Bradford Family Collection (c. 1760-1976)
Drew Archival Library
Title: The Bradford Family Collection
Dates: c. 1760-1976
Bulk Dates: 1790-1890
Creator: The Bradford Family
Accession/Call Numbers: DAL.MSS.024
Repository: Drew Archival Library
Quantity: 20+ boxes
Access Restrictions: The Bradford Family Collection is open to researchers. There are no restricted materials in the collection
Acquisition Information: The Gershom Bradford House located on 931 Tremont Street in Duxbury, MA was donated, along with all it’s contents, to the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society in 1968 by Gershom Bradford and Edward W. Bradford. The manuscript material taken from the house is now the Bradford Family Collection at the Drew Archival Library.
Preferred form of citation: DAL.MSS.024, the Bradford Family Collection of the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society.
Scope and Content