The Jonathan Bailey House is a historically significant location that may be found in Whittier, California. It was once known as “The Old Ranch House.” Jacob Gerkens is credited with the construction of the Bailey House in the years 1868–1869. Jonathan Bailey and his wife Rebecca, both members of the Religious Society of Friends, lived in the house in 1887. It is the oldest building in Whittier that is still standing.
In the year 1819, Jonathan Bailey made his debut into the world in Prince George County, Virginia. When Bailey was still a young kid, his family made the move to Ohio along with a large number of other Quaker families. After reaching adulthood, Jonathan Bailey wed Rebecca Frazier, ran a prosperous mill, worked as a farmer, assumed leadership roles in the church and community, and, at the age of 68, he and his wife relocated to the city of Whittier in the state of California.
On May 15, 1887, four days after moving into their new home, the Baileys led the first Quaker meeting for a group of around 10 individuals who met on the porch of the Ranch House. This event took place on the day after the Baileys moved in. It wasn’t until four months later that a church building, known as the First Meeting House of the Society of Friends in Whittier, was constructed; before then, services were held at the home of the Baileys.
During that time period, the Jonathan Bailey Home served as the epicenter of commercial, social, and religious life in Whittier. From this historically significant location, President Jonathan Bailey, often known as “Uncle Jonathan” throughout the region, oversaw the growth of the new community that was established here. On a regular basis, he got up at four in the morning, mounted his horse Polly, and rode across the hills in order to direct the laborers in their hunt for water. During his extended excursions, Rebecca kept busy by hosting get-togethers for newcomers and tending to the flower garden she cherished.
School was dismissed in 1892 so that the entire population of the struggling new community could attend the celebration of the Bailey’s 50th wedding anniversary. At the event, young and old dined, played games, and were entertained under the pepper trees that surrounded the area.
The Jonathan Bailey House was given to the City of Whittier in 1975, and it is currently managed as a museum by the Whittier Historical Society. The Jonathan Bailey House is maintained by the Park Department of the City of Whittier, with additional assistance from local volunteers. In 1977, the home was included on the list of historic places that is maintained by the National Park Service.
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