Monday, August 27, 2012


Note: If your time is limited, please at least read to “Challenge” at the end of this post

Dragon Creek Run, public domain photo by Brad Killian.

We have covered William Miller’s ancestry, as well Rebecca Bradford’s father’s family, pretty thoroughly for the last several posts, and I am now drawn back to Rebecca’s maternal grandfather, affectionately dubbed by some of us as “Red Lion Sam”-- Samuel Bradford of New Castle County, Delaware, the ancestor about whom we know the least as far as his origins.

Let’s review the little we do know about him, with the sources being his will, a couple of land records, and his son’s gravestone:


Born: Approx. 1690 (estimated from his approximate marriage year)
Married: Approx. 1720 (estimated from his son William’s birth year)
Died: April 20, 1767, Red Lyon Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware
Spouse: Margret (as spelled in the will)
William born 1729 (according to the headstone d. October 3, 1795, age 66)
Sara (birth date unknown; this is Rebecca Bradford Miller’s mother)
Martha [birth date unknown]
Land: Bought land parcel called “Dragon Swamp” (on Dragon Creek Run - see picture above) in New Castle County, Delaware in 1740; already farming before this purchase
Religion: Unknown, but his son, William, and grandson, Samuel, were both buried in Old Drawyer’s Church in Odessa, New Castle County, Delaware. Back then this was a Presbyterian Church attended by those of Scottish [or Scots-Irish] ancestry.1 While this does not prove that Red Lion Sam’s parentage was Scottish (or Ulster), it is a compelling clue.

Dragon Run Wetlands May 29th, 2007, by Alex Zorach

This isn’t a bad start, but we have to ask, who are his parents and siblings? Was he the immigrant ancestor? Where did the family come from – Scotland, Ireland, England, or …?? Years of research have proved fruitless in answering these questions.

While we have traced Rebecca’s paternal line of Bradford’s to Northern Ireland (though we have not been able to pin down a town or county), the Allen Family Record says that these two Bradford lines are completely unrelated, so no clues there.

I think immigration records are going to be a bust for us2, and while you can find the name Bradford in various records of Northern Ireland3, most of these are 19th century records and not pertinent to finding our Samuel who lived 100 years earlier.

And of course earlier researchers seem to be as confused as we are, as evidenced by this note by a wonderful, but stymied researcher named Mrs. Layton:

"A genealogist who did Maryland research, named Mrs. Layton, gave all of her research papers to the Maryland Historical Society4 and one of the archivists copied this for me: "From Layton File G5077 Box 9 - Believe Bradford’s in W. PA and MD before the line was settled; but not those in Cecil Co, MD, and Delaware.  Possibly those in Red Lion arrived while Delaware was part of PA.  Looks like Delaware Bradford’s were of William Bradford of the PA line, while the Cecil Co Bradford’s were of the William Bradford line from Massachusetts. What happened to Samuel who died in 1767, had a son William? Was Samuel who died 1782 the son of Samuel who died in 1767? Or was he the son of William, the grandson of Samuel who died in 1767? Samuel of Red Lion, DE, might prove to be the son of William of Sussex - Bradford Hall is not far from Reheboth-Angola, DE, where William lived." (If anyone can make sense of the preceding paragraph, you are better than me – Donna)

Other researchers have spent untold hours trying to find more information about Red Lion Sam, but to no avail. However, with more genealogical records being made available all the time (especially through Family Search and Ancestry), I have not lost hope. I invite all you great members of the Miller-Bradford Genealogy group to join in the search for our wonderful Red Lion Sam.

Here is the newest challenge that I think we might all consider. Let’s trace the paternal lines forward from Red Lion Sam in hopes of finding a current descendant who is willing to participate in the Bradford DNA study (  In fact, if you know of a descendant of one of Rebecca’s brothers, or in some other way think you know of, or are, a descendant of Red Lion Sam, please let us know!

I think the DNA kit costs somewhere between $100 and $200, and I would imagine that if this person could be found, there are many of you in this Miller-Bradford Group who would be willing to kick in a few bucks towards paying for the test. I understand it is just requires an easy swab from the inside of the mouth.

Due to the scarceness of colonial records, and the nearly complete lack of records of Northern Ireland during that era, this may be the only way we will ever be able to trace this particular line. And who knows? Perhaps this Samuel Bradford will finally be our link to the Governor! Let me know what you all think!

Dragon Run Marsh is home to an amazing variety of birds
such as this Common Yellowthroat


2.  “Through much of the colonial period, New Castle served as a major port of entry for ships from the British Isles. Because Delaware was part of the British Empire, the journey was considered to be one of internal migration, which did not require the same (or apparently any!!) type of record keeping as did immigration from a foreign country. Thus, few passenger lists exist. Genealogists should not expect to find information in Delaware sources for ancestors who entered through New Castle but immediately passed on to another colony.

Another complicating factor for the study of early Delaware ancestors concerns boundary lines. The boundaries of Delaware did not reach their present configuration until 1760, due primarily to the long battle over control of much of this territory waged by the Penn family of Pennsylvania and the Calvert family of Maryland. It is always wise to check the records of both these states plus Virginia when researching Delaware families, for although Delaware is a small state it is part of a peninsula. Many families migrated more than once within the Delmarva Peninsula. The small size of Delaware and its rich history provide genealogical researchers with special opportunities (I think they mean that as a euphemism for “ridiculous and uber-challenging research problems!). A significant number of its early records have been published or microfilmed, while others are easily accessible in the state's major genealogical collections.”

4.    I am indebted to Bradford researcher, Shirley Ramsey, for this copy. After receiving it, I researched the rest of Mrs. Layton’s records held at the Marilyn Historical Society, and they shed no further light on Red Lion Sam, other than what we already know of him.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.