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In Search of Eber Bradley born 1802

My name is Lorraine (Bradley) Sheehan, and I started studying genealogy in 1996. I guess the Bradley side of the family intrigues me the most because I know so little about it. I started out with the information that my great grandfather, Garret Bradley, [born (b.) Nov. 1, 1838], and several of his brothers went to fight in the Civil War; then they all went out west and lost track of each other. Garret Bradley married Ella Jones in Idaho in 1882. Garret worked as a farmer, a silver miner, and at the mint in Carson City, NV. After marrying, he settled down in eastern Nevada; and later moved to California.

Through my research, I discovered that Garret was the 7th of 9 sons (no daughters) of Eber Bradley and Elsa Rynearson Bradley. They married in 1827 in Butler Co. Ohio (just north of Cincinnati) where their first 8 sons were born. Circa (c.) 1843 the family moved to Iowa where Stephen, son #9, was born. According to the 1880 census, Eber is a widow living with son #8, William, in Phillipsburg, Phillips Co., Kansas. He died August 29, 1883. I am trying to find out who Eber Bradley’s parents and grandparents were, exactly where he was born, how his family lineage fits into the colonial history of the Bradley family, and anything about Eber’s life before 1827. I found a lot of information about Elsa’s family---as a matter of fact, there is a whole book about the Reynearson’s. [Elsa was of Dutch descent, and there was no standardized spelling. Elsa’s relatives spelled the surname many different ways.] Eber was born June 26, 1802 in Vermont, but that is the only information I have about him before 1827. Bradley is a common name, but Eber is a very unusual name. There were several Bradley families living in Vermont around 1800, and since Vermont is a small state and never did have a very large population, I didn’t think it would be that difficult to trace his family back to the original Bradley immigrants, but I have had no luck so far. There is so much information on the Internet about the Bradley’s, and so many descendants of the Colonial New England Bradley’s are studying genealogy, that I thought I would run into at least ONE person who had an ancestor who was directly related to him.

I have gathered the following information about the first Bradley’s in New England:

William Bradley, b. 1619 was the first Bradley to come to the new world. His father, also, named William (although some sources say Daniel) [William, the father, and Daniel were brothers, sons also of William.] was a good friend of Oliver Cromwell. William (the son) may have had 3 older sisters, and he was the youngest, it is hard to tell. There is so much information about the Bradley’s that the information gets mixed up. William’s mother died, and his father remarried Elizabeth, last name unknown. They had 5 more children, the youngest of whom was Stephen, b. c. 1642. William, the father, entrusted his young son, Willliam, to his friend, Theophilus Eaton who brought him to the Massachusetts Colony c. 1632. Eaton was dissatisfied there, so he brought a group of his devout followers to found the colony of New Haven. New Haven eventually became part of Connecticut, but at that time it was its own colony. Eventually, Williams’s widowed stepmother and family came to the new world, and the Bradley’s generally settled in Guilford, New Haven, now Guilford, Conn. His stepmother remarried twice, but she had no more children.

William’s youngest half-brother, Stephen, b. c. 1642, had a son named Stephen who had a son named Stephen who had a son named Stephen. Actually each one of these Stephens had several children, and Stephen #3, b.1695, and Stephen #4, b. 1729, both had sons named Eber. First names tend to run in families, and this part of the family ends up in Vermont during the time that my Eber Bradley would have been born. Therefore, I believe that my Eber Bradley, would have come from this line of the family.

I have communicated via the Internet with others who are studying genealogy and have Bradley ancestors who came from Connecticut and Vermont, and I have posted messages on message boards. I have found NO ONE studying Bradley Ancestry who has an ancestor who had a brother (or cousin or other relative) named Eber b. in Vermont between 1800 and 1804. I also have not found any other descendants of Eber and Elsa Bradley. I have written to historical societies in Vermont, and I have even solicited the aid of professional genealogists, but I cannot find an Eber Bradley b. in Vermont c. 1802.

All of the census records, except one, state that Eber was born in Vermont. One census record, taken in Iowa in 1856, states that he was born in New York. I conclude from this that he was born in Vermont, and may have spent part of his childhood in New York. Anyone studying genealogy is aware of the fact that many of the records contain mistakes, as the record keepers did not verify the accuracy of statements.

Through my research, I learned that not all Bradley’s are descendants of New England Puritans. Some Bradley’s settled in Virginia, then moved on to Kentucky and Tennessee. Many Bradley’s are of African American descent. Other Bradley’s settled in Missouri, and Bradley can also be an Irish name.

I have come to the conclusion that Eber must be one of the following: (1) an only child (2) an illegitimate child (3) possibly his mother died in childbirth, and a kindly childless Mrs. Bradley and her husband took him in and raised him, and he took on their last name. (4) His mother died at a young age, and someone else took care of him, but he kept the name Bradley. Vermont is a small state, with a small population, and with a smaller population back, it shouldn’t be that hard to narrow things down.

I have come across other Eber Bradleys: Born in 1761, born in 1743, born in 1792, and born in 1828, (John’s ancestor). My Eber’s oldest son was also named Eber, and was probably born in 1828, but John’s ancestor Eber b. 1828 was born in Vermont, and moved to Ohio. My Eber’s son was born in Ohio, moved to Iowa, and then moved out west. I found an Ebon Bradley born in Conn. in 1803. I found an E.P. Bradley baptized on June 27, 1803, but other documents state that Eber’s middle initial was M. If Eber was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Bradley, his birth record or baptismal record might have a different surname. Of course, back in those days, there were no formal adoption records.

I also noticed that no other Bradleys have shown up in my research. His wife’s relatives lived in counties near Cincinnati in the early 1800’s. When the family moves out west, Eber Bradley and family move in with his father-in-law, before he builds his own home. When his in-laws move out, Elsa’s brothers move into the house. Elsa had other relatives living in southeastern Iowa in the 1840’s and 1850’s. But no other Bradleys show up in my research. I do not know if Eber moved to Ohio with his family when he was a young boy or teenager or if he struck out on his own in his late teens or 20’s and left his family in Vermont or NY.

Eber’s sons were:

  • Eber, Jr.
  • John
  • Frank
  • Fernando
  • Jacob
  • Abraham
  • Garrett b. 11/1/1838
  • William, b. c. 1842
  • Stephen, b. c. 1844

According to the 1880 census, Eber lived with his son William and family (see above) and Jacob (Jake Bradly) lived next door.

Since Eber’s oldest son is Eber, Jr., I conclude that Eber, b. 1802 was not the son of Eber or he would be Eber, Jr. and his son would be Eber, III

First names tend to run in families. The names Jacob, Abraham, and Garrett run in Elsa’s family. Eber, John, William and Stephen run in the Bradley family. Frank was probably a common name at that time, but I have no idea where the name Fernando came from. It might be a clue to Eber’s background.

Of course Eber could have come from a different line of Bradley’s. Descendants of William also lived in Vermont around 1800, and the name Eber does show up in that lineage. [Does anyone know where the name came from? I looked it up in several Baby Name books, and I found Evan, Eberhardt, Ebenezer, and other similar names, but no Eber.]

I am hoping someone can shed some light on Eber Bradley’s lineage.

Lorraine Bradley Sheehan