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Appanoose County >> 1913 Index

Past and present of Appanoose County, Iowa: ... 
L. L. Taylor, editor.  Chicago : S. J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1913. 


Unless otherwise specified, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.


Among the respected and valued residents of Numa is numbered Benjamin F. Bradley, who for over fifty years has lived in Iowa . This has covered the period of the state's greatest growth and progress and in the work of general advancement Mr. Bradley has borne his full share as the years have gone by. Of late he has lived retired, although for a long time he gave his attention and energy to his business interests, which were extensive and important. A native of Indiana , he was born in Morgan county, August 18, 1846 , a son of John and Sarah Jane (Elliott) Bradley, the former a native of Clark county, Indiana, and the latter of Kentucky . The father was a farmer by occupation and when he came to Appanoose county in 1854 he purchased land in Lincoln township and gave his entire attention to its development and improvement for many years, winning at length honorable retirement. When he abandoned active life he moved into Seymour and there resided until his death, which occurred in 1897. His wife survived him two years, dying in 1899.

Benjamin F. Bradley was eight years of age when he came to Appanoose county with his parents. He was reared and educated in Lincoln township, where he attended district school. During the period of the Civil war, being no longer content to remain at home while the issue of the struggle was doubtful, he enlisted in Company I, Third Iowa Cavalry, joining his regiment in February, 1863, and serving until the close of the war. he participated in many hotly-contested engagements and on the field of battle gave unmistakable proof of his valor and loyalty. he was mustered out at Atlanta , Georgia , in August, 1865, and afterward returned to Appanoose county and engaged in farming. For ten or fifteen years he gave his attention entirely to agricultural pursuits and then moved into Numa, where for some time he operated a coal mine. After fifteen years he sold out his interests to the Centerville Block Coal Company and was elected a member of the board of county supervisors. He served for three years and when his term of office expired retired from active life and has since lived in Numa, enjoying the rest and comfort which are the reward of his well directed work in the past. However, he still gives personal supervision to his important business interests, especially those connected with the Numa Mutual Telephone Company, of which he is president.

On the 31st of December, 1867 , Mr. Bradley was united in marriage to Miss Anna E. Adamson, a daughter of Joseph and Mary A. ( Walker ) Adamson, natives of Ohio , who came to Appanoose county in 1856. The father purchased land here and operated a profitable general agricultural enterprise until his death. He was born in England , near Leeds , and learned the cabinet-maker's trade in his native country. Coming to America in 1801 he first settled near Cincinnati , Ohio , being there more or less connected with his trade, although most of his time was given to his farming operations later.

Mr. and Mrs. Bradley became the parents of nine children: Gertrude, the wife of J. W. Richardson, of Oregon ; Minnie, who married George Humphrey, a farmer in Appanoose county; Sadie, who married William Thompson, of Washington state; Laura, now Mrs. E. W. Porter, of Numa; Lawrence B., who is engaged in farming in Appanoose county; John F., who is a barber in Centerville ; Ida, the wife of Perry Cooley, of Centerville ; and Allie and Ethel M., both of whom have passed away.

Mr. Bradley is a member of the Methodist church and belongs to Centerville Post, G. A. R., delighting to meet his old comrades and recall the events which occurred on the southern battlefields. He was in the last engagement of the Civil war, which took place at Columbus , Georgia , at nine o'clock on the night of the 16th of April, 1865 . Three hundred members of his regiment forced their way into the breastworks guarded by thirty-five hundred rebels and after a sharp conflict took possession of the enemy's post. Twenty-five men were killed in the engagement, but Mr. Bradley escaped with his life. however, owing to the hard conditions of living during the days of the war he contracted stomach trouble and his health has been affected by this since that time. Mr. Bradley has always been stanch in his support of the republican party and has served as trustee of Bellair township and is at present justice of the peace. Always a loyal and public-spirited citizen, he is interested in the growth and advancement of his community and has given his cooperation to many movements for the public good. Unflagging industry and determination have constituted the basis of his success,, enabling him as the years have passed to so conduct his business interests as to win honorable retirement and a high position among the representative and prominent men of Appanoose county.


