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W. T. Bailey Lumber Company records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: S3010

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, contracts, land deeds and abstracts, legal and financial records, income and property tax records, and financial ledgers. Executive records, such as minutes or house publications, are noticeably missing, through the collection documents the daily operation of business.

The bulk of the collection dates after 1930. It is divided into three series: Correspondence, Legal Records, and Financial Records.

Correspondence, 1937-1962, reflects the daily operations of the company and contains some personal correspondence. The series is arranged by a small outgoing letter file followed by a general correspondence file. Some of the correspondence refers to the "Little Red Mill" which seems to have been a part of the Bailey operations in Virginia, Minnesota.

Legal Records, 1889-1959, include correspondence on legal and estate matters, contracts, deeds, estate records, and insurance. Much of the correspondence concerns Rebecca Raley's problems with the company. Deeds and contracts pertain to various specific agreements and land negotiations. R R. Bailey acted as executor of the estate records contained in the collection.

Financial Records, 1898-1964, include audit reports, 1912-1949; corporate income tax returns, 1914-1936; individual income tax returns, 1917-1935, of R. R. Bailey; real estate tax records, 1923-1937; and financial journals. The journals are generally complete but some have  been severely damaged by water and mold. The cash books note bills payable, log records indicate log purchases and rail car information, sales books details sales and type of lumber sold, voucher registers itemize purchase vouchers, and the boxed journals note account receipts, deductions, and deposits. Note that some information contained in separate volumes are continued in boxed volumes.


  • 1889-1964
  • Majority of material found in 1930-1964


Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Kathryn A. Martin Library, Archives and Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

In 1897 William Thomas Bailey organized the W. T. Bailey Lumber Company around a mill purchased from J D. Rickey in Virginia, Minnesota. W. T.'s son Richard Roberts (R. R.) Bailey, who was secretary-treasurer of the company, owned 97 percent of the stock until 1906, when he divided it between his father, mother, brother, and sister. W. T. Bailey died in 1914.

The W. T. Bailey Lumber Company operated the Rickey mill until 1908 when they erected a modern band mill of 40 thousand feet capacity. That mill burned May 10, 1928. In 1930 they erected a mill of 50 thousand feet capacity which had an electric planer.

R. R. Bailey was the moving force in the corporation following establishment of the company in Virginia, Minnesota. Later William Bailey, Jr. came in as an operational partner. R. R. was born in MIchigan, Februrary 23, 1875. In 1906 he married Berniece Lee of Lakota, North Dakota. They had three children, Rebecca Lee, Richard Roberts Bailey, Jr. and Berniece. R. R. Bailey died on June 7, 1962.

The Baileys' efforts in the retail lumber industry ended in 1951 when the company was reorganized around Bailey's Town Pump, a retail gas and oil company in Virginia and a wholesale electric planing mill.

Rebecca (Bailey) Raley, R. R. and W. T. Jr.'s sister, sued for liquidation of the company in 1955, claiming R. R. and other officers had fraudulently failed to inform her that the company was being reorganized, that the corporate purposes had failed, and the corporation should have been dissolved and the assets distributed.

In 1897, William Thomas Bailey organized a company around a Virginia, Minnesota lumber mill purchased from J. D. Rickey. The company expanded operations in 1908 and again in 1930. After W. T. Bailey’s death , the company was headed by his son, Richard Roberts Bailey. The company ceased their retail business in 1951 and reorganized by establishing Bailey’s Town Pump, a retail gas and oil company. Wholesale milling operations continued as before.


40.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contains correspondence, contracts, land deeds and abstracts, legal and financial records, income and property tax records, and financial ledgers.

Physical Location

This collection is located at the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives. For more information about this collection or to make an appointment, contact us at or 218-726-8526.


This collection is part of the Northeast Minnesota Historical Collections, which are housed in the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives at the Kathryn A. Martin Library, and are on permanent loan from the St. Louis County Historical Society.

Guide to the W. T. Bailey Lumber Company records
Finding Aid Authors: B.H. Bruemmer.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University of Minnesota Duluth Archives and Special Collections Collecting Area

Kathryn A. Martin Library
University of Minnesota Duluth
416 Library Drive
Duluth MN 55812-3001
(218) 726-8526