|The town's history is currently under research. What is written here is a work in progress that will change as new discoveries are made.|
History of the Town of Bradley
Our history is our identity, both as individual residents and as a town.
National Register Properties in Oklahoma
Oklahoma's National Register Handbook
The most obscure part of the town's history is that it is home to a
prehistoric Native American camp and burial ground that is the only one
of its kind in Grady County. The Jewett site first came to the
attention of the Oklahoma Archeological Survey on February 14, 1979 when
property owners Robert and Helen Jewett reported that an irrigation
pipeline excavation had uncovered human bone and some evidently
prehistoric artifacts. Survey archeologists examined the site and
determined that, based on surface indications, it appeared to be quite
extensive. Though the site had been disturbed by both the pipeline and
an earlier railroad bed and road surface, the Jewett site represented
the remains of an important Plains Village site of the Washita River
phase. Since the site still appeared to be largely intact, archeologists
decided to nominate the Jewett site to the National Register of Historic
In 1992, the Jewett family notified the Archeological Survey that an oil well pad was going to be constructed on a portion of the site. The oil company agreed to allow archeologists to monitor the bulldozing of the northeast corner of the site. This disturbance revealed (and largely destroyed) features including burials, pits and two trash or refuse deposits. Salvage excavations were undertaken and the materials recovered have helped expand our understanding of the lives of the people who lived along the Washita River in the period from A.D. 1250-1400.
The Washita River phase of the Plains Village period in Oklahoma describes a time when Native American people, who were the ancestors of today's Wichita, farmed the fertile terraces of the Washita River growing corn, beans, squash, tobacco and other crops. The river itself, home to ducks, catfish, gar and bass provided food while the lands around the Washita were home to deer, turkey, small game and bison that provided the bulk of the meat in the villagers' diet.
There were villages like this one at the Jewett site all along the river during this time -- perhaps as many as a village every mile or so with perhaps ten or more houses in each village.
There were four human burials recovered from the site. These burials were subject to Oklahoma's laws regarding unmarked graves known as the Burial Desecration Act. The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes allowed archeologists to study the recovered bones to learn as much as possible about the lives of the people who lived at the Jewett site. The skeletal material was poorly preserved both because of the age of the burials and the destruction at the site by the bulldozer. The human remains were returned to the Wichita for re-burial.
The dig site is cataloged as Jewett Site 79001995, also known as, 34-GD-81. The artifacts are housed in the Oklahoma History Museum. (Oklahoma Archeology)
Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, full text
Article Two Reference, Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek (pdf) (HTML)
The area of Bradley was home to the Caddo Nation before the Great Removal, known as the Trail of Tears, relocated the tribes. The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. The Choctaw Nation was the first to sign a treaty agreeing to removal. This was the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek on September 27, 1830 in which Choctaws in Mississippi ceded land east of the river in exchange for payment and land in the West. However, Article XIV contained a provision that allowed some Choctaws to remain in Mississippi.
"Each Choctaw head of a family being desirous to remain and become a citizen of the States, shall be permitted to do so, by signifying his intention to the Agent within six months from the ratification of this Treaty, and he or she shall thereupon be entitled to a reservation of one section of six hundred and forty acres of land, to be bounded by sectional lines of survey; in like manner shall be entitled to one half that quantity for each unmarried child which is living with him over ten years of age; and a quarter section to such child as may be under 10 years of age, to adjoin the location of the parent. If they reside upon said lands intending to become citizens of the States for five years after the ratification of this Treaty, in that case a grant in fee simple shall issue; said reservation shall include the present improvement of the head of the family, or a portion of it. Persons who claim under this article shall not lose the privilege of a Choctaw citizen, but if they ever remove are not to be entitled to any portion of the Choctaw annuity."
From 1832 until 1905 the Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations arrived in Indian Territory under such conditions as voluntary removal, forced removal on the Trail of Tears, and assigned allotment. Article Two of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was reiterated by President John Tyler on March 23, 1842. This reference should be the first page of each resident's abstract. Bradley had become home to the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The Chickasaws were first combined with the Choctaw Nation and their area in the western part of the nation was called the Chickasaw District. It consisted of Panola, Wichita, Caddo, and Perry counties. Although originally the western boundary of the Choctaw Nation extended to the 100th Meridian, virtually no Chickasaws lived west of the Cross Timbers due to continual raiding by Southern Plains tribes. The United States eventually leased the area between the 100th and 98th meridians for use by the Plains tribes. The area was referred to as the "Leased District". The division of the Choctaw Nation was ratified by the Choctaw-Chickasaw Treaty of 1854. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 led to renewed white settlement in these territories, and the immigrant tribes located there were soon under pressure to move on. The Chickasaw constitution establishing the nation as separate from the Choctaws, was signed August 30, 1856, in the new capitol of Tishomingo. The nation consisted of five divisions; Tishomingo County, Pontotoc County, Pickens County, and Ponola County. Law enforcement was by the Chickasaw Lighthorsemen, although non-Indians fell under the jurisdiction of the Federal court at Fort Smith. Bradley was located in Pickens County, Chickasaw Nation. The town is still part of Chickasaw territory. It is designated as an Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area (Chickasaw OTSA 5580) by the U. S. Census Bureau.
The Texas Rangers on the Wichita Expedition of 1858-1859 forced the Comanche, from Texas into Rush Springs, Oklahoma. The Civil War (1861-1865) created an excuse for the federal government to take away much of the lands from the Five Tribes through treaties for the purpose of moving other Indian peoples in neighboring states to the emerging Indian Territory. Under the provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862, a legal settler could claim 160 acres of public land, and those who lived on and improved the claim for five years could receive title. Following the Civil War, the United States forced the Five Civilized Tribes into the Ft. Smith Treaty on September 13, 1865. Under this new treaty, the Chickasaws and Choctaws ceded the "Leased District" to the United States. In 1867, many of the tribes living in Kansas and Nebraska (Otoe, Kaw/Kansa, Ponca, Pottawatomie, Shawnee, Sac & Fox, and Nez Perce) received new reservations by the Omnibus Treaty while the Plains Tribes (Kiowa, Comanche, Plains Apache, Cheyenne, and Arapaho) accepted reservations by the Medicine Lodge Treaty. The Pawnee were given a reservation in 1881 and the Iowa received a reservation in 1883. The area inhabited by the Five Civilized Tribes was dissolved in 1887 by agreement with the Dawes Commission. This agreement is known as the Dawes Act that included the accompanying Dawes Roll which became the final database of census information on members of the Five Civilized Tribes. Individuals had to apply for roll numbers and were issued cards, known today as CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) cards. Descendants of those who did not apply for roll numbers would have difficulty in proving their Indian heritage. Following the Dawes Act, the Chickasaws became citizens of the United States and their non-allotted lands were opened for settlement by non-Indians. The Osage were given a reservation for jurisdictional purposes in 1893. The last people to receive a reservation were Goyaaté (Geronimo) and his fellow Chiricahua prisoners of war at Ft. Sill in 1894.
The Indian Meridian and Indian Base Line is located approximately twelve miles west of the 97th meridian. As provided in treaties between the U.S. government and the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations in 1866, Indian land east of the 98th meridian was surveyed according to the public land survey system of the U.S. General Land Office. Established in 1785 and first applied to the Northwest Territory, this system of land survey used a mathematically determined method to divide the public domain into standard units called "sections." In Oklahoma, the survey into standard units was accomplished in 1870 by E. N. Darling and Theodore H. Barrett. James W. Cloud also surveyed cattle trails through Oklahoma the same year. According to the 1871 Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, an initial point was arbitrarily selected about one mile south of Fort Arbuckle (at a point approximately six miles west of present Davis, in Murray County). From Initial Point, a north-south line called the Indian Meridian and an east-west line called the Indian Base Line were surveyed across all of present Oklahoma except No Man's Land (the Panhandle). Then the land was surveyed from Initial Point by drawing township lines running north and south and range lines running east and west. There are twenty-nine townships north and nine south of the Base Line, and there are twenty-seven ranges east and twenty-six west of the Indian Meridian. Their intersections form a grid of blocks measuring six miles square. Within each block are thirty-six one-mile-square blocks called "sections." Using these lines, all land in Oklahoma (except the Panhandle) is surveyed from Initial Point, using Indian Meridian and Indian Base Line as determining factors. After 1866 that portion of the Indian Meridian between the Cimarron and Canadian rivers became the eastern border of the unoccupied public domain called the Oklahoma District. Thus, it became one of the boundary lines from which thousands made the Land Run of 1889 into the Unassigned Lands.
