Bradley ancestors settle early in Conecuh and Covington Counties

Published 5:50 pm Friday, December 4, 2020

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The Bradley family name has been one of significance in Covington County, Ala., about as long as it has existed. Members of the Bradley family came to the Loango community along with their Mitchell family relatives. These families were reviewed in earlier issues of this column, but the Bradley family is mentioned again because of some relatives who settled in the adjacent Conecuh County.

The following is a quote from Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976 regarding the early Bradley family of Loango: “Time erases many things and it has almost erased all earthly evidence of a family that was once among the more prominent politically and financially in Covington County. Mathew Bradley, whose marker records that he died October 27, 1842, at the age of 63 years, 9 months and 21 days, and his wife, Mary, who has only a foot-stone left to mark her grave, were probably the most extensive land owners in the early annuals of the county. Their purchase of land in the Sparta Land Bank Sale was much greater than in any of the others in the county, according to the official records.”

This attests to the significance of this family in the development of the Loango area of Covington County. It also makes known the existence of a small family cemetery commonly known as Bradley-Mitchell Cemetery, which is essentially lost in the present. It is this writer’s understanding that only a few markers have survived and that they have been covered up or lost. He has known of a few local citizens who have been able to visit the site in the past. Fortunately, the larger Mitchell Cemetery which is nearby is well preserved and even used currently on occasions. Several years earlier, this writer had the privilege of attending a service during which the ashes of a young man were buried there who was a member of the seventh generation of the Mitchell family which settled there.

The Bradley ancestor, Matthew, who migrated to Covington County had a first cousin, Samuel Bradley who settled about the same time in the adjacent Conecuh County. They were the sons of brothers, Matthew Bradley Sr. and James Bradley Jr. These brothers were the sons of James Bradley Sr. who is the earliest ancestor found for this family.

James Bradley Sr. was born in the Country of Ireland, but the dates of his birth and death were not found. He was married to Mary Witherspoon, and their children were born in County Down, Ireland, during the 1720s and 1730s. At some point after these dates, the family immigrated to America and eventually settled in South Carolina where James and Mary died. They were the parents of the following children: Samuel Sr., b. 1723, d. 1778, m. 1760 Elizabeth Gordon; John, b. ca 1725; Matthew, b. 1729, d. 1784, m. circa 1770 Margaret ?; Thomas, b. ca 1732, d. ca 1778; and James Jr., b. 1733.

The oldest son, Samuel Bradley Sr., was born in 1723 in County Down, Ireland, and died in 1750 in South Carolina. He was married in South Carolina in 1760 to Elizabeth Gordon. They were the parents of the following children: James, b. 1752; Roger, b. 1754; Mary, b. 1756; Janet, b. 1758; Samuel Jr., b. 1760, d. 1814, m. 1790 Mary Bradley, his first cousin; Moses (twin), b. 1770; and Elizabeth (twin), b. 1770.

The third son, Matthew Bradley, was born in 1729 in Ireland and died in 1784 in Lynchburg, S.C. He was married circa 1770 to a young lady named Margaret, but her surname was not found. They were the parents of the following children: James, b. ca 1772; Mary, b. 1774, d. 1820, m. 1790 Samuel Bradley Jr.; Matthew, b. ca 1779, d. 1842; and Josiah William, b. ca 1778. 

The youngest son, James Bradley Jr., was born in 1733 in Ireland and died in South Carolina. Although the name of his wife is not known, they were the parents of a son named Samuel Bradley, b. 1760 in South Carolina and died ca 1850 in Belleville, Conecuh County, Ala. Circa 1794, He married in South Carolina Mary Prestwood (1769-1854), daughter of Augustine Prestwood and Elizabeth Terry. Samuel lived to be 90 years old, but he was paralyzed for the last five years of life. He was buried in Belleville in the Burnett-Donald-Simpson Cemetery. He and Mary had two children: Ely, b. 1796, d. 1958, m. Allie Clotilda Simpson; and Barbara, b. 1800, m. Samuel Cater. Barbara and Samuel had two sons: Samuel Jr.; and John, m. Avrill Amos.

