Looking Back on 2015

This was the first year of the Bradley History blog.  There is a lot of content here with downloadable information, film clips, photographs and 17 blog posts.  A defect of the page format I chose is the fact that you have to scroll to the bottom of any page to get to the menu of other pages.  Those pages are from left to right:

Home – where the blog posts are listed

About – brief biographical information / bradleyhistory.com@gmail.com

Downloads – “Moving With the Frontier” and other documents

Film Clips – movies from World War II etc.

Photographs – historic Bradley family photos

I hope you will take time to explore all the content that is available here.

Thank you & Happy New Year in 2016

In March, my wife Ellen and I will be celebrating 30 years of marriage.  We were married without our family near Loch Ness in Scotland at the beginning of a six month honeymoon trip through Europe and ending with visits to family in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Our European trip took us through Scotland, England, France, Italy, Greece (for ten weeks), the former Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany, France and England again.

Back to Home Page


It is traditional in Scotland to be “piped out” of the church after a wedding.  We thank our friend Sir John Lister-Kaye OBE for making this possible and for generously hosting our wedding festivities at his Aigas Field Centre in Beauly Inverness-shire, Scotland.  Here is the church we were married in.


Mystery Solved: The Howk Family Lead the Bradleys to Wellington, Ohio

The Dutch family by the name of Howk, originally “Huyck” lived in Lee, Massachusetts at the same time as the Bradleys and were also farmers. The Howk family was originally from Kinderhook, New York where our 8th President, Martin Van Buren (Served 1837 to 1841) was born and raised speaking Dutch as his first language. I would also mention that Van Buren and Thomas Jefferson were our only Presidents with red hair.

Henry Martin Bradley’s uncle Josiah married Fiche Howk in Lee in 1815. Also his aunt Polly married David Howk in 1810. Josiah and Fiche Howk Bradley moved to Wellington, Lorain County, Ohio in 1818 with Fiche Howk’s family and were some of the first settlers there.

In Henry Martin Bradley’s Autobiography he speaks at length about his family moving to Wellington, Ohio in 1835 and the dangers and hardships that they faced there. The mystery that is solved is why his father William and mother Lucy chose Wellington, Ohio to move to from Lee, Massachusetts and the answer is that William’s brother and sister and the Howk family led the way there and encouraged them to make the move.

Credit for this information regarding the Howk family goes to Nicole Hayes and her excellent blog “19th Century Wellington” and the link can be found here: https://19thcenturywellington.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/henry-martin-bradleys-autobiography/

Return to Home Page

Nathan Ball Bradley & the Sugar Beet Industry

On Nathan Ball Bradley’s carte de visite it says that he “introduced the beet sugar industry to United States and started it”. This is the family legend but the truth is a little more complicated than that. It was hardly an original idea with him and the beet sugar industry had been tried in other states than Michigan by that time.

Nathan was the chairman of the committee that investigated the feasibility of bringing the sugar beet industry to the Bay City and Saginaw, Michigan area. It was a natural as the many saw mills would provide the fuel in the form of sawdust and wood scraps to fuel the boiling down of the sugar mixture. He had an interest, of course, since he owned one of the largest lumber companies in the area.

Shown below is the cover of the committee’s report and their conclusion on page 11 that a sugar beet factory should be built.

Return to Home Page


Beet Sugar in Bay County Beet Sugar page11

Syd Fossum: My Mother’s Art Mentor

Sydney Fossum (1909 to 1978) taught at the Minneapolis School of Art where my mother, Janet Williams Bradley, went to art school, and was the Director of the Duluth Art Institute in the early 1960’s where she was an artist member. He was my mother’s mentor and consequently we had examples of his artwork throughout the house.

Fossum Peacemakers Fossum Grocery Fossum Mexico

Above from top and left are: “The Peacemakers” a silk screen print from 1948, “Corner Grocery” a silk screen print from 1961, and “Sunday on the Boulevard, Morelia, Mexico” an original watercolor from 1953. I have memories of going with my mother when I was very small and watching her do silk screen prints at the Art Institute in Duluth.

Syd Fossum led a very interesting life. He was born in South Dakota, received his BFA degree from the Minneapolis School of Art, he was a WPA artist during the Depression, and was very active in politics. After serving in the Army in World War II he had numerous teaching positions and he died in San Francisco in 1978. His work is in the collections of the University of Minnesota, the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and LACMA in Los Angeles.

