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.

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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)

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

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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.

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(Click on Photos to enlarge)

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

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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.

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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 They have many examples of the tall case clocks and they show how they evolved in America.

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My daughter Maeve’s artistic rendering of the clock

Timothy Matlack: Master Penman of the Declaration of Independence

Among many distinctions, Timothy Matlack (1736 to 1829) penned the original Declaration of Independence which is at the National Archives in Washington, DC. He was a Master Penman and was hired to do deeds, contracts and other legal and historical documents in what could be described as an English Roundhand script. He accomplished this with a feather quill pen. Type fonts that are similar are Copperplate and American Scribe. (See for the excellent computer version of American Scribe)

He was also given the honor of reading the Declaration from the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia and overseeing the letterpress printing of the Declaration so that copies could be sent to all of the colonies. He was a very active Quaker and opposed slavery. Congress commissioned the artist Charles Wilson Peale to paint Timothy Matlack’s portrait in 1790. This portrait is shown below as it is in the public domain.

My grandmother, Kathryn Burris Bradley’s genealogy book begins with the Matlack family. This book was originally started by her mother, Fannie Hoover Burris. The first Matlack was William who emigrated from Cropwell Bishop, Nottinghamshire, England aboard the ship “Kent” in 1677 which landed in Burlington, New Jersey.

1. William Matlack married Mary Hancock in 1682, their 7th of 9 children was Timothy Matlack, father of the famous Timothy Matlack.

2. Timothy Matlack married Mary Haines in 1720, Pricilla Matlack was the oldest of 4 children.

His wife Mary died and he remarried a widow, Martha Burr Haines, apparently his sister-in-law. They had 7 children the oldest of which was the famous Timothy Matlack. So he is not our direct ancestor but the half brother of our ancestor Pricilla Matlack.

3. Pricilla Matlack married Isaac Warren in 1739, Jacob Warren was the 2nd of 3 children.

4. Jacob Warren married Rebecca Mount, Pricilla Warren was their 2nd of 12 children.

5. Pricilla Warren married Daniel McCurdy, John Wesley McCurdy was the oldest of ten children.

6. John Wesley McCurdy married Eliza Watson in 1824, Julia Emma McCurdy was the youngest of 7 children.

7. Julia Emma McCurdy married Samuel Parker Hoover, Fannie McCurdy Hoover was the oldest of ten children.

8. Fannie McCurdy Hoover married William Henry Burris, Kathryn Stuart Burris was the oldest child of 3.

9. Kathryn Stuart Burris married Edward Cook Bradley in 1910, they were my grandparents. My brother was named after Timothy Matlack, but unfortunately my parents got the spelling wrong and so he is Timothy Matlock Bradley, an architect in Hawaii.

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Mrs. Mathers, the African American Cook & Nurse to Fannie E. Edwards

Mrs. Mathers nurse to Fannie Edwards

The Cartes de Visite Photographs Album was owned by Fannie E. Edwards. She apparently had a great deal of affection for her nurse Mrs. “Penny” Mathers, as she put a carte de visite photograph of Mrs. Mathers next to her baby picture and wrote “Bless her ole hearty”.

Fannie was born in Bay City, Michigan in 1875, was married in Duluth, Minnesota in 1898, to William Foote Quayle (of Cleveland, Ohio) and then moved to Hollywood, California. I am unable to establish a date of death for her, other than the fact that she had outlived her husband (who died in 1921) at the time that the Genealogy of 1927 was prepared.

Carte de visite photographs of African Americans were rare during that period of the 1860’s to the 1880’s. For example, there are 37,318 carte de visite photographs currently listed on eBay and after a search of those for the words, “African American” only 16 results are shown.

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