Bradbury Pioneer Family

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The Bradburys were early comers to Pike county, Illinois. Jacob Bradbury, sixth in line from the immigrant, Thomas, settled in Brown county, Ohio, long before Illinois became a state. In 1826 he built with his own hands a houseboat with a fireplace in each end, equipped with portholes for defense against the lawless bands of river pirates that then infested the western water courses. In this vessel, Jacob and Patience Bradbury and their thirteen children floated down the Ohio river in the autumn of 1826. They wintered at Cairo, and then in the spring of 1827 poled, sailed and cordelled up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, landing at Naples, in then Morgan county, March 21, 1827.

Jacob Bradbury was a squatter on government land near the present village of Perry, later buying the land from the government when it was offered for sale. Jacob was 44 years of age when he landed in this region, having been born November 8, 1783. His wife, Patience Bradbury, was born November 1, 1782 and died December 10, 1863 in her 82nd year. Their children included Polly (later Polly Quimbey), born May 18, 1801; Thomas (bearing the name of the sixteenth century Lord Mayor of London and of the New England immigrant), born January 23, 1804; Lemuel, born April 18, 1805; Sarah (Sally), born November 30, 1806; Ruth (later Ruth Wadsworth), born April 24, 1809, died in September, 1856; Lucy, born October 20, 1810; Nathan B. (Father of the late Mrs. Charles L. Aber of Pittsfield), born September 20, 1812; Elizabeth (Betsey) born July 9, 1814; Samuel, born December 3, 1815; Catherine (Catey), born September 19, 1817; Eliza, born September 10, 1819; Jacob G., born September 29, 18! 21; Jotham B. (Who married Mahala Jane Hobbs), born March 12, 1823.

Several of the foregoing names are familiar ones in Pike county history. Some of Jacob's children lived to a great age. In their old ages they retained vivid memories of their early lives in Ohio, the trip down the river and of pioneer days in Pike county, Illinois; of the log school house with a log out and the space covered with greased paper, that the children might see to follow the master's copies on the shelf beneath with their goose quill pens; of walks through unsettled regions to relatives distant nine miles and later of going every Sunday from seven to ten miles on horseback to church; and of spinning and weaving cotton, wool and flax for family wear.

Jotham B. Bradbury, long a resident of Griggsville, was one of the adventuring family that landed at Naples the spring of 1827. He was then four years old. His birth had been at Withamsville, Brown county, Ohio, March 12, 1823. In Pike county he married Mahala Jane Hobbs, who was born near Simpsonville, Kentucky, July 21, 1822, a daughter of Nicholas Hobbs. Her father, a minister and school teacher, in 1830 brought his family to Illinois in a wagon and settled near Perry. Jotham and Mahala were married February 28, 1847 and they had seven children, three girls and four boys. Jotham Bradbury died August 13, 1905 at Griggsville, aged 81; he is buried at Walnut Grove. Mahala Jane died March 31, 1919, in her 97th year.

Another of the family who figured in that early landing at Naples was Lemuel Bradbury, who was then 22. Leaving Pike county, Illinois, he settled in Pike county, Missouri, where he died February 20, 1877. His wife was Lydie Troy, a widow, whose maiden name was Repsher. Their children were Harriet, Eleanor, George, Nathan, Anson, Thomas and Charles.

Catherine Bradbury, another of this early family, was born near Ripley, Ohio, September 19, 1817 and was nine years old when the family landed at Naples. She married Francis A. Kirkpatrick near Naples on December 3, 1833. She died August 13, 1904 at the home of a son near Carney, Oklahoma. Her story, related in 1905 in the Methodist Recorder, is typical of this hardy pioneer family, and for that reason is here repeated in part: "When 18 years of age she began her married life. Her first-born son was accidentally burned to death when only a few months old. About a dozen years after her marriage her husband was licensed to preach and in 1849 the family moved to Iowa where her husband became a prominent minister in the Iowa Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church. His first circuit could be covered only by about four weeks' travel on horseback.

"The family, already consisting of six children, had to be clothed and fed from a salary of less than $200 and what the mother earned by sewing. The first year she was sick, had to be carried on a bed when the family was moved to the new parsonage from a temporary home. The next year she was sick for a month almost unto death, but thought of Hezikiah and prayed for fifteen years more of life that she might raise her children. Finally, the doctor, after spending the night with her, declared that the crisis was past. "A few years later, with the assistance of friends, a farm of 40 acres was bought in Davis county for two hundred dollars, upon which the family lived, improving it as best they could, while the husband and father preached on more or less distant circuits or performed his duties as president of the conference.

