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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography - Col. Daniel Bradley

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878


Col. DANIEL BRADLEY, a former prominent resident of the city of Champaign, was born at Roxbury, Massachusetts, now included within the city limits of Boston, October 1st, 1835. His ancestors were among the earliest Puritan settlers of New England. His grandfather, Daniel BRADLEY, served in the war of the Revolution, holding the position of quartermaster in the American army. His father, Gen. Edward BRADLEY, was born at Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1799; he was for many years a prominent resident of Boston; he amassed a fortune in the commission business, from which he retired about the year 1850; his death occurred in 1876, at Flushing, Long Island, and his remains are now interred in Greenwood cemetery, Brooklyn. Sarah DAVIS, the mother of the subject of this sketch, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1808, and belonged to an old and wealthy Massachusetts family; her death took place in 1864. Daniel BRADLEY was the youngest of four children. His education was begun in the schools of Boston and completed at Havre, France. Before he was twenty-one years of age he had visited the Pacific Coast of the United States and various foreign countries, including China and different parts of Europe. He determined to make his home in the west, and in the year 1856 came to Chicago. While in that city he learned of the new town of Champaign, just then starting into vigorous growth after the completion of the Illinois Central railroad, and meeting a young man named Chisholm the two concluded to embark in the mercantile business in that place. Accordingly in the fall of 1856 Col. Bradley and his partner established a general store, one of the first ever opened in Champaign, and for two years carried on the mercantile business successfully. On the dissolution of the firm Mr. Chisholm returned to Canada, and Col. Bradley began the practice of law. He was subsequently elected police magistrate of Champaign, and was one of the first to hold that office. He pursued his legal studies in the office of McKinley and Jones, a leading law firm of Champaign, and had qualified himself for admission to the bar when the breaking out of the rebellion drove all thoughts of law practice from his mind, and made him resolve to do all in his power to aid the government in its efforts to preserve the integrity of the country. He was one of the first to enlist, and was elected first lieutenant of the first company of volunteers which ever went from Champaign county, which afterward became Company A, 20th Illinois regiment. Col. Wolfe was captain, and Major Kennard the second lieutenant of the company which was mustered in at Joliet and dispatched to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. His regiment was attached to Gen. Logan's command all through the war, and won for itself a patriotic and honorable record in the various movements and engagements of that part of the army. Col. Bradley took part in the battles of Shiloh, Magnolia, and Raymond. At the siege of Vicksburg his regiment and company were the first to enter the city after its surrender, and at Atlanta his command was almost annihilated. After this battle he served for a time on Gen. Leggett's staff. After reading Cape Girardeau he had been appointed adjutant, a position which he held for three months. November, 1861, he was commissioned as captain, and April 3d, 1863, as major. He subsequently served as lieutenant-colonel, and Jan. 5th, 1863, was commissioned as colonel. His regiment was cut to pieces at Atlanta, a mere fragment surviving the battle, and partly by reason of the sickness of his wife, and partly with the intention of recruiting another regiment, he returned to Illinois. The raising of another regiment at that late stage of the war was found to be difficult, and consequently he sent in his resignation in the summer of 1864, and was honorably discharged on the 13th of February, 1865. About the same time that he resigned his name was sent in on the list of promotions to the rank of general, and his resignation alone prevented the making out of his commission. His marriage to Miss Kate ROGERSON took place on the 23d of January, 1861, but a few months previous to his enlistment in the army. Mrs. Bradley was born at Perth, Upper Canada, September 1st, 1839. She was the daughter of William ROGERSON, who became a resident of the city of Champaign in July, 1855, and who established the first lumber yard in the city, and the first store ever opened west of the Illinois Central railroad track; he died in the year 1856. By this marriage there have been eight children, of whom seven (Edward and Daniel, who are twins, William R., Kate E., Elsie F., Horatio G. and Agnes C.) are now living. After his return from the army Col. Bradley established himself in business at Tolono, where he carried on the mercantile business from 1865 till 1868, a Mr. Colyer, a portion of the time, being his partner. His store was destroyed by fire in the fall of 1868. From the fall of 1869 to that of 1870 he was at Burlington, Iowa, acting as assistant superintendent of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. On his return from Burlington he went into the law office of James S. JONES, soon afterward was admitted to practice, and, with Mr. Jones as partner, engaged in the legal profession. In the year 1872 he was chosen justice of the peace, but resigned the office soon afterward. The following year he purchased a farm within the limits of the city of Champaign, and in 1874 moved on it with his family. His natural inclinations well fitted him for agricultural pursuits, and in raising fine cattle he found greater delight and satisfaction than in any other pursuit in which he had ever engaged. He devoted himself especially to the breeding of Holstein and jersey cattle and Berkshire hogs. He was the first to introduce Holstein cattle into the state. In securing the finest breeds he spared no trouble, and expended a great deal of money. At the great Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, in 1876, he received medals and diplomas for the excellence of his displays. His Holstein cattle also carried off the first premiums at every state fair at which they were ever exhibited. To. Col. Bradley is mostly due the establishment of the homestead loan and building associations of Champaign. Of the first association of this kind he was secretary and solicitor, from the date of its organization till that of his death. Col. Bradley was a man of tall but slender frame, with a bearing which marked him as one of nature's noblemen. He possessed an energetic nature and strong will. Indeed every quality of his mind partook of that liberality, generosity, and nobility which characterizes the true man. He was refined and sensitive in his feelings, and in his manner retiring and reserved. An acquaintance with him was not easily formed, but when once cemented the bond of friendship was never broken. His disposition was cheerful and hopeful, and to the circle of his intimate friends and acquaintances he displayed social qualities of a rare order. In his deportment he displayed the characteristics of the perfect gentleman, and his conduct never outstepped the bounds of the strictest morality. His warm domestic feelings made him a sympathetic and indulgent husband and father. His family attachments were strong and constant, and his highest delight and happiness were found in the home circle. His mental powers were of an unusually strong and vigorous order. He had received a thorough education; and his wide experience and travels and habits of close and comprehensive reading gave him a fund of information which made him a ready and accurate conversationalist on any subject. As a public speaker few men excelled him. His language was ornate and elegant, while his argument was concise, and reasoning strong. His fellow members of the legal profession universally conceded that, had he continued the active practice of law, he would have reached a position of the brightest honor and distinction. As a soldier he was brave and daring, winning his successive promotions by conspicuous courage and marked personal ability. And his moral courage was equal to his physical. He never hesitated to express an opinion on any subject, or to take a stand on any political or moral question simply because his views differed from those of the majority. He was an early member of the Republican party, and took an active part in political campaigns previous to the war. For the last few years of his life he took no active part in politics, and in 1872 declined a nomination as state senator on the Liberal ticket. He died June 3d, 1878, and his remains now repose in Mt. Hope cemetery. He was buried with military and Masonic honors.

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