Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rebecca's Brothers, Famous or Infamous - Part 3

Along The Elk As It Looks Today

The previous two posts have centered on our great, great…uncle, Rebecca Bradford’s brother, David Bradford. In this post we will consider her other brother, William.

The family consisted of parents Sarah and Samuel Bradford, Rebecca born in 1759, her brother David in 1765, with William, the youngest, having been born in 1770. [There were two other siblings that we know nothing of; one, a sister Jane, is said to have died young, and a brother Samuel we have absolutely no information about; perhaps he,too, died young]. Rebecca, David and William grew up along the headwaters of the Elk River near Elkton, Cecil County, Maryland. There is little information about their young years, until a move west changed their lives forever.

In June 1778, Rebecca married William Miller, she being the first of the siblings to wed. Some time around 1782, she and William decided to go westward to Westmoreland County, PA (renamed Fayette County in 1783). Rebecca’s family apparently moved with them, including her parents, Sarah and Samuel, and brothers David and William.

It appears that father Samuel died very shortly after their arrival in 1782 (records indicate that some time in the next year, Sarah was recorded as the “Widow Bradford” in “A Listing of Inhabitants in 1783 of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania,” compiled by Shirley McQuillis).

At the death of their father the sons, being around ages 12 and 17 years of age and unmarried, were now considered “orphans” by the court. What happened to them? Did they stay on with their mother Sarah? Were they sent away to live with someone else, as was the custom in that era?

We know that the older brother, David, eventually made his way to Adams County, Ohio, where he became a very prominent citizen (see the two immediately preceding posts).

Apparently William did not to too badly for himself, either. According to a biography of William Bradford found in “The Holmes Tree” by Charles A. Noel, (1983), William moved to a neighboring county where he lived for several years. There he married Margaret Parkinson in 1799. Eventually the couple moved to Brooke County, West Virginia. They built a flat boat in 1816 and moved downriver to an area now known as Manchester, Ohio. They purchased a farm about four miles up river from Aberdeen, Brown County, Ohio, where they built a brick house in 1822.

Sometime in the 1840's they moved to Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, which was across the river, though keeping their farm in Aberdeen. This was only 20 miles away from where his brother, David Bradford, lived in West Union, Adams County, Ohio. Apparently William Bradford, like his brother, was the owner two slaves, and again like his brother, he freed both of them when the Civil War began.

A great nephew wrote: “William Bradford, was a large landowner in Braden County, Ohio [note: there was no such county, though there was a town named Braden in this area], was esteemed quite rich for those times, lived in Kentucky, and loaned his money in Ohio. I occasionally saw him, an old man, leaning upon the top of his staff." (Source: Notes from “The Town As It Was In Olden Time” by Rev. D.G. Bradford; Jefferson College Historical Society, Cannonsburg, PA)

Life had taken the two brothers far from their relatives in Fayette County, PA. Though William lived fairly close to his brother, David, and they no doubt visited at times, it is unknown if he ever got back to see his mother Sarah or sister Rebecca over 250 miles back in Fayette County, PA.

William outlived all his parents' family. He died in 1862 at his home near Maysville, KY. Both he and his wife Margaret (nee Parkinson) are said to have been buried in family plot on their other farm “just across the river from Maysville, located on Lick Skillet Road between Aberdeen and Manchester, Ohio.” (from the “Holmes Tree”).

Maysville, Kentucky as it looked in earlier years.

However, the story does not end there. In the next post we will examine the truly shocking story of the earlier life of William Bradford, brother of our Rebecca Miller Bradford!

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