WILLIAM W. BAYES, was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania October 1st 1809 and died at his home near Wauseon, Ohio November 1st 1885 at the ripe old age of 76 years. The span of a life, how briefly told, but a life like his is not hidden when mother earth naives its fellow dust – a man – such a man as he does not cross to live when the pall of death settles upon the brow. Life goes out but he lives on in pleasant memories, noble of deeds, active labors, sweet mementos of living memories, grateful hearts and only in the rounded measure of eternity can such a life be measured and estimated at its time worth.
William Bayes parents when he was but eight years old moved to Holmes County, Ohio. In the year 1834 he was married to Miss Mary Tedrow and three years after marriage in September 1837 he, with his young wife, came to what is now Fulton County and what most this county had been at that early date. My own memory dates back to a period at least 15 years later and what a vivid picture is presented to my mind of gnat forest, cleared patches, hives and sores, log cabins with stick chimneys, muddy roads, impossible roads and no roads – swamps and soils, bone peckers, cow bells and mosquitoes, corduroy, blue jeans, colic and drilling, bare foot men and women or with old shoes strapped to their feet with cow hide for Sunday. At the time of the arrival of our brave young couple into what is now Fulton County, roads were hardly known, by ways were cut to suit the occasion, cabins were few, school houses almost unknown and the worst mill at Maumee. Going to mill was attended with more hardship and fatigue in those days than a trip to New York now.
His cabin was among the very first ever erected in Clinton township, the forest fell before his axe and soon a little cleared spot, constantly enlarging, developed into the pioneer farm, small fields, rail fences and plenty of stumps but fertile soil always rewarding the husbandman (provided the lakes of water soaked away in time for the seed sowing and planting). Mr. Bayes was among the fore most to look after the intellectual and religious needs of the neighborhood and continued largely to these ends. His house was the home of the pioneer preacher and for a time, at least, his cabin was used for church services. The Methodist Church in the county round about owed much of its prosperity to his efforts and in turn yielded to him a rich foliage of enjoyment. How those pioneer Methodists enjoyed their church privileges, how they went to meeting in log cabins, school houses or barns and quarterly meeting occasions, how their log cabins were filled with the worshiping guest come perhaps from many miles away. Beds were made upon the floor so thick that they almost touched each other.
I will remember the time when the deceased, Uncle Tommy Bayes and others, used to stop at my fathers log cabin, on those ever memorable occasions and what found joyous happy meetings they had, what happy lives were theirs too. The whole life of Mr. Bayes was that of the typical pioneer one among this foremost in every good word and work, a teacher in doing kindly deeds and noble acts. To Mr. and Mrs. Bayes were born eight children, all of them living but one and all of them among our last and most useful citizens.
The wife of his youth died June 7, 1869 after which sad event he lost much of his former interest in his surroundings and the activities of life; always experiencing much joy in his church relationship however. His interest never flopped when talking of his early struggles and he seemed especially joyous when talking of the pioneer preachers, especially Herbert and P. Elder Brooskenridge and some others whose names I do not now remember. He was stricken with paralysis in December 1883 and hence forward was almost helpless and a constant sufferer until death which came nearly two years later. “Uncle Bill” familiarly so called by old and young, was one of a few old men whom the writer always especially remembered for their just, pure, upright lives and we gladly pay this memento of respect to the man. Whose life was always one of pure motives and whose memory is a perpetual benediction. Kind, pure generous hearted, old friend, hence! And farewell!
Submitted to the Fulton County Pioneer Society after his death is 1885 and read as a tribute to William BAYES one of their semiannual meetings.