O. C. Bailey (1894–1967)

aka: Olin Cavanaugh Bailey

Olin Cavanaugh Bailey of El Dorado (Union County) was a leader in the Arkansas oil industry and served as the first chairman of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission. Both Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) and Hendrix College have buildings named in Bailey’s honor.

O. C. Bailey was born in Blevins (Hempstead County) on July 28, 1894, the second child of Gentry Ethridge, a farmer from Haynesville, Louisiana, and Sarah Margaret Stephens Bailey, a housewife from Wallaceburg (Hempstead County). Bailey graduated from Ouachita College (now Ouachita Baptist University) with a BA in 1914.

Bailey married Leila St. Clair Lide of Camden (Ouachita County) on September 12, 1917. The couple had no children. On October 18, 1918, Bailey joined the United States Army and served as a sergeant at Camp Pike in Pulaski County. He was discharged November 29, 1918, following the demobilization of his division. After his discharge, he served as the circuit clerk in Hempstead County from 1916 until 1921, when he moved to El Dorado.

After the death of his first wife in 1919, Bailey married Marjorie Hedrick of Newport, Tennessee, on October 18, 1922. They did not have any children.

In 1923, Bailey partnered with J. D. Trimble, a man who helped discover oil in Arkansas. Together, they formed the oil-producing firm of Bailey and Trimble. They operated in the Smackover (Union County) fields in addition to other fields in Arkansas and Texas. As a leader in the oil industry, Bailey served as chairman of the Arkansas Boards of Conservation from 1937 to 1939. He was then named the chairman of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission from the time of its formation in 1939 until his death in 1967. The purpose and mission of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission was and is to prevent waste, encourage conservation, and to protect the rights of ownership associated with the production of oil, natural gas, and related products.

Bailey served twice on the executive committee of the Independent Petroleum Association of America from 1943 to 1946 and from 1950 to 1953. By appointment of the United States Secretary of the Interior, Bailey served as Arkansas’s representative on the National Conference of Petroleum Regulatory Authorities during World War II. He also was the Arkansas representative of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission from 1942 to 1967.

In 1954, Bailey received an honorary doctorate of law degree from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). He was president of the El Dorado Industrial Development Corporation and served as director of First National Bank in El Dorado. Bailey was also a board member of the First Methodist Church of El Dorado from 1945 to 1967.

O. C. and Marjorie Bailey provided significant funding to Ouachita Baptist University and Hendrix College. Ouachita Baptist built O. C. Bailey Hall, a dormitory, and Hendrix built Bailey Library, an innovative underground library building.

Bailey died in a St. Louis, Missouri, hospital on March 25, 1967, after a brief battle with an unknown illness. He is buried in Arlington Memorial Park, a cemetery located in El Dorado.

For additional information:
O. C. and Marjorie Bailey Collection. Riley-Hickingbotham Library Special Collections. Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Katharine Ross
Ouachita Baptist University


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