The Bradley family which became prominent in Cleveland appears in Erie and Lorain Counties, Ohio in the early to mid 1800's. The earliest known ancestor was George Bradley, born abt. 1687, and died April 20, 1741 in Tolland, Tolland, Connecticut. He married Hannah Braman May 28, 1717 in Tolland or Lebanon, daughter of Thomas Braman and Hannah Fisher. She was born September 2, 1690 in Norton, Massachusetts. For more information about this family, see Mrs. Grant Rideout's Ancesters and Descendants of Morris A. Bradley (privately printed Cleveland 1948) or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

George Bradley and Hannah Braman had eight children:

George Bradley, born July 8, 1718 in Tolland, Tolland, Connecticut. He married Mary.

Hanah Bradley, born December 18, 1719 in Tolland.

Mary Bradley, born April 11, 1722 in Tolland.

Jane Bradley, born February 16, 1722/23 in Tolland.

Jabez Bradley, born February 18, 1726/27 in Tolland; died September 14, 1758. He married Hannah Bush December 15, 1749 in Tolland; died June 30, 1797. Jabez served in the French & Indian War.

Henry Bradley, born May 3, 1729 in Tolland. He married Silence Meacham, who was born in Somers.

Jonah Bradley, born March 5, 1732/33 in Tolland; died March 16, 1745/46 in Tolland.

George and Hannah's sixth child, Josiah Bradley, was born May 12, 1730 in Tolland. He married Elizabeth Edson November 19, 1752 in Stafford, Tolland, Connecticut. She died before 1815. He probably grew up in Tolland, but later moved to East Windsor, where in 1753 his first child was born. On March 26, 1755

Josiah bought land in Ellington, in which deed he is said to be "of Stafford." Evidently he did not occupy this at once as he resided in East Windsor from 1753 to 1779; toward the end of his life he spent some time in Tyringham, Massachusetts. His gravestone states that Josiah was one hundred years old. This gravestone is not to be depended on, as the Vital Records of East Windsor and Ellington prove his age to be ninety-six.

Children of Josiah Bradley and Elizabeth Edson were:

Josiah Bradley, born December 19, 1753.

Elizabeth Bradley, born April 16, 1756. She married ? Nelson.

Esther Bradley, born August 20, 1760.

Sarah Bradley, born February 28, 1764.

Eli Bradley, born April 27, 1766; died June 17, 1842 in Suffield, Ohio. He married Hannah; died December 12, 1861. The couple is buried in Garfield Cemetery, Sheffield Twp, Lorain County, Ohio.

Elisha Bradley, born October 29, 1770.

Reuben Bradley was born April 26, 1758 in East Windsor, Hartford, Connecticut, and died April 1828 in Ellington, Tolland, Connecticut. He married (1) Grace Hills April 14, 1785 in Ellington, Tolland, Connecticut, daughter of Elijah Hills and Grace Mariner. She was born January 29, 1768 in Colchester, and died November 15, 1814 in Ellington, Tolland, Connecticut. He married (2) Hannah abt. 1816. She outlived Reuben. Reuben Bradley was a soldier in the Revolution, and with his brother, Josiah, marched from East Windsor on the Lexington Alarm. He also served in the 22nd regiment, Capt. Abial Pease's company in 1776. In 1778 he enlisted at West Springfield, Mass., and served in Colonel Gratton's regiment, General Nixon's Brigade, in the Massachusetts line of the Continental Army, and in May, 1781, he enlisted in Colonel Canfield's regiment in the Connecticut Line.

Reuben's children by Grace Hills were:

Leonard Bradley. See below.

Huldah Bradley, born November 6, 1785; died before November 9, 1821. She married John Lewis Newell June 9, 1821.

Clarissa Bradley, born October 16, 1788.

Jason Bradley, born August 29, 1794; died April 20, 1878. He married Hannah Moe June 5, 1825 in Avon, Lorain, Ohio; born 1801; died August 30, 1851. In his death notice Jason has the title "Dr.". Their home was in Dover, now Westlake, Ohio. They settled there before 1835. Both Jason and Hannah are buried in Avon Center Cemetery in Lorain County.

Grace Bradley, born August 19, 1797. Sometimes her name appears as Polly.

Betsey Bradley, born October 30, 1800.

Austen Bradley, born October 30, 1803. He may have been in Camden Twp, Lorain.

Reuben and his second wife Hannah had one child:

John Bradley, born 1817. He may be the John Bradley who died in Dover, Ohio. In Avon Center (Mounds) Cemetery, Avon Township, Lorain County is the following:

BRADLEY             Dr. John M., d June 30, 1856, 40y, GAR

                        Hannah, wife, d Aug 30, 1851, 50y

                        Ada May, dau, ---Gray---1869

Leonard Bradley (Reuben's eldest) was born November 4, 1791 in Ellington, Tolland, Connecticut, and died May 3, 1875 in Brownhelm Twp, Lorain County, Ohio. He married (1) Roxanna Thrall, daughter of William Thrall. The date of this marriage has not been found, but proof of it is established in William Thrall's will, probated in 1851, in which document he bequeaths "To my daughter Roxanna Bradley, one hundred dollars." Her name is mentioned in a list of pioneer women who came to Ohio in or before the year 1840. Roxanna died February 25, 1858 at her home in Brownhelm Twp. Leonard married (2) Emily Thompson May 14, 1862, widow of William Nye, of Onondago (sic) County, New York, and daughter of John Thompson, who was of Scotch birth and ancestry. She died September 21, 1885. Leonard was a soldier in the War of 1812, serving in Captain Strong's Company of Connecticut Militia, from Aug. 18, to October 26, 1814. For this service he received two warrants for Bounty Lands. On April 5, 1871, Leonard Bradley, "aged 78 years", applied for a pension under the act of 14 February, 1871. This was granted and he received the sum of eight dollars per month. Members of this family are buried in Rugby Cemetery, Brownhelm Twp. It is thought Leonard Bradley moved from Connecticut to Ohio about 1817 or 1819, located land in present day Lorain County, then returned to Connecticut and brought his wife and family to Ohio. Leonard and Josiah Bradley are listed on an 1824 tax list for Lorain County as residents. However, his first recorded purchase of land was in 1826, when he acquired lot 64 in Brownhelm, and later also possessed lot 65.

Leonard and his son Alva are written up in the Cleveland Special Limited Edition, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago & New York, 1918, v. 1 pg. 231.

            "In 1823 the Bradley family gave up a home among the barren hills of New England and started for the new Connecticut of Ohio. A wagon carried them to Albany, New York, whence they journeyed by canal boat to Buffalo, and there took a small sailing vessel which carried them the rest of the way to Cleveland."

Children of Leonard Bradley and Roxanna Thrall are:

Alva Bradley, born November 27, 1814 in Connecticut. Alva is the famous Bradley – he was one of the foremost figures in the shipping industry of the Great Lakes. He began as a sailor before the mast, was a vessel master many years, and built and owned boats until the Bradley fleet was one of the largest under individual management on the lakes. With all due credit to her other sources of prosperity Cleveland is primarily a great port of commerce, and it would not be easy to over emphasize the part played by Captain Bradley in building up these transportation interests. In 1851 Alva Bradley married Helen M. Burgess, of Milan, Ohio. Her father was John Burgess of Milan. Mrs. Bradley died August 26, 1896. As a side note, Alva Bradley was friends with Thomas Alva Edison's parents – guess where Edison's middle name came from?

William Bradley, born May 10, 1826 in Ohio; died December 1, 1901. He married Alvira Washburn February 14, 1858; born February 3, 1838; died February 22, 1921. The family is buried in Rugby Cemetery, Brownhelm Township.

Julia Bradley, born April 10, 1832 in Ohio; died February 15, 1899 in Brownhelm Twp. Burial: Rugby Cemetery, Brownhelm Twp. Perhaps she never married.

Sheldon Bradley is the lost member of the Bradley family. He was born in Connecticut, probably to one of Leonard Bradley's brothers. Sheldon married Elizabeth Shoop July 11, 1839 in Lorain County, Ohio, daughter of Henry John Shoop and Mary Barbara Koller. She was born September 1823 in Bucks Co, Pennsylvania, and died 1901 in Vermillion, Erie, Ohio.

The two books previously listed in this article presume that Betsey Bradley was a daughter of Leonard Bradley. This is in error: Betsey was the widow of Sheldon Bradley – a marriage record can be found in Erie County, Ohio.

The History of Cuyahoga County, Ohio has one reference to Sheldon: "This venture in ship-building he [Alva] followed with others of a similar character, after transferring the "South America" to his cousin, Sheldon Bradley, who sailed her one season, and the next, with all on board, went down with her in a storm."

October 3, 1842, Sheldon Bradley was listed as Managing Owner and Captain of the schooner Dayton operating out of Buffalo, NY. The Dayton was sold on May 6, 1843, maybe in favor of the newer and larger schooner South America. On her fateful journey, the South America carried a cargo of salt from Buffalo to Toledo. She left Buffalo on October 14 or November 4, 1843 and was never seen again. The wooden two-masted schooner disappeared, probably in a squall, on Lake Erie. It is not known where she went down. Six lives were lost. Reportedly, during a foggy night the schooner, still under sail and with her crew of six, was sighted by another schooner four years later. The sailors who saw the reincarnated South America had no doubt of what passed in front of their eyes. Sailors considered her to be a "ghost ship" and she was reported seen on many occasions after the accident.

After Sheldon died, Elizabeth married John Rohrbacker and moved to Indiana, later Michigan with Sheldon's two little girls.


Provided by Ann Marr