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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Late historian’s writings a treasure trove for history center

PLANT CITY — A nonprofit that preserves the area’s heritage recently received some of the writings of a retired educator who literally wrote the book on Plant City history.

The son and daughter of the late David E. Bailey Jr. turned over two boxes of his works and memorabilia to the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center with more to come. The center’s executive director, Gil Gott, said the collection is a treasure trove of local history.

“It’s a tremendous resource and we are glad that the family thought of us,” he said.

Bailey and the late Quintilla Geer Bruton authored “Plant City; Its Origin and History,” which is the most comprehensive account of the city, dating from its founding in 1885. The book was published in 1977 and updated in 1984.

The donated material includes drafts and research papers Bailey compiled while writing the book with Bruton, Gott said. The collection also includes a 1921 photo of a Sunday school class at First Baptist Church of Plant City, photo postcards dated as early as 1906 and a 1959 special 75th anniversary edition of the Plant City Courier.

Bailey, who died in August 2010, also left behind many other works, including his diary, along with the manual typewriter the retired principal used to write his historic pieces, Gott said.

The author’s son and daughter, David Merrill Bailey and Randi Sue Cox, met with Gott after their father died at the age of 92 and offered his writings and papers. The siblings have been sorting the items of the estate, and expect to deliver several more boxes of materials, papers, books, clippings and other items.

Bailey was born in Shady Grove in 1917 and moved to Plant City with his family in 1926. He was a 1934 graduate of Plant City High School, and was further educated at Florida Southern College and the University of Florida. His teaching career was interrupted by World War II, during which he saw combat in the South Pacific.

He resumed teaching after the war and eventually became a principal at local elementary schools.

He was selected as Plant City’s Citizen of the Year in 1978 and was recognized by the Florida Legislature for his historical and educational contributions. He was awarded the Outstanding Service to Humanity Award by Florida Southern College and was the recipient of the Heritage Award presented by the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center in 2004.

The repository, 106 S. Evers St., has thousands of photos and historical documents in its collection.

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