Alcander John Bayley

Was born in Athens, Windham county, Vermont, October 16th, 1827, and was the youngest of three sons descendants of James and Mercy nee (Priest) Bayley. His father was born in Athens in 1780, and died in the same town January 5th, 1832. His mother was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in 1783, and died May 14th, 1832. His father was a merchant in the town in which Alcander J. was born.

Young Bayley was graduated from Townsend Academy when sixteen years old, and always having had a desire to visit the Western States he started on a trip to Brunswick, Missouri, to complete which in that early day consumed thirty-five days. He visited Leavenworth, Kansas, the same year, but in a short time returned to Brunswick, Missouri, and engaged in merchandising. In May, 1848, he returned to his native town, and in August of the same year, under the firm name of Davis & Bayley, on the day he was twenty-one years old, began a commission business in Boston. Early in December the news of the discovery of gold in California reached the city of Boston, and as Mr. Bayley had spend some years on the frontier in which he had become accustomed to "roughing" it, he was not long in determining to seek the new El Dorado. He at once organized a company who purchased the ship Edward Everett, and on the 11th day of January, 1849, she weighed anchor in Boston harbor, and after a long and tedious voyage cast anchor again in San Francisco bay, July 6th, 1849.

There was then but an embryo town where now stands a great city. The company at once secured teams and went to the Mokelumne river mines, where in August they disbanded. After a short stay at Sacramento, Mr. Bayley went on a prospecting tour through Hangtown and Coloma mining districts. In October he returned to Sacramento and opened a storage house. In March, 1850, he returned to Coloma and took charge of the Winters' Hotel at a salary of $500 per month. On the 25th day of July, 1850, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Jones, at the Green Springs, by Rev. J. A. Benton; this was the second wedding in the county. On this occasion Mr. Bayley hired the first horse and buggy ever in the county to go on a wedding trip to Sacramento, paying two ounces per day, for the use of it. He was absent ten days and on his return, Uncle Billy Rogers, the owner, magnanimously agreed to deduct $20.00 and settled at $300.00.

In September, 1850, he resigned his position in the hotel at Coloma and erected a hotel at Pilot Hill, known as the Oak Valley House; when completed he gave an opening ball which continued for two days, November 27- 28th, 1851, and upon counting his cash found he was $3,500 ahead. This stimulated him to go on and enlarge his hotel. We herewith insert a copy of the invitation.

Cotillion Party

To be given at A.J. Bayley's Oak Valley House, Thursday evening, November 27th, 1851. Managers Robert H. West, John C. Barr, Hon. V. Daniels, Hon. W. F. Stewart, Wm. R. Hopkins, Dr. D. A. Cohea, John Orr and Hon. Judge Thomas.


When the building was enlarged it contained a hall 96x30 feet, hard finished and covered with fresco paper, and adjoining it was a dining room the same length and twenty feet wide. The first ball given in the new hall was on the 19th of October, 1854, to which 156 tickets were sold at $10.00 each, and one hundred and forty ladies present. The total receipts of this party was $2,200. The last annual ball was given by Mr. Bayley on the evening of October 25th, 1860, at which the receipts were $1,500. On the 16th of May, 1861, the entire structure with all its contents were destroyed by fire, and Mr. Bayley began construction of his present palatial brick residence, the largest in the county, containing about three thousand brick and costing $20,000. It is three full stories in height. The opening reception was on May 15th, 1862. The residence is located on his beautiful Oak Valley rand of 640 acres, forty miles from the capital of the State and eight miles from Coloma and Auburn each. From the observatory, on top of the residence, can be had a fine panoramic view of the Sacramento and Coloma valleys, together with several of the surrounding towns and peaks. The house is used as Mr. Bayley's private residence. In point of construction and finish it is second to none in the State of its class. In front of and running the entire length of the building is a double piazza, supported by eight large wooden pillars and under all of it a No. 1 cellar.

On this farm will be found all kinds of stock and poultry that is common to the climate. He manufactures the wine which "maketh glad," yet he touches it not himself. In 1871 he was the Democratic nominee for the Assembly and the only one elected on the ticket, and served his term out with credit to himself and satisfaction to his constituents. He is engaged in merchandising at Pilot Hill, and is proprietor of the Grand Central hotel at Lake Bigler or Tahoe, one of the finest bodies of water in America. Mr. and Mrs. Bayley had born to them four children, viz: Alonzo A. on April 24th, 1851; James P. born July 4th, 1852; Jennie E. born February 13th, 1854; and Ida M. born July 11th, 1861, now Mrs. H. C. Ewing. Alonzo A. is married and has two sons, he is engaged in merchandising with his father, and resides near the homestead; he was the prime mover and organizer of the first Grange of the Order of the Patrons of Husbandry in California, and was of late one of the Supervisors, the first and only native born El Doradan to hold a county office. James P., his youngest son, is the owner of a farm adjoining his father. Mr. and Mrs. Bayley have, by constant toil and a due regard to economy, accumulated a good home and competence upon which to rely in the declining years of their lives.

The History of El Dorado County, California by P. Sioli, pages 223 and 224

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