Faculty image Sam Baylis Butler and Friend President James B. Angell
Biography/Memoir

 

When Sam Baylis followed his employer, President Angell in death on September 3, 1918, the Ann
Arbor Daily Times News commented on the event thus-a comment approved by city
and campus, besides thousands of alumni:


 

ANGELL'S SERVANT AND FRIEND PASSES AWAY


 

"Sam Baylis is dead!
"For over 30 years Sam Baylis was a familiar figure on the campus, and thousands
of students met him with a smile and a pleasant word of a morning during those
years, and counted him a friend. To them all he was affectionately known as 'Prexy's
Sam,' because he was Dr. Angell's faithful servant for a third of a century.

 

"In the old days, when Dr. Angell drove about the town in a handsome carriage
behind a span of bays, it was Sam Baylis who sat on the driver's seat, resplendent in
his coachman's livery. It was Sam Baylis also who served as butler in the Angell
home, and in that capacity he served a great many of the world's dignitaries who
were guests under the roof of the president's mansion on the campus.


 

"And those were the days of royal entertainment. There have been none like them
since in this old town. Those were the days of the open house, the welcome that only
thoroughbreds can give, and many were the tales Sam Baylis could tell, and some that
he delighted to tell to his dying days, of the dignitaries who came to the president's
house. The Chinese minister, Wu Ting Fang, with his gorgeous robes and peculiar
customs, always provided a favorite subject for Sam to talk about.


 

"There were also American dignitaries, President Cleveland and President Wilson,
when they were each plain 'mister,' and President Roosevelt when he was fresh from
the Spanish-American war and his title was colonel." Some of the foreign dignitaries came on diplomatic missions from their own lands
to consult with one of America's greatest diplomats. 'Prexy' Angell, and Sam knew
them all and their peculiarities, and served them well, and they grew to look for Sam
as long as the old home on the campus was the president's house.


"Sam Baylis was with Dr. Angell when he died. During the long weeks when
the grand old man's health and strength ebbed away, it was Sam upon whom he
depended more and more, and Sam never failed his master. When Dr. Angell's step
grew so feeble that he could no longer take his walk about the campus without support, it was Sam Baylis upon whom he leaned, and as the days went on it was
Sam's arm that supported him. When the time came when Dr. Angell could no
longer leave his home, it was Sam who hovered ever near, ready at a whisper to serve
the man whom he had served so well for a third of a century. Sam was one of the
very few outside his immediate family remembered in Dr. Angell's will. [Kate Martin
was likewise a beneficiary, equally with Sam Baylis.] Since Dr. Angell's death and
the closing of the old Angell home, Sam had been seldom seen on the campus. He was
stricken with the illness that finally caused his death just a few weeks before
Dr. Angell's death.


"Sam Baylis was a faithful servant, trustworthy, kindly and good, and there are
many not of his own race who will remember him with kindness for many years.
His honest, smiling face long will be missed on the campus, even as it has been missed
these past two years."


So prominently was Sam identified with the President's house that during his
time an illustrative story went round Ann Arbor. A stranger arriving at the railway
station told the first hackman he saw to take him to Dr. Angell's house. This driver,
being new to the city, asked a fellow Jehu, "Where this Dr. Angell might live," and
the reply was "Dr. Angell? Oh, he lives up with Sam Baylis" - a location which the
newcomer had already learned.

James Burrill Angell: An American Influence

Shirley Smith, University of Michigan Press, 1954, Page 296

 

Reflections/Stories
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