph is housed in the digital archives of the State of Alabama at ADAH. The photo is entitled: Group at Shoal Creek in Bailey Springs, Alabama. 

Photgraph on Shoals Creek at Bailey Springs in Lauderdale County AL 1880s

A gathering of people relaxing on the banks of Shoals Creek in Bailey Springs, Lauderdale County, Alabama is photographed between 1880 and 1889

The particulars for the photo are outlined below:

Collection or Series Title Alabama Dept. of Archives and History photographs collection – places vertical file
Box Number Box 9
Folder Title Lauderdale County, Bailey Springs, Shoal Creek

Bailey Springs is a very picturesque place, situated on the banks of Shoals Creek in Lauderdale County, Alabama. A demonstration of that sereness shows through in the photo from NARA below:

Serene living on Shoals Creek at Bailey Springs in Lauderdale County Alabama

4 responses

  1. Dahlia (Stewart) Money

    My great grandfather, Dr. James W. Stewart, must be the Dr. J. W. Stewart that visited the Shoals. Someone sent me info that he was a successful business man having been associated at one time with Cowpen wool factory. He also owned a large factory on Shoals Creek. He had a large home located on top of the hill overlooking Vineyard Spring, prior to the Civil War. I believe he was born ca 1812 and died 1898. I know his wife was a Mary J. Have no further info on him, her, or any siblings. Can anyone help?

    March 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm

  2. Julia H. Beasley

    If I’m not mistaken, my Gr.Gr.Gr Grandparents James B. and Permelia Ann Shane Cox once owned Bailey Springs. Permelias brother, Bayless Shane, gave the resort to them as a gift January of 1902. Bayless was one of the wealthiest men in Lauderdale County.

    October 8, 2013 at 4:26 am

  3. Lauren Hartung

    My great grandmother’s brother, H. C Williamson purchased it in 1904 and my great grandparents, Lenora Williamson Hatch and Frederick Howard Hatch, managed it from then until 1910, when it was closed because it wasn’t profitable. It was passed through several hands and finally burned.

    February 2, 2016 at 8:18 pm

  4. J M Dedman

    In the late 1890s Bailey Springs was owned or managed by Joseph Marcus Dedman who also owned the Bethell House hotel in Columbia, TN. Here is a clipping from the April 29, 1898 edition of the Columbia (TN) Herald about an event at Bailey Springs: “De Pierri’s Celebrated Orchestra of Nashville, which furnished the music at the German Wednesday night (in Columbia, TN) has been engaged by Manager J. M. Dedman for the season at Bailey Springs”.

    January 3, 2017 at 4:31 pm

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