While Bailey Flat may not be one of the better-known place names in Madera County, it does have an interesting history — one that goes back to the days when Madera County was still part of Fresno County.
The area, which lies about ten miles north of Raymond, was named after Gillum Baley, one of the first white men to attempt to settle in this area, although as was the case with many other old-timers, Baley’s name was misspelled as “Bailey” by the mapmakers.
Baley first came to California from Missouri in 1849, and mined for gold with varying degrees of success. He returned home in 1851, where he purchased a farm in Nodaway County. Declining economic conditions and open warfare in nearby Kansas between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces persuaded Gillum that perhaps his future lay in California after all.
In the spring of 1858, Baley and his family began the long journey west. They brought with them a large herd of cattle, which was to be the nucleus of a large cattle ranch. After being assured by the army that there was plenty of grass and water along the way and that the Indians were friendly, the emigrants decided to travel along what was then known as “Beale’s Wagon Road.”...