|Bailey Station Depot circa 1910|
A number of early pioneers, or settlers, of Sherburne County deserve recognition. Every few months we notice one of these individuals. Orlando Bailey, founder of Bailey Station, warrants recognition as an influential person in the settlement of Sherburne County.
Born in Chautauqua, New York in 1820, he migrated to Sherburne County with his family in 1852. He built a small farm five mile west of Elk River and developed a stage station and hotel. The site later expanded into a railway station and still later a gas station. Orlando Bailey founded a transportation site encompassing every form of locomotion for 150 years.
After Orlando Bailey settled the area, he built (for the times) an elaborate hotel. A 1944 family history written by his nephew Vernon Bailey, remembered Orlando Bailey and his home. “We stayed for a time with Uncle Orlando in his big house, no longer used as a tavern, but roomy and pleasant with broad piazzas along two sides, a large laundry and woodshed at the rear and ample barns and stables for the stage horses and considerable stock of cattle and farm horses.” By the time of Vernon Bailey’s stay at the Bailey Station, the railroad companies had bypassed Bailey Station. Orlando Bailey and his son Albert, devoted their energies to farming. “Uncle Orlando and his son Albert were both lovers of good horses and kept the best to be had for both heavy work and for fast driving teams,” Vernon remembered.
In addition to settling and farming outside of Elk River, Orlando Bailey actively supported the community of Sherburne County. For a time he served as County Sheriff, County Commissioner, Justice of the Peace, and Postmaster. He also instilled the importance of public service to his children. Orlando’s son, Albert, served 40 years as Sherburne County Probate Judge.
Acknowledging some of the early pioneers of Sherburne County remains a goal of the Sherburne History Center. His work to settle the area and his contributions to public service for the county, Orlando Bailey stands out as an early settler providing significant contributions to the early community of Sherburne County.