The Bradford Family

Germaine and Wilbur County have enjoyed the legacy of the Bradford family from the beginning. Nancy Horne Bradford came from an old Connecticut family and she was accustomed to traveling to New York City to the Opera and Ballet and visits to the museums there kindled a lifelong love of fine art. Nancy and Thomas met in New York City when he was there celebrating his graduation from Harvard.

In addition to donation of grants to area artists and scholarships to deserving students, the Bradford Foundation supports local charities such as the Wilbur County Senior Center, Meals-on-Wheels, and The Double T Ranch for Troubled Teens.

The Bradford family bible reveals a connection to some of the earliest American colonists. They are descended from William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony and Mayflower passenger. It is not a connection that our Germaine founder, Thomas Bradford, celebrated. He told his children that his side of the family broke with those “bitter Calvinist s.o.b.s” sometime in the mid 1700s. The way he told it to T.W., his great-grandfather was a William Bradford, b. in 1695, son of Thomas Bradford, son of William, the Governor.

It was this great-granddaddy who left the Calvinist fold when he heard a sermon preached by Reverand Mayhew in Boston Massachusetts in 1749. They weren’t called Unitarians at the time, but were part of the movement, which evolved into the Unitarian Church.

Willam moved his family off of the farm and became a farm implement merchant. His son Joshua, b. 1740, went to Pennsylvania and settled in Washington, PA near his cousin David Bradford. He was involved in the Whiskey Rebellion with his cousin, but unlike David, did not escape the Federal Troops sent to bring the tax scoff-laws to justice. Joshua died in Federal custody of unknown causes. His wife and children left Pennsylvania and moved to upstate New York.

His oldest son James was eventually able to establish a small textile mill which brought a modest fortune to the family coffers. Upon James’ death, Thomas Bradford inherited quite a “respectable estate.” It was with a portion of this estate that the Bradford’s, Thomas and Argus, outfitted wagons and joined up with the Meek wagon train in Independance, Missouri in 1845.

This considerable inheritance has underpinned the Bradford ventures and multiplied over the years. Whenever they were questiond about why the two brothers brought their families out west at such risk to life and limb, Thomas and Argus never told the same story twice and not one of Thomas’s stories was the same as Argus’s.

Nancy Horne Bradford always maintained that the Bradford brothers just fell under the spell of the West, that brought them to believe they could be part of something new and magnificent. Thomas was elected the first mayor of Germaine in 1859. A position he held for five years. He withdrew from politics in 1861 and founded the first bank in the town, the Bank of Germaine.

Today, descendants of Thomas and Nancy Bradford may be proud of the legacy their ancestors left to them which they have so carefully preserved and continue to share with our community.

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