Saturday, April 25, 2015

Never-before-seen photos of Hiram Bradford family cemetery

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Likely descendants of Hiram Bradford taken at
"The Old Bradford Place," Sept. 1924 

I love it when technology allows complete strangers to work together to solve puzzles relating to individuals who died decades ago.

I recently wrote about the above photo which was likely taken in 1924 at the home of Haywood County's first entrepreneur, Hiram Bradford, long after his death in 1862. I noted in the blog that nothing I could find anywhere online included the exact location of the cemetery in which Bradford and other members of his family were buried.

This week I received a phone call from Jered Olds who had stumbled across what ended up being the Bradford Family Cemetery. Covered in weeds and vines, it has obviously remained well-hidden for many years.

Photo/Jered Olds

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Bradford Family Cemetery

Olds and his cousin, Rodney Reynolds, were turkey hunting about four miles west of Brownsville, off Highway 54, when they came across a heavily wooded area concealing a number of headstones. 

Photo/Jered Olds

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Headstone of Hiram Bradford

They pulled away the weeds and debris and Olds used his phone to snap a few photos so he could look up the names when he returned home.

Photo/Jered Olds

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Headstone of Alsey Bradford

His online search led him to my original blog entry where he learned more about the identity of some of the individuals buried in this long-forgotten family cemetery. 

Photo/Jered Olds

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On a genealogy message board, I found an old post from 2001 that listed the individuals thought to be buried here:
Hiram Bradford, b. 2 Jan 1797 - d. 27 Aug. 1862
Alsey Bradford, b. 1855 - d. 1864, son of H.S. and M.J.
Bascom Bradford, b. 1851 - d. 1852 - son of Alsey H. and Mary E.
Emily Allen Bradford, b. 1854 - d. 1855 - dau. of A.H. and M.E. Wilson Bradford
Mary Tillman Bradford, b. 1850 - d. 1852 - dau. of Alsey H. and Mary E.
Millie Bradford, b. 1797 - d. 1867 - wife of Major H. Bradford
Susan J. Bradford, d. 14 Sept. 1852 - wife of Hiram Scott, age 19 years
Willie Bradford, b. 1857 - d. 1861 - son of H.S. and M.J.
Bradford, inf. son of H.S. & M.J., one day old
Bradford, 1859 - 1859 - 1 day old
Unless there any unmarked graves, it appears these members of the Bradford family all died from 1852 to 1867.

In 1852, the first three Bradfords were laid to rest here. Included were one-year-olds Bascom Bradford and Mary Tillman Bradford, both children of Colonel Alsey High Bradford (1822 - 1906) and his wife Mary E. Wilson Bradford. This couple would bury another child here in 1855 when their one-year-old daughter, Emily Allen Bradford, died.

Colonel Bradford, a young farmer when he buried his three small children, later became well known for his Civil War service. In 1861 he was Captain and then Colonel of Company D, 31st Tennessee Regiment

By 1862 he was Chief of Staff to General John Porter McCown and a Commander of Hilliard’s Tennessee Legion. After the war, he returned to Haywood County where he farmed and held city and county leadership positions until his death in 1906. Bradford is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Brownsville, Tenn. A historic marker on College Street in Brownsville commemorates Colonel Bradford's life.

His younger brother also suffered a great deal of loss reflected here. Hiram Scott Bradford's (1830 - 1873) young wife, Susan J. Bradford, was the third person to die and be buried in the cemetery in 1852. She was only 19 and her headstone is the most ornate.

Bradford then married Mary Jane Stephens (1832 - 1916) and they would bury at least two children here. Sadly, they lost a one-day-old son and then their four-year-old son, Willie, who died in 1861.

Another additional infant buried here was likely the child of either Hiram Scott Bradford or Colonel High Bradford.

The last to be buried in the cemetery was the family matriarch, Emily “Millie” Allen Bradford. The wife of Hiram Bradford, she was born in 1797 in Kentucky and died in 1867 in Brownsville. In addition to the two sons mentioned here, she and Hiram were the parents of Phredonia Bradford Mann (1815 - 1866), Sarah Elizabeth Bradford Young (1831 - 1890) and George Bradford (1836 - 1812).