The General Allotment (Dawes) Act of 1887 called for Indian reservations to be broken up through allotment. Each man, woman, and child of the tribe received 160 acres of land. This allotment process continued almost until statehood. Any "surplus" land remaining was purchased from those tribes and put on the block for sale to settlers. The Anglo settlement of Oklahoma amounted to an invasion of Indian lands. Prior to the first land opening in 1889, the common pattern in westward expansion was for Congress to create a relatively large territory by legislative act and to cut it into smaller segments as settlement progressed toward the west. By contrast, Oklahoma began small and expanded into the present day state.
Oklahoma Territory was originally referred to as the Unassigned Lands, and at the time of the Land Run of 1889 it was officially known as the Oklahoma District and popularly referred to as the "Oklahoma Lands." The first popular usage of the term "Unassigned Lands" started in 1879 when mixed-blood Cherokee Elias C. Boudinot (member of the Ridge Party who removed the Cherokee from Georgia to Oklahoma) published an article in the Chicago Times describing lands in the central part of the Indian Territory that could, and in his opinion, should be settled by white people. The boundaries of his so-called "Unassigned Lands" had been established externally through a series of treaties with Indian tribes.
From 1879 to 1888 a series of highly publicized Boomer raids led by adventurers, David L. Payne and William Couch, broke the quiet of the Unassigned Lands. Typically, the Boomers eluded cavalry units and staked their claims to land at sites such as the future towns of Oklahoma City and Stillwater, but each time, they were arrested and escorted out of the territory. In large part due to that constant promotion, compounded by the lobbying power of the Santa Fe Railway Company, Congress opened the Unassigned Lands to non-Indian settlement on April 22, 1889. Illegal claimants were initially called "moonshiners," because they entered the area "by the light of the moon." Sooners or moonshiners hid out in brush or ravines, then suddenly appeared to stake a claim after the run started, giving them clear advantage over law-abiding settlers who made the run from the borders. So-called "legal sooners" had permission to enter before the designated time but nonetheless had the same unfair advantage. Legal sooners included employees of the government (deputy marshals, revenue agents, mail carriers, land officials), railroad company employees (trackmen, section hands, brakemen) or those with special permits (Indian agents, teamsters, traders).
When Oklahoma Territory was created by the Oklahoma Organic Act of May 2, 1890, No Man's Land (the Panhandle) was tacked on to become Beaver County. It also carried a provision that adjoining Indian reservation lands were to be added to the territory if and when the reservations were dissolved through the process of allotting the lands. Unlike the first race, they were required to buy the land at $1.25 per acre after filing on it. The pattern of allotment and annexation of surplus lands and disposal by land runs continued through 1895.
The Kiowa-Comanche-Apache and Wichita-Caddo reservations were allotted in 1901 and the surplus disposed of by lottery, the last "surplus" to be available to non-Indian settlers. Allotments in Bradley began in 1903. When the Comanche Nation sold the Big Pasture in 1906, it was by auction. After the Otoe, Ponca, Missouri, and Kaw (Kansa) reservations were dissolved in 1905, the lands were added to the territory. The Osage Nation retained its reservation status until allotment in 1906 (Oklahoma Historical Society).
Bradley was settled as a cow town between the Texas Abilene and Chisholm Trails along present-day Highway 19. The most famous cattle ranch near Bradley was the "97 Ranch". U.S. Highway 81 now marks the exact location of the Texas Abilene Trail through Oklahoma. The exact location of Jesse Chisholm's trading post on the north side of the Washita River has not yet been determined, though it appears to have been northeast of present-day Erin Springs in Garvin County. He had another post at Council Grove on the North Canadian River and a third on the south side of the Cimarron River.
In 1836, Jesse Chisholm married Eliza Edwards and established three trading posts in Indian Territory between the Washita and Cimarron Rivers. In the early 1840s, most cattle were driven up the Shawnee Trail which was previously used by Indian hunting and raiding parties. By 1853, cattle were being driven into parts of Missouri, where farmers began blocking herds and turning them back because the Texas longhorns carried ticks that caused Texas or Spanish Fever in other types of cattle. By 1859, laws were passed preventing the cattle from being driven through those areas. Violence, vigilante groups, and cattle rustling caused further problems for the drivers. The legislature passed a law in 1867 that eased the quarantine restricting Texas cattle from entering the state, but only west of "the first guide meridian west from the sixth principal meridian" -- which runs about a mile west of Ellsworth, Kansas. That opened an alternative route for the cattlemen to take their herds north into Kansas. Cattle drives resumed along a well-traveled military supply route that ran from Ft. Gibson to Ft. Leavenworth. The Texas Abilene Trail was a cattle trail leading from Texas to Abilene, Kansas. It began at Red River Station, crossed the Red River a little east of Henrietta, Texas, and continued north across Indian Territory to Abilene, Kansas. The cattle were driven to the depot of the Kansas-Pacific Railroad where they were shipped to slaughterhouses in Chicago for consumption in the East. The first herds were probably driven over it in 1866, though it was not named until Abilene was established in 1867. In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy built stockyards in Abilene, Kansas. He encouraged Texas cattlemen to drive their herds to his stockyards and promised to reimburse farmers and ranchers for any losses incurred during the cattle drive. It is named for Jesse Chisholm who used a portion of this military supply route to haul freight and a few cattle he had accepted in trade from Kansas to his trading posts on the Cimarron, North Canadian, and Washita Rivers. He had built several trading posts in western Oklahoma before the Civil War. Chisholm's Trail however is not the same trail as the one used for the Texas Longhorns. It was a different small trail that merged with the cattle trail. In 1867, Col. O.W. Wheeler and his two partners, Wilson and Hicks, arrived at Fort Arbuckle with a herd of 2,400 longhorns they had acquired in Texas. William "Buffalo Bill" Mathewson was at Fort Arbuckle when the herd arrived. He agreed to show the cattlemen the way to a trading post on the Canadian River, operated by Jesse Chisholm. From there, the herd could follow wagon tracks left by Chisholm's freight wagons, all the way to a Wichita village on the Arkansas River in Kansas. The herd went from there to Abilene following a trail Joseph G. McCoy had hired surveyors to mark. As word spread that there was now a relatively safe route to a dependable market, other cattle herds were turned to follow the same route Col. Wheeler's herd used. The Chisholm Trail was born. In 1868, Chickasaw Montford T. Johnson, with Jesse Chisholm's help, secured an agreement with the Plains tribes to establish a ranch on the western edge of the Territory.
His ranch, although often threatened, was never raided. He and his family remained the only permanent white residents of the area until the settlement of Oklahoma. Jesse Chisholm died of food poisoning after eating rancid bear meat at Left Hand Spring near Geary, Oklahoma on March 4, 1868. Afterward, the Texas Abilene Cattle Trail became known as the Chisholm Trail and by many other names. Ironically, he never drove cattle on the trail named for him. Three years later, Fort Arbuckle was abandoned and the troops were transferred to Fort Sill. The importance of cattle drives began to diminish in 1870 with the arrival of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad in Texas. Barbed wire was invented in 1874 and was in wide scale use within a decade (The Chisholm Trail). Barbed wire and the Land Run of 1889 ended the cattle drive era and ushered in a new era of settlement and westward expansion.
Rock Island Railroad
Bridges (pdf) (HTML)
In July of 1907, Winter Bradley, Charles Goode, and T. D. Wagner received a steel bridge that was donated by the Rock Island Railroad to place over Slough Creek. That bridge was replaced several years ago. They also procured funds to build the bridge northeast of town over the Washita River. That bridge is still in use and is one of the best maintained old bridges in the state.