Honored and respected by all, D. C. Bradley occupies a prominent position in commercial and financial circles in Centerville , nor are his efforts and activities limited by the confines of this city. he is connected with banking interests in various sections of the state and the respect entertained for him is not less the result of his success than of the straightforward, honorable business policy that he has ever followed. His business activities never seek nor require disguise, having been based upon the rules which govern strict integrity and unfaltering industry. Mr. Bradley is, furthermore, recognized as a leader in the progressive movements which have for their object the welfare and upbuilding of Centerville . There are many tangible evidences of his public spirit and his practical efforts in behalf of the city and as one of its councilmen he has exercised his official prerogatives in support of projects of reform and improvement. He was born in this city, August 13, 1858 , and is a son of William and Amanda T. ( Campbell ) Bradley, of whom extended mention is made on another page of this volume. His youthful days were passed under the parental roof and his public school education was supplemented by a course in Parson's College at Fairfield , Iowa , and further study in Monmouth College , at Monmouth , Illinois . His move specifically business training was received in Duff's Commercial College at Pittsburg , Pennsylvania , from which he was graduated with the class of 1876. Upon his return home he made his initial step in the business world in connection with the First National Bank, previously founded and conducted by his father. From that time to the present he has been active in the conduct of the bank, assuming more and more largely the responsibilities of management and control, and at the present time he is vice president and the largest stockholder in the institution. His success in this field has led him to extend his efforts over a wide territory in connection with the banking interests of Iowa and he is now president of the Fairfield National Bank at Fairfield , of the First National Bank at Seymour , the Farmers State Bank at Promise City, Bradley Savings Bank at Exline, and Bradley's Bank at Mystic. He is likewise the vice president and a large stockholder of the Iowa State Savings Bank of Centerville , of the Moravia State Savings Bank of Moravia , the National Bank of Bloomfield and is also interested in six other Iowa banks. Still this does not indicate the extent of his activities nor of his resourcefulness for he owns a controlling interest in the Centerville Light & Traction Company, operating street-cat lines in Centerville and an interurban line between this place and Mystic, a distance of six miles. It also furnishes the electric lighting for both Centerville and Mystic and furnishes the electric power for the operation of the gas and heating plants. It was through the efforts and sound judgment of Mr. Bradley that all of these enterprises were made possible and he was likewise the founder and promoter of the Pure Ice Company, becoming associated with S. A. Martin in the erection of an ice plant, the firm being the only ice dealers of the city. Mr. Bradley likewise organized the Centerville Brick Company in which he owns a controlling share of the stock and he is heavily interested in the coal industry in this vicinity, having been identified with the development of coal properties in this section for the past twenty years. One of his miners known as No. 30 has a capacity of five hundred tons daily. As he thus continually extended his industrial and financial interests Mr. Bradley has also made judicious investment in realties and is now one of the largest land owners of the state, having considerable holdings in farm lands in Appanoose county. In all of his business affairs he looks beyond the exigencies of the moment to the opportunities of the future. he seems to have almost intuitive perception as to the possibilities for successful accomplishment in any given connection, recognizing both the difficulties and the chances which his sound judgment weighs to a nicety, foretelling with remarkable accuracy the result.

In December, 1885, Mr. Bradley was married to Miss Cora M. Stubbs, a daughter of D. P. and Carrie H. (Hollingsworth) Stubbs, who are natives of Indiana . The father, a lawyer by profession, removed to Fairfield , Iowa , at an early day and became one of the most noted and successful members of the Iowa bar, practicing continuously in Fairfield until his death, which occurred May 5, 1905 . His widow still resides in that city. Mr. and Mrs. Bradley have become parents of two children: Bettina, twenty-three years of age, the wife of T. M. Stuart, assistant attorney general of Colorado , their home being in Denver ; and William S., fourteen years of age, a student in the Centerville schools. The Bradley residence is a palatial one, having been erected in 1909 at No. 519 Drake avenue . Its furnishings are all that wealth can secure and refined taste suggest, and its hospitality, cordial and unfeigned, is one of its most attractive features. In the building of this beautiful home Mr. Bradley displayed his faith in Centerville and its future. He has ever been active and earnest in his efforts to promote the welfare of the city, cooperating in every movement which works for its betterment. He has served for a number of years as a member of the city council and through his efforts many public improvements have been introduced. For the past nine years he has been president of the school board and to his efforts may largely be contributed the erection of the present high school building which is a credit and ornament to the city. His political allegiance has ever been given to the democratic party but his interest in good citizenship is above partisanship. he belongs to the Masonic fraternity, the Independent Order of Off Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Presbyterian church to which he contributes liberally, seeking the moral as well as the material and intellectual progress of the city. He has accomplished much in public affairs as well as in private life. After all there has been nothing spectacular in his business career, his success being founded upon close application, indefatigable energy and keen sagacity. At the outset of his career he realized the eternal truth that industry wins - and industry became the beacon light of his life. He is a typical man of the times, representing the progressive spirit of the age. Starting out in life without any vaulting ambition to accomplish something especially great or famous, he has followed the lead of his opportunities, doing as best he could anything that has come to hand and seizing legitimate advantages as they have arisen. he has never hesitated to take a forward step when the way was open and although content with what he attained as he went along he has always been ready to make an advance. Fortunate in possessing ability and character that have inspired confidence in others, the simple weight of his character and ability have carried him into important relations with large interests.


