SAMUEL T. BRADLEY has been a resident of Pawnee County since April, 1892, and throughout that quarter of a century has been a resident of Walnut Township. He came to Kansas after about twenty-four years of experience as a farmer in Western Arkansas, and prior to that had given nearly four years of service as a Confederate soldier. His experiences in Western Kansas should claim first attention in this sketch.
In 1891 Mr. Bradley prospected over Western Kansas and selected the farm he is now on. The original settler there had been starved out as the result of a succession of hard years and had sold the land to a mortgage company. Mr. Bradley contracted with the company to pay $12.50 an acre for his tract. The improvements were of the most meager description. There was a two-room house and a few acres had been turned over by the plow. The little house Mr. Bradley moved to a location near the creek, where he could have protection from the wind and also be closer to water. He dug out a cellar and after adding four rooms had a comfortable home. A year or so later the creek was swollen by freshet and the high waters drove him out. After this experience he moved and established his home on safer ground, where he now has a large two-story, twelve room house, with all the comforts and conveniences of modern life in Kansas.
In coming to the state Mr. Bradley shipped a carload of goods, including seven horses and household equipment. He paid only part of the purchase money on his farm. The company insisted that he take five years to pay the balance. This balance amounted to only $800, and Mr. Bradley felt that he could pay out in two years. The resource to which he turned was wheat growing. The first year his crop amounted to 2,500 bushels. The second year his threshing was 210 bushels, the third year 200 bushels, and the fourth year had dropped to seventy-four bushels. Then the mortgage came due. He had not been able even to pay the interest for the preceding year. The owners of the mortgage urged him to settle up the interest and he paid that out of his very light wheat crop and borrowed a wagon of his nephew to help do it. It is always darkest just before dawn, and with his sixth crop, which was a bountiful one, Mr. Bradley was able to clear off the mortgage and have some money to spare, and since then he has never been embarrassed for lack of funds.
Mr. Bradley states that during his early years in Western Kansas wheat was often worth not more than 30 or 40 cents a bushel. Thus it required a large acreage and a big yield to net any surplus money at all, and when a crop failure ensued the farmer faced hard times. Though Mr. Bradley's wheat yields have often been very light, as the above statement shows, he has also harvested on occasions as much as 31 1/2 bushels to the acre. He was fortunate in growing his finest crop in 1916. In that year he threshed 12,150 bushels. Everyone knows the high prices prevailing for the 1916 crop, and Mr. Bradley was in a position to hold part of his wheat until the spring of 1917 and sell it at almost the top notch, $2.68 a bushel. The wheat crop of 1916 alone realized him more actual money than he had ever expected to be worth when he came out to Kansas.
After he had been in the county about nine years he was in a position to add to his possessions. Up to that time he had been making the best of temporary bank and straw stables along the creek, and he then erected a barn commensurate with his needs. His first landed addition was a tract of 200 acres, for which he paid $2,000. Later he bought 240 acres in Rush County for $4,400. His last purchase, in 1917, was a half section near Greensburg, Kansas. The purchase price of this land was $17,000 and his ability to buy it is perhaps all that is needed in the way of affirming his substantial material prosperity.
A little incident might be related to show how pressed he was financially during his early years in Kansas. His wife said to him one day, "When you drink this coffee it's the last you'll drink until you get some more." His reply was "I know it, but if I've got a nickel I've got a $100." "I know that too," responded his wife. Mr. Bradley then went to his country Jew merchant, "Sig Jacoby," and laid his situatian before him. He was finally granted the favor of credit, although Sig had refused old and reliable customers the same favor. The first money that came in was to be paid to the merchant, and it was realized when Mr. Bradley sold two calves for $14. This established his credit with Jacoby and no further trouble was encountered in getting supplies.
Something should also be said of Mr. Bradley's participation in local affairs. He served his district as a school trustee and has been keenly interested in every matter of public improvement, though his influence has counted much through the practical efforts he has extended in improving and developing his own farms. When he came to Pawnee County he was denied the privilege of voting until he had his political disabilities removed because of his participation as a Confederate soldier. He has always voted as a democrat in state and national affairs but locally is independent. While not a church man, he gives his support to churches and to church enterprises.
