BRADFORD ROBBINS GRIMES
(Familiarly Known as “B. R.”)
Daisy Ferguson Grimes
(Mrs. B. R.”)
CAPTAIN “DICK” GRIMES, GRANDFATHER
In relating the life history of Bradford Robbins Grimes, one reverts to a time prior to and during the Revolutionary period in the vicinity of Wethersfield, Connecticut. Here many vessels were built and manned for privateering during the Revolution. Many too, were able seamen and commanders of them.
Richard Grimes, familiarly called “Captain Dick,” was born 1789 in the village of Stepney, a district or suburb of Wethersfield. Legal enactment later, gave Stepney the name Rocky Hill. He was one of a family of nine brothers and sisters. His father’s name was Alexander Grimes, who died March 25, 1840 aged ninety-six, and his mother, Mary a daughter of Captain Richard Dunn, of Newport, Rhode Island, who died February 26, 1823, aged seventy-five years.
This picturesque village of Rocky Hill, on the left bank of the Connecticut, was essentially a village of maritime business and life. There were shipbuilding, outfitting of cargoes, the returning of vessels with laden with glamorous foreign goods, and always the thrilling stories of the seamen and the lure of adventure.
The Grimes boys were a part of this village and atmosphere. All but two followed the sea. So strong was the pull, young Richard age ten ran away and became a stowaway. He was not heard from in three years.
That he lived right through often thrown in vilest company, prospered and made good use of his time, is proved in the fact that at twenty-one he was master and owner of a brig. In the small renegade, facing a hard life alone required for him a background of courage and true manly character bequeathed him by his father and mother. Their influence followed the roving boy to help and sustain him, and make him a man, whom all men respected.
From personal contact, he learned the ship’s business, geography and history. His learning fitted him for association with the best class of people. In the family now is a prized oil painting of him as a guest in a distinguished company at a dinner in Liverpool, 1818. The family treasures, also, a gold compass he carried. It was a gift of honor and respect from fellow craftsmen.
Captain Grimes did a large business in passenger and freight service but not always commanding his own vessels. For many years, he sailed between New York, Liverpool, and London. As master and owner of his own ships, he chartered his course for profit or choice. He circumnavigated the globe three times. He said the he entered every port ever entered by a white man and somewhere no other boat had ever ventured. He was many years in the West India trade.
It must have been about this time, he was first attracted to Texas. That he knew the country early is evidenced in a number of his land grants having been from the Spanish government.
When about thirty-five years old, Captain Grimes married Charlotte Bradford of Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
Charlotte Bradford was the daughter of William Bradford, who died September 21, 1824, aged sixty-four, and his wife, Elizabeth Sears, who died October 13, 1828, aged seventy-one, who were married in Glastonbury, Connecticut, 1781.
In 1783, they crossed the river and built the Bradford home, still standing high above the river and overlooking the valley. Mr. Bradford said when building, it was ever to remain a refuge for the family. It has so remained and been occupied by a descendent of the family. For one hundred sixty years, the house with the great front poplars has been a Connecticut landmark.
William Bradford, father of Captain Dick’s wife Charlotte, was in the mercantile business, with his son, whom he established in New York. He was an importer of fine goods. He was of Puritan stock and the 7th generation descendent of William Bradford of Plymouth Colony.
In 1837, steam rapidly displacing the sailboat, Captain Grimes felt himself unequal to new ways. With his wife and family of two children William Bradford and Frances Charlotte, he moved to the Republic of Texas.
The brig in which they sailed, “the Driver,” was the only one of twenty-seven vessels leaving port at the same time, that was ever heard from again. A long and severe equinoctial storm, kept Captain Grimes on deck for seven days. He stood four days and nights without taking his hand from the wheel.
The family located on a peninsula with Matagorda Bay on one side, and the Gulf of Mexico on the other.
Captain Grimes became the owner by grant and purchase of thousands of acres of land along the Tres Palacios. He continued maritime trading with New Orleans, and other Gulf ports, not entirely relinquishing sea trading until 1843. He then turned to sheep and cattle business and he, with his son, formed a partnership, lasting until his death in Texas in 1857.
Captain Dick rests in the family burial lot of the Grimes Texas ranch on the Tres Palacios.
His wife and daughter, returning to Connecticut for a visit were detained by the Civil War blockade and never returned to Texas to live.
Captain Dick’s wife Charlotte died in 1887 in her ninetieth year in the Rocky Hill home of her birth and is buried in the Rocky Hill cemetery.
Francis Charlotte, the daughter, married Joseph W. Camp. This marriage was not congenial. They were separated though not divorced. She died April 20, 1904 and rests in the Rocky Hill cemetery.
Copyright 2004 -
Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
Dec. 2, 2004
Dec. 6, 2008