A very successful Denison physician, who came to Denison in March 1881, never knew of the importance of infant boy that he delivered nine years later.

A very successful Denison physician, who came to Denison in March 1881, never knew of the importance of infant boy that he delivered nine years later.


A young couple with two small sons who came to Denison a year or so earlier for the husband to find work with the Katy Railroad as an engine wiper in the downtown Roundhouse was renting a house at the corner of Lamar Avenue and Day Street. They were renting out an upstairs room in the two story house to Jim Redmon.


On Oct. 14, 1890, the young woman sent the renter to summon the doctor when she felt the time had come for her baby to be delivered. Redmon ran for the doctor and took over for David Eisenhower at the roundhouse so that he could go home for the birth of his son.


If you haven’t guessed already, that young couple were David and Ida Eisenhower, the doctor was Dr. D.H. Bailey and that infant boy he delivered was Dwight David Eisenhower, who grew up to be an important General during World War II and later the President of the United States.


The birth was not listed in the Denison Daily News or the Sunday Gazetteer, not even in the county records until he had become a famous general. Millions of words have been written about Dwight Eisenhower, but very few words have been written about Dr. D.H. Bailey, who not only was a physician, but ran the Bailey and Howard Drug Store at 408 West Main Street.


Dr. Bailey, a successful physician and surgeon here, was born in West Virginia in 1851, a son of Silas P. and Lydia (Housted) Bailey, both natives of West Virginia. Silas Bailey was a farmer his entire life and died in 1889 at the age of 73. His wife passed away in 1861 at the young age of 38 years. In their family were seven children, four of whom followed their father in farming in West Virginia


Dr. Bailey sought a more advanced education at the University of Michigan, and then prepared for practice of medicine in the medical department of the University of Ohio in Cincinnati, where he graduated in the class of 1876. He first began the practice of medicine in Salem, WV for five years before moving to Denison, where he remained the rest of his life. In addition to the practice of medicine and the operation of a drug store, Dr. Bailey was identified with the National Bank of Denison as a director for a number of years.


Politically, Dr. Bailey was an independent, while fraternally he was connected with the Masonic order in which he attained the Knight Templar degree.


It was said that the good doctor was quick to adopt new methods that promised to be of practical value in the healing art. Yet, he was not hasty in discarding old and time-tried practices whose worth had been proven. He was very careful in the diagnosis of a case and seldom made an error in judgment concerning a diagnosis, according to an article in 1906 in the History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas.


About the time of the now-famous birth, Dr. Bailey was City Physician of Denison. He and his partner, Joshua E. Howard had Bailey and Howard Drugs that they advertised as "The Leading Druggists, carry a large assortment of Wall Paper, Decorations, Paints, Oils, & Etc," in the Denison City Directory 1889-1900.


In relating her remembrances of the Eisenhowers during the two years they lived in Denison, Miss Jennie Jackson recalled rocking the infant on her knee while sitting with Ida Eisenhower on the front porch of their home. She was a pretty 19-year old Denison schoolteacher when David and Ida Eisenhower moved into the little house just down the street from where she lived.


She also remembered that she had her eyes on the handsome, popular physician, Dr. Bailey, who just happened to be a bachelor. "He was a dashing young doctor from Virginia, who rode around in a fine buggy with two beautiful horses," she related in a Denison Herald interview. She also had no trouble remembering that Dr. Bailey was a "black-haired blade with long sideburns and a prominent nose above a thick handlebar mustache that curled until it drooped two inches below his chin. The mustache used to blow in the breezes," she remembered with a nostalgic twinge. Every young woman in Denison wanted desperately to ride in the doctor’s buggy.


It is believed that neither Dr. Bailey nor Miss Jennie ever married.


A photo of Dr. Bailey’s Drug Store was published in The Denison Herald in January 6, 1991, in a "Photo from Denison’s Past" column. Prominently displayed on a wall of the store was a large painting that the Herald described as depicting the Battle of the Alamo. The artist was L.R. Bromley and the date of the painting was 1884.


Another Denison physician, Dr. Doak Blassingame had a photo of the drug store interior and he remembered what he believed to be the same painting that was hanging in Room 305 of the old Denison High School Building on West Main that was demolished a few years ago. At one time in recent years it was believed that the painting was valuable and a search was made for it. However, the painting was never located.


Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She can be contacted at d.hunt_903@yahoo.com.