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Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : administration of Governor Willis Joshua Bailey (1903-1905)

Creator: Kansas. Governor (1903-1905 : Bailey)

Date: 1903 Jan. 12-1905 Jan. 9

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Material Type: Government record

Call Number: See individual series

Unit ID: 309726

Restrictions: None.

Biographical sketch: Sixteenth governor of the State of Kansas, 1903-5 (Republican); of Baileyville.

Abstract: Correspondence and other items received from the administration of Willis Joshua Bailey, governor of the State of Kansas from 12 Jan. 1903 to 9 Jan. 1905. Included are general letters; official response letters from & letters concerning State agencies; subject files; correspondence concerning vacant State positions; and a few petitions, reports, copies of letters sent, & other types of documents. Some proclamations may have also been interfiled with other items received relating to the subjects of the proclamations. Subject files include letters relating to cities and towns, counties, crime & criminals, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis in 1904, the flood of 1903, and legislation, as well as proclamations. Additional records of Governor Bailey are in separate series common to several governors, listed in the "Contents" portion of this finding aid.

Space Required/Quantity: 5 ft. (13 boxes)

Title (Main title): Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : administration of Governor Willis Joshua Bailey (1903-1905)

Titles (Other):

  • Records
  • Correspondence files
  • Kansas Governor Willis Joshua Bailey records
  • Kansas Governor Willis Joshua Bailey correspondence files
  • Records of the Office of the Governor of Kansas : Willis Joshua Bailey administration (1903-1905)
  • Willis Joshua Bailey administration, Jan. 12, 1903 - Jan. 9, 1905

Part of: Records of the Kansas Governor's Office.

Language note: Text is in English.


Biog. Sketch (Full):

Willis Joshua Bailey, the sixteenth governor of the State of Kansas, was born on 12 October 1854 in Mount Carroll, Illinois. Willis Bailey was the son of Monroe Bailey—a farmer, banker, and real estate promoter—and Nancy J. Melendy Bailey. Willis Bailey grew up with two brothers and one sister.

Willis J. Bailey came from a family of New Englanders descending from a long political tail of Whigs and Republicans. The Baileys were removed English settlers in Massachusetts before the year 1640. Willis Bailey’s grandfather, Joshua, was born in 1870 and served in the War of 1812 in Captain William Tomlinson’s company. Joseph Cook, a cousin of Willis’s father, was a renowned lecturer on socialism.

Willis was raised in Carroll County attending common schools and Mount Carroll High School. He later attended the University of Illinois at Urbana graduating in 1879 with courses in science and literature; in 1904 the University gave him an honorary bachelor of laws degree.

After completing college, he relocated to Nemaha County, Kansas, with his father and while there pursued the farming and ranching trades. He later became a spokesperson for agricultural interests, and promoted the organic perfection of crop transformations in the State of Kansas. In the nearby vicinity, where the railroad traversed, Willis also, along with his father, platted the town of Baileyville. He also built a new bank there and later served as the bank president. Mr. Bailey embarked in Kansas’ politics in 1889 when he served in the Kansas House of Representatives until 1891. Bailey was also the president of the Republican State League. From 1885 through 1899, he served on the State Board of Agriculture. On 4 March 1899, Mr. Bailey was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a congressman at large and served an unremarkable two-year term.

In 1902, after a long and active journey in Kansas Republican affairs, Willis Joshua Bailey was nominated for governor by the Republican State Convention. He was elected to the governorship in January 1903 over the Democratic candidate, William Henry Craddock, who was also endorsed by the People’s Party, by 159,242 votes to 117,148.

Governor Bailey’s first order of State business was to secure funds for a Kansas State display at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis in 1904. He also ensured that enough State money was raised to finally complete the last bit of construction on the Statehouse. The governor initiated changes to a few State agencies to better reflect a stable State government: an increased workload mandated that railroad commissioners, and the office of the State printer, become elective positions. A new law, enforcement of which proved troublesome, was enacted that banned gambling machinery and devices.

A short time after Willis Bailey took office, he was dealt with the state's worst flood since 1844. The great flood of 1903 made headline news across the country. The flood affected the Missouri, Kansas, and lower Republican River Basins as far west as Ellsworth, Kansas. Torrential rains fell in northeast and north central Kansas reaching over 17 inches in Salina by late May, and by 31 May, the flood stage on the Kansas River reached its maximum height of 27.9 feet. The flood of 1903 created such a pandemonium that Governor Bailey convened a special session of the Legislature to provide statewide relief to those who lost their homes and possessions. It took several years for the people whom suffered from this carnage to recover and resume a state of normalcy.

Willis Bailey was the second governor, S. J. Crawford being the first, to marry while in office. He married Mrs. Ida B. Weed on 9 June 1903.

Governor Bailey governed the state of Kansas in a time of increasing reform, yet his laissez-faire political philosophy was that he felt the fewer government programs that intervened in people’s lives, the better the people were left to find their own devices. But in contrast, the first time ever in Kansas’ history, he enforced a policy of tuition that was collected at state colleges and universities during his governorship.

