JOHN S. BRADFORD was born June 9, 1815, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father was a native of Delaware, and died in Philadelphia in 1816. John S. learned the trade of a book-binder in his native city, and in 1835 started on foot for the city of Mexico. He walked to Pittsburgh, thence to Cincinnati by steamboat, from there to Dayton, Ohio, and Richmond, Indiana. At Richmond he was induced, in 1837, to join a corps of United States engineers who were then engaged in constructing what was called the National road. it was a wagon road, built at the expense of the United States government. The road commenced at Cumberland, Maryland, crossed the Ohio river at Steubenville, passed through Columbus, Ohio, Richmond, Indianapolis and Terre Haute, Indiana, and ended at Vandalia. The corps of engineers disbanded at the latter point. The State Capital was then in transit from Vandalia to Springfield, and Mr. Bradford came here, arriving December, 1840. In the spring of 1841 he bought the interest of Mr. Burchell in the book-bindery of Burchell & Johnson, and became one of the firm of Johnson & Bradford.
John S. Bradford was married July 15, 1841, in Brandenburg, Kentucky, to Miss Adaline M. Semple, who was born October, 1817, in Cumberland county, Kentucky. Her brother, Hon. James Semple, was at that time Charge de Affaires to New Grenada, afterwards United States Senator from Illinois, and still later one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the State.
Soon after coming to Springfield, J. S. Bradford became Lieutenant in the "Springfield Cadets." They were ordered to Navoo by Governor Ford, in 1845, serving two months in the "Mormon War". In 1846, Mr. Bradford enlisted in Company A, Fourth Illinois Infantry, under Colonel E. D. Baker, and was appointed Quartermaster by Governor Ford. As such, he accompanied the regiment to Mexico, where he started to go twelve years before with a book-binder's outfit. After his arrival in Mexico, he was commissioned as Commissary in the United States army. he was at the bombardment and capture of Vera Cruz, battle of Cerro Gordo, and others, returning with the regiment to Springfield in 1847. The result of that war securing to us California and the discovery of gold.