Bailey P. Wootton.
The law is known as a stern mistress, demanding of her devotees constant and unremitting attention, and leading her followers through many mazes and intricacies before she grants them success at her hands. This incessant devotion frequently precludes the idea of the busy and successful lawyer indulging in activities outside of the immediate path of his profession, especially if his vocational duties are of a large and important nature. But there are men who find the time and the inclination to devote to outside interests, and who by the very reason of their ability in the law are peculiarly and particularly fitted to perform capable service therein. Bailey P. Wootton, of Hazard, president of the Hazard Bar Association, has for a long period been known as a close devotee of the law. A master of its perplexities and complexities, his activities have been directed incessantly to the demands of his calling. Yet he has found the leisure to discharge in a highly efficient manner the duties pertaining to the conduct of the Hazard Bank and Trust Company, of which he is president, the establishment of telephone companies and other refining influences of civilization, the conduct of a newspaper, and the performance of the responsibilities dictated by a high ideal of citizenship, and he is, therefore, probably known in other fields as well as he is as a thorough, profound and learned legist. Mr. Wootton was born on a farm in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, May 20, 1870, a son of J. Eli and Sarah Jane (Taylor) Wootton. His grandfather was Joshua Wootton, a miller and distiller of Tennessee. J. Eli Wootton was born in what was then Trousdale (now Sumner) County, Tennessee, in 1836, and in 1854 accompanied the family to the Rhoads farm in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, whence two years later they moved to the farm on which Bailey P. Wootton was born. J. Eli Wootton was a farmer in ordinary circumstances, and was an outspoken democrat in his political views. When the issues between the South and the North resulted in the outbreak of the war between the states, he unhesitatingly cast his lot with the Union and was active in the organization of a company in the Eleventh Regiment, Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, in which he became sergeant, and which was recruited at Rochester. He served bravely and faithfully under Crittenden and Sherman, but during the latter part of the war became very ill, and after a long confinement in the hospital at Nashville was honorably discharged because of total disability. He then returned to his home farm and continued his agricultural operations until his death, which occurred in August, 1903, when he was sixty-seven years of age. Mr. (J. Eli) Wootton married Sarah Jane Taylor, who was born in August, 1845, in Ohio County, Kentucky, a daughter of Harvey Taylor, and a member of a family which came to Kentucky from Virginia. Mrs. Wootton, who is a devout member of the Christian Church, survives her husband as a resident of Central City, Muhlenberg County, near the old home place which is now the possession of her son, Bailey P. There were three sons in the family: Theodore A., the proprietor of a photographic studio at Martin, Tennessee; Finis A., a teacher who was preparing for the law when he died at the age of twenty-three years; and Bailey P. Bailey P. Wootton, realizing the value of an education, determined that he would secure this desirable asset in his youth, and as the family finances did not seem sufficient to enable him to attain his object he set about getting finances of his own. In various ways he made money. When only a lad he edited a small paper at Rochester, later was editor of a paper established at Paducah in the Panhandle of Texas to boost the new country there, and in his vacation periods taught those who were less learned than himself. In this way he managed to work his way through the public schools of Muhlenberg County, Rochester Seminary and Lebanon University, from the last-named of which he graduated in 1890, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts after a course in civil engineering. For three years thereafter he continued to teach in Muhlenberg County, and it was as a teacher that he came to Hazard in 1893. The nearest railroad at that time was forty miles distant, but Mr. Wootton, with the foresight that has ever characterized his activities, saw the future of the community and was content to cast his lot among those who would grow with the community and share in its prosperity. In 1804 he was made principal of the school, and through his efforts a second story was added to the one-story, one-room schoolhouse and numerous other improvements were made. He remained as principal for four years, or until his activities in other fields necessitated his giving up teaching. Ever since then he has been one of the foremost promoters of education here, and through his efforts much has been accomplished in putting the cause of learning upon its present high pedestal. Many of the successful men of the valley today boast that Mr. Wootton was their instructor. While acting as principal of the little schoolhouse Mr. Wootton had applied himself to the study of law, and in 1897 was admitted to the bar. Shortly there after he became convinced that he needed further instruction in his chosen calling, and in 1808 he graduated in law from Southern University at Huntington.
Returning to Hazard, he began the practice of his calling, and soon had an extensive legal practice, which has grown to large proportions with the passing of the years. He was counsel for the old L. & E. Rail road from 1906 to 1911, and from 1911 to 1920 for the Louisville & Nashville. Likewise he represented many of the leading coal companies, writing their charters and acting as their counsel in court procedure, and his practice today is one of the largest and most important in Perry County. The esteem in which he is held by his fellow-practitioners is shown in the fact that he is president of the Hazard Bar Association. In 1903 Mr. Wootton began the organization of the first financial institution at this point, the Bank of Hazard, which in 1906 became the First National Bank, of which he was a director and president at one time. In 1917 he founded the Hazard Bank and Trust Company, a strong institution which has an excellent reputation in banking circles and the full confidence of the public, of which he is president. Mr. Wootton was likewise a pioneer in the telephone field in this region. In 1900 he was the organizer of the Jackson and Hazard Telephone Company, the first line of its kind here, and two years later organized the Big Leatherwood Telephone Company. He was instrumental also in building the first light and water plant, which later became the Kentucky and West Virginia Power Company. He is still proprietor of the Hazard Herald, which was established in 1909. A stalwart democrat in his political allegiance, Mr. Wootton was chairman of the County Democratic Committee for a period of twelve years, and is now State Democratic Executive Committeeman from the Tenth District. He was appointed a delegate from Kentucky in 1915 by Governor James B. McCreary to the Southern Agricultural Congress; was commissioned a colonel upon the Governor's staff by Governor A. O. Stanley in 1916; and was delegate from the Tenth District of Kentucky to the Democratic Convention in Saint Louis in 1916 which nominated Woodrow Wilson. As a fraternalist he belongs to Hazard Lodge, F. and A. M., of which he is a past master; Phoenix Chapter, R. A. M., of Phoenix, Arizona, where he spent the winters of 1916-17; Winchester Commandery, K. T.; and the Mystic Shrine at Lexington. He also belongs to Hazard Lodge of the Knights of Pythias. With all his success Mr. Wootton is unassuming in character. He has ever been a loyal friend, and those with whom he struggled side by side in the early days will always find him ready to give an assisting hand when it is needed. Mr. Wootton married in 1902 Miss Rebecca Boggs, who was born October 17, 1880, in Knott County, Kentucky, daughter of J. C. Boggs, who is now a merchant at Chandler, Oklahoma. Mrs. Wootton died April 6, 1914, after having been the mother of three children: Thomas P., who graduated from the Kentucky Military Institute in 1921 and is now attending the University of New Mexico; Sarah, who died at the age of three years; and Anita, who was one year old at the time of her death. In November, 1916, Mr. Wootton was united in marriage with Miss Clara Collins, daughter of Albert Collins, of Bourbon County, Kentucky, and they have two children: Kittie and Alice. Mrs. Wootton is a member of the Christian Church and takes an active part in social affairs at Hazard.
Source: History of Kentucky, Vol 5. By William Elsey Connelley and Ellis Merton Coulter. Published 1922.