Special thanks to Billy R. Sharp for providing and typing this information.
This short history of Bradley County, Arkansas is taken from an article written by Judge David A. Bradham in 1951 which was published in a book titled "Bradley County Family Histories" by The Eagle Democrat, mid-winter 1992-93.
On December 3, 1833, Col. Sevier, delegate to Congress from Arkansas, offered a resolution in Congress conferring Statehood upon the Territory of Arkansas. A Resolution for this purpose was reported from the committee and presented to Congress on June 3, 1834, but it contained a provision which also included the Territory of Michigan. Opposition developed and the resolution was not finally adopted until two years later.
On October 5, 1835, the ninth Territorial Legislature met. The most important measure passed at this session was a bill calling for a Convention to frame a constitution as a basis of admission into the Union and to pray Congress to admit Arkansas Territory as a State.
The Arkansas Constitutional Convention met in Little Rock on January 4, 1836, in the Baptist Meeting House, the customary place at the Capital for holding legal assemblies, there being no Hall obtainable. John Wilson of Clark County was elected President of the convention and Charles P. Bertrand as Secretary.
These two gentlemen together with the names of those delegates who met at that convention are matters of history in Arkansas and they all certainly are pioneers of Arkansas. The Convention proceeded to frame a Constitution suitable for a Republican form of Government and adjourned January 30, 1836.
The Resolution admitting Arkansas and Michigan as States was finally passed by Congress on June 15, 1836, and received the signature of the President the following day, and thus Arkansas became a State.
A little over four years later, Bradley County was formed on December 18, 1840. The population of this new county by the 1850 census was 3,820. No record available shows what the population was in 1840.
Captain Hugh Bradley, while with General Jackson at New Orleans, learned of Arkansas Territory. In company with others he embarked upon an exploring trip up the Mississippi and Red Rivers. In 1821 or 1822 he reached Long Prairie in LaFayette county, according to tradition, if not history.
In 1825, Isaac Pennington and Aaron Johnson settled in the area that would become Bradley County, near the Saline River east of present day Warren. About the same time came Captain Bradley and some of those who were with him in LaFayette county. In 1826-27, Peter Moseley, and Charles Seay and his father-in-law, Alex Beard, came to this area.
There were then in the community, Captain Bradley, C. H. Seay, Alex Beard, Isaac Pennington, Henry Wise, Frank Berry, Bryant Gardner, Ben Franklin, Peter Moseley, and Dr. John T. Cabeen, and their families. In 1827, C. H. Seay was appointed Magistrate, and thus became the first judicial officer in the county.
From the earliest date, the pioneers of Arkansas, as well as all American pioneers, looked largely to the forests and fields for their sustenance and livelihood. By land surveys made of Bradley County lands during the period 1826 to 1830 are shown "fields" on the plats made at that time and by these "fields" the name of the owner or possessor is shown.
In addition to the names already mentioned, the following names are shown on these early land plats; C. Lee, Franklin T. O'Neel (O'Neal), C. Layed, Mrs. Franklin, Jack Pennington, Ozment, Turral, Rutlidge, James Jarratt Wheeler, Harris, Williams, and Purdy.
By 1832, others who had come to the county were Levi French, Sam McKinney, Mrs. Wooldridge, Simeon Hiley, Tom Cornish, Jeff Thurman, and the James Turner family. By 1835 James H. Marks, Joshua Marks, the William Beasleys, the Reaves, four families of them, and the J. H. D. Scobey family had come.
Bradley County was formed on December 18, 1840 from a portion of Union County comprised of what is now Bradley County, and the greater portion of present day Ashley, Drew, Lincoln, Dallas, Calhoun, and Cleveland Counties. During the period 1845 to 1873, Dallas, Drew, Ashley, Calhoun, Lincoln, and Cleveland Counties had been detached from Bradley County and formed into new, separate counties.
Bradley County was named for Captain Hugh Bradley. The most popular belief is that Warren, county seat of Bradley County, was named for Captain Bradley's most trusted slave and body servant, whose name was Warren. Pennington Township, in which the city of Warren is located, was named for Captain Bradley's son-in-law, I. H. Pennington.
In 1841, John H. Marks, John Splawn, and E. B. Owens were appointed commissioners to locate a county seat. John H. Marks and John Splawn, being the donors of the site, resigned from the commission and Nathaniel Barnett and A. S. Franklin were appointed in their stead. In April, 1843 the commissioners made their report designating the site where the present day Court House in Warren now stands and with their report, filed deeds from Marks and Splawn to forty acres of land, a portion of which became the County seat.
