Trumbold Families

Thomas Jefferson Bradney


Thomas Jefferson Bradney is one of the more interesting characters in our family history.  In his 76 years, he married three times (at ages 23, 51, and 71), had 14 children, and wandered through Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Indiana.  Dorothy Binkley (a grand-niece) gathered much of the early information on TJ and other Bradney relatives, much of which is validated by documents.  My parents and I researched his last two wives and his children.


Thomas Jefferson Bradney was born in 1804, at the height of President Jefferson's popularity and the year of the Louisiana Purchase.  He was the third oldest child of William and Elizabeth


TJ apparently told the census taker for the 1880 Missouri census that he was born in Ohio although other records indicate he was born in Virginia.  We believe that his parents moved to Jacksonville, Athens County, Ohio when he was a small boy.  We have found no records to confirm the actual date of the move.


Thomas Starts a Family


On January 31, 1827, he married Barbara Ann Morris, daughter of Pearson and Barbara Morris, in Adams County, Ohio1.  They had six children there:

            Sylvester Thomas (born January 17, 1828)

            Elizabeth Ann (born October 26, 1829)

            John William (born February 20, 1832)

Mary Jane (born August 30, 1834)

George Harrison (born February 29, 1836)

Sanford A. (born April 25, 1840)

 The 1830 census shows the young family in Meigs Township, Adams County, Ohio with one male 20-30 (TJ, 26), one female 15-20 (Barbara, 19), 1 male under 5 (Sylvester, 2), and one female under 5 (Elizabeth, 1).

In the 1840 census, TJ and family are still in Meigs Township but the family has grown to:    

1 male 30-40 (TJ)    

1 male under 5 (George, 4)    

1 male 5-10 (John, 8)    

1 male 10-15 (Sylvester 12)     

1 female 20-25 (Barbara , 29)    

1 female 10-15 (Elizabeth, 11)    

1 female 70-80 (Barbara Davis, 73, Barbara's mother)    

This should have also listed Mary Jane, age 6.

In 1841 this family moved to a farm in Lee Township near Timewell/Fargo/Buckhorn, Illinois, in Brown County where he and Barbara had four more children:

James A. (born December 12, 1843)

Charles W. (born October 19, 1845)

Frances Anna (born December 18, 1848)

Louis Quincy (born September 20, 1851)


Three of the youngsters died (Mary Jane in 1835; Sanford and James in1844) leaving seven who grew to adulthood.  TJ engaged in farming while in Brown County.


The 1850 Illinois census for Brown County Township 1S R4W (Lee)2 lists:

     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)


The families are apparently staying close together.  The next family listed is:

     James Campbell, 24, farmer, born Kentucky

          Elizabeth, 21, born Ohio (TJ's oldest daughter)

          John, 4/12, born Illinois


The next family listed is

     Thomas S. Bradney (Sylvester, TJ's oldest son), 23 farmer, $500 value of real estate, born Ohio

          Elizabeth, 19, born Vt. (Meservey)

          James, 1/12, born Illinois


The next family listed is Joseph Meservey's (Sylvester's father-ion-law).


TJ moves to Minnesota


We are fortunate to have typewritten copies of nineteen letters written by TJ or his sons from 1855 - 1879 to his son, John, and his daughter, Elizabeth Campbell.  Through these we are able to track him as he moved around the Midwest seeking success in farming. [Highlights of the letters are shown at the end of this page.]


In 1855 he and his family went to Hennepin County, Minnesota, in a wagon pulled by oxen.  Traveling in this group were TJ, Barbara, and the younger children in their family - Frances Anna (nicknamed Frankie, age 7) and Louis Quincy (nicknamed Quince, age 4) - along with Sylvester Thomas (age 27) and his wife Elizabeth, John William (age 23), and George Harrison (age 19).  We do not know definitely whether Charles W. (age 10) went with the family because there is no mention of him in the letters.  We assume he stayed in Illinois (Clayton) with his sister, Elizabeth Ann, who by this time was married to James Campbell.  Most of the letters that describe the trip and life in Minnesota were written by Sylvester or TJ to this Elizabeth Campbell.  We also do not know why this family would have decided to leave Illinois where they had lived for approximately 15 years unless it was the lure of more land.