As agricultural reform, Governor Bailey approved sugar beet compensations in 1903 so that growers would get the full amount of compensation owed them for the season’s price cuts. These compensation acts would become more common throughout the farm belt communities. Bailey rightfully earned a prominent status with stock raisers and farmers in Kansas. Perhaps his greatest ambition was to perfect and raise the standards of agriculture in the vast soils of Kansas; he was also a huge fan of F. D. Coburn, then secretary of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, who was also a profound advocate of expanding modern day agriculture. Governor Bailey’s farming interest also led him to further expand land ownership in Colorado and New Mexico Territory.

In 1907, two years after leaving office, Bailey moved to Atchison to reengage in the banking business. In 1914 he began serving as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Beginning in 1922, he served as its governor until his death in 1932.

He died 19 May 1932, at age seventy-seven of natural causes at Mission Hills, Kansas. He is buried at Mount Vernon Cemetery in Atchison.

Administrative History

Administrative History:

The Wyandotte Constitution of 1859 established the office of the governor of the State of Kansas. Some of the more important duties, functions, and responsibilities of the governor are to see that the laws are faithfully executed, to require written explanations from other executive officers—at that time the lieutenant governor, secretary of State, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction—upon any subject relating to their respective duties, convene by the Legislature by proclamation on extraordinary occasions, communicate in writing such information as the governor may possess in reference to the condition of the State at the commencement of every legislative session, recommend such measures as he/she may deem expedient, and commission officers of the State.

No formal qualifications for the governor have been legislated, aside from the provision that no member of Congress or officer of the State, or the United States, can serve. The governor is elected by a plurality, not necessarily a majority of votes cast. The governor takes office the second Monday in January following election. The governor is authorized to hire a private secretary, pardon attorney, and other staff as appropriations permit.

At the beginning of Willis Joshua Bailey’s term, the governor had the power to appoint Militia officers; members of part-time boards of directors, trustees, regents, or directors of a large number of State penal, educational, medical, custodial, and mission specific agencies and commissions. The governor was also an ex officio member of other boards, commissions, and committees.

In 1903, the governor was granted the power to appoint three members of the new Grain Inspection Commission. Boards of barber and attorney examiners were also established, the three members of the former appointed by the governor. A new Prison Board was also created, and the governor was made an ex officio member. The Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg, now Pittsburg State University, was established the same year. The Poultry Association was recognized by the State. In 1904, the governor was given the power to veto line items in the budget.

Scope and Content

Scope and content:

The records of the Governor Willis Joshua Bailey administration consist of one series of Correspondence Files, 1903-1905, series 193425, http://www.kshs.org/archives/193425 , containing 13 boxes.

Items in the series are primarily letters received by Governor Bailey, however there may also be proclamations and some petitions, reports, copies of letters sent, and other types of documents. The correspondence is organized into three sub-series: (1) Subject Files; (2) General File; and (3) Applications, Recommendations and Endorsements.

Documents that may have been addressed to Governor Bailey but dated or pertaining to the time period after his term expired in 1903 may be filed with the records of his successor, Governor William Edward Hoch.

A more complete list of contents of this series by folder is in the "Summary" section on web page http://www.kshs.org/archives/193425 . A description of each sub-series is there as well.

Selected records from Governor Bailey's administration have been posted on Kansas Memory, the Kansas Historical Society's digital archives. These can be found at http://www.kansasmemory.org/locate.php?categories=4894-4796-4938&

A number of series of records of the Governor's Office, while not specific to this administration, contain information from Governor Bailey's time in office; the complete list is in the Contents section of this record.

Records of other offices of Kansas’ government—particularly the secretary of State, Record Group 622, and attorney general, Record Group 82—will give additional information about State activities during this period. Papers of other prominent political figures of the time, most of which are held by the Kansas State Historical Society, may also offer insights about Kansas politics and government during the Bailey administration.

The Kansas Historical Society has an address given by Governor Bailey at the Lawrence (Kansas) semi-centennial celebration on 4 October 1904 in its Lawrence history manuscript collection, #611, http://www.kshs.org/archives/40611 ; the address is also in the Kansas Memory digital archives at http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/225614


Records specific to this administration: Ser. 193425. Correspondence files, 1903-1905, 5 ft. (13 boxes), http://www.kshs.org/archives/193425

