Drury Bailey and the Founding of Julian City, Part One
On November 10, 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno sailed into San Miguel Bay. He renamed it “San Diego,” after his flagship and the saint of Alcalá. For ten days, he and his soldiers inspected the promising harbor. While he searched for fresh water, Father Antonio de la Ascension noticed “a great quantity of marcasite (white iron pyrite), golden and spongy,” in the black sand. Ascension read the luster as a “clear sign that in the mountains…there are gold-mines, because when it rains the waters bring it” from higher elevations.
Although rumors persisted that the padres had a mining operation in the Cuyamacas, no one confirmed Ascension’s prediction for 167 years. During the winter of 1869–1870, Fred Coleman discovered flaky placer gold in a creek southwest of today’s Julian. Soon scores of men tried their luck with panning, sluice boxes, dry washers, and iron-ball grinders.
In November 1869, Drury (“Drew”) Bailey, his brothers James and Frank, and their cousins Mike and Webb Julian, arrived in the mountain valley eventually named after Mike. The ex-Confederate soldiers hoped to find work in San Diego, where Alonzo Horton was building a new town by the bay. If the quintet had not spoken with languid Southern drawls, Julian City might be just another ghost town. But though Horton had jobs aplenty — and the promise of a railroad on the horizon — he refused to hire anyone from the South. Horton was a Connecticut Yankee. Johnny Rebs be damned.
Chance and Horton’s bias sent the Baileys and Julians to the Cuyamacas. And Father Ascension was right: gold did trickle from a higher source. Back up the mountain from Coleman Creek, Mike Julian and Drew Bailey found the first quartz mine in the region. As if to sever ties with their past, they called it Warrior’s Rest.
The find was a dud, a “pocket” mine. Their next wasn’t. Then, almost in imitation — or in spite — of Horton, Drew Bailey claimed and platted the mining camp that became Julian City.
Bailey was born May 31, 1844, in Raleigh, North Carolina. His father Samuel, a doctor and Baptist minister, named him for Drury Dobbins, a preacher. When the family moved to Georgia, Drew went to a single-room, wood-frame schoolhouse in Gainesville. Among his early compositions, around age 15 or 16, he wrote: “If a man wishes to stand high in the world and have a good name after him, he should not use prejudice but treat all alike and consider everybody his friend.”
Forty years later, James A. Jaspar, editor of the Julian Sentinel, wrote: “Drew Bailey was loyal. He would go to bat for a friend, his country, or his home town. He was liberal in his views…had many friends and few enemies.”
On May 13, 1862, Bailey enlisted in the Confederate Army at Rome, Georgia. He signed for “three years of war” — until the end. He received $50 for his signature, $200 more for using his own horse. As a private in Company H, 3rd Georgia Cavalry, he says, “We marched away in as high spirits as though we were going to a picnic.”
Bailey was five-foot-two, his brother James an inch or two taller. Both weighed around 130 pounds. “I being a small man,” Drew recounted later, “the Colonel chose me for a carrier of dispatches.” James also became a courier. They went behind, and often through, enemy lines. Major Abijah Julian wrote of James: “he was active as an acrobat…. Many times he was ordered to ‘halt,’ which he never did.” On several occasions, Drew or James crossed the line, “running and shooting alone, under fire of 15 or 20 Federal guns…but always escaped without a wound.”
Following Colonel John Hunt Morgan’s raids into Kentucky, 3rd Cavalry moved north from Chattanooga. Drew had two orders: scout enemy positions and strength, and carry top-secret information between the advanced attack and the main Confederate force.
Like most couriers, even though dressed in civilian mufti, Bailey moved at night and hid out during the day. Since he had to travel light, he foraged for food, stealing chickens, raiding fruit trees and vegetable gardens. He lived, he recalled years later, “mostly off the enemy.”
On September 30, 1862, near New Haven, Kentucky, soldiers came across Bailey’s canteen riddled with bullets. No one found the body.
A few days before, two Confederate companies split up at New Haven. The largest went to Boston, Kentucky, on picket. A lieutenant and 20 regulars, Bailey among them, stayed behind. On the 29th, Union soldiers ambushed and overran them. They captured Bailey and a few others and sent them to Fort Defiance in Cairo, Illinois, a way station for prisoners of war going to the notorious Camp Douglas in Chicago.
Bailey often praised his luck in the war. He was earmarked for the North’s Andersonville. Conditions at Camp Douglas were so deplorable that the death rate was between 17 and 23 percent. Instead, he became part of a prisoner exchange. On October 25, he boarded the steamer Emerald and sailed to Vicksburg, Mississippi. He rejoined his unit and saw action throughout the South. He was among those fighting to stop General Sherman’s brutal “march to the Sea.”
On April 9, 1865, General Lee surrendered at Appomattox. On April 26, at Durham Station, North Carolina, General Joseph E. Johnston and 30,000 Confederate troops, Bailey among them, signed parole papers. They vowed to lay down their arms, sabers, and flags. Bailey could keep his horse, on Ulysses S. Grant’s order, and use it for farming. The paper concluded that if a soldier obeyed the parole, he could return home and “not be disturbed by the United States authorities.” Bailey left on May 3. He had served three and a half years and was astonished that “all of the Bailey and Julian boys would survive the horrors of the Civil War.”
Their homes did not. Sherman’s army razed the Julian plantation, said to be among the finest in Georgia. Bailey’s home was “something awful.” As were his circumstances: “No money, no credit, nothing to work with.” The one “feather left”: pick cotton for 25 cents a day alongside their former slaves — which Frank Bailey, a frequent user of the N-word, found unthinkable.