During the trip to Minnesota, Barbara died on June 12, 1855, near Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and is buried alongside the road.  A letter from TJ informs the children left in Illinois of their mother's death.  He describes the cause of death as pleurisy complicated by a lung problem.  She became ill on June 6 and died 6 days later.


TJ remarries


In January 1856, TJ Bradney married Harriet Blake Day Baker (born July 14, 1828 in Wesley, Maine).  He was 51 trying to care for 2 young children while staking claim to 160 acres of land.  She was 27 with two young children of her own (William and Franklin) from a previous marriage to Charles Baker who died on the way to Minnesota. The Day genealogy3 says that Thomas and Harriet had four children - Barbara Ellen (born March 26, 1857, in MN, James Oliver (born March 9, 1860 in Portsmouth, OH), Joseph Marion (born December 24, 1864 in Mound Station, IL) and Mintie (born in Minneapolis, MN, and who died in childhood in Minnesota).


At some time between March 1857 and the summer of 1860, TJ returned to Ohio.  A pension affidavit suggests that TJ was in Ohio near Wamsley in Scioto County for "6 or 7 years" prior to 1861 (the letters say that TJ was in Minnesota in March 1857).  The 1860 Federal census shows that TJ (65?), Harriet (32), Charles (16), Anna (12), Quincy A. (9), Barbary (3), and James (5/12) were in Jefferson Township, Adams County, Ohio, Post Office Blue Creek4.


TJ Serves in Civil War


During the Civil War, when he was 57 years old, he enlisted in Capt. Robinson's Battery of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery (Company "L") and served under General Shields in Virginia.  He enlisted in Portsmouth, Ohio, on November 6, 1861 as a private (wagoner).  Records say that he was 6'2" with dark hair, dark complexion, and dark eyes. 


He participated in the first battle of Winchester and served in the army for 6 months.  In December 1861 at Camp Denison in Ohio, he hurt his back lifting a bale of hay and in February 1862 at Camp Chase near Paw Paw, Virginia, his wagon ran over him when the horses ran away.   On July 1, 1862, at Fairfax Seminary, Virginia, he was honorably discharged for disability.  We have copies of the records on file at the National Archives regarding TJ's enlistment, service, discharge, and claims for pension.


After his service in the Civil War, he apparently returned to Portsmouth, Ohio where he filed a claim for pension on October 11, 1862. 


In the fall of 1863, he traveled from Ohio to Illinois and served for a short time in the Johnson County, Indiana, home guard (during Morgan's raid through the Midwest).  This is described in his own handwriting on an affidavit requesting a pension.


TJ and Harriet return to Minnesota


Joseph Marion Bradney, the final son of TJ and Harriet, was born in December 1864 in Mound Station [Timewell], Illinois.


By June 17, 1865, TJ is in Brownsville, Minnesota. He did not seem to make a success of finding work although he apparently continued to support his family. There is mention in 1866 by TJ in a letter that Barbary and Ollie had been living in a good place where he was paying board for Olly but that he wanted them to all be together.


Harriet and Joseph are not mentioned in these letters (unless she is the one referred to as the "auld hag" by Louis Quincy) and we do not how and when they separated or were divorced.  It would seem that they separated or should have been divorced between 1865 and 1870.  TJ does consistently mention his two older children with Harriet (Barbara and Oliver, Barbary and Olly) in his letters.  The 1870 census shows Harriet Bradney, 38, living with a family named Reathburn in Brooklyn, Hennepin County, Minnesota.  I am not sure what happened to Joseph Bradney during this time.  The 1880 census shows Joseph, 16, servant to the Cates family in Empire, Dakota County, Minnesota.   The Minneapolis city directory for 1886-1887 shows Harriet Bradney, widow [?], living with Jos. M. Bradney [her son] at 310 4th Avenue S in Minneapolis.


