Trumbold Families

John William Bradney


John William Bradney was born February 20, 1832, in Adams County, Ohio, to Thomas and Barbara Morris Bradney.  According to his obituary, he came with his family to Illinois at the age of nine (1841).


The 1850 Illinois census (September 25) for Brown County Township 1S R4W (Lee) shows John still living with his parents:

     Thomas J. Bradney, 45, Farmer, value of $800 real estate, born Ohio

          Barbary, 34, born Ohio

          John, 18, farmer, born Ohio

          George, 16, born Ohio

          Charles, 6, born Illinois

          Frances A., 2, born Illinois

          Barbary Davis, 83, born Virginia (Barbara’s mother)


In our notebook is a Reward of Merit from his teacher at Walker's Neck, Illinois, dated 1851.


John Goes to Minnesota


In 1855, as a single man 23 years old, he went with his family to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a wagon.  His mother died along the way near Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.  His father soon remarried Harriet Blake Day Baker in Minneapolis on January 17, 1856.


Sylvester Bradney, his brother, writes the following in a letter dated December 16, 1855, from Hennepin County, Minnesota Territory to his sister, Elizabeth Campbell, in Clayton, Illinois:  "John & George have taken a claim 1.5 miles from me containing 140 acres.  It is an Island in the Mississippi river and they have built a house on it and live there.  Their claim will be valuable in time for they was offered as good as two hundred dollars for it as soon as they went on it but they are getting dissatisfied.  John says he will go back in the spring. "


On December 23, 1855, George Bradney writes to Elizabeth:  "We are liveing on an island in the mississippi.  a first rate place to make money for the present.  John is liveing with us, we expect to go to our work in the spring again."   He says to direct letters to Highland Park, Hennepin County, MT (Minnesota Territory).


John writes to his sister, Elizabeth, on February 24th, 1856 from Minneapolis, Minnesota:  "Dear Brother and Sister, I received your very welcome letter on the 21 and was glad to hear that you  were all well   Our folks are all well at  present   I feel ashamed of myself to think that I did not write to you oftener  I wrote you one letter but did not get any answer but I ought to write to you again.  I neglected my duty and your (sic) must excuse me.  I had got ready to come down there last fall but I was persuaded to stay and try it until spring.  We have had some pretty jumped up cold snaps here I tell you the thermometer has stood 44 de. below zero  If you want your tows and ears froze come to Minnesota  I have had my toes froze and the handle on my face but we have had some fine weather for some ten days  the ice is melting in the river  there has been about 14 in. Mow all winter  This is a pretty tight country to get along in labor is scarce and provisions high  flour is $12 barrel   pork $30 a barrel corn $100 wheat $170 oats $150  I think Illinois beats this country for raising grain as far as I have seen but I never saw better potatoes and turnips than they raise here and all kinds of garden stuff  I saw larger pumpkins here than I ever saw in Illois (sic)   I suppose you have heard enough good things about minnesota and so I will stop.  You wished to know what we were all kicking at since we have been here.


Father has got him a good peice (sic) of land about thirteen miles up the river from St. Anthony  it is mostly prairie there is some timber on it  he has about 40 acres broke on it he has been geting (sic) along pretty well since he has been here thoug (sic) he has lost one of his horses a few days ago  he has been up on the St. Peters river peddling goods lately  I have not seen him since he has got back  I dont know how he has made it   The children have been staying at Mr. Goodridges since we came here until about six weeks ago when Father found him a wife and went to house keeping.   She is a young woman about twenty six and appears like a fine woman and I think she treats the children very well.  ...Now I suppose you would like to know what has become of me  Well I will tell you I have got to be somebody this winter  I am keeping Old Batch on my claim about a half mile from John Greens on the Mississippi River  I have been shoreing the plane some and sparking some and the duce knows what all  Tell Charley I wish him many long and happy days with  sis? new? Ril?...tell him i will shortly follow him in the good cause (but I dont think I will emigrate over into the State of matrimony before I go to Illinois.  I am sorry I did not stay there when I was there but I was persuaded to come away  Tell Thomas Adams I wish I had stayed and worked with him last summer  And now sister Elizabeth I am comeing in the spring and I will bring Franki along to stay with you  She wants to see you very much but she thinks she never will see you but I will bring her in the spring when I come for I do not want to have my only two sisters separated  I am comeing to make Illinois my home  I feel as though I had rather be separated from my Father and brothers than my kind sister for I have never had so much trouble in all my life as I have had since I have came here  I have had no kind Mother and sister to go to see since I have been here although I ought to be satisfied  I have had very good health since I have been here...I shall not start until sometime in May."