The Rock Island Railroad ran between Ball's warehouse and Old Highway 19 at the end of the north side of town. The train ran once per day from Lindsay to Chickasha. The west to southeast line was the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific (C. R. I. & P) Railroad. The line extending eastward from Chickasha was the Oklahoma City, Ada, and Atoka. The Oklahoma City-Ada-Atoka Railway (OCAA) was formed from trackage from Oklahoma City to Atoka via Shawnee and Ada, that was not included in the 1923 reorganization of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. The OCAA was originally owned by interests associated with the Oklahoma Railway, but was sold to the Muskogee Company (which also controlled the Midland Valley Railroad and the Kansas, Oklahoma and Gulf Railway) in 1929. The railroad in Bradley went out in 1942 and the tracks were scrapped for metal to aid the war effort. In 1964, the OCAA was sold to the Missouri Pacific's Texas and Pacific Railway, which briefly operated the property before selling it to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The ubiquitous passenger service inspired the title of the 1946 Academy-Award-winning Johnny Mercer tune "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe."
What is now the Rock Island system first came under discussion in June, 1845, at a meeting of civic leaders at Rock Island, Illinois. Conscious of the increasing migration to the West, these men felt a railroad should be built from La Salle, Illinois to Rock Island, to provide an overland link between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Visits were made to Springfield, the Illinois capitol, and a charter was drawn up.
An Act of Congress, approved March 2, 1887, granted the charter the right to cross Indian Territory and pass through Texas to Galveston. The charter also approved another line from Liberal - again across Indian territory - to Texas and New Mexico Territory to El Paso. On March 19, 1887 a contract was signed between the Union Pacific and the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Company for joint use of the U.P. tracks between Kansas City and North Topeka for a period of 999 years. Construction of the line south from Herington moved rapidly through fall of 1887 and in December the first train pulled into Caldwell, "the last outpost of the white man's country" and gateway to the Indian domains of Oklahoma. The Railroad reached Pond Creek on July 15, 1888. In 1888, this company had surveyed a line from El Reno, extending eastward via Yukon to the present site of Oklahoma City. The survey followed roughly along the old Texas Abilene Trail. The Choctaw Coal and Railway Company had completed a line from Wister to McAlester in 1890. El Reno was reached early in 1890 and from there the track stretched on, reaching Minco on February 14, 1890 where construction, for the time being, came to an end.
Then on June
10, 1891, through various consolidations, the lines in Kansas,
Nebraska and Colorado all were brought into the Rock Island System,
a total of 1,476 miles of new railroad line. In 1892, building was
resumed on the line from Minco and the Texas state line
was reached before year's end. Construction also had been started
westward from Omaha, through Lincoln, for a connection with the
Colorado line at Jansen. The Chicago, Rock Island and Texas Railway
Company had been chartered in Texas in 1892, and laid track
northward from Fort Worth to meet, at the Red River, with the line
that had been built down from Minco. Controversy developed over the right
of way and this line was not finished until February, 1892.
In 1894, The Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad took over the Choctaw Coal and Railway Company and immediately launched a large scale expansion program. The gap between McAlester and Oklahoma City was closed in October, 1895. The El Reno to Weatherford extension was completed in 1898. So, in 1898, the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf bought the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad and then completed the Little Rock-Indian Territory boundary line trackage 151 miles long, including a bridge across the Arkansas River. The Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf then extended its Oklahoma lines to meet the Little Rock line.
World War I had begun and at noon, December 28, 1917, the United States Government took over the railroads. They were turned back to their owners on February 28, 1920. In October, 1929, the memorable crash of the stock market took place and the Great Depression began. Railroad industry in general continued at fair level through 1930 but the following year the economic collapse began to take its toll. Added to the company woes was the great drought that had begun in late 1931 and resulted in the well known "dust bowl". The drought had a devastating effect on the railroad. On June 7, 1933, the Rock Island, for the second time in its history, passed into receivership. The general economic depression and repeated crop failures had combined to weaken the system financially. Then, in late 1941, the nation again went to war. Five years of progressive planning had brought the property, physically and competitively, to the point where it could accept its burden of wartime traffic.
At 12:01 AM on January 1, 1948, the railroad came out of receivership and the reorganized company took control of the railroad's property under the name of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company. More new freight and passenger equipment was acquired and a heavy repair and building program in company shops was launched. As the Rock Island approached its centennial year of 1952, it was a strong railroad, and one of the best in the country. Total dieselization was achieved in the centennial year. The nation's travel habits have also changed from trains to autos and airplanes. The many glamorous streamliners which carried people over the countryside no longer exist (Rock Island Technical Society).
The Early Settlement
Old West towns sprang up around railroads, giving rise to small businesses and small-town society. When residents think of the original townsite, we refer to the pre-statehood settlement. What we think of as a settlement began when Indian allottees and their Anglo spouses (in some cases) arrived to claim their allotments from 1887-1905. Each Indian allotment was roughly 160 acres or less, and each homestead was on allotment land. The settlements were spread out over several hundred acres. Therefore, the early settlement would have covered a one to two mile radius (or more) surrounding the railroad. Allottees could also choose where they wanted their allotment to be. According to J Mann, Frances Harkins stated during an interview in 1936 that her grandfather, Thomas Leflore, came to Oklahoma in 1834 on the Trail of Tears. He and his family had been relocated to Caddo, Indian Territory that had been established for the Choctaw Nation. Julius C. Hampton and his wife Frances Harkins-Hampton, both half Choctaw and half Chickasaw, had been offered an allotment in Caddo, IT, but chose the Washita River bottom land and top land as their allotment instead. They moved to the Bradley area in a covered wagon in 1903. Allottees were rich in land, mineral rights, and later oil royalties. They could mortgage the land and acquire enough money to open businesses, or even build the beginnings of a town. Shortly after his arrival in 1903, J. C. Hampton built three brick buildings (or had the original stone structures resided with brick) that became the beginning of the business district just south of Slough Creek. That is how the original townsite was created. That business district (the townsite) stopped where Highway 19 is today.
The Bradley Brothers: Our Founders
Winter Payne Bradley
Bradley was part of Indian Territory and white people were not allowed here unless they were members of a tribe, worked for the federal government, or for the railroad. The town was a Chickasaw settlement when Winter Bradley arrived here in late October or early November 1880. His brother, William, arrived in 1886. Both brothers worked for the railroad, which made them legal "sooners" to Indian Territory.
Winter Payne Bradley was born in Fauquier County near Warrentown, Virginia on January 8, 1856.
During the Civil War, as a small boy, he carried
canteens of water to the wounded on a battlefield near his home in
While in his teens he learned telegraphy and for four years served as operator and agent for the Virginian, Midland & Great Southern Railway in Virginia. In 1877, he moved west to Fort Griffin, Texas, 150 miles west of Fort Worth and remained there about a year. He then accepted a position as telegraph operator and agent at Atoka, Oklahoma with the M. K. & T Railway.
It was in Atoka, 1879 that he married Miss Maude Hubbard. She passed away a few months later. No children were born to this union.
In 1880, the railway company transferred Mr. Bradley to Colbert, OK, as agent and telegraph operator. There, Oct 18 1880, he was married to Texanna Colbert, a daughter of B. F. Colbert. As a result of this marriage, Winter became a legal member of the Chickasaw Nation. They then moved to Bradley where he owned and controlled one of the largest ranches in this part of the state. Five children were born to this union; they are listed below under Texanna. Texanna died July 16, 1892.
In 1893 he married Matilda Bessette, of near Erin Springs, and by this marriage there were two children, Blanche and Florence. Matilda passed away in October 1895 at Bradley.
Winter applied for a marriage license to wed Nancy 'Nannie' E. Walthall (Luther) in Berwyn, Pickens Co., Chickasaw Nation, IT, on August 6, 1897. This area was later known as the Ireton Community near present-day Alex. They were parents of a son and daughter, both of whom died in infancy. Perry was born Nov. 11, 1897; died Nov. 19, 1899. The daughter's name is unknown. Nannie died November 1948, in California.
In addition to his own children, Mr. Bradley reared two step-children, Mrs. Eunice Maurer of Bradley, who died in 1920 and Roy Bradley of Los Angeles, California.
Winter Bradley was a member of the Baptist Church in Lindsay when he died in December of 1949 in the Pike's Peak Community while living with his daughter, Clara Davis (Foch). He was buried in the Bradley Cemetery.