Through well-directed activity and enterprise John R. Bradley has gained a high place in the business circles of Centerville , where since 1892 he has been engaged in general contracting and building. He was born in Morgan county, Indiana, August 9, 1850 , and is a son of William H. and Martha (Elliott) Bradley, the former born in Clark county, Indiana, January 30, 1826 , and the latter in Kentucky , February 20, of the same year. Mr. Bradley's paternal grandfather was Benjamin Bradley, a native of the south. His wife was born in Ireland . The mother of our subject removed from Indiana to Kentucky when she was still a child and there her marriage occurred. Immediately afterward Mr. and Mrs. William H. Bradley came to Iowa , locating in Appanoose county, where they purchased eighty acres of land in Vermillion township, adding to it from time to time until the farm comprised six hundred and eighty acres. Upon this the father engaged in general farming but later gave much attention to buying and shipping stock, carrying on an extensive business along this line for a number of years. His wife passed away in 1881 and six years later the father sold the farm and went to Numa, where he engaged in the mercantile business. he remained there for eight years and then sold his business interests and moved to Centerville , where he made his home with the subject of this review. Later he moved to Mount Pleasant and there his death occurred at the home of his daughter, Melvina Boydston. For many years he was active in the Masonic order, holding membership in Centerville Lodge, No. 42, F. & A. M.

John R. Bradley acquired his education in the district schools of Appanoose county and in the Centerville high school. After he laid aside his school books he helped his father with the work of the farm until he was married, after which he moved upon a portion of the homestead, which he developed and improved for some time. In 1884 he learned the carpentering trade and worked at it for wages for eight years, after which he established himself independently as a contractor and builder, in which work he is still active. He has erected some of the finest and most attractive business houses and residences in Centerville and the surrounding district and has handled much valuable property, doing a very extensive and profitable business.

Mr. Bradley has been thrice married. His first wife was in her maidenhood Miss Mary Crist, a daughter of John and Mary Ann Crist, the former a farmer in Appanoose county. The first Mrs. Bradley died one year later and in 1884 the subject of this review wedded Mrs. Martha C. Brown, a daughter of Addison and Rhoda (Bryant) Veach, the former born in West Virginia and the latter in Galesburg , Illinois . Both came to Appanoose county in the early '50s and there the father learned the blacksmith's trade, later opening a shop in Centerville . Afterward he removed to Numa and engaged in the same business until his death, which occurred in 1895. His widow returned to Centerville and died in that city at the home of the subject of this review. Mrs. Martha Bradley passed away on the 11th of February, 1902 , and on the 29th of December, of the following year, Mr. Bradley was again married. His third union was with Miss Ann Spooner, a daughter of James B. and Catherine (Bryant) Spooner, the former a native of Indiana , born in 1828, and the latter of Galesburg , Illinois , where her birth occurred in 1833. The father came to Iowa in 1846 and entered eighty acres of government land in Center township, Appanoose county. A few years later the mother came and in this section their marriage occurred, after which they settled upon the farm, where they passed the remainder of their lives, the mother dying in 1898 and the father on the 29th of April, 1905 . Mr. Bradley had one daughter by his second marriage, Martha, who was born may 10, 1890, and who died October 9, 1911 . During her life she was a member of the Order of the Eastern Star at Centerville . Mr. and Mrs. Bradley are devout members of the Methodist church.

