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Prosperity (1900-1930)

The Bradfords became quite prosperous, and with their increased wealth, began to acquire more land. They were able to purchase all the surrounding lots by offering each neighbor willing to sell their land a job with the Bradford Sand Mining Company. An employee earned an average wage of $1 a day. While not a bad wage for the time, there was no work in the winter.

During the next 20 years, the family’s wealth continued to increase. They decided to move from the small house into a large white house located about 100 yards directly to the east.  This house (marked on the map as the Campbell House) was built in the 1880’s, most likely by the Campbells, and was located where the Manor House sits today. A Carriage House was built in 1909, and was used as living quarters for household employees. The Carriage House was also home to a white 1910 Buick, the first automobile in the Morgan County.

In 1910, the Bradfords decided to build a larger, more luxurious house. Unfortunately, the Campbell House occupied the ideal location for the new house – overlooking the highway, where every passing traveler could see it. The Bradfords wanted to display their family’s success, so they had the Campbell House moved to its present location, where it remained the Bradford’s living quarters while the Manor House was being constructed. Perry was extremely particular about the construction of the Manor House, and insisted that each brick be handmade from native clay on the property. Most of the hardwood used in the house and the sand used to make the decorative glass also came from the property. In 1912, the Manor House was completed at a total cost of $75,000. Eighty-two years later, it cost nearly 1 million dollars to renovate the house.

In 1913, just before the start of World War I, the sand operation reached its peak in both profits and volume. With the increased need for sand, as much as 25 to 30 feet of topsoil were removed to expose the valuable commodity. During this time, the sand was so valuable to the foundries that armed soldiers were stationed on the trains to keep various companies from stealing each others’ sand. In 1913, over 453 cars of sand were shipped from the Bradford property, with an average load of about 40 tons per car. Foundries in the city were paying $.90 per ton, which provided the Bradfords with an annual income of more than $16,000, making them a very wealthy family for the time. By the early 1920s, the sand business had started to decline. After Perry’s (the businessman of the family) death in 1921, the once-lucrative operation that employed the majority of the people in the area declined to such a point that it was leased to Abe and Don Hart in 1933.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Albert and John renewed their interest in farming, and also tried their hand at manufacturing bricks and bottling mineral water. The farm’s apple orchards, located where the lake is today, proved to be successful. At its peak, the orchard produced 140,000 bushels of apples, sold across the country. Unfortunately, the brick manufacturing was not as successful as the apple orchard and was soon abandoned.

Even though the two Bradford sisters, Eliza and Clara, got married, the three brothers remained confirmed bachelors. John, Albert, and Perry spent most of their time on the farm and seldom went to town. As the years went by, the family got smaller. Eliza died in 1933, and three years later, in 1936, Albert died at home. In 1937, Clara was killed in an automobile accident, leaving John as the sole administrator of the property, which had expanded to approximately 3,000 acres.

Continued: Leaving a Legacy >>