John Returns to Illinois


John apparently did return to Illinois in the spring of 1856.   Sylvester writes on July 6th, 1856 from St. Cloud, Minnesota:  "...Tell Brother John if he is in them parts to come here immediately if he possibily can there is more work than the carpenters can do  wages is good  carpenters get 2.5 & 3 dollar pr day  I am very anxious to hear from John as I have not heard anything from him since he left and am afraid something has befallen him  if he is in your parts tell him to write to me immediately without fail... "


Sylvester writes again September the 22nd, 1856 from Minnesota:  "George got a letter from John a few days ago which gave him good encouragement to go back  I received one from John at the same time I got yours  it appears John is doing well and is perfectly at abode in old brown county.  I am sorry John left so soon if he had staid a little while longer and prompted (promoted?) his claim he could have sold it for 500 dollars at least.  I dont expect it could be got for 1000 dollars now but porter swindled the boys out of the claim  he could never have prompted it if it had not been for some others meddling with business that did not concern them... "


John Bradney married Caroline Long in Brown County on October 28, 18581.  He was 26 and she was 15 or 16 years old.  Caroline Long was the only child of her parents’ second marriages.  Her father, Tobias Long, also had children with Jane Crozier.  Her mother, Jane Findley Shirley Long, had children with Thomas Shirley.  Therefore, Caroline had an extended family of brother and sisters, several of whom came to Illinois with their parents.  She apparently corresponded with her Pennsylvania half-brothers and sister as some letters exist.  [See Long outline descendant tree at the bottom of the page.]

Tobias Long, Caroline's father, died on December 8, 1859.  His will is dated June 8, 1859 and is on file at the Brown County, Illinois, courthouse in Mt. Sterling.  The following children are mentioned:  Caroline Bradney, John Long, Susan Stiffey, Christina Long, Jane Smith, William Long (deceased) and Tobias Long (deceased).  The farm and land was willed to Caroline Bradney as follows:  "West half of the east half of the SE 1/4 of sec 32 in Twp. #1 South (Lee) range 4 west of the fourth principal meridian".  John Bradney, son-in-law, was executor of the will.


John and Caroline Bradney had their six children in Lee Township, Brown County, Illinois, from 1859 through 1879: 

Clarissa Jane, born December 1, 1859

Elmer Ellsworth, born January 3, 1864

Larkin, born December 4, 1871

Anna Lorraine, born September 5, 1875

Humbert, born September 1, 1877

Mabel, born August 19, 1879


The 1860 Illinois census (taken August 8, 1860) shows that John and Caroline lived in Lee Township with their daughter "C. J." (Clarissa Jane) who was six months old.  John is listed as a carpenter with his real estate valued at $600 and his personal property at $300.  Their Post Office is shown as Walker's Neck in Section 18.  Jane Long (Caroline's mother) is also living with John and Caroline.


John and Family Go Back to Minnesota


Apparently John and Caroline returned to Minnesota in the summer of 1865 with their 2 young children (Clarissa, age 5 and Elmer, age 1 year) and stayed for a year.  Sylvester writes to Elizabeth August 20th, 1865 from Dayton, Minnesota:  "Johns are well has bought a splendid piece of land 80 acres with a good sugar camp on it laying 2.5 miles from us on two cross roads good spring on it as good land as I ever saw anywhere well timbered two miles from Dayton on the Mississippi over at the mouth of the crow river two and a half miles from the realroad depot--cost him 1000 dollars..."

John and Caroline were still in Dayton, Houston County, Minnesota on May 26th 1866 because TJ Bradney, John's father, wrote to them then.  However, a letter from Sylvester to TJ written from Brown County Illinois on October 17, 1866 says:  "We are again in Ill and all well hoping sincerely this will find you and all well  We arrived here a little over a week ago after a tedious journey of 5 weeks lacking one day.  John and us came together we were all well and hearty on the road  We were packed up to leave Minn by water the 20th of August but the cholera being pretty bad on the river at that time it confused us some about starting then and we concluded probably that it would be best to get teams and go by land as it would be apt to be pleasant at that time of year  so we started out and got us a yoke of oxen apiece and wagons fitted up and left Minn the 3 of Sept  for the first hundred miles had a pleasant time then it set in raining and for two weeks our wagon covers was never dry  the road got desperate bad and our progress was very slow but we finally got here without accident   found the friends all well and generally in fine spirits  we are at Father Meservys  ...John has not bought him a place yet but I rather think he will buy a 40 that lays close to where I have my place joins Father Meservy  I thought when we first went back to Minn we would settle down but John was not satisfied and began to fix to get away and early in the spring I lost my sorrel mare and colt which left me in a bad shape for horses were high and I was not able to buy another  so I resolved to sell our for I could not look ahead with any great satisfaction to settle down so far north anyhow."