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Tennessee Historic Marker for Bradford's Landing

As it turns out, there is one other place that commemorates the life of Hiram Bradford. At the intersection of U.S. 70 and River Bend Road in Brownsville is a Tennessee Historic Marker that notes Bradford's contribution to the growth of the town. You can check it out the next time you're headed to Brownsville.

I'm very grateful that Jered Olds shared the photos and allowed me to post them here. I'm sure they'll be especially interesting for those researching the Bradford family line or Civil War buffs.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book: A Year in the Life of the South 1865

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I've long been fascinated by the the years immediately following the Civil War and how it impacted the lives of my West Tennessee ancestors.

In just a few days, on April 9, 2015, it will have been 150 years since Lee surrendered the Confederate Army to Grant at the Appomattox Court House. In commemorating the end of the Civil War and the upcoming anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, there has been much written about the war, the horror that was slavery and the events surrounding Lincoln's death.

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"President Lincoln is Dead: The New York Herald Reports the Assassination"

The museum where I get to work every day, the Newseum, is marking the anniversary with an amazing exhibit of a collection of New York Herald special editions from April 15, 1865. If you get to Washington before Jan. 10, 2016, you really need to check it out.

Slavery is certainly a topic with implications to my personal genealogy. Looking at my four primary lines: Williams, Lovelace, Castellaw and Brantley, I know all four families migrated to Haywood County, Tennessee from Bertie County, North Carolina in the early 1830s with their slaves along to help them carve out farms in this previously-unsettled land. When the Civil War began, all four families were still neighbors and farming the same land using slave labor.

Because the known details on my lines are available on, I've even been contacted a couple of times by individuals who are likely descendants of the slaves of my ancestors.

Close family ties to such a horrible institution frequently makes me wonder what they were thinking at the time.

Until someone in my family unearths a hidden chest containing a Civil War diary no one knew about, I'll have to make do with what others in the area were thinking at the time. 

During a recent 15-hour plane ride, I finally had time to read one book I've had on my list for a while, A Year in the South, 1865: The True Story of Four Ordinary People Who Lived Through the Most Tumultuous Twelve Months in American History.

Written by Stephen V. Ash, Professor Emeritus of the Department of History at the University of Tennessee, the book was originally published back in 2004. I purchased it based on the title alone so was pleasantly surprised to discover it did include quite a bit about West Tennessee.

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Cover image from "A Year in the South, 1865"

The "four ordinary people" referenced in the title all left behind diaries and journals that Ash used to explore the implications slavery and the war on his subject's lives.

Stories in the the book are from a formerly well-off Confederate widow who is reduced to living a life of extreme poverty for herself and her seven children, an enterprising slave who teaches himself to read and launches numerous business endeavors when not attempting to escape, a farmer dealing with issues of faith and a young soldier struggling with the world changing around him.

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Memphis river front at the time of the Civil War, from
Harper's Weekly, July 5, 1862
From A Year in the South, 1865

Especially relevant to my interests were the frequent references to my hometown of Memphis. One in particular took place shortly after the end of the war. Former slave Louis Hughes escaped the plantation on which he lived and headed to Memphis to seek help rescuing other former slaves who were still being held against their will.
"It was almost sunset when the car pulled into Memphis. Lou looked around in wonder. The city had grown and changed so much in the three years since he had left that it was hardly recognizable. Black people were everywhere, for the city had become a mecca for fugitives from the plantations of northern Mississippi, western Tennessee, and eastern Arkansas. Lou saw some he knew, earlier escapees from Panola or Bolivar. Like him, they were slaves no longer...Memphis has drawn not only hordes of blacks but also white refugees in great numbers, not to mention Yankee soldiers and citizens. The city was now home to 40,000 people, maybe 60,000--nobody knew for sure." (pg. 130)
The book is divided into seasons and offers insight into the subject's lives both before, during and after the Civil War.

While the oppression and cruelty they all experience (and in some cases, attempt to justify) is clearly evident, there are also glimpses of hope, compassion and seeds being planted for significant cultural changes ahead.

If you're at all interested in the southern experience of the Civil War, I highly recommend you purchase this book and add it to your collection.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website.