Bryant Bailey

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Bryant William Bailey​

Sheriff of Winn Parish, Louisiana​
In office
June 24, 1908​ – 1912 ​

Born July 29, 1868​
Winn Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died February 3, 1961 (aged 92)
Resting place Winnfield City Cemetery ​
Political party Democrat-turned-Populist-returned-Democrat​
Spouse(s) Penelope Dickerson Bailey​
Children Apparently none​

Berrien F. and Lucy Ann Teagle Baile

Residence Winnfield, Louisiana​
Occupation Businessman; Banker

Oilman; Journalist

Religion Methodist

Bryant William Bailey (July 29, 1868 – February 3, 1961)[1][2] was a Louisiana businessman, politician, and journalist who became a leading figure during the 1890s in the short-lived Populist Party.


Bailey was born and briefly educated in Winn Parish to Berrien F. and Lucy Ann Teagle Bailey, immigrants from Cuthbert, Georgia. In October 1890, he moved from his family property to the seat of government in Winnfield to become the manager of a branch store of the local Farmers Union Cooperative Association. By 1894, he was owner of the Bailey Hotel in Winnfield. In 1902, Bailey drilled the first oil well in Winn Parish,[3] a year after the first such structure had been undertaken in the state in 1901 near Jennings in Jeff Davis Parish in southwestern Louisiana.[4]

Populist Party

Prior to 1890, like most Louisiana voters at that time, Bailey was a Democrat. Thereafter, he joined the Populist Party, which claimed to represent the "common man" against the entrenched "interests." Soon Bailey emerged as a regional leader of the Populists. The party's Louisiana branch was organized on October 2, 1891, at a convention of delegates from seventeen parishes held in Alexandria in Rapides Parish in central Louisiana. In addition to Bailey, another leading Populist at the founding convention was Hardy L. Brian, a native of Grant Parish, then residing in Winnfield.[5]

The national Populists offered their first presidential nominee in 1892, General James Baird Weaver (1833-1912) of Iowa, who won four states, mostly in the American West. From 1893 to 1907,[3] Bailey edited his Winnfield Comrade newspaper in Winn Parish, the ancestral home of the Democratic Long political faction.[6][7] Longism was considered an outgrowth of the early Populist movement; indeed some viewed Huey Pierce Long, Jr., as a "radical populist."[8]

In both 1894 and 1896, when the Populists endorsed the Democratic nominee, William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, for U.S. President, Bailey was an unsuccessful candidate for the United States House of Representatives on the Populist ticket. In 1898, Bailey was the only Populist delegate to the Louisiana State Constitutional Convention held that year in the capital city of Baton Rouge. He refused to sign the final document, which after ratification remained in effect until 1921.[6] This Constitution contained the grandfather clause allowing whites whose fathers or grandfathers were registered to vote as of January 1, 1867, to be exempt from the literacy test otherwise given to potential African American voters.[3] The grandfather clause, which spread to other states including Oklahoma, was subsequently struck down in 1915 in the case Guinn v. United States as a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment.[9]

Winnfield civic leader

By 1904, the Populist Party had disbanded. In 1908, Bailey was elected to a single term as a Democrat to the office of Winn Parish sheriff. In 1913, after his tenure as sheriff, Bailey began a 20-year stint as vice president and then president[3] of the Bank of Winnfield.[6] He worked to establish the Northwest Louisiana Game and Fish Preserve. He obtained state legislative funds to build a dam on Saline Lake near the boundary of Winn and Natchitoches parishes. Bailey worked for improved roads and was partly instrumental in securing the wide city streets of Winnfield. He was influential in removing livestock from municipal streets.[3]

Bailey was a member of the Methodist Church and the Masonic lodge. He and his wife, the former Penelope Dickerson (1872-1961), are interred at the Winnfield City Cemetery. Mrs. Bailey died only twenty-two days after the passing of her husband. There is no indication of any children.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Winnfield (Louisiana) City Cemetery records.
  2. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, published by the Louisiana Historical Association, lists Bailey's lifespan as 1866 – February 5, 1962.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Zachariah and Bryant Bailey. Retrieved on January 9, 2020.
  4. Bailey, Bryant. Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved on January 9, 2020.
  5. Joel Sipress. A Narrowing of Vision: Hardy L. Brian and the Fate of Louisiana Populism. Retrieved on February 4, 2011; material no longer accessible.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Bailey, Bryant W.. Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved on January 9, 2020.
  7. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography in its sketch of Bailey uses Elizabeth Daniel, "The Louisiana People's Party," Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXVI (1943), and William Ivy Hair, Bourbonism and Agrarian Protest: Louisiana Politics, 1877-1900 (1969).
  8. History: Huey Long: Every Man a King. Retrieved on January 9, 2020.
  9. Guinn v. United States. (1915). Retrieved on February 4, 2011; material no longer accessible.