Surviving Mr. Bradley are two sons, Frank of Oklahoma City, and Ernest of Kress, TX; four daughters, Mrs. Clara Davis (Foch), Lindsay; Mrs. Nelle Vaughan, Northfield TX; Mrs. Blanche Ball, San Antonio TX; and Mrs. Florence Beall, Alexandria VA. Also 28 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Texanna Colbert Bradley
Colbert, a full-blood Chickasaw, was the daughter of Georgia Ann
McCarthy and Benjamin Franklin Colbert, founder of Colbert,
Oklahoma. She was born 1859 in Indian Territory. Texanna died
July 16, 1892 and was buried on her allotment land in Bradley that was later
purchased in 1913 to ensure its continued use as a cemetery (Descendants
of James Logan Colbert).
She and Winter had the following children:
Frank Colbert Bradley, born August 11, 1881.
Clara Hicks Bradley, born May 5, 1883; died May 9, 1959. Clara was married twice. She married Ed H. Davis and William Chancellor.
Ernest Bradley, born August 11, 1885; died November 1969. He married twice. He married Kate White and Maggie Copelin.
Nellie Bernie Bradley, born September 19, 1887.
Holmes Colbert Bradley, born September 20, 1890; died May 1945 in Lindsay.
A daughter died in infancy. Her name is unknown.
Benjamin Franklin Colbert was a signatory to the 1865 treaty between the Chickasaw Nation and the United States. He was the founder of Colbert, Oklahoma, one of the first stops on the Butterfield Stagecoach which was the beginning of the US Postal Service. The Butterfield became the Wells Fargo/American Express. He owned a ferry and later built a bridge across the Red River to Texas in 1875. He built the bridge for people to cross from Oklahoma to Texas and it almost started a dispute between the governors of those States. He wanted it to be a toll-bridge and the Texas governor wanted it to be a free bridge. The Oklahoma Governor sent troops to make sure people could cross the bridge and the Governor of Texas sent Highway men with guns to prevent people from crossing. Then, the Texas Dept of Transportation sent tractors to dig up the road on the side of Texas so no one could use the bridge built by The Red River Bridge company owned by B. F. Colbert. Colbert's Ferry Site, located three miles southeast of Colbert, is listed on Oklahoma's Register of National Places as 72001057.
William Sidney "Uncle Bill" Bradley
William. S. Bradley was born in Virginia on March 22, 1853. In 1877, he moved to Texas where he was a buffalo hunter, artesian well driller, and a brakeman on the Texas Pacific Railroad. In 1886 he moved to what is now Bradley from Colbert Station. Soon after moving to the community he opened a blacksmith shop. During the early days he farmed and raised stock. He sold his first bale of cotton to W. V. "Red" Alexander, the man for whom the town of Alex was named. He died in Bradley, 1941 at the age of 88. He was affectionately known as Uncle Bill by local residents.
The Original Bradley Townsite
Articles of Incorporation (pdf) (HTML)
For many years, the original townsite was rumored to have been located approximately two miles south of the present town. This is where residents have confused the location of the early settlement for the original townsite. The Water Board's Groundwater Agreement and Utility Easement states, "Block A of the original Bradley Townsite located in Section 27." This description also includes the right of way of the C. R. I. & P Railway (Rock Island Railroad) in Section 26, which is north of the present town, not south. An Anadarko Petroleum GPS map also places the "Bradley Townsite" in Section 27. The water system map places all four of the town's wells in the northeast and northwest quarters of Section 26. These documents lend some confusion as to the location of the original townsite, unless one is familiar with the town's location with respect to the Sections. A very small portion of Block A in the north half of town is in fact located in Section 26 and so is the cemetery. Colbert Street is the Section dividing line. A ten acre-wide strip of Bradley east of Colbert Street from N. Boundary Line Road south to the cemetery intersection is in Section 26. The remainder of the town is in Section 27. Bradley is cut into north and south halves by State Highway 19. However, when the town was first surveyed the highway did not exist. The original townsite is designated with lettered blocks A through Q and with numbered blocks 1 through 9. Blocks 10 through 34 are known as Thacker Addition, which was added in 1907 and 1909. The original townsite had existed since 1903.
The town was known as the Bradley Townsite Company when it had the streets surveyed on January 12, 1907. The town also had a corporate seal at the time, which leads one to believe that the town was incorporated under that name. The town was legally incorporated by the County Commissioners as the Town of Bradley on November 21, 1938 and held its first legal election on December 5th of that year. The Bradley Townsite Company was still in existence as of December 11, 1939 when land for the present school was acquired.
In 1891, Winter Bradley, William Bradley, Al Easley, and Jim Bearl appointed themselves board members of the Bradley Townsite Company and the town's government was one of succession until it was legally incorporated.
The town's first elected officials in 1938 were: A. A. Perry, George T. Martin, and R. B. Marshall.
July 28, 1948: Frank Foley, Ward No. 1, A. A. Perry, Ward No. 2, and Mrs. Cora Badertscher.
March 6, 1953: A. A. Perry, Frank Foley, and Cecil J. Lane.
1968: Fred Dennis, Chairman; Fritz E. Badertscher, Secretary; and Carl Edmond Stephenson, Member.
1995: Carl Stephenson, Chairman; Bob Badertscher, Clerk.
April, 1997: Robert Pinnick, Chairman; Nataline Harrington, Secretary-Treasurer; Barry Stapp, Member.
April, 2001: Robert Pinnick, Chairman; Larry Morris, Member; Donna Thornburg, Member; Charlene Brown, Clerk.
April 5, 2005: Donna Thornburg, Chairperson; Larry Morris, Member; Nataline Harrington, Member; Charlene Brown, Clerk.
April 3, 2007: Donna Thornburg, Chairperson; Larry Morris, Member; Nataline Harrington, Member; Charlene Brown, Clerk.
April 7, 2009: Donna Thornburg, Chairperson; Miranda Beverly, Member; Darin Johnston, Member; Charlene Brown, Clerk.
Post Office: How Bradley Got Its Name
Naming of Bradley (pdf) (HTML)
Before 1891, the Post Office Department had no written policies about post office names. The first official reference to the naming of post offices by the Post Office Department occurred in 1891. On February 18 of that year, Postmaster General Miscellaneous Order 87 alerted the clerks to use the spelling of post office names published in the bulletins of the United States Board on Geographic Names. On April 14, 1892, Postmaster General Miscellaneous Order 48 directed the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General not to establish any post office whose proposed name differed from that of the town or village in which it was to be located (NARA).
Winter, his brother William, Al Easly, and Jim Bearl applied for a post office on July 10, 1891 under the name of the Bradley Townsite Company. It was at this time that the decision was made to name the town Bradley. The conflict over which brother named the town arises from George Shirk's book, "Oklahoma Place Names" which states that Winter Payne Bradley named the town. However, this information conflicts with William's own testimony given during an interview that was published by the Chickasha Daily Express in 1907 and reprinted in 1993. According to this article, it was both brothers together who named the town, not just one or the other.
The first post office was in the drug store. Around 1935, it was moved one door south into a grocery store on the east side of Main Street. Later it was moved into the bank building, owned by Fritz Badertscher on the west side of the street. Fritz then moved the building and post office to the top of the hill by the highway. This building was blown away by the tornado in 1953. Mr. Badertscher then built the present grocery store with the post office in the back. It had old letter-combination boxes. Bob closed his store in January 1995 and a temporary post office was built across the street from his sheep pasture. We now have a new post office directly across from Hwy. 19. The Postal Department donated the post office to the Grady County Historical Society in July 1995. It is now located in the Grady County Museum.