Mr. Bradley gives his allegiance to the republican party and has held various responsible township offices, for he never seeks to avoid the duties of citizenship. Fraternally he is connected with Centerville Lodge, No. 42, F. & A. M. Throughout his business career he has always faithfully discharged any obligation devolving upon him and has thus established a reputation for integrity and reliability, his name being an honored one wherever it is known.


No history of Centerville would be complete without extended reference

to William Bradley who for many years was a controlling factor in business circles not only of this city but of this section of the country, his operations covering southern Iowa and northern Missouri . In fact he became one of the successful business men of the stage and his life record illustrates most clearly what can be accomplished when determination and energy lead the way, although one is hampered at the outset by lack of opportunities. He was, indeed, a self-made man, deserving all the praise and honor which that term implies.

A native of Pennsylvania , William Bradley was born near Pittsburg , on the 18th of December, 1825 , a son of James and Phoebe Bradley. The father was a carpenter in very moderate circumstances and as his son William was the eldest in a family of seven children it became necessary that he early provide for his own support. As soon as old enough to assist in the work of the farm he took his place in the fields and was occupied with the plowing, planting and harvesting in spring, summer and fall, leaving him only the winter months in which to attend school and acquire such education as the schools of his locality afforded. He was about twelve years of age at the time of his mother's death and for two months thereafter he worked on the Weatherspoon farm near his old home. He afterward went to Frankfort Springs, where he remained two years in humble labor that left him no leisure. He washed dishes, aided in the cooking and performed the work of a hostler. While his services brought him little pay the spirit of industry and diligence was developed in him with a recognition that earnest, persistent effort will eventually win. As a farm hand in the employ of Robert Patterson, near Burgettstown, he earned three dollars per month during the summer season and in the winter worked for his board and the privilege of attending school. There he remained for three years when he received an increase of a dollar per month for his services as a farm hand with a man living near Florence , Pennsylvania . Again he utilized the winter seasons in the attainment of an education. After a year and a half there passed he entered the government employ in carrying the mail from Washington to Georgetown , the distance made during the week being two hundred and forty miles, while his compensation was six dollars per month and board. He remained in this service for six months and saved all his earnings, ambitious and eager to avail himself of better opportunities, and when he thought he saw a chance for improving his condition he eagerly embraced it. Leaving the government service, at which time his capital consisted of thirty- six dollars, he began peddling. Going to Pittsburg he invested twenty- five dollars in novelties and started out to dispose of his goods, traveling from house to house. Four years thus passed, during which time he sold his goods at a profit, and he thus made an upward step on the journey of life. After he ceased peddling he spent a year in Burgettstown , Pennsylvania , and then turned his attention to the buying and selling of live stock.

Like hundreds of other young men Mr. Bradley was attracted to California by the discovery of gold and the consequent increased business activity along various lines resulting from the great influx of settlers. In the spring of 1849, therefore, he started for the west by the overland route and after a wearisome journey of ninety days reached Sacramento on the 15th of July, 1850 . He then sought a favorable business opening and purchased an interest in a fishery, but after a short time sold out and purchased a team and began hauling hay to the mountains. With him, however, as with the great majority of others, the miners proved an irresistible attraction and he made his way to what was known as the Yankee Jim mines. In his search for the precious metal he met with fair success but after twenty-one months disposed of his interests there and returned to New York by way of the isthmus, reaching his old home at Burgettstown , Pennsylvania , on the 5th of December, 1852 . There through the following year he engaged in buying and shipping wool and stock but in the spring of 1854 determined to remove to Iowa , having heard favorable reports of the country and its opportunities. At Pittsburg he purchased watches, jewelry and table linen and at Cincinnati added to his stock some oilcloths. Thus equipped he arrived at Keokuk , Iowa , about the first of May and for a month peddled goods in that city. He then sent part of his stock to Eddyville while he started on foot, peddling his goods along the way. He had disposed of the entire amount before he reached Eddyville and then taking the goods that he had shipped to that place upon his back he started for Des Moines , reaching that city with nothing of his stock remaining except one watch. He then traded watches with a hack driver who agreed to take him in his hack to Iowa City . From that point he walked to Muscatine , proceeded by boat to Rock Island and thence by train to his old Pennsylvania home. At Steubenville , Ohio , he had built a peddling wagon according to his own ideas, calling it the Star of the West. By this time his peddling business had reached considerable proportions and he admitted a partner, John Fugate, an old California friend. Purchasing a stock of goods at Philadelphia they shipped them with the Star of the West to Keokuk and after reaching that city purchased a team of horses and started out upon the trip which brought them through southern Iowa , visiting en route Bloomfield , Centerville , Corydon , Leon and Garden Grove . At the last named place Mr. Bradley purchased his partner's interest and continued in the peddling business until he had disposed of all his stock. The next spring he again purchased a stock in Philadelphia and once more went upon the road. Later he traveled for two years with Mabry's Menagerie and Sands & Nathan's Circus, auctioneering goods at the various towns visited. After leaving the show he shipped his stock from place to place where he did an auctioneering business.