The 1900 and 1910 US censuses show Harriet living as an inmate in the Minnesota Insane Asylum in St. Peter, Ward 2, Nicollet, Minnesota.  The Minnesota Death Index 1908-2002 lists Harriet Bradney�s death on July 25, 1910 at the Nicollet institution.  The 1910 census shows Joseph, age 48, living in San Francisco, California.


Thomas returns to Illinois


Thomas and Oliver Bradney are listed as living together in Lee Township, Brown County, in the 1870 Illinois census taken July 1: 

     Thomas Bradney, 65, farm laborer, no real estate or personal property value, born Va.

      Oliver, 10, born Ohio 

They live next to his other children, George Bradney, John and Caroline Bradney, and Hugh and Frances Crabb.  Although the census taker lists them in a different household, they were perhaps living on John Bradney's land. [Could this have been the case with the Crabbs (TJ's daughter) as well?]


From at least January 29, 1872 through June 15, 1873, TJ was in Chetopa, Kansas.  Apparently Olly was with him.


TJ was back in Brown County, Illinois, in 1875 where he married Amanda Whitley St. Clair on September 23, 18755.  There is also one dated November 10, 18746, which is a mystery).  He was 71 and she was approximately 40.  Amanda had just received her uncontested divorce from her husband, Reuben St. Clair (spelled Sinklear in the IGI index), on September 18.  Reuben had been in the Adams County jail serving a 3-year sentence for larceny since May 1873. 


TJ moves to Missouri with Third Family


By March 1878 he was in Frankford, Missouri, perhaps because Amanda had ties there (she was born in Ralls County, Missouri).  Amanda was the daughter of Willis and Mary (Polly) Swain Whitley.  She first married Reuben Sinklear in Ralls County, Missouri (IGI) in 1855.


Frankford is where his son (Burton or Bert R.) was born in 1878.   TJ's son, James Oliver (age 20), from his second marriage, was living with them in 1879 according to the 1880 census as were Amanda's children by her previous marriage: Mary Sinclair (age 18), Ida Sinclair (age 12), and Jeff (age 9 years or 9 months). 


TJ died in Frankford, Missouri, in 1880 and another letter tells us that his son, Louis Quincy (Quince) Bradney, was with him at the end.  TJ is buried in Frankford's Fairview cemetery. 


The gravestone erected there actually commemorates his first wife as well although she is not buried there.  This may mean that the children of his first wife are responsible for erecting this monument rather than the family he had at his death.  A cousin (Dorothy Binkley) says that Louis Quincy Bradney is the person who made the arrangements for the tombstone.


Amanda F. Bradney continued to receive a pension until at least April 1917 for TJ's 6-month service in the Civil War.  She apparently moved to Hancock County, Illinois, after TJ's death and was living there (Bowenburg?) in 1881.  Amanda is shown in Jackson Township, Lee County Iowa, in the 1900 census.  She is listed with her daughter, Mary Riggs's, family in Denver, Colorado in the 1910 census. In 1917 she shows her address as Holtville, California, when she applied for an increase in her pension.  Amanda was in the Iowa Soldiers Home in Marshall County for the 1920 and 1930 Federal census and the 1925 Iowa Census. Burt Bradney is listed on the 1930 US census as living in Linn, Marshall County, Iowa as an employee of the Iowa Soldiers Home [where his mother is living].  His age is 52 and he was born in Missouri.


Source Notes

1.      Marriage Book #3, 1819 - 1833, Adams County, Ohio, page 151.

2.      1850 Illinois census (September 26) for Brown County Township 1S R4W (Lee), page 157.

3.      The Day genealogy: a record of the descendants of Jacob Day and an incomplete record of Anthony Day, Boston, Mass., Warren Press, 1916, page 124.