Jim Bearl July 10, 1891-April 4, 1907
Noah M. Terry April 4, 1907-February 19, 1909
William E. Hitchcock February 19, 1909-January 23, 1913
William B. Richardson January 23, 1913-April 25, 1917
John A. Deweese April 25, 1917-April 13, 1920
Fritz E. Badertscher April 13, 1920; Retired July 31, 1967
Mary Schoolfield: 1935-1995; Retired 1995
Charles Mitchusson July 31, 1967; Retired May 29, 1991
Kenneth Ray Belden: May 29, 1991 - 1995; Retired 2000
Todd McCullough: 1995
Donna Mercer: 1995 - 2005; Retired 2005
Angela Millsap: 2005 - Present
Old School (pdf)
New School (pdf)
Old Timer's Group & School Reunion (pdf) (HTML)
The first school was a crude one room building made by lashing logs together. It was located near the early settlement. That school was erected ca. 1886 and taught its first classes by subscription in 1887. There is no known photo of this building. It burned down and in 1905, a new school was built with donations from the community. This second school was struck by a tornado in 1907. That year, L. C. Alchison circulated a petition to raise funds for a new school. State aid was received and a new two-story brick school was built behind the present Bradley Cafe. The house that sits there was built upon the old school's foundation. The Bradley School District #63 was established December 9, 1907. The school was first accredited for 16 units in 1921-22, being rated one of the best in the county and state according to enrollment and expenditure of funds. In 1939 the two story building was condemned and on December 11 of the same year, land for the present school was acquired by a petition to the county.
The Works Progress Administration (renamed during 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest New Deal agency, employing millions to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Almost every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency, which especially benefited rural and Western populations. Created by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the WPA was funded by Congress with passage of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935. Headed by Harry Hopkins, the WPA provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA provided almost eight million jobs.
Many women were employed, but they were few compared to men. About 15%
of the household heads on relief were women. The WPA was consistent with the
strong belief of the time that husbands and wives should not both be working
(because the second person working would take one job away from a breadwinner.)
A study of 2,000 women workers in Philadelphia showed that 90% were married, but
wives were reported as living with their husbands in only 18 percent of the
cases. "All of these 2,000 women," it was reported, "were responsible for one to
five additional people in the household." In rural Missouri 60% of the WPA-employed
women were without husbands. Most of the women worked with sewing projects,
where they were taught to use sewing machines and made clothing, bedding, and
supplies for hospitals, orphanages, and adoption centers.
The WPA was the largest employer in the country. Hourly wages were the prevailing wages in each area; the rules said workers could not work more than 30 hours a week, but many projects included months in the field, with workers eating and sleeping on worksites. Before 1940, there was some training involved to teach new skills and the project's original legislation had a strong emphasis on training. The goal of the WPA was to employ most of the unemployed people on relief until the economy recovered. During 1940, the WPA changed policy and began vocational educational training of the unemployed to make them available for factory jobs. Unemployment ended with the beginning of war production for World War II, so Congress terminated the WPA in late 1943.
The story of those efforts in this state is told in a newly published book, "Leaning on a Legacy: The WPA in Oklahoma” by Marjorie Burton. The book is a comprehensive picture of what the federal government did in Oklahoma to relieve the suffering of the Great Depression.
In 1940, the WPA approved a budget of $48,367 for Bradley to build a new one-story school with ten class rooms, an auditorium-gymnasium with dressing rooms, and offices. It was built with rough hewn sandstone blocks from the Wichita Mountains near Medicine Park. The men of the community, J.C. Hampton among them, drove flatbed trucks to Medicine Park and hauled the large rock to Alex where it was shaped and then transported to Bradley. The school was literally built by the hands of our grandparents and great-grandparents. It now qualifies as a historic landmark because of these stones. The school met all the requirements of a four year credited high school. Classes 1-12 were held at the school until Bradley lost its high school in 1968 due to cuts in funding and low attendance. The school continued to operate through the 8th grade until it was annexed by the Town of Alex on May 11, 1990. Alex built a new cafeteria onto the school and taught Head Start there.
Classes were discontinued in 1997 and Alex offered to give the building back to the town for the sum of $1. The town voted to accept the school, but the chairman went against the town's wishes and would not accept the school because Alex refused to include the mineral rights with the transaction. The chairman was under the impression that the town could not afford to pay the insurance and maintenance on the school without revenue from the mineral rights. A proposal was made to declare the school as a historic landmark to qualify for a historic preservation grant, but the chairman refused the offer because he did not wish to deal with a grant. This Chairman resigned on October 22, 2004 after a petition was circulated demanding his resignation. Later that year, the school's former janitor circulated a petition to save the school, then purchased it from the City of Alex for the sum of $525. He then distributed all the trophies to various unknown alumni, gave away the old sport uniforms and stripped the building of all its appliances. Afterward, he sold the building to an unknown individual who we were told was a wine and spice manufacturer for the sum of $50,000 because the Alumni Association made him mad. The building is currently owned by a Blanchard attorney.
On October 31, 2010, the school was burned down by an arsonist. An Alex firefighter removed the WPA sign from the building. The destruction was so massive, it looked as though a bomb had been dropped on it. We lost our precious school and all we have to show for it are the graduation photos in the Community Building that lined the hallway. Everything else is gone. All that remains is charred stone and burned rubble.
We were the Bradley Dragons; our colors were blue and gold, and the school's mascot was a blue and gold celtic dragon. It was drawn in the 1930s by Leroy Guest. We had a top-ranking basketball team and a track & field team. The high school also wrote the Bradley Dragon Newsletter, the front cover of which was drawn and colored by the younger children. This website's layout is blue and gold in remembrance of our school.
77th Anniversary (pdf) (HTML)
The first church in Bradley was organized June 30, 1888 by J. B. Duncan and A. J. Marshall under the rules of the Jacksboro Association. When the church was first organized, meetings were held in the old school. When the second school was destroyed in 1907, a Community Church Building was built in town on the site of the present community building. The church was first affiliated with the Chickasaw Baptist Association in 1904. Sometime later, the church changed its affiliation to the Missionary Baptist Churches of Oklahoma. On April 2, 1947, pastor John B. Shelton led the church to vote to reunite with the Chickasaw Baptist Association, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1951, the church voted to purchase land belonging to G. T. Martin to construct a new building for the Baptists because they were still sharing the community building with the Methodists. On July 6, 1952, the congregation moved into the new building. In August 1952 the first Vacation Bible School was held and continues to be held annually in June. In 1955, the church purchased land from Sid Worden across the street south to furnish a parsonage for its pastors. In 1961, the church purchased a house owned by the Skelly Oil Company and moved it from Velma-Alma to its present location. In 1965, the Church purchased two lots east of the building to provide educational space and a kitchen and dining area. At this time, the Methodists were still using the present community building. An anniversary celebration was held on June 25, 1965. October 8, 1975, the old Methodist Church and community building was torn down. The bell was removed and placed in the new church. A new kitchen was completed in the church in 1983 and on June 26, 1988, the church celebrated its 100th anniversary. Cora Badertscher, who was ill at the time, was presented a certificate in her home for being the oldest living member of the church since 1915. The church still holds weekly services. The old Methodist Church was eventually rebuilt and used for a Pentecostal/Holiness Church until November 11, 1996 when the town purchased it for use as a Community Building.
Former pastors include: Charles Richmon, John B. Shelton, T. H. Richardson, Billy J. Baxter, Frank Vogt and Sam G. Scott.
Land Conveyance (pdf) (HTML)
Contrary to popular belief, the land for the cemetery was not donated by W. S. or Winter Bradley; nor was it donated by Capt. J. B. Terry. There is also no proof that Texanna Bradley was exhumed and interred there 13 years after her death in 1905. Furthermore, there are two graves in the cemetery that pre-date hers--Perry Bradley, 1889 and John F. Lindley, 1890. So unless these bodies were also exhumed and buried there at a later date, then Texanna was not the first person buried in the cemetery (1892). The land acquisition also did not occur in 1905. These are the rumors that have surrounded the cemetery for many years. The date, 1905, and the legendary donation of land is in reference to the land donation by Alice and Noah Terry. However, this donation did not include the land for the cemetery; it only comprised Section 27 and the cemetery is in Section 26. It is located across the street east of the town's legal corporate boundary.
From 1904 until 1912, we see an increase in the number of burials, most especially in 1904-1905 with six burials in each year and in 1907-1908 with eight burials in each of those years. There were a total of 47 burials in the town during this eight year time span. This sequence of deaths points to an epidemic, possibly smallpox, typhoid, or scarlet fever. We know that smallpox decimated Native populations. There is also evidence of an epidemic that moved through this area and that people were possibly migrating to escape it, but died anyway in Tussy, Garvin County. Those people were buried beneath unmarked graves in the Drippings Springs Cemetery.