"The oldest son, William, who was afterwards killed at the battle of Fort Donelson, was just then entering his teens and did much of the work on the farm himself. After five years this farm was left to be sold (though nothing was ever realized from it) and for nearly a score of years, the family, which increased to the number of twelve, moved from place to place, as the father was assigned to one field of work after another. "During this time the mother not only cared for the large family but often worked to help support it, for the father received from preaching only one to three hundred dollars a year which small sum he added to whenever possible by farming or other manual labor. "Though not physically strong, her dwelling, however poor it might be, was always neat, clean and homelike. The children went to school in clean clothes free from holes, though sometimes the clothes had to be washed in the evening, dried at night, and ironed in the morning, and carefully patched many times. "Although sometimes weak from overwork and the lack of sufficient nourishing food, she never failed to have a good meal for her husband when he returned from his weary travels, and also for the numerous brethren who in those days came as a matter of course to the minister's house for meals and lodging. "At about the hardest part of this period her beloved second-born son, who, though only eighteen, had been a strong support of the family, went to war, and soon was laid in a southern grave.

"In 1875 a small farm was purchased near Rhodes, Iowa, and was cleared and improved by the boys while the father preached only in nearby places. In this year Laura, the youngest and only unmarried daughter, died and three years later the father and husband passed away. "The mother remained on the little farm with the younger sons about a dozen years, then kept house for her youngest son until she was 78, when he was married. She then made her home with him in Winona, Minnesota, and in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, though occasionally visiting the other children. It was on one of these visits that she peacefully passed away at the home of her son in Oklahoma." Thus The Methodist Recorder paid tribute to a pioneer Bradbury mother, who left four sons and four daughters scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific, each with the memory of a mother whose love and sacrifice for her children never failed and who, in her sphere, had endured and wrought as patiently and heroically as ever did martyr or hero of history.

Jacob Bradbury, born in 1783, was a brother of Nathan Bradbury, born February 1, 1788, both being sons of Benjamin Bradbury (born March 2, 1744) and Molly Bradbury (born May 17, 1750). There were 11 children in the Benjamin Bradbury family: Polly, Benjamin, Jr., John, Ruth, Sally, Gibbons, Moses, Jacob, Thomas, Nathan and Samuel. Several of these children are identified with Pike county history. Jacob Bradbury's son, Nathan B., born in the opening year of the second war with Britain, married Dorcas Boggess in Pike county, June 27, 1838, with Justice Peter Kargis, early settler in Chambersburg township, officiating. They had four children, Malissa, born March 10, 1839, died October 29, 1841, aged two years, seven months and 19 days; Lucreta, born May 23, 1840, died October 27, 1842, aged two years, five months and four days; W. W. Bradbury, born September 30, 1842, died July 29, 1843, aged ten months. Dorcas (Boggess) Bradbury died February 23, 1843, and on February 8, 1853, Nathan B. Bradbury married again, his second wife being his first cousin, Carthena Bradbury, eldest daughter of Jacob Bradbury's brother, Nathan, and a sister of Nancy Ann Bradbury who married John Vertrees. Nathan and Mary Ann Bradbury's family comprised five children, namely, Nancy Ann (wife of John Vertrees), Mahala (wife of Jacob Hobbs), John, Carthena (wife of Nathan B. Bradbury), and Cephas Bradbury. Nathan Bradbury died January 3, 1876.

Nathan B. Bradbury and his second wife, Carthena, had five children, namely, Alice, born January 9, 1854; Edwin Ruthven, born June 21, 1856, died January 24, 1883, aged 27; Bruce, born November 11, 1858; Winfield Scott, born February 28, 1861, died July 4, 1862, aged 16 months and four days; Anna May, born at New Salem June 29, 1863, died in Pittsfield May 15, 1938, aged 74. Anna May Bradbury, a niece of Nancy Ann Vertrees who was her mother's sister, married Charles Lincoln Aber at New Salem August 22, 1886, he a son of H. C. Aber and Anna Stone. They had five children, namely, Donna, wife of John Dinsmore of Pittsfield; Sada, wife of James Gallette Willsey of Pittsfield; Frank, who married Mavis Branch; Loyd, first born, who died at the age of eight; and Edith, who died at the age of five months. C. L. Aber was long engaged in blacksmithing in Pittsfield, where he still resides. His wife was the last surviving member of the Nathan B. and Carthena Bradbury family.

Carthena Bradbury, born in Ohio in 1823, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Anna May Aber, in Pittsfield on May 9, 1905, aged 81 years and seven months. She was buried in Gray cemetery in New Salem township. She had long survived her husband, Nathan B. Bradbury, who died November 17, 1879, aged 67 years, one month and 21 days. He was at one time a pilot on the Mississippi and later lived for a while in Colorado. Benjamin F. Bradbury, son of Thomas and another of the early Pike county settlers, was born in Ohio in 1824 and died at Perry July 3, 1906, aged 82; he is buried in Old Baptist at Perry. His father, Thomas, died in Pike county August 19, 1845, leaving the following children: Charles, Zenas, Benjamin F., Martha A. Finley and Nathan Bradbury.