Records that include this administration: Ser. 193660. Pardon and parole files : Women's Industrial Farm, 1863-1919, 75 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193660 -- ser. 193397. Letter press book, 1865-1905, 19 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193397 -- ser. 193781. Death sentence warrants, 1872-1908, 0.2 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193781 -- ser. 193782. Record of death sentences, 1872-1906, 0.2 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193782 -- ser. 194090. Applications for requisitions - Series I & II, 1874-1953, 37 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/194090 -- ser. 193802. Citizenship pardons, 1876-1960, 8 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193802 -- ser. 191789. Extraditions, 1877-1994, 163 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/191789 -- ser. 193455. Justice of the peace appointments, 1882-1949, 2 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193455 -- ser. 193470. Miscellaneous volumes, 1885-[ca. 1929], 1 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193470 -- ser. 193814. Requisitions from other states, 1886-1932, 1 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193814 -- ser. 193793. Record Of pardons and commutations, 1887-1911, 0.7 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193793 -- ser. 196610. KSP reports of prisoners discharged, 1896-1923, 0.5 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/196610 -- ser. 193801. Jail and State Reformatory pardons and commutations, 1897-1925, 0.2 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193801 -- ser. 196609. Criminal justice records : KSP reports of prisioners received, 1897-1923, 0.5 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/196609 -- ser. 193762. Restoration of citizenship requests, 1897-1908, 0.4 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193762 -- ser. 193707. Governor's citizenship pardons : chronological order, 1899-1919, 1 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193707 -- ser. 193469. Applicants for appointments registers, 1899-1906, 1 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193469 -- ser. 195556. Appointment files, 1900-1937, 4 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/195556 -- ser. 193467. Reports of state agencies, 1901-1958, 4 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193467 -- ser. 193797. Absolute pardons : pardons, paroles, and commutation requests, 1902-1911, http://www.kshs.org/archives/193797 -- ser. 193457. Anonymous and crank letters, 1905-1927, 0.8 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193457 -- ser. 193809. Final discharge of paroled prisoners, 1905-1924, 1 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193809 -- ser. 193772. Final discharge of paroled prisoners, 1905-1913, 1 cubic ft., http://www.kshs.org/archives/193772

Portions of Collection Separately Described:


No Locators Identified

Related Records or Collections

Related materials:


Finding Aid Bibliography:

Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1918; Open Library website; https://archive.org/details/standardhistoryo00conn (viewed 23 July 2014).

Drury, James W. The Government of Kansas. 3d ed. Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, ©1980. Available in the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) Reference Room: call no. K 350.7 D845 1980.

Harder, Marvin A. The Governor of Kansas: An Analysis of Decision-Making Opportunities, Constraints, and Resources. Topeka, Kans.: Capitol Complex Center, University of Kansas, 1981, ©1982. Available in the KSHS Reference Room: call no. SP 378 Z C172 pam.v.1 no. 1.

Socolofsky, Homer E. Kansas Governors. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, ©1990. Available in the KSHS Reference Room: call no. K BB So13.

Index Terms


    Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 : Saint Louis, Mo.)
    Kansas. Governor (1903-1905 : Bailey) -- Archives
    Kansas. Governor (1903-1905 : Bailey) -- Records and correspondence
    Kansas. Legislature
    Republican Party (Kan.)
    Kansas -- Officials and employees -- Selection and appointment
    Kansas -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950
    Saint Louis (Mo.)
    State agencies
    State officials
    Bailey, Willis Joshua, 1854-1932
    Bailey, Willis Joshua, 1854-1932 -- Political activity
    Governors -- Kansas -- Archives
    Governors -- Kansas -- Records and correspondence
    Civil-military relations -- Kansas
    County government -- Kansas
    Criminal justice, Administration of -- Kansas
    Criminals -- Kansas
    Emigration and immigration
    Exhibitions -- Missouri -- Saint Louis -- 1904
    Finance, Public -- Kansas
    Floods -- Kansas -- 1903
    Government correspondence -- Kansas
    Judges -- Selection and appointment -- Kansas
    Justices of the peace -- Selection and appointment -- Kansas
    Lawyers -- Kansas
    Patronage, Political -- Kansas
    Public institutions -- Kansas
    Public lands -- Kansas
    Public officers -- Kansas
    Public records -- Kansas
    Public welfare -- Kansas
    State-local relations -- Kansas

Creators and Contributors

Agency Classification:

    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Specific Administrations. Bailey, Willis Administration.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office. Pardon and Extradition Attorney.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Specific Administrations.

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: None.

Use and reproduction:

Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The user is cautioned that the publication of the contents of this microfilm may be construed as constituting a violation of literary property rights. These rights derive from the principle of common law, affirmed in the copyright law of 1976 as amended, that the writer of an unpublished letter or other manuscript has the sole right to publish the contents thereof unless he or she affirmatively parts with that right; the right descends to his or her legal heirs regardless of the ownership of the physical manuscript itself. It is the responsibility of a user or his or her publisher to secure the permission of the owner of literary property rights in unpublished writing.

Most documents created by governmental entities, including the State of Kansas, are considered in the public domain, although copyright to documents found in public records that were written by individuals or organizations and sent to government agencies may be owned by the writers or their heirs.

Add'l physical form: Selected items: Also available on Kansas Memory, electronic resource. Topeka, Kan. : Kansas State Historical Society, c2007-14; http://www.kansasmemory.org/locate.php?categories=4894-4796-4938&

Cite as:

Note: [document description], Willis Joshua Bailey administration (1899–1903), Records of the Kansas Governor’s Office, Record Group 252, State Archives, Kansas Historical Society.

Bibliography: Kansas, Governor’s Office, Willis Joshua Bailey administration (1899–1903), Record Group 252, State Archives, Kansas Historical Society.

Action note: Inventory written by David F. Manning, volunteer, 2009.

Accumulation/Freq. Of Use: No additional records are expected.

Holder of originals: State archives, Kansas Historical Society (Topeka).