Lillian Florence Bailey                    Mini Bio





Lillian Florence Bailey

Lillian Bailey was the forth child, and only daughter born to Joseph Bailey and Sarah Jane Sparks.  She arrived at the family home in Woolston, a suburb of Southampton, England, on 27 Feb. 1896.  Her two oldest brothers, Reginald & Fred, were both born at different locations in the greater London area.  Her third brother, Len, was also born in Woolston.  Her father worked as a steward on a ship that sailed from London to Liverpool with stops in Southampton.  By moving his family to Southampton (on the southern coast of England) Joseph could see them twice on each trip, both coming and going, rather than only once at the London terminus. 

Her parents, Joseph and Sarah were first cousins to each other and the whole family celebrated their marriage on 16 Feb. 1889.  However, after the birth of the four children, Joseph was away so much with his work that he somehow became separated from his family and little is known of him thereafter.

Their mother provided for the children by working as a full-time nurse and maid in the homes of well-to-do families.  This necessitated her living away from her children during the week and only visiting them on weekends, at which time she would try to cook enough food to last them through most of the coming week.  The children became very resourceful at feeding themselves and getting each other ready for school each morning.  Throughout their lives the three brothers were extremely protective of their little sister.  Only six years separated the four children in age.

Lillian’s daughter, Irene, provided the following history:  “The family lived in Southampton.  Grandmother (Sarah) was a nurse who did home nursing, living at different peoples’ houses to take care of the sick.  Joseph was a steward on a ship sailing from Southampton to London.  He was lost at sea when Mother was two years old.  (There is some question as to the accuracy of this statement about the death of Joseph—but he was not a part of the family from Lillian’s early childhood.)  From that point on the brothers raised Mother.  They took her to school with them, cared for her at home while Grandmother worked.  They would see Grandmother maybe once a week. 

“They lived close to the ocean shore because she would tell of going down to look for fruit that might have fallen off ships and washed ashore.  As long as the boys (her brothers) took her (to school with them) the teacher said: ‘We’ll start her.’”  She began school at age three.

“Mother’s growing up experience was in a one-parent family with Grandmother coming home between jobs to really clean, cook ahead for the children and catch up on laundry.  Mom always talked of it as a loving family and she stayed close to her brothers always.” 

At about age 14, Lillian came to Alberta, Canada with her family.  Her Uncle Edward Sparks lived there and invited Sarah to bring her family to Canada and live near him.  Lillian’s brothers got jobs working in the local coalmines and Sarah continued to work as a nurse.

During World War I, Lillian met Albert Raymond Morton.  He was working in the mines with her brothers, who introduced them.  However, when the couple became serious, the protective brothers tried to stop the romance.  Ray and Lillian eloped and were married on 9 Apr. 1918 in Tabor, Alberta, Canada.  After the wedding, the brothers were reconciled to their old friend and they all became one big happy family. 

About a year into their marriage, Lillian became seriously ill with Rheumatic Fever.  After a lengthy stay in the hospital, with no improvement, Ray walked into the hospital, picked Lillian up and carried her home where he tenderly nursed her back to health by himself. 

Irene continues: “About four years later, after a sickly pregnancy, she (Lillian) gave birth to a baby girl, Bernice Jane Louise Morton (6 Mar. 1923).  Fifteen months later, I appeared on the scene (18 June 1924).  For both of the births Mom went home to Alberta so that Grandmother Bailey could take care of her.”

Ray was totally devoted to Lillian.  Their children remember that he brought her breakfast in bed “every day of their married life”.  It consisted of toast and tea.

Ray worked in a variety of US government construction projects throughout the Great Depression, often moving every few years to a new location in Montana, Washington and Nevada.  He was a steamfitter and worked on the construction of many large dams.

In 1933, Lillian gave birth to her third daughter, Shirley Morton, in Las Vegas.  After completion of the Hoover Dam, the family moved to Polson, Montana where another dam was being built on the Flathead River.  Here the two older girls attended high school.  Here too Irene met Don McDonald.  During the three years of this project, the family lived in a home overlooking the outlet of the Flathead Lake.

Soon however, Lillian and Ray had to move again.  They went to Walla Walla, WA. but only their youngest daughter, Shirley was still living with them at home.  Ray’s last job was near Richland, WA where he was involved in building the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Ray and Lillian retired to Portland, OR. in 1957 so they could live near the families of their two oldest daughters, Bernice and Irene.  Ray died in Portland on 19 Dec. 1959 and Lillian remained in her home until her death on 1 Oct. 1969.

                           Lillian Florence Bailey as a child in England                                                          Ray & Lillian in retirement in Portland

                                                                                    Ray & Lillian Bailey Morton as a young couple