It was about that time, or in the fall of 1855, that Mr. Bradley was married to Miss Amanda T. Campbell, who was born in Virginia and in the spring of 1855 accompanied her parents to Iowa , the family settling near Winterset, in Madison county. In the spring following their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Bradley arrived in Centerville where he purchased a lot and erected a store building twenty-two by one hundred feet. During the course of its construction he rented a room and sold goods. His business had increased to such an extent that he now employed several salesmen and two men drove ox teams in hauling his building material and goods from the river. With the completion of his store he went to Philadelphia where he purchased a stock of goods valued at thirteen thousand dollars. He then continued merchandising until the fall of 1859, when he traded his store for a tract of land a mile and a quarter east of the city and in the following spring took up his abode upon the farm. After crops had been planted, however, he returned to the east, again purchased a large stock of goods and resumed merchandising in the building which he had previously erected. He was thus identified with commercial activity in Centerville until 1864, when he sold out. In the meantime he had embarked in another field of activity, having in February, 1863, organized the First National Bank. From that time until his death he was closely associated with banking, with farming and with the live-stock business. From the establishment of the bank his success was almost phenomenal and the prosperity which attended that undertaking led him to extend the scope of his activities into other fields. In 1870 he established a bank in Trenton , Missouri , soon afterward one at Princeton , Missouri , and later one at Allerton. None of these four banks failed or suspended during the financial panic of 1873, owing to the conservative business policy which Mr. Bradley instituted and followed. On the contrary, he soon afterward added to his interests by founding the Bradley Bank of Bloomfield ; this was followed by the First National Bank of Milan , Missouri ; the National Bank at Unionville , Missouri , in 1884; a bank at Elder, Iowa , in 1888; one at Moulton, in 1891; and the Mystic Bank, in 1892. He afterward disposed of his interests at Trenton and at Milan but remained a factor in the ownership and conduct of the eight other banks, becoming recognized as one of the most prominent financiers of the state. His judgment was sound, his enterprise unfaltering and whatever he undertook he carried he carried forward to successful completion. He also won substantial prosperity along agricultural lines, becoming the owner of ten thousand acres of very valuable land in Iowa , his farms all being well stocked with high-grade cattle and horses.

Mr. Bradley would never brook obstacles that could be overcome by determined, earnest and honorable effort. When one avenue seemed closed to him he would hunt out another path which would lead him to his destination. Moreover, he never regarded any step as final but rather as the starting point for further accomplishment. But it was not alone his success that made Mr. Bradley one of the most prominent and honored residents of southern Iowa . His personal characteristics commended him to the confidence and good-will of all. As a citizen he worked for the continuous upbuilding and development of Centerville , withholding his cooperation from the movement which he believed would contribute to its material growth and improvement or to its intellectual and moral advancement. He held membership with the Presbyterian church and was an earnest, Christian man, unostentatious yet loyal in his professions and exemplifying in his daily walks of life the teachings of his church. He gave freely where aid was needed, was ever ready to speak a word of encouragement or to extend a helping hand. There were indeed in his life record many traits worthy of emulation. He passed away May 15, 1896 , and was survived by his wife until the 14th of February, 1904 . He had for forty years been a resident of Centerville , honored and esteemed by all, the simple weight of his character and ability having carried him into important relations with large projects. The benefit of his influence, his activity and example is immeasurable but all accord to him prominence as one whose efforts have been of great value and worth in the upbuilding of the county.