Another IAGenWeb Project


  The first of the hardy pioneers who found their way to this part of the state located in what is now Bradford Township,   Chickasaw County.  At the time of the advent of first white settlers in that vicinity all the rest of the county,  and the country around,  lay in primitive solitude. Long before any settlement within the boundary of the present county,  or before even the State of Iowa had laid aside her territorial swaddling clothes, an Indian trading post had been established by the Government in the vicinity of the site where Bradford Town was afterwards located. That was about the year 1840. 

  The present county was inhabited by the the tribe of Chickasaw Indians, of whom Bradford was the chief.  The county took its name from the tribe and the township from the chief.   There are persons yet living who remember Bradford,  as he was a familiar old Indian chief in the vicinity for some time after the coming of the first white settlers. 

  The Indian trading post referred to was located about two miles northeast of the present Town of Nashua,  and about one mile from old Bradford.  The post consisted of a log house used as a store, and one or two log cabins.  Peter Schemp was the Indian agent until the Government agency was abandoned about 1850.

  Along about the early '40s the Government contacted a man named Wheeler to break and fence a large body of land in the vicinity of the Indian trading post,  with a view of establishing this as a reservation for a tribe of Winnebago Indians. One informant states that this body of land comprised 400 acres;  another states that there were 2,000 acres in the tract.  The experiment of the Government to encourage Indians to cultivate industrial habits and farming failed The Indians abandoned the "reservation" and removed farther west,  leaving a fine tract of land available to the white settlers.


  It is generally conceded that the distinction of being the first settler within the domain of Bradford Township belongs to Truman Merritt,  who came here with his family in 1848, and settled on the east side of Little Cedar,  near the place afterwards know as Greenwood. He built a rude log cabin for a dwelling and two years later a daughter was born, the first child born in the county.  The daughter grew to womanhood and married Awry Earl.

  About this time a number of other settlers came in and took up land claims on land warrants that had been issued to them as soldiers of the Mexican War. These early settlers  pioneers were fortunate in getting first choice of bottom land that proved to be the very best land in the State of Iowa. (Note: Names of the Mexican War land warrant settlers not mentioned in history book.

   About 1851, some other settlers came into the township among were:   John Bird,  J. A. J. Bird,  and  William Tucker,  followed soon after by,  Edward Gillett,  Edward Jones and his sons Alexander and John, Andrew Sample,  Mr. Case and others.  A son born to Mr. Case,  Elmer by name, born in 1851,  near Greenwood,  enjoys the distinction of being the first white male child born in the county.

  Tradition handed down from early time,  that about 1850 into the county came a man named DeForest, that he was a bachelor and lived as a hermit in the woods.  He was a hunter and trapper and afterward abandoned his hermit life and removed to the Bradford settlement,  where he died.

  The first house was built by J. Watson in the fall of 1850.

  The Bird brothers,  John and J, A, J, settled at the place where the Town of Bradford was subsequently platted.

  In the expectation  of the early settlers,  Bradford was  to become the metropolis of the the west,  a Chicago of the Iowa prairies.  For a time the town grew in population rapidly,   houses, stores and hotels  were built.  The county seat was located there with the first courthouse built in 1854.   The removal of the county seat to New  Hampton in 1857, was the first blow to the prospects of Bradford.  Then a few years later when the first railroad was built through that section of the county and Bradford was left some distance off the right of way,  the finish of Bradford was apparent.  Nashua, a straggling village on the Cedar River, was made a station of the railroad and the people of Bradford moved away, some to Nashua and many followed the county seat to New Hampton.  Bradford became a deserted village and at present there are only a few houses in place and nothing to indicate that there was once here a thriving town with great promise.

History of Chickasaw and Howard Counties (1919) Vol. 1, Chapter 9, Pages 215 to 224
Synopsis of Pages Transcribed by Lookup Person,  Leonard Granger