Henry Chase Bradbury

HENRY CHASE BRADBURY. It is truly a fortunate man who can come to his seventy-third year with a record of so much good accomplished, with many responsibilities discharged and burdens bravely sustained as have been part and parcel of the life and experience of Henry Chase Bradbury, now living at Lincoln. Rev. Mr. Bradbury is the oldest active missionary of the Presbyterian Church in Kansas. For all the more than forty years of work he has done in Kansas Mr. Bradbury enjoys a vigorous old age and only his more intimate friends know that he has passed the three score and ten mile post.

His early environment and inheritance probably predisposed him for the career and vocation he has followed. The Bradbury ancestors came from England to Maine in colonial times, his remote ancestor having acted as an agent of Ferdinand Gorges, 1620, who had extensive colonization rights from the Crown and made the first settlement along the coast of Maine.

His father was Elbridge Bradbury, a prominent scholar, educator and minister and spent his last years in Kansas. Elbridge Bradbury was born at Medford, Massachusettss August 2, 1805. He was a graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and in 1831 graduated from Amherst College. He taught in a classical school at New Lebanon, New York, and afterwards had charge of a classical and English school at Hudson, New York. In the fall of 1835 he entered Princeton Theological Seminary, and after three years was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in the New Brunswick Presbytery. His talents well fitted him for missionary work and he established and organized churches in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio and in 1883, when in advanced years, came to Kansas. He served as pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Lincoln and assisted his son in building up the missions in Lincoln County. He preached until he was eighty years old.

April 20, 1840, Elbridge Bradbury married Mary J. Underhill, of Hudson, New York. She was born in New York City in 1802 and died at New Boston, Massachusetts, in 1882. Her grandfather, Thomas Jenkins, was the original proprietor of the site upon which the town of Hudson, New York, stands. Elbridge Bradbury and wife had only two children. The older, Augustus, went into the Civil war with the 128th New York Infantry, was in the campaign in Louisiana, was stricken with the typhoid fever and died at New Orleans, February 25, 1863, at the age of twenty-two.

Henry Chase Bradbury was born August 15, 1844, while his parents lived at Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Both his father and mother directed and inspired his early education and he attended the Classical Institute at Hudson, New York, and in 1866 graduated from Amherst College, his father's alma mater. In 1871 Mr. Bradbury graduated from the Union Theological Seminary at New York, and while in the seminary spent three years in the city missions of New York City.

Rev. Mr. Bradbury began his labors as a Kansas missionary in 1872, when he located at Minneapolis. He was given charge of missions in Ottawa, Lincoln, and Mitchell counties, and Wilson and Elkhorn in Ellsworth county, and for a number of years he performed the many duties and endured all the hardships familiarly associated with the circuit rider. He helped organize many churches and for years was almost constantly at work and exposing himself to daily fatigue and hardship. He wore out several horses, and besides being in the saddle for a number of years he also rode a buckboard and afterwards used a phaeton. At one time he had the active supervision of sixteen churches and missions, with the assistance of three elders, Rev. N. Lott, William Course and David Wallace. Though his years and achievements might justify his retirement, he prefers to be in the harness and is now looking after the missions of Shady Bend, Harmony and Pinon. Since 1876 the Fist Presbyterian Church of Topeka, Kansas, has paid a part of Rev. Mr. Bradbury's salary and supported him with their prayers. For a number of years he was the president of the Sunday School Union of Lincoln County.

Mr. Bradbury owns and occupies a comfortable home on Second Street in the City of Lincoln. One of his many friends and admirers states that probably no man has lived in Kansas who has given according to his means more to the needy and the distressed than Rev. Mr. Bradbury. There is no lack of appreciation for the sacrifices and services of his career. Once every year the members of all the missions with which he is connected have held what is known as Bradbury Day. Many of his associates and friends then gather in the home church at Lincoln, a bountiful dinner is supplied by the ladies, and the hours are spent in a review of missionary enterprise and in happy expressions of esteem and friendship for Mr. Bradbury. And now, Bradbury Day is celebrated four times a week by a dinner in various families in regular order.

In matters of politics Mr. Bradbury is an independent republican. He is affiliated with the Chi Psi Greek letter college fraternity and was one of the founders of that order at Amherst.

On October 25, 1875, at Minneapolis, Kansas, a few years after he arrived in this state, and while still a young missionary, he married Miss Elma Boblett, is daughter of John and Amanda Boblett. Her parents are now deceased. Her father was a pioneer homesteader and with Israel Markley owned the land where Minneapolis, Kansas, now stands. To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bradbury have born six children. Augusta U. is the wife of Rev. D. E. Hare a Presbyterian minister living at Moscow, Idaho. The daughter Eunice, now deceased, married James K. Thompson, and her four children live at Topeka where he is connected with the auditing department of the Santa Fe Railway. Mary is the wife of Raymond E. Baker, her home being at Coquille, Oregon, Mr. Baker being county superintendent of the Coos County Schools. The son Edward is in the automobile business at Los Angeles, California. The daughter Ruth, who is unmarried, is a highly cultured and educated young woman, a graduate of Emporia College and was awarded the Master of Arts degree by Columbia University of New York City in 1916. She has taught school for years and is now active in social work, being a war secretary at Houston, Texas, for the purpose of safeguarding young girls around the military camps. The youngest child, Esther, married Fred Munson, and they live at Topeka, where he has charge of a department in the telephone company.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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