The Bradbury Memorial, from which is derived much of the family prior to the Pike county settlement, was compiled chiefly from the collections of John Merrill Bradbury of Ipswich, Massachusetts, by William Berry Lapham and was published in 1890 by Brown, Thurston & Company of Portland, Maine. The facts were gathered by diligent and exhaustive research among the old archives of England, deed records, church registers and various books and records of English heraldry.

The known descendants of Thomas Bradbury the Immigrant, from whom descended all of the Pike county Bradburys, numbered 1296 when the Bradbury Memorial was published in 1890. Including the men who married Bradbury women, there were nearly 1900. The name Bradbury is derived from Brad, meaning broad, and Bury, which is variously defined as a house, a hill, a domain and a town. In English records it is found spelled Bradberrie, Bradberry and Bradbury. In Pike county records at the court house it frequently appears as Bradberry.

John Vertrees and Nancy Ann Bradbury were married at Perry, March 2, 1837. The ceremony was said by that "morning star of the Baptist church" in the west, the Reverend Jesse Elledge, grandson of the Boones, who early in the 1820s was preaching in the ancient groves along the Illinois river. He was a son of Charity Boone, who was a daughter of Kentucky Edward, younger brother of Daniel. John Vertrees and his wife left Perry in the early 1840s and located in Knox county, Illinois, near Galesburg, settling first on a farm in Indian Point township. For 43 years this farm home was their residence. They became the parents of five children: Dr. Charles M. Vertrees of Murrayville, Illinois, Mrs. D. C. Kerr of Juniata, Nebraska, Mrs. Dr. Pollock of Galesburg, N. B. Vertrees of Des Moines, Iowa, and Mrs. H. L. Chaffee of Des Moines.

In 1886 Mr. and Mrs. Vertrees, yielding to the solicitations of friends, let the farm to renters and thereafter spent most of their time in the city of Galesburg, at the home of their son-in-law, Dr. Pollock. Mrs. Vertrees was all of her life a member of the Christian church and was a sincere, devoted Christian, possessed of a gentle, loving disposition. She died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Pollock, in Galesburg in 1889, being the first of her family to die. Her husband was then 77. All of her children were at her bedside when she died. She was buried in the cemetery at Abingdon, Illinois. Dr. Charles M. Vertrees of Murrayville had a daughter, Sadie Vertrees Kennedy, who resided on Cook Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri.

John Vertrees, as before stated, came of a warrior race. When he was a babe in arms, his father, the second John Vertrees, was fighting the British in the northern part of what was then a very small nation. This was in 1812. Both of his grandfathers had served in the war of the Revolution, one of them, Captain John Vertrees, having been with Colonel George Rogers Clark in the conquest of the Illinois villages in 1778. In the Civil War, two of John Vertrees's brothers and one of his sons fought for the Union cause. John Vertrees himself was the latest surviving veteran of the Black Hawk War. The Galesburg Evening Mail once commented on the death of a man near Springfield, stating that he was the last survivor of the war with Black Hawk. John Vertrees a few days later visited the office of the Galesburg newspaper and proved the statement incorrect. He himself was a survivor of the war with the famous Indian. On April 28, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, John Vertrees, then in his 87th year, stopped in Jacksonville enroute from his home in Galesburg to visit his son, Dr. C. M. Vertrees of Murrayville. While in the city he was interviewed by the Jacksonville Daily Journal. Said the Journal the following day:

"Mr. Vertrees is now 87 but is still hale and hearty. In these war-like times the memory of his army career crowds upon him, for he did valiant service in the Black Hawk War in 1832. The flight of years has not impaired his faculties to any extent, and his reminiscences of the Indian war are exceedingly interesting. He was born in Elizabethtown, Hardin county, Ky., and in 1829 moved to Illinois, residing for some years in this locality. He remembers when this county (Morgan) was nothing but a mere wilderness and when Jacksonville could boast but few citizens. Mr. Vertrees says he has seen the treachery of one war and is ready to enlist in another if his services are needed. A soldier 87 years old is a little out of the ordinary, but he certainly has had plenty of valuable experience. He says that he intends to go with a company from Murrayville. Mr. Vertrees in his old age sometimes visited his nephew, the late John E. Vertrees, and family in Pittsfield. He was a fine, well-preserved old gentleman, neat in his personal habits, with an immense store of information relating to early days in Illinois. John Vertrees died at Galesburg in 1901 at the age of 89; he is buried at Abingdon beside his wife, Nancy Ann (Bradbury) Vertrees.

I have no idea who wrote this or how it came to me. I'll be happy to put a source to it if anyone knows.(CW)