(ROCKWALL, TX — June 25, 2018) As a member of the Rockwall County Historical Foundation Board of Directors, I recently had the chance to be a part of a very special moment for one of Rockwall’s oldest living residents.
On Juneteenth, the RCHF invited 103-year-old Martha Joe Bailey Zuspann to tour the house in which she was born. That homestead is the 108-year-old Bailey House, which belonged to one of the most prominent families in Rockwall County history and is now being restored preserved by the Rockwall County Historical Foundation.
Let me tell you a little bit about the Bailey family. The T. W. Bailey and family moved to Rockwall County in the 1880s and became associated with the development of early Rockwall. Mr. Bailey owned a hardware store and later built the Bailey Hotel in 1887, which burned in 1903. He also served as a Justice of the Peace and County Tax Assessor for four years. Mr. Bailey was a stock holder in the Rockwall Light, Ice and Gin Company and actively engaged in management of the company until his health failed.
His sons Scott, Perry and John followed in his footsteps. John Titus Bailey, known as “Tite” to family and friends, worked in the banking business for more than 20 years, serving as cashier for the Citizens National Bank, later called Farmers National Bank. Tite married Lucy Estelle Curry, a Rockwall native and graduate of Wells College, in 1906. Lucy would become the first woman to serve as County Clerk in Rockwall County, a position she held for eight years.
Tite and Lucy had their home at 301 N. Goliad St. built in 1909. Their four daughters were born in this home, including Zuspann, who was born in 1915 and moved out of the home when she married in 1941.
The Rockwall County Historical Foundation invited Zuspann, her two daughters and grandson into the home for a trip down memory lane and to see the progress of the home’s restoration.
As an honorary tribute to the Bailey family legacy, the home was donated to the Historical Foundation for preservation through relocation. The building was moved from its original location to the grounds of the Historical Foundation Museum at Harry Myers Park last summer. Much of the structure of the building was in good shape when the house was moved, with beautiful wood floors and doors, as well as interior door and window casings. Restoration of the building is currently underway with projects including plumbing, electrical, exterior façade replacement and repairs, floor refinishing, landscaping and more.
Zuspann and her family marveled at the work being done on the home as they compared their memories of it to what it looks like today.
“I think the house looks really good,” Zuspann said, as she and her family were guided through each room of the historic home. “It’s smaller than I remember, but it’s framed like we lived. The woodwork in the original house was lighter and the floors were darker, but not as dark as they are now.”
She recalled instances of what it was like to grow up there, things like how the family would use the well in the backyard for drinking water and for washing the dishes. In one particularly special moment, Zuspann identified her grandfather in a very old photo of the Bailey Hotel which was set on the mantle of the living room fireplace.
Zuspann said she was very thankful for the Historical Foundation’s efforts in saving the home she grew up in, and even more grateful of the opportunity to see it in person.
“It’s a happy and a sad occasion for me because at my age, I might be seeing this house for the last time. I’m happy to know that the Historical Foundation thought enough of the house to save it,” Zuspann said.
ABOUT OUR EDITOR
I have been the editor of Blue Ribbon News since April 2016. I was born and raised in Heath, TX and I’m the author of Images of America: Heath, a chronicle of historic photographs of my town’s roots.
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