Until a bill was passed by Congress, the Indian Nations were not obligated to bury Anglos in their cemeteries. Those few buried there would have been legal members of the tribe. Judging from the dates on the legal documents, all of the graves in the east half of the cemetery with a death date before April 14, 1915 should be those of tribal members. The Five Civilized Tribes determine membership by descendancy, marriage, and adoption. Therefore, it is logical that those individuals would've been buried in a Chickasaw cemetery. Remember that Texanna Bradley was full-blood Chickasaw and that Perry Bradley (1889) was Winter's son by Nancy Walthall (Chickasaw). John F. Lindley may have been Chickasaw judging by the date on his head stone (1890). There is also a Russell Callaway grave dated 1899 and Alice Hampton Look Around (1901-Choctaw/Chickasaw, married a Menominee). Since the Five Civilized Tribes assimilated into white culture and adopted Anglo names, it is next to impossible to distinguish the grave of a Native American from that of an Anglo.
The first cemetery transaction occurred on April 5, 1913 when the Trustees of the Bradley Cemetery purchased 5 acres from Charles T. Williams and his wife, Nell Williams, for the sum of $100. There were graves on this land at the time it was purchased, so it is assumed the land was purchased to ensure its continued use as a cemetery. This land is described as:
"The East half of the North West quarter of the South West quarter of the South West quarter of Section 26, Township 5 North, Range 5 West."
This plat is the east half of the cemetery. It is rumored that Winter Bradley donated the money to purchase the land, but there is no proof of this.
As for a donation of land, it was not simply donated out of kindness. The Chickasaw Nation was forced to give it up by an Act of Congress because the adjacent east half was already being used as a cemetery. This Congressional Act was 28 Stat L 77-96, approved June 30, 1913:
"Whereas the hereinafter described unallotted lands of the Chickasaw Nation [sic] has been regularly reserved from allotment and set aside for cemetery purposes as provided by law and whereas the Act of Congress, approved June 30, 1913 (28 Stat L 77-96), provides as follows:
That where any cemetery now exists with the land of the Five Civilized Tribes, said land within said cemetery, together with the land adjoining same where necessary, not exceeding twenty acres in the aggregate to any one cemetery, shall be transferred by the Secretary of the Interior to the proper party, association, or corporation, or to the county commissioners of the State of Oklahoma, for cemetery purposes only, under such terms, conditions, and regulations as he may prescribe."
This second 5 acres for the cemetery was "donated" by the Chickasaw Nation on April 14, 1915. This totals 10 acres that is reflected in the county plat description, which shows that the two tracts of land were joined. The 1913 document proves the existence of a Chickasaw cemetery before the tribal land was donated to the town. The land for this cemetery was purchased only two months before the Act was adopted. It was two years later that the tribal land was conveyed for use by the town. Since there were no trustees presiding over the cemetery, it was conveyed to the county commissioners.
In 1993, an oil well was drilled adjacent to the cemetery. An association was first formed in 1994 because it could be done then without any legal fees except for the filing fee at the courthouse. A non-profit corporation was established on August 13, 1997 after the oil well began to receive revenue. Then, the cemetery land was deeded from the county commissioners to the Bradley Cemetery Association on October 10, 1997. The revenue from the oil well is invested in cds in the hope that the interest will pay for maintenance in perpetuity. The cemetery was not incorporated sooner because there were no funds available to maintain it. Thus it was allowed to remain in trust by the county until after the oil well was drilled.
The cemetery was historically maintained by conducting an annual burn every Spring rather than mow it. There were originally several wooden headstones that were burned during the first fire. The names of these graves appear on the cemetery list, but it is now unknown where those graves are located. There are also many graves that are marked with small concrete stones, sometimes with a single letter, but are otherwise unknown.
The historic landmark, known locally as "Rising Grave", is that of Martin "Buddie" Colbert, a half-brother of Texanna Colbert. He was the son of Benjamin Franklin Colbert and Martha A. McKinney. He was born in Colbert, Panola Co., Chickasaw Nation, IT Feb. 13, 1850. He died Oct. 15, 1889 at 49 years of age. The source for this information says that he died in Colbert, IT, and was interred near Bradley*. Why is unknown. However, Ira J Mann stated that is grandmother related to him that Martin died near Bradley which makes more sense. This discovery accounts for the rumor about Texanna being exhumed and re-interred in the Bradley Cemetery. It might have been her half-brother, Martin, who was interred at a different location than that of his death, according to one source. It is therefore believed that residents have confused the "facts" surrounding Martin's burial for Texanna's.
Martin married Mattie Zora Perry April 3, 1883. Mattie was born 1864 in Texas. She was the daughter of John F. Perry and Valleuas T. Mattie died June 24, 1938 in Lindsay at 73 years of age. Both Martin and Mattie enrolled in Pontotoc Co., Chickasaw Nation, IT for the Dawes Chickasaw Roll in 1898 and appear on Dawes card number 412. They were listed as residents in the census report in IT, 1900.
Martin 'Buddie' Colbert and Mattie Zora Perry had the following children:
Etta Velarie Colbert, born 1884.
Cora Eugenia Colbert, born 1886.
Martin Colbert Jr., born 1888; died 1922 at 34 years of age. He married Bell.
Benjamin Franklin Colbert, Jr., born 1889.
Cecil Calvin Colbert, born 1890.
Tolbert Ray Colbert, born Sept 28, 1892.
Mamie Marie Colbert, born 1895. She married twice. She married Herbert Adair and Albert F. Maxie.
Luther Earl Colbert, born June 24, 1900.
(Descendants of James Logan Colbert)
The location of the grave is ¼mile North on CS 2990 passed the 3-way intersection of CS 2990 and CR 1470. It is across from a cattle guard on a hill that is behind a tree. A petroleum marker reads "McClain County". The grave is located just inside the McClain County boundary line north of Grady County. The old community of Colbert was once located in this area.
*Note: The source of the information on Martin Colbert states that he was buried "near Lindsay, McClain County". He was buried just inside the McClain County border. Lindsay is in Garvin County. He is also much closer to Bradley than to Lindsay, which is seven miles east of Bradley. Even though the sources for the information on this website are well documented, this source for Martin Colbert, Southern Indians, is questionable.
We call it "Rising Grave" because the fence leans heavily to the right. When car lights are shone on the grave at night from the cattle guard, it gives the impression that the grave is rising to level itself. For many years, it was a tradition among local teenagers to visit the grave on Halloween night and be scared senseless by their own imagination.
The Legacy of Alice L. and Noah M. Terry
Land Donation (pdf) (HTML)
March 23, 1905, 110 acres was allotted to Alice L. Terry, a ¼ blood Choctaw woman. This acreage was the:
North half of the Northeast quarter of the Southeast quarter and the Northwest quarter of the Southeast quarter and the Northeast quarter of the Southwest quarter of Section 27, Township 5 North and Range 5 West, and the Southeast quarter of the Southeast quarter of the Northeast quarter of Section 20, Township 6 North and Range 4 West (Chickasaw Nation). [The last portion in Section 20 is part of present-day Alex.]
On November 23, 1905, Mrs. Terry petitioned to the Department of the Interior for the right to convey her allotment. Her petition was granted and Bradley was first surveyed on January 12, 1907 when Alice L. and Noah M. Terry deeded their Indian allotment land to the town for use as streets and alley ways; each plat was surveyed at 100 x 140 feet. The legal description of the land they conveyed to the town was the:
North half of the Northeast quarter of the Southeast quarter, and the East half of the Northwest quarter of the Southeast quarter, and the East half of the West half of the Northwest quarter of the Southeast quarter of Section 27, Township 5 North of Range 5 West Indian Base and Meridian.
The town had the Original Townsite surveyed on January 8, 1908. This land was the:
East half of the Northeast quarter of Section 27, Township 5 North, Range 5 West of Indian Meridian and Base.
Then on November 15, 1909, Alice and Noah deeded more land to the town:
The North 1300 feet of the North half of the Southeast quarter of Section 27, Township 5 and Range 5 West of the Indian Base and Meridian.
These conveyances are Thacker Addition. It may have been named after John R. Thacker, born 1908; died 1909. This is the only Thacker grave in our cemetery. No other information is known.
The current legal description for the town is:
The East Half of the Northeast quarter (E½, NE¼) and the North Half of the Southeast Quarter (N½, SE¼) of Section 27, Township 5 North, Range 5 West, Grady County, State of Oklahoma, containing 160 acres, more or less.