Back to Illinois to Stay


They returned to Brown County in mid-1866 and on January 5, 1867, Alonson Nokes sold 1.5 acres for $100 to John W. Bradney who later bought more property around this land which adjoined the Nokes property.  Their two children, Elmer E. Bradney and Dora May Nokes, were neighbors and were later married (1892).


On March 8, 1869, he bought what became the "Old Bradney Place" south of Timewell2  from John Jennings for $1200.  He and Caroline would live here the rest of their lives.  The Bradney children also stayed in Brown County for most of their lives and John's son, Humbert, continued to farm the land. [See map of Bradney and Long land at the bottom of the page.]


The 1870 (July 1) Illinois census for Lee Township, Brown County, shows

     John Bradney, 38, farmer, real estate valued at $2500, personal property at $100, born in Ohio

          Caroline, 27, keeps house, born in Penn.

          E. E., 6, born in Ill.

Clarissa would have been 10 years old but is not listed here.  Perhaps she was overlooked or staying with relatives.


The listing just above this is for Alonson Nokes and the ones immediately following are for H. M. Crabb, George Bradney, and Thomas and Oliver Bradney.


The 1880 Illinois census for Brown County, Lee Township (page 7) taken in June 1880 lists

     John Bradney, 48, carpenter, born Ohio, father born Ohio, mother born Ohio

          Caroline, 38, wife, born Penn., father born Penn., mother born Penn.

          Clara, 20, dau, born Ill., father born Ohio, mother born Penn.

          Elmer, 16, son, born Ill., father born Ohio, mother born Penn.

          Lorraine (Anna Lorraine), 4, dau, Ill., father born Ohio, mother born Ohio (?)

          Humbert, 2, son, born Ill., father born Ohio, mother born Penn.

          Mabel, 9/12, dau, born Ill., father born Ohio, mother born Penn.


On August 12, 1881 he bought an adjoining 25 acres3 from Daniel Lucas for $300. 


On December 1, 1881 John mortgaged the original 102.57 acres of his land (W1/2 SW1/4) to Aetna Life Insurance Company for $5004.  This mortgage was paid off in January 1887 and released on December 27, 18945.  


On December 8, 1881, John buys 25.5 acres also adjoining his property from Peter Smith and Jane Smith for $5006.


John Bradney maintained an apple orchard on 25 acres of his property and sold barrels of apples throughout the Midwest.  He also ran a saw mill and threshing outfit.


On the 28th of September, 1888, John and Caroline Bradney sold 50 acres7 to their son, E. E. Bradney, for $1000.  Don Trumbold was told by Dona Bradney that John's son, Elmer Ellsworth, helped his father pay off the farm and, therefore, received this 52.5 acres from his father.  We have an 1889 tax receipt showing that John W. Bradney paid the taxes on this land.  Elmer Ellsworth and Dora May Nokes Bradney were married in 1892 and they raised their children on this property.  Their house was across the creek from John's house.


Caroline died at home, south of Timewell, on November 4, 1895.


The 1900 Federal census shows John, aged 68, and his daughter, Mabel, in Lee Township.  Elmer and his family lived nearby.


John William Bradney died on May 11, 1912, in Brown County and is buried in the Fargo Cemetery with his wife.


Source Notes


1.      Brown County, Illinois, Marriage Licenses (License #734, Book A&B, page 145).

2.      Brown County, Illinois, Deeds, #19383, Filed June 20, 1881, page 126 (102.57 acres of land -W1/2 SW1/4 of Section 30 in Lee Township).

3.      Brown County, Illinois, Deeds, #19585, Filed October 6, 1881, page 98 (W1/2 of NE1/4 of SW1/4 of Section 30 in Lee Township).

4.      Brown County, Illinois, Deeds, #19780, Filed December 8, 1881, Book 42, page 267.

5.      Brown County, Illinois, Deeds, #30545, Filed January 1895, page 166.

6.      Brown County, Illinois, Deeds, #20030, Filed March 1, 1882, page 218 (E1/2 NE1/4 of SW1/4 of Section 30 in Lee Township).

7.      Brown County, Illinois, Deeds, #44684, Filed March 23, 1907, page 198 (NW1/4 of SW1/4 of Section 30 in Lee Township).

Caroline and John William Bradney
Mabel, Anna, Humbert, John W. and Caroline Bradney
Bradney Apple Orchard
Lee Township Plat Map