Drury (“Drew”) Bailey
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.
The five men debated but couldn’t agree on a plan. Early in 1867, Frank went to California, where land was free. Drew urged the others to follow. When none did, Drew packed up and headed to New York. From there he’d sail to the isthmus of Panama, then to San Francisco.
“Drury was the smallest one and only a private for the Confederacy,” says his grandson, Richard Bailey, “but for some reason they all did what he said.”
After Drew left, brother James and the Julians agreed to meet him in New York and sail together. Though he had a head start, Drew arrived a day late. The others had gone — but not by sea — so he went west, following opportunities for work. He rode a steamer up the Missouri River to Montana, where he may have done placer mining, wielding a pick and shovel for little more than a cotton-picker’s wage. “But oh,” he recalled decades later, “what a winter!” “How I suffered with the cold! That would do me. I felt I must find a warmer climate.”
In the spring, with only two dollars in his pocket, he traveled to a new silver find in southern Utah. He got a job on a crew building a 25-mile toll road over a mountain. He needed horses for the task. One morning after breakfast, as he stood on a sidewalk, a wagon approached. The four horses looked healthy, so Drew stepped into the street to wave it down. The man seated next to the driver looked vaguely familiar. Drew squinted. Then very familiar.
James, Frank, and the Julians had been working in the area for months. They wanted to make enough money to return home to Georgia. A teamster for one of the mines, James even invested $150 in a lot, which the others swore was a waste of grubstake money.
When they completed the road, the quintet couldn’t agree where to go next. Some said Arizona. James said California. Eventually they sided with him. He sold his boomtown lot for $900 and became the group’s banker. His first purchases: supplies and a three-mule pack train.
They worked their way to Fort Yuma, where all the talk was about Tom Scott. “The Railroad Prince” wanted to build a line from El Paso to San Diego. Until then, to Drew and the others “California” meant where Frank had gone: San Francisco and the gold country east. But a railroad promised good jobs, growth, and a new start.
“For the Baileys and Julians,” says Richard Bailey, “the West was a place on the map, not a way of life; they wanted to settle down and forget the war.”
Most likely, they didn’t know much about San Diego (they may have even asked where it was). Nonetheless, they declared it would be their future home. Drew vowed they “would help build a great city.”
They worked odd jobs and prospected on their way across the desert and into the mountains. At San Bernardino, they heard more excited talk about the railroad. When they ran low on supplies at Temecula, James volunteered to ride to San Diego and reprovision.
No one recorded his first view of the Pacific Ocean or of “new” San Diego sprouting by the bay. But amid bustling wagons loaded with lumber and the cacophony of hammers pounding nails, James got the word: Horton wasn’t hiring ex-Confederates.
On his return trip, James met John Wesley Horrell. He lived way up in the mountains, he said, in Volcan Valley (north of today’s Julian). He and his wife ran a store in their large adobe house and had ten children. Horrell shot wild hogs, which grew fat on acorns, and traded the pork for supplies in town. Forget San Diego, he told James, and come to the mountains, not just for the “ample game and good land to be had” but because only three or four families lived there.
When James returned to Temecula, the others still wanted to try Horton’s “addition.” If they couldn’t find work, they’d inspect the mountains on their way to Arizona and return to San Diego when construction began at the railroad terminus.
“While it is certain that gold would have been discovered in the Cuyamacas,” writes historian David Lewis, “it is not certain that any city named Julian [would exist] were it not for James and John’s chance meeting on the trail.”
Horrell’s caution about jobs proved accurate. Drew, James, Frank, and the Julians arrived at the mountain valley in November 1869.
“This is the most beautiful place I ever seen since I left home,” Drew told the others. “Let’s each one locate a home in this beautiful warm country.” He would plant barley and fruit and raise cattle.
His comrades revolted. Sure, the mountains were majestic, the soil choice, but they found only “color” (fool’s gold) in the creek, and the real item was just placer flakes. And farming?
Drew refused to budge. He staked a “squatter’s rights,” a homestead claim of 160 (some say 154) acres encompassing today’s Julian. He talked the others into helping him build a log cabin, with a large rock fireplace, at the southeastern end of a long valley.
David Lewis: “He must not have experienced the destructive fury of the East Wind mentioned in old pioneer diaries and dreaded by today’s residents as the Santa Ana winds, or he would never have picked” the site for a home. “The winds come up from the desert and blast through there like a funnel.”
When weather permitted, Drew and Mike Julian bundled up and searched the mountains for signs of gold. They’d never heard of Father Ascension but knew that flakes in streams meant larger quartz veins higher up. That winter was a dry one, but when snowbanks left them cabin-bound, Drew envisioned a city on his newfound land. ■
— Jeff Smith
Bailey, Richard, “The History of Julian: Featuring the Histories of the Bailey and Redman Families,” interview, June 2005, privately distributed.
Birkett, Charles V., “The Ready Relief Mine,” Journal of San Diego History, October 1963, vol. 9, no. 4.
Ellsberg, Helen, Mines of Julian, Glendale, 1972.
Fetzer, Leland, A Good Camp: Gold Mines of Julian and the Cuyamacas, San Diego, 2002.
Lewis, David, “Last Known Address: The History of the Julian Cemetery: True Stories of the Pioneers,” interview, San Diego, 2008.
McCutchen, Ora Bailey, “Early Days in Julian and Banner,” ms. in Bailey’s History of Julian.
Taylor, Dan Forrest, “Julian Gold,” ms. at San Diego History Center.