The first Circuit Court of Bradley County was held at the home of Hugh Bradley on Monday April 26, 1841, the Honorable Isaac Baker, Circuit Judge. The first Grand Jury was composed of Bryan Gardner, Simeon Haley, William Grose, William Morris, H. B. Howson, James Wise, G. W. Etheridge, William Griffith, James Henderson, Reuben Johnson, Joseph Reaves, Joshua Marks, and E. L. Franklin. In October, 1843 Josiah Gould, who afterwards became Circuit Judge, was admitted to the bar to practice law.
During the 1840's and early 1850's other patriotic pioneers who came to help build Bradley County were the Jefferson Singer family, the Ely Meek family, John Davis family, William Hairston, John L. Hickman, John Ederington family, the William Childs family and the James Gannaway family, as well as the C. K. Quimby family, Dr. J. W. Martin, Solomon Gardner, David W. Sutton, H. B. Van Valkenburg, John Newton Hamilton, the James Whiteside family, and the S. W. Wheless family.
Beginning with 1841, the earliest date for filing deeds for record in Bradley County, are shown hundreds of deeds to land made to and from early pioneers. It would be out of the question to name all of these persons, like it would be out of the question to mention by name all of those persons shown by the various records available, yet those shown by those records are pioneers who contributed their full share in making Arkansas and Bradley County what they have become today.
The first county court was held April 5, 1841, at the home of Hugh Bradley. Daniel Frazer was the Judge and James Bradley Sheriff. John H. Marks and Andrew Martin were assistant judges. A property tax of 1/8th of 1 percent on all property in the county and a poll tax of of 75 cents were levied.
Simeon Chisholm was Circuit Clerk; Hastings Marks, Treasurer; Charles H. Seay, Deputy Sheriff; and John Beard, Constable of Pennington Township.
Some other pioneers of Bradley County who should be noted and mentioned in those early days are Andrew Martin, Thomas D. Pennington, Eli Tidwell, S. B. Beard, Henry Stroop, James Touchstone, John S. Handley, Henry Cacroft, Peter Tidwell, J. W. Ridgewell, Allen Davis, Wimberly Watson, W. H. Cranef, Winthrop Colbath, John Roberts, Thomas Cornish, J. C. McAllister, J. R. Lightfoot, William Moore, Alex Denson, Edward Howard, M. L. Reaves, John Franklin, A. F. Williams, M. Meriweather, Peter Moseley, J. H. D. Scobey, and James Waters who is listed as the first school teacher in Bradley County.
The roster of the first of the county officials of Bradley County, 1840-42, are given as County Judge, Daniel Frazer who served two terms; Clerk of the court, Simeon Chisholm who served two terms; Sheriff, James Bradley, who served one term, being succeeded by J. H. D. Scobey in 1842; Treasurer, H. Marks, who served two terms; Coroner, James Ozment, who served one term and was succeeded by D. McLaughlin; and Surveyor, J. T. Cabeen, who served one term and was succeeded by E. Howard.
Warren remained a sleepy, tiny town until about 1900 when lumbermen from the north moved in and started buying timber. Included: Frederick Weyerhaeuser and his associates from the northern midwest, operating as Weyerhaeuser and Denkmann (Denkmann was Weyerhaeuser's brother-in-law), Moses Rittenhouse and his partner, James W. Embree, both of Chicago, and Samuel Holmes Fullerton of St. Louis.
The Weyerhaeuser group founded Southern Lumber Company, the only venture the staunchly-patriotic Weyerhaeuser ever had in the south; Rittenhouse and Embree engaged Clifford J. Mansfield of St. Louis to establish Arkansas Lumber Company. S. H. Fullerton bought a small mill from W. H. Wheeler and then engaged Joe L. Reaves, Sr., a direct descendant of Captain Hugh Bradley, to buy timber, thus establishing Bradley Lumber Company of Arkansas. The Fullerton sons, Robert W., a graduate of Cornell, and S. Baker, who had been educated in the midwest, were sent to Warren to operate Bradley Lumber Company.
Warren, had an explosive growth prior to World War I and then a steady one afterward. Potlatch Forests, Inc., of Idaho bought Southern Lumber Company in 1956, and Bradley Lumber Company two years later. Arkansas Lumber Company clear cut its lands (85,000) acres in 1928 and went out of business.
The Potlatch purchases seemed to give some aura of permanency to Warren, where community leaders had thought that Southern and Bradley might one day follow Arkansas Lumber Company and go out of business. But, they didn't as a matter of fact. Southern's owners in 1939, engaged W. R. Warner of Cloquet, MN to come to Warren and shut down Southern. But Warner saw the possibilities of second-growth timber and persuaded Southern's owners to let the facility keep operating.
Later, diversified manufacture came to Warren in clothing and hardwood flooring facilities and the "pink tomato deal" gave agriculture a shot in the arm.
Through the good offices of State Representative John M. Lipton, the Southeast Arkansas Human Development Center was located in Warren.
Warren's population in 1992 was estimated at 7,000; the total population for Bradley County was about 12,000.