The one-term congressman from Baileyville, Willis Bailey, was born near Mount Carroll, Carroll County, Illinois, on October 12, 1854, and attended the common schools, Mount Carroll High School, and the University of Illinois at Urbana. He removed to Nemaha County, Kansas, in 1879, engaged in farming, stock raising, and banking, and with his father in 1880 founded the town that took their name. A member of the Kansas House of Representatives in 1889, W. J. Bailey served as president of the Republican State League in 1893, as a member of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture from 1895-1899, and, after a successful election campaign in 1898, as a member of Congress from March 4, 1899, to March 3, 1901.
Bailey was not a candidate for renomination in 1900 but two years later he sought and won the Republican gubernatorial nomination and the general election, and served as governor of Kansas from1903 to 1905. In the face of the progressive insurgency that was challenging the Old Guard for control of the Republican Party, Bailey was denied the party's nomination in 1904. The former governor moved to Atchison, Kansas in 1907, where he engaged in banking until 1914 when he was elected as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Missouri; Bailey became governor of the bank in 1922, and served in this capacity until his death in Mission Hills, Johnson County, Kansas, on May 19, 1932.
Governor biographies courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society.