Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Life and Family of John Bayliss

Salem was a bustling town when John Bayliss arrived about 1816. The seat of justice of Livingston County, it was a busy place, especially the county courthouse, which faced what is today US Highway 60. It was but a few years prior to John's arrival that the courthouse was the scene of the most astonishing trial in the history of Livingston County when the nephews of  Thomas Jefferson were tried for the murder of a slave. This trial would have been recounted through the years and, without a doubt, John Bayliss heard all the details shortly after his arrival.
John quickly settled into life in Salem and married Elizabeth Thompson, daughter of local businessman William Thompson, 17 October 1816. They had at least one child before Elizabeth died a few years later. John Bayliss then married Susan Boggs, daughter of William Boggs,  17 September 1823.  John and Susan had several children, including two  who died as infants.  
John Bayliss and William McCroskey entered into partnership to conduct a mercantile business in Salem. At some point, they had a saddler shop, also. Their saddler shop was located catty corner across the public square from the courthouse.
In 1836, John Bayliss  decided to relocate and sold his town lots in Salem, to James Campbell. In this deed, John reserved 10 feet including the graves of his children in the garden ... "and permission to inter his Wife in sd. space" unless he decided to move the corpses later.
John moved to Paducah and formed a partnership with John A. Calhoun. The partnership, while profitable, was dissolved in 1841, the same year John wrote his will. In his will, John named his wife, Susan, his son, William,  and his daughter, Sarah Margaret. Susan was named as executrix.
Because the partnership assets had not been assigned before John died, a law suit ensued which dragged on for several years. It was disclosed in this law suit that Susan Boggs Bayliss' agent, William Kay, who was also John Bayliss' brother-in-law, had dissipated the assets of the Bayliss-Calhoun partnership as well as John's personal assets and there was not enough money to cover the estate debts. The administration of the estate was later turned over to Berry Hodge. Susan, who had suffered a number of losses during the past few years, "lost her mind" and was committed to the Tennessee Lunatic Asylum in Nashville, where she died circa 1843.
William Bayliss, only surviving son of John Bayliss' first marriage, was born 26 July 1817 in Salem. After his father moved to Paducah, William Bayliss and William McCroskey formed a partnership in a dry goods business in Salem.
On the 27th of November 1841, William "being sick and weak but of sound mind and memory" and to restore his health, wrote "I intend starting in a few days to New Orleans and may go to Cuba ... and the possibility that I may never return."  In the will, he mentions a wife, Mary, who was to receive his entire estate. To date, a marriage record for William and Mary has not been found. William did go to Havana, Cuba and  he died there 24 January 1842. There is a tombstone for him in the old, abandoned   Pippin/Butler Cemetery  in Salem. Whether his body is interred there or the stone is simply a memorial to his life is unknown. A large slab stone, it is broken and lies on its side amid downed branches and with myrtle surrounding it.
Sarah Margaret Bayliss, who was born 19 November 1828, was the only surviving child of the marriage of John Bayliss and Susan Boggs. After her father's death, she  moved to Montgomery County, Tennessee where she married J.N. Corbett 19 February 1846. The Corbetts  moved to Nashville and had a number of children.  When William McCroskey of Salem wrote his will 8 June 1856, he devised to "Sarah M. Corbitt, if living, (my old friend and first partner in the merchantile business, John Baylis dec'd daughter), $1000 in cash." Perhaps McCroskey had heard of the dissapation of the assets of John Bayliss. Sarah Margaret Bayliss Corbett died in Nashville 30 January 1900 and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

The burial places of John Bayliss and his two wives are unknown. Perhaps they are buried in the little cemetery in the Bayliss garden or maybe they are interred in the Pippin/Butler Cemetery. John and Susan Bayliss may even be buried in Paducah.

William Bayliss
born july 26th
died jany. 24
citty of havana
 Photo courtesy of Jerry Bebout
Published 7 Feb 2013 on Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,
Copyright by Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG


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