4.      US Census, 1860 Roll M653-928, Page 37.

5.      Brown County, Illinois, Marriage Licenses (License #1898) Book C, page 118.

6.      Brown County, Illinois, Marriage Licenses (License #1781) Book C, page 112.




June 24, 1855.      TJ in Minneapolis, Minnesota Territory to Elizabeth Campbell informing her of her mother's death.


Dec 16, 1855.      Sylvester and Elizabeth (Hennepin County, Minnesota Territory) to James and Elizabeth Campbell.  Confirms the death of Barbara Morris Bradney.  Describes his 80 acres of timberland in the school section which is 1 mile from the Mississippi River.  TJ's claim on 160 acres of prairie land is 7 miles from there.  Louis Quincy is at George's and Frankie is at Sylvester's.  John and George have a claim on 140 acres 1.5 miles from them (an island in the Mississippi River).


 Dec. 23, 1855.   George H. (Highland Park PO, Hennepin County, Minnesota Territory) to J & E Campbell


Feb. 24, 1856.    John W. (Minneapolis) to J & E Campbell.  TJ's claim (prairie land) is 13 miles up the river from St. Anthony.  40 acres are �broke�. TJs children are at Mr. Goodridge's since their arrival until 6 weeks ago when TJ set up housekeeping with his new wife, Harriet Day Baker.  Sylvester and George are making rails.


July 6, 1856.        Sylvester (St. Cloud, Stearns County, Minnesota Territory) to J & E Campbell.  They live 60 miles from TJ.  John is back in Illinois.


Sept 22, 1856.    Sylvester (Elm Creek PO, Hennepin County, Minnesota) to J & E Campbell.  Bought 40 acres on the prairie 8 miles from his timberland.


March 29, 1857. Sylvester (Hennepin County, Minnesota) to J & E Campbell. Frankie is still with TJ.


June 17, 1865.    TJ (Brownsville, Houston County, Minnesota) to J & E Campbell.  Rents a small farm which is rough and rocky.  He had been to Fort Madison and Brown County before going to Minnesota.  He wants James to send his things.


August 2, 1865. Sylvester (Dayton, Hennepin County, Minnesota) to J & E Campbell.  Arrived on the 19th from Illinois.  John's are there with 80 acres including a sugar camp, 2.5 miles from Sylvester.  John's land cost $1000.


March 4, 1866.     Louis Quincy (Brownsville, Minnesota) to George and Elizabeth .  "Auld hag" still around in the neighborhood.  TJ adds a PS - He has a chance to put Barbary out to a good place.  He can scarcely make ends meet. He was there last 6 months.


May 26, 1866.       TJ (Brownsville) to John (Dayton, Minnesota).  "Fate has sealed my destruction now."  Broke his collar bone 2 weeks before.   Has no prospects. TJ has sold everything except the household furniture.  He has not seen Barbary and Ollie for 4 weeks.  Both are staying at the same place for which TJ pays board.  Both go to school.  TJ says he must try to keep the children together.  Says to direct mail to Vergen PO, Virnon County, Wisconsin


Oct. 17, 1866.    Sylvester (Buckhorn, Illinois) to TJ.  Sylvester is back in Illinois after a 5 week journey.


Jan. 29, 1872.       TJ (Chetopa, Kansas) to John and Caroline.  Not many prospects.  Asks them to sell his things in Illinois and send the money.


April 2, 1872.        TJ (Chetopa, Labet County, Kansas) to John and Caroline.  He can't understand why no one has sent his things or written to him.  He is anxious about his things.


April 13, 1873.   Louis Quincy (Maple Grove, Minnesota) to John & Caroline. Pap (TJ) was bound for Illinois.  LQ sent him $20.


June 15, 1873.      TJ (Chetopa, Kansas) to John & Caroline.  He is in good health.  Olly is in poor health.  TJ is gardening and farming with an old "dutchman".


March 20, 1874. Frankie (Bethany, Missouri) to TJ (in Kansas).


August 4, 1874. Charles (Bethany, Missouri) to George.  Apparently Pap (TJ) is with George (in Illinois ?).

       Thomas Jefferson Bradney