Inglish, Bailey (1793–1867)

By: Tom Scott III

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 14, 2018

Bailey Inglish, founder of Bonham, the son of William Joseph and Sarah (Anderson) Inglish, was born in South Carolina on March 4, 1793. The family moved to Warren County, Kentucky, around 1799. By 1817 they lived near the Clear Creek settlement on the Red River; in this area both sides of the river were claimed by Arkansas Territory as a part of Miller County, Arkansas. Inglish married Jane Sloan around 1817 and was elected sheriff of Miller County in 1821. He served only one term. In July 1823 he completed his term of office and was paid an additional sum for also serving as jailer for the preceding nine months. When the settlers were removed from the western reaches of Miller County as a condition of the treaty between the United States government and the Choctaw Indians, the Inglish family retreated to the vicinity of White Cliffs, Sevier County, Arkansas. Bailey and Jane Inglish were the parents of six children, including Levi English who changed the spelling of his surname from Inglish to English. Jane died about 1835 and was buried near White Cliffs.

In the late winter of 1836 Inglish, five of his children, and at least eight other families left Arkansas for Texas. The group arrived in the central part of what is now Fannin County late in March, and Inglish staked claim to land bordering Bois d'Arc Creek. The same year he married the widowed sister-in-law of John P. Simpson, Nancy Needham Crooms. Because of the increase in Indian raids in the vicinity, Inglish and several of his neighbors, in the late autumn of 1837, constructed a fortified blockhouse and stockade on Inglish's land. Although several families took refuge in Fort Inglish over the next several years, only one documented raid ever took place there. The fort served as a nucleus for a small frontier village, also called Fort Inglish in the late 1830s. In 1840 a post office was established at the fort, and Inglish was appointed postmaster. In 1843 the settlement at Bois d'Arc Creek replaced Fort Warren as county seat of Fannin County, and soon afterward the town was renamed in honor of James Butler Bonham.

Inglish and Simpson each donated parts of their headrights to city officials to be sold for town lots. Soon after Fannin County was established in 1837, Inglish had been appointed president of the Fannin County Board of Land Commissioners, a position he held until his election as chief justice of Fannin County in 1840. In 1847 he was appointed overseer for the construction of the first permanent courthouse for Fannin County. He donated land for the first public cemetery in the county and erected, at his own expense, one of the first school buildings in Bonham. In 1855 he donated four acres of land to Masonic Constantine Lodge No. 13 to be used as a site for the construction of a young ladies' seminary. The site today is occupied by Bailey Inglish Elementary School. Inglish died at his home in Bonham on March 5, 1867, and was buried in Inglish Cemetery.

Bonham Daily Favorite, Centennial Edition, July 22, 1940, Inglish Family Records, Fort Inglish Society, Bonham, Texas. Juanita C. Spencer, Bonham-Town of Bailey Inglish (Wolfe City, Texas: Henington, 1977). Rex Wallace Strickland, "History of Fannin County, Texas, 1836–1843," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 33, 34 (April, July 1930).

Time Periods:
  • Republic of Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Tom Scott III, “Inglish, Bailey,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

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March 14, 2018