Bailey, Ira S.

1890-1937 | Painter, Alaska Railroad Employee, and Anchorage Assistant Fire Chief

Ira S. Bailey was born in Mt. Vernon, Texas on August 16, 1890. As a young man he learned the trade of interior decorating and was practicing it when World War I broke out. He enlisted in the United States Army at Corsicana, Texas, serving from July 1917 to April 1919.   Two weeks before he left for overseas duty, he married Mattie Mathison in Corsicana.[1]

Mattie Mathison, who became a schoolteacher, was born in Texas on May 7, 1893.[2] Her parents, Claude and Ida Mathison, moved from Texas to Hope, Alaska in 1901 in search of gold. Not having any luck in Hope, the Mathison family moved to Seward in 1904, then back to Texas later that year. After about a year, they returned to Alaska, landing in Unga on the Aleutian Chain, where Claude worked in a coal mine. The Mathison family returned to Seward, staying until 1911. Then, Ida took the family back to Texas and lived there for the next seven years.[3]

When Ira Bailey sailed for France, Mattie's mother, Ida, took all of the Mathison family back to Seward. Mattie was pregnant at the time and her firstborn son, Ira S., Jr., was born in Seward in 1918. While serving in France, he was promoted to the rank of first sergeant in Battery B, 132nd Field Artillery. After World War I ended, he was discharged on April 10, 1919 and he immediately sailed for Seward, to rejoin the family.[4]

Bailey resumed his trade as a painter while in Seward and soon thereafter the Alaskan Engineering Commission (AEC) hired him as a painter and then as a timekeeper.[5] From 1920 until 1921, he worked for the Alaska Railroad in Seward, and then moved to Anchorage in 1922. He was appointed assistant fire chief in Anchorage in 1931 and held the position until his death. He was active as a baseball player and also manager of the local team. He organized the first Boy Scout troop in Anchorage under the auspices of the American Legion. He was a commander of the Jack Henry Post, American Legion, in Anchorage.

Ira S. Bailey died on December 25, 1937, in Anchorage. His widow, Mattie, was left with their five sons, Ira S. "Stan", Jr.,[6] Robert, Albert, William and Warren, and one daughter, Lucille. Mattie worked for the Alaska Railroad during the summers of 1938 and 1939 and also taught school in Hope, Ellamar, and Eagle.

Ira S. Bailey Sr. is buried in the American Legion Tract, Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery. Mattie Bailey died on September 1, 1977 in Los Angeles, California.[7]


[1] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 232-233.

[2] Mattie Bailey, Social Security Death Index [database on-line], (accessed December 8, 2012).

[3]“Ira Baily Taken by Death,” Anchorage Daily Times, November 26, 1937, 1 and 8.

[4] Ira S. Bailey, Application for Headstone, March 9, 1938, National Archives Microfilm Publication M1916, Applications for Headstones for U.S. Military Veterans, Roll 4, U.S., Applications for Headstones for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line], (accessed December 8, 2012).

[5] Ira S. Bailey, 1920 U.S. Census, Seward, Third Judicial District, Alaska, ED 1, page 9B, National Archives Microfilm Publication T625, Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Roll 2031, 1920 Federal United States Census [database on-line], (accessed December 8, 2012).

[6] Obituary, Capt. Ira “Stan” Bailey, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 1993, C-3.

[7] Ira Bailey, Alaska, Find a Grave Index, 1867-2011 [database on-line], (accessed December 8, 2012); Mattie Bailey, California, Death Index, 1940-1977 [database on-line], (accessed December 8, 2012).


This entry for Ira S. Bailey originally appeared in John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage, AK: Publications Consultants, 2001), 232-233. See the Ira Bailey file, Bagoy Family Pioneer Files (2004.11), Box 1, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK. Photographs courtesy of the Bailey family. Edited by Mina Jacobs in 2012.  Note:  edited slightly by Bruce Parham, July 15, 2016.

Preferred citation: Mina Jacobs and Bruce Parham, eds., “Bailey, Ira S.,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940,

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website,