Art has been very important in our family. It defined who my mother was and she passed her love of art on to all of us. My sister Jean Bradley is an artist in Palm Springs, California, my brother, Tim Bradley is an architect of beautiful houses on the Island of Kauai in Hawaii, and both of my children have received art awards in high school.
(Click on Pictures to Enlarge)

Return to Home Page

Appomattox Court House 150th Anniversary Reenactment of Lee’s Surrender to Grant & Bradleys in the Civil War

AppomattoxCtHouse1 AppomattoxCtHouse2

I have had the opportunity to attend two very moving, historical reenactments in my life. Both were done in real time with exact detail. The first was the bicentennial reenactment of George Washington’s funeral at Mount Vernon in December, 1999. The second was on Thursday, April 9th, 2015 at Appomattox Court House, Virginia where the National Park Service had a minute by minute program marking the surrender of Lee to Grant at the McLean house marking the end of the Civil War in 1865.

After a stamp ceremony for the Appomattox and Five Forks stamps “Grant” rode up to the McLean house on horseback with his Generals. They entered the house where “Lee” had been waiting. During the hour and 15 minute meeting the Park Service presented various historians to explain what led to the surrender, what was happening during the surrender meeting, and what it meant for the preservation of the Union. Lee then emerged from the house and turned and tipped his hat to Grant and his Generals. They returned the favor and Lee rode through the town on his horse.

The ceremony ended with the ringing of a bell, four times for each year of the war. In a program called “Bells Across the Land” various bells including the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the bells in the Old North Church in Boston, and others across the nation would be rung at 3:15 PM EST to mark the end of the Civil War.

The Bradley family and related families had many soldiers in the Civil War on the Union side. Henry Martin Bradley’s oldest daughter Alice was married to Guardis D. Edwards who served in the 4th Michigan Cavalry and died in 1878 of consumption contracted during his service in the Civil War.

George W. Hoover of Georgetown in Washington, District of Columbia, a recent college graduate and a First Lieutenant of the 14th Infantry was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gaines Mill, Virginia on June 27th, 1862 and died four days later.

Thomas Scott Bradley, son of Eli and Amanda Bradley, joined at the age of 37 and served as Captain of a company of sharpshooters from New Lebanon, New York, where he had been preaching as a pastor, and died in the service at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 28, 1863 leaving two sons. His brother, John Stone Bradley, also served as an officer in the Civil War and later settled in Bridal Veil, Oregon.

Return to Home Page

AppomattoxCtHouse3 AppomattoxCtHouse4

(Click on Photos to enlarge)

Growing Up in Duluth Minnesota in the 1950’s & 1960’s

Van1 Van2 Van3

This was my one and only “glamour” photo session. I had a very wonderful childhood in Duluth Minnesota. We lived on Lakeview Drive and Lake Superior was indeed visible out our windows on the back of the house. We were on a hill and the next street was about a quarter mile down the hill. Because of the woods behind our house we had many visitors over the years. If it was a bad year for berries the black bears would appear and try to get into our garbage cans. We had porcupines, skunks and deer.

What impresses me most now that I have been a parent is the freedom we had to roam the neighborhood. As long as we were back by dinner time our parents did not worry. One time at the age of eight I banded the younger neighborhood kids together to play “Captain Cook” and go on an expedition. I was Captain Cook of course, and we managed to follow Congdon Creek down several miles through the woods towards the lake. We were gone for hours and no one knew where we were. It seems amazing now, as a stay at home dad I always kept an eye on my two children until they were teenagers. (I now belong to the Captain Cook Society which has members in the UK, Australia, New Zealand as well as the US.)

Duluth had the distinction of having the last surviving Union soldier from the Civil War living among us. His name was Albert Henry Woolson and there is a statue of him near the High Water Mark at the Gettysburg battlefield (see below). I was born in 1953 and he passed away in 1956 (at the same hospital where I was born) so I was alive at the same time as a Civil War soldier! In a few weeks it will be 150 years since the end of the Civil War at Appomattox Court House.

Return to Home Page

Albert Woolson Gettysburg Woolson Photo

Albert Henry Woolson (1847 to 1956) of Duluth, Minnesota

Henry Martin Bradley & His 1853 Waterbury Clock

1853 Waterbury clock

Henry Martin Bradley purchased this grandfather clock new in 1853 from the Waterbury Connecticut Clock Company. At the time it was stained a chocolate brown. In his will he left the clock to his son Edward Luther Bradley who then left it to his daughter Lucile Bradley Shepard. She thought it should stay in the Bradley family so she gave it to her nephew, my Dad, Stuart Bradley. He stripped the clock of the chocolate brown and stained it a lighter color. He remembers seeing the clock in the front hall of his grandfather’s house at 2229 East 1st Street in Duluth, Minnesota.

As a child I used to hide things inside the clock which was in our living room. It is now in my dining room and survived the earthquake we had a couple of years ago. I have to wind the brass weights up to the top once a week. One weight is for the time and the other for the chime.

I highly recommend visiting the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania near Lancaster, their website is www.nawcc.org. They have many examples of the tall case clocks and they show how they evolved in America.

Return to Home Page


My daughter Maeve’s artistic rendering of the clock