- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Descendants of Hachaliah Bailey celebrated three centuries of the circus in Northern Virginia yesterday with the presentation of a marker honoring the famous showman who bestowed his name on the area.
The bright blue marker paid for by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus stands by some fresh landscaping at a strip mall in the Baileys Crossroads area of Fairfax County.
It is at that location where Bailey built his 526-acre estate that attracted circus performers and curious visitors more than 150 years ago.
"He was a man of vision, courage and integrity," said Naomi Zeavin of the Fairfax County Historical Commission, speaking to local elementary students, residents and circus clowns assembled before the marker.
"This [Bailey] family was a marvelous family. They built this community."
Some of the descendants reminisced about their childhood memories, talked of their strong family ties and noted that many of the Baileys still live in the region.
"My sister is 92 years old, and it's hard for her to get around," said Bill Bailey. "I know she's gonna be sorry that she will not be here."
"It's always nice to know where your roots are," said Sam Bailey.
According to Ms. Zeavin and the local Lion's Club, Hachaliah Bailey was born in Westchester County, N.Y., in 1774 and became a cattle rancher and businessman.
Among his ventures tollgates, a merchant sloop and a popular tavern, to name a few he went into partnership with brother-in-law John Owen to run a successful store.
At the turn of the 19th century, "his brother-in-law got an elephant, and [Bailey] decided that was a good thing to have so he got an elephant," Ms. Zeavin said.
Bailey paid a sea captain $10,000 for the pachyderm and named him Old Bet. Bailey taught the animal some tricks and acquired two more elephants, Little Bet and Columbus, along with a tiger.
"He started a menagerie, the first traveling menagerie in the world," Ms. Zeavin said. "With this show he became a very, very wealthy man."
Bailey's son, Lewis, also became a noted showman. He and partner J. Purdy Brown were the first to present shows under canvas tents. Historians believe Lewis told his father about the land in what is now Baileys Crossroads.
The elder Bailey bought 526 acres between the Leesburg and Columbia turnpikes on Dec. 19, 1837. He built an estate called Moray, restored an inn and established an extensive farm. The site proved an ideal setting for keeping animals between tours up and down the East Coast.
Moray brought some notoriety to Fairfax, as the estate attracted circus performers who practiced and often put on shows.
During the Civil War, the estate took on a new role, housing Union officers and their families not far from the fighting.
"It was almost 140-some years ago when President Lincoln came out here and reviewed troops right here in Baileys Crossroads," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican.
While Hachaliah Bailey never had a working relationship with P.T. Barnum, the latter called Bailey the father of show business and the originator of the menagerie. A Bailey cousin, George Bailey, managed Barnum's circus in the 1870s.
Nephew James A. Bailey also had a circus, which he combined with Barnum's show in 1881. The Ringling Brothers purchased the shows in 1907. Twelve years later, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows debuted.
Fire destroyed Moray in 1942 and all that remains of the original estate is Moray Lane, which led directly to the house.
Feld Entertainment, owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus since 1967, has headquarters in Fairfax County.
Erika Weidman, 10, a fourth-grader at the Fairfax Brewster School, said she and her friends often talk about the history that unfolded on the Bailey land where the school now sits.
"Before I went to this school, my mom told me about Baileys Crossroads … and I thought, 'Whoa, cool,' " Erika said.


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