Samuel T. Bradley was born in Anderson County, Tennessee, December 12, 1841. His father, Burrell Bradley, was born near Lynchburg, Virginia, and died in Roan County, Tennessee, at the age of seventy-four. He was a farmer and never owned slaves. The maiden name of his wife was Leah Reagan, whose father was a planter and slave owner. Burrell Bradley and wife had the following children: James, who was a Confederate soldier and died at Poteau, Oklahoma; Betsy, who married William Staples and died in Tennessee; Peggie A., who married James McKinney and died in Pawnee County, Kansas; Katie, who married Cyrus Dale and died in Oklahoma; Samuel T.; Stephen, who was a Confederate soldier and died in Tennessee; William, who died near Greenwood, Arkansas; and Aggie, who died in Pawnee County, Kansas.
Mr. Bradley grew up on a Tennessee farm, and attended school just enough to learn reading and writing. He went into the war at the very beginning, before he was twenty years of age. His first service was in Company F, Twenty-Sixth Tennessee Infantry, under Captain McClung of Knoxville and Colonel Lillard of Meigs County. This regiment was at first in the Western Army and he was under Genoral Albert Sidney Johnston, the hero of the battle of Shiloh, and afterwards under General Bragg. His first service was at Fort Donelson, and he was captured when that post surrendered to General Grant. As a prisoner of war he was removed to Indianapolis and kept at Camp Morton, but seven months later was exchanged at Vicksburg. Returning to Knoxville, he rejoined the army, and was successively engaged in the battles of Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. He was under Johnston during the long Atlanta campaign, beginning at Resaca and continuing with almost a hundred days of successive fighting. Mr. Bradley was in the famous battle of July 22d when all but seven men of his company were either killed or wounded. After the fall of Atlanta his command went back north with General Hood. Because he was detailed to guard wagon trains he was not present at the battle of Franklin and he fired only a few rounds in Nashville battle, which completed the destruction of Hood's army. The shattered remnants of that command afterwards moved across into South Carolina for the purpose of heading off Sherman, then on his way to Virginia. During these closing events Mr. Bradley was captured in South Carolina while on a picket line, was kept in the Federal lines, and finally was sent by boat to New Bern, North Carolina, and then to Hart's Island, New York, and was kept there until the close of the war. He was three times wounded. The first wound came at Fort Donelson, where he was "burned" by a rifle ball. At Murfreesboro he was shot through the left arm. At Chickamauga he was struck by a glancing grape shot on the head. A shell later exploded near him and threw a stone against him. There are few of the old soldiers who went through so much of war's hardships and who are still left to tell the story.
After the war Mr. Bradley went back home by train from New York to Cincinnati, by boat to Louisville, by railroad to Nashville, and on to Chattanooga and finally to Knoxville. He arrived home on a Sunday night in April, 1865. Then ensued a six weeks period of sickness which prevented him doing any work at all. He had intended during the winter of 1865-66 to attend school, but after two weeks became discouraged by his inability to concentrate his mind on his books and he left to find better employment. He went to work making rails for the rehabilitation of the Bradley farm and raised two crops, and then left Tennessee for Western Arkansas. He located in Sebastian County, married there, and for twenty-four years lived fourteen miles south of Fort Smith. His little farm Of seventeen acres, which cost him $110, had a little cabin with a puncheon floor, and he endured there the whole story of frontier and pioneer life and when he left Arkansas to come to Kansas he possessed 100 acres of improved land.
Mr. Bradley was married in Western Arkansas to Jane D. Witcher, a daughter of William and Mary (Baskins) Witcher. Her father was a farmer and she was one of a family of five sons and four daughters. Mr. and Mrs. Bradley have reared a large family of capable children: Leah, widow of Robert L. Moore, of Rush County, Kansas; Miss Fannie, yet at home; William, of Greensburg, Kansas; Miss Terza C., still at home; Elsie, wife of Milo Bixby; Annie, wife of Oscar Ericsson, of California; Henry, assisting his father in forming; Abe, also a farmer near home; and Lola, the youngest, was a teacher in the public schools of Huron, Kansas. until she married George Withroder, of Plevna, Kansas.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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