On January 10, 1910, Alice sold lots 2, 3, and 4 of Block 26, Thacker Addition to Mrs. S. A. James of Dibble, Oklahoma, retaining lot 1 as her homestead. There was apparently some confusion as to the identity of the signature on this document and it was confirmed to be Alice's signature on October 9, 1912. Alice's homestead has been demolished by the current owners.
This is how the Town of Bradley was created and the first pages of each resident's abstract from Thacker Addition should reflect this land donation from Alice and Noah Terry. The Bradley brothers may have given the town its name in 1891, but Alice and Noah deserve higher honors because it was they who donated their allotment land so the settlement could expand. Had it not been for Alice and Noah, Bradley might have become a ghost town and would not exist today.
Businesses and Social Life
Matchbook Memories (pdf) (HTML)
Located on State Highway 19 between Alex and Lindsay, Bradley was a central location between Chickasha and Pauls Valley, providing goods and services for area families, farmers and ranchers. Downtown Bradley was on the north side of what is now State Highway 19. In 1949 the highway was moved to its present route and it split the town in half. The heart of the economy of this farming community was its rich river bottom farmlands. Broomcorn and cotton were mainstay crops which provided a living for all who were willing to perform the hard work. Broomcorn Jonnies, as they were called, were a dedicated bunch, showing up day after day to try to make a living for their families. Large numbers of transient workers were also needed to complete the force. Some men formed crews and provided these services to area farmers to help harvest their crops. Days were long, work was hard and wages over the years ranged from 20 cents an hour to $1.50 to $1.75 per hour in the late 60s, early 70s. Entire families worked during the summer to help sustain their needs through the winter months until the next harvest season. Also adding to the economy of the area was the oil industry which was booming at the time. During the 30s and early 40s, the WPA also provided employment for some of the local residents.
Some of the businesses located in downtown Bradley at that time were: Joel Dennis store, Bomhak's Cafe, Double A Perry Cafe, Dunn hotel, First State Bank, Warren Grocery and Market, Cream Station, and Beer Joint (later bought by Mac and Bess McCann) ruins of that building are still visible--the old blue stucco two story building on the west side of the road going up the hill, Martin Drug Store, Ralph Renner Service Station, Badertscher Lumber Yard, A. T. Brown Funeral Home/Hardware and Grocery Store, Jake Hogan Garage and Glen Bomhak Service Station, Post Office, Carl Freeman Garage and Blacksmith Shop, Clyde Clapp Blacksmith Shop, two cotton gins (Farmer's Gin and Chickasha Cotton Seed Oil Gin), one elevator, Ben Ball Broomcorn Warehouse, Chickasha Milling Company, McClintock Produce House, Herbert Dennis Cream Station, Williams Store, Kirk's Self Laundry, Barber Shop, Meat Market, Cummings Blacksmith Shop, Burrous Service Station, Dennis General Merchandise Store and E. E. Pamplin Barber Shop, and a boarding house for teachers.
Bill Bradley had a small mill located on the southwest corner of the school grounds. No charge was made for grinding the grain. He would only ask for a bucket or two of the ground grain and sell it to the public to make money. He also did repair on wagons, etc. Bryan Marshall owned and operated the first telephone switchboard in Bradley providing local and long distance service. The Denco Bus Lines headquartered in Ada had four buses daily (two each way) from Ada to Chickasha which also helped with the growing community's transportation needs.
Bradley also had a movie theater, a skating rink located across from the present school, and dances every Saturday night. The cotton seed house at the gin served as a gathering place for dances and socials. A fight broke out one night at one of the dances at the gin that eventually stopped the dances there. If the cotton seed house was not available, an area family provided their home for the dances. One former Bradley resident reminisced about Medicine Shows that would come through town providing entertainment and of course selling their miracle tonics and wares.
Bradley had a town Marshal/night watchman that made nightly rounds to check businesses and keep an eye on transient workers who lived in tents around town during the harvest season. Some of our town Marshals included: Bill Zeemer, Ben Capps and H. S. Tollison. They were compensated at times by store credit or trade for their work. Bradley also had a Justice of the Peace, W. C. Marshall, who was elected November 8, 1932 and took office on January 19, 1933.
Old News Stories from the Alex Tribune
June 1, 1923: John Dunn, proprietor of the Dunn Hotel, happened to see his former wife on the street of Bradley. He talked to her for a few minutes then emptied a shotgun into her head. The only witness was Sammy, their eight year old son. John went home and started writing a letter to his children. John's father came and got him and they started to Chickasha. They were met at Alex by some deputies who took them to the drug store to wait for the Sheriff. John wrote more on the letter while waiting. His father was a prominent cattleman for thirty years. Her parents are Deweese/Bodly of Lindsay. John's letter urged his children not to drink or gamble. "What I have done today should be a lesson to other women who flirt with other men." Fifty hours later, he was sent to prison for life. In his late 60s, he died in Bradley after being out of prison a few years.
In 1923 Doyle Denney was killed in an exchange of gunfire by Sheriff DeArthur Wilson in front of the Warren Grocery and Market.
August 17, 1923: The First Bank of Bradley was robbed Saturday afternoon. The robber locked the employees and customers in the vault and escaped by automobile with $1,278. Edward F. Dilons, 21, of Blanchard was arrested in Bradley, but broke from the law and ran to Chickasha where he was shot. His injury was not serious.
August 22, 1924: A Bradley man killed a broomcorn worker. J. A. Roberts of Bradley waived his preliminary hearing and was released on $5,000 bond in connection with the killing of M. N. Holland. Holland and his brother were working for Roberts, but were not doing their job. They cursed Roberts and ran him from the field with a broomcorn knife. Roberts returned with an automatic shotgun and there was a scuffle. One man was killed and the other was slightly injured.
April 24, 1925: Bradley was hit by a tornado. There was a lot of damage.
October 23, 1925: Truman Brown's store was robbed and $600 was taken.
June 14, 1951: Jack Hogan drowned in the rain swollen Washita River while attempting to swim across the raging currents to transport a cable needed on the other side for repair of service. His body was never found.
Tornado of 1953
1953 Tornado (pdf) (HTML)
Disaster hit the town of Bradley on Friday, March 13, 1953. A killer tornado ripped through the tranquil farming community devastating the town. This tornado was only one of several storms and tornadoes that hit the United States during a three-day period. Friday night, twisters tore through West-Central Texas and Oklahoma, as severe thunderstorms and hail ravaged parts of Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisiana. Saturday, one tornado hit Mississippi and two tornadoes cut a 20-mile swath of damage in North-Central Arkansas. More severe storms and tornadoes were forecast Sunday for Kentucky. According to the newspaper article, four tornadoes hit Bradley. It was almost the equivalent of the May 3 tornado that hit the OKC Metro area in 1999.
Damage in the Bradley area was estimated at $300,000. More than six homes and at least four businesses were leveled by the tornado. One of the first buildings hit was the post office and grocery store owned by Fritz Badertscher. One of the last buildings hit was the school. Frank Foley, superintendent estimated the damage in excess of $50,000. The roof was ripped off the gymnasium, while the lunchroom on the East Side of the structure was not touched. The tornado's only victim was N. C. Childress, who died in the Lindsay hospital as a result of injuries sustained during the storm.
Bob Miller said that he drove past the Patterson house only moments before the tornado destroyed the home. He related seeing Mr. and Mrs. Patterson standing in the house looking out. The only part of the home that remained standing was the comer that Mr. and Mrs. Patterson took refuge in. Nearly all of the businesses in town closed their doors and left. Many of the homes were destroyed. The old homes still standing are the ones that survived. The tornado nearly wiped the town off the map. The town pulled together to try to rebuild and reclaim their previous lives, but Bradley never recovered from the devastation wrought by the 1953 tornado.
Water System (pdf) (HTML)
February 9, 1951, the Foss Reservoir Master Conservancy District was granted water surface rights in the Washita River Stream System for 30,000 acre-feet for Grady County. The town was surveyed again in 1962 and two water wells were dug on Carl and Lee Stephenson's property. In 1965, Grady County Rural Water District #3 was incorporated by Fred Dennis, Fritz Badertscher, and Carl Stephenson who were also trustees for the town. The Oklahoma State Board of health approved the water from those wells and the incorporation was accepted by the county in 1967. However, it was incorporated as the Bradley Water Company, Inc. A permit was granted with priority for 36,900 acre-feet to the Foss Reservoir on July 25, 1968. On December 6, 1968, the trustees applied for an $84,000 FHA loan to lay water lines. The papers were processed and funds were paid to the Bradley Water Co, Inc. October 2, 1969, the Foss Reservoir filed an appeal requesting 66,900 acre-feet. That appeal was granted. The Bradley water department was established December 16, 1969 with work provided by Reece contractors. Nine fire hydrants were provided by the system for greater fire protection. The grant of water rights to the Foss Reservoir placed the Oklahoma Water Resources board in a position of inequity and they filed an appeal of their own on November 5, 1971. This appeal was granted and priority rights were transferred to the Resources Board. On August 18, 1972, the Fort Cobb Reservoir Master Conservancy District filed an appeal to determine water surface rights. Rights were granted to the Fort Cobb Reservoir for 29,400 acre-feet and the court found that the Water Resources Board was erroneous in its claim of water rights. By 1997, one of the town's water wells ceased to function and the town had to apply for a grant from the Water Resources Board to dig two more wells. This grant could not be approved unless the water department merged with the county. The mistake of the name was corrected by a vote of the people on June 1, 1997 and the water department now bears its former title. Bradley does not have its own sewer system; each home has its own septic tank. The town also has a weekly trash service.
Volunteer Fire Department
New Tanker Truck (pdf) (HTML)
The volunteer fire department was established in 1969 when Alan Havens purchased an old fire truck from the City of Lindsay. Emergency medical attention for the area was provided by the First Responders which was established at the same time. In 1985, the Bradley Volunteer Fire Department was opened under the guidance of the Grady County Fire Service. A grant was approved for a permanent building for the fire department in 1992. The grant also helped to furnish equipment and gear. Until that time, the town's fire truck was kept in a barn near the location of the present building. On March 6, 2002, Bradley received a new tanker truck that was purchased with money from ASCOG.
Community Building Purchase (pdf) (HTML)
The present community building was purchased by the town from the Full Gospel Evangelical Church for $2,000 on November 11, 1996. Carl Stephenson was the Chairman at the time. According to J. Mann, Carl was faced with much resistance from the town elders over the building's purchase because they did not want to spend any money. However, we had lost the school which was the site for the town's meetings and elections and needed a new public facility. This was Carl's last official act as Chairman before contracting Parkinson's Disease in 1997. He served as Chairman for about 30 years and much of what the town has today, we owe to Carl and his late wife, Lee. The decision was made on November 3, 1998 to have a cooperative agreement with Rural Water District #3 for the use of the office for water department business and files. The building is also used for water board meetings. The Volunteer Fire Department, being a part of our community, also has use of the community building with no need of written documentation. On March 19, 1999, the town received a Rural Economic Action Plan grant from ASCOG for the sum of $25,000 to restore the community building. Rick Utzig was the contractor for this project.
Finding of No Significant Impact (pdf)
Since losing the school to Alex in 1990, the town has suffered for lack of family recreation. A town meeting was held on May 24 where the idea was placed before the other board members. They voted unanimously to purchase land with the town's money. On June 18, 2006, the Town of Bradley held a bake sale at Wal Mart in Lindsay to raise funds for a municipal park. Several townspeople contributed their time, money and cooking skills to make the bake sale a success. Juanita Havens, Polly, Faye Selzer, Nataline Harrington, Lou Hearon, Mary and Donna Thornburg, and Vera Baker baked cakes and cookies all day Thursday. "We're amazed at the amount of support we have received and we appreciate all the hard work and effort that has been poured into it," said Donna who is credited with the idea. "Everyone is excited about the prospect of Bradley having a park." Vera Baker was the grant writer for the project. "Donna came to me with this idea of building a park and my immediate response was, where would we put it? We have no land." With that, Donna approached Newt Nye and he agreed to sell his corner lot. "Donna later called and said that we got the land and I said, Okay let's do it. You close the deal and I'll write the grant." Vera attended an ASCOG grant workshop in Chickasha the following day. "Everything seemed to fall into place as though it was meant to be."
Donna closed the deal on a plat of land in Bradley on Monday, July 3. The land was purchased from Newt Nye, a former resident of Bradley, for the sum of $3,000. The land was then cleaned, leveled and surveyed. The bake sale earned $460 and Wal Mart contributed $500 of matching funds, bringing the total to $960. This money was used to pay the surveyor and prepare the land for construction. The grant was mailed on August 3, 2006.
On August 8, 2008, the town authorized ASCOG to submit a request to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce for the release of CDBG funds under Title 24 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. The funds were issued in the Spring of 2009 and the town got its park, which is located on the southeast corner of Thacker and Parker.
Colbert’s Ferry Site
of James Logan Colbert
Drippings Springs Cemetery
Historical Maps: 1895 State Map
House of Representative News: "New Tanker Truck"
Ira J Mann. School Mascot. Interview conducted April 22, 2006.
Major World Epidemics
National Archives (NARA)
National Register Properties in Oklahoma
Oklahoma Archeology, "The Jewett
Site: A Washita River Phase Village in South-Central Oklahoma," by
David F. Morgan and Richard R. Drass with a contribution by Vickie
L. Wedel, Vol. 52, No. 2, 2004.
Oklahoma's National Register Handbook
Planning & Research Division of the State Highway Map Archive:
Cattle Trail Map
Rock Island Technical Society
Rootsweb: Township Range Map
The Chisholm Trail
Works Progress/Project Administration
Bradley Town Board: Anadarko Petroleum GPS Map, Water System Map and
Community Building Purchase.
Census Bureau: 2000 Census Block Map.
Chickasha Public Library: "Bridges", "Naming of Bradley", "Old
School", "New School", "School Reunion", "Baptist Church 77th
Anniversary", "Old News Stories from the Alex Tribune", "1953
Tornado" and "Water System".
Grady County Courthouse: Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, Town Board
Articles of Incorporation, New School Petition & Order of
Annexation, Cemetery Land Conveyance, Alice Terry Land Donation,
Groundwater Agreement and Utility Easement and Ft. Cobb Master
Lindsay Public Library: "Old Timer's Group Reunion" and "Matchbook
Ira J Mann: Bradley Dragon Newsletters
Oklahoma Secretary of State: Cemetery Association Articles of
Incorporation and Water Board Articles of Incorporation.
Lee Stephenson: Hand-drawn map representing Bradley in 1932; drawn by Ira J Mann and Carl Edmond Stephenson.
Bob Badertscher: Railroad Depot, Lumberyard, 1905-1906 School, 1907
School (2-story), 1908 Survey Map, First State Bank, Dunn Hotel,
Renner Gas Station/Garage and Photo Processing Receipt.
Vera Baker: Bradley Baptist Church, Bradley Cemetery, Bradley
Community Building, Bradley Post Office, Bradley School Building,
Bradley Volunteer Fire Department, and “Rising Grave”.
Bradley Town Board: Winter Payne Bradley, Texanna Colbert Bradley,
1907 Survey Map, First State Bank Prosperity Certificate, Blank
Check and 1962 Aerial Map.
Grady County Law Enforcement Center: Sheriff DeAurthur Wilson; photo
taken by Vera Baker.
Doug A. Lewis: W. C. Marshall, Justice of the Peace was contributed
Ira J and Claudia Mann: Hampton Home, Brick Stores, Hampton Grocery, 1906-1907 School, Class of 1906-1907, Gertrude Keeler's Diploma, Basketball Team, Class of 1930, Class of 1935, Ira J Mann Diplomas and Graduation Announcement and Tornado Damage.
Curtis Toby: Tornado photos of Toby
home and boy standing in school gym.
Thanks to Sonny and Eva Mitchusson for contributing a summarized
history of the cemetery and for clearing up the matter concerning
the oil revenue.
Thanks to former Sheriff Kieran McMullen for pointing out the photo of
Roy Powell, a Bradley alumni, and attorney has overseen the legal aspects of town business throughout the years. We appreciate Roy's contribution and donation of services to our town.