This Samuel Bradley’s son, Ely Bradley, was born in 1796 and married in 1827 Allie Clotilda Simpson, daughter of Thomas Simpson and Rachael Horger. They reared a large family of 11 children who married and reared their families in Conecuh County and surrounding areas such as the Town of Furman in Wilcox County, Pineville and Orville.

Back to Samuel Bradley Sr.’s son, Samuel Bradley Jr., who was born 1760 and married Mary Bradley, his first cousin, and daughter of Matthew and Margaret Bradley: Samuel Jr. and Mary were the parents of the following children: Eldest, b.&d. 1793; Matthew William, b. 1794, d. 1796; Milton, b. 1798, d. 1830; Elizabeth Emmeline, b. 1800, d. 1886, m. William Alexander Shaw; Margaret Matilda, b. 1803, d. 1826, m. 1825 James Harvey Bradley; Adeline Rebecca, b. 1806, d. 1858, m. 1826 Julian Deveraux; Samuel Leroy, b. 1868; and Mary Elvira, b. 1811.

Samuel Bradley Jr.’s daughter, Margaret Matilda Bradley, also married in 1825 her cousin, James Harvey Bradley, son of Josiah William Bradley. Josiah William was the younger brother of Matthew Bradley who migrated to Covington County. James Harvey Bradley was born circa 1800 in Alabama and died in 1832 in New Orleans, La. He and Margaret Matilda were the parents of a daughter whom they named Margaret Matilda after her mother. She was born in 1826 and married Julius Gordon Robinson (1821-1876), son of Edwin Robinson and Amelia Frances Hart. 

Julius was born in Claiborne in 1821, the year Covington County was established. When he was about 18 years of age, his father, a native of Brooklyn, Conn., took him back home with him. He wasn’t happy there, so he returned in 1842 to the area of Brooklyn, Ala., and was reunited with his Hart relatives who helped him open a dry goods store. The Brooklyn Post Office was established in his store, so Julius was appointed postmaster, an office he held for a number of years. It was in the next year, 1943, that he was married to Margaret Matilda Bradley who was born on the Bradley Plantation at Loango. Since her mother died the year she was born, Margaret was reared by her mother’s sister, Adeline Rebecca (Bradley) Devereaux. It was said that Margaret became one of the wealthiest women in the area at the time.

With all his and Margaret’s assets, Julius Robinson prospered in business and leadership in Covington County. During 1861-1863, he served as a representative in the Alabama Legislature, and in 1865, he was selected to be a delegate to the state constitution committee. In 1871, he was selected to serve as a Justice of the Peace for Beat Number Six. 

Margaret Matilda Bradley and Julius Robinson were the parents of the following children: Edwin Hart, b. 1845, d. 1932, m. Mary Florence Snowden; Margaret Adeline, b. 1848, d. 1877, m. Wilson A McCreary; Rufus Harvey, b. 1850, d. 1852; Julius Gordon, Jr., b. 1853, d. 1935; James Frank, b. 1855, d. 1944; Dudley Hubbard, b. 1858, d. 1860; Minnie Amelia, b. 1861, d. 1938, m. Henderson Still; William Augustus, b. 1864, d. 1951, m. Mary Ann “Mollie” Foshee; Thomas Walker, b. 1866, d. 1957, m. Fannie Lou Cumbie; and Alabama “Alba,” b. 1870, d. 1937, m. Cameron Parker.

It is planned for more history of this family to be presented in next week’s column.

The sources for today’s story included family records of Margaret Gaston who is a Bradley descendant, Wyley Ward’s Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871, and Gus and Ruby Bryan’s Covington County History, 1821-1976.

Any one who finds an error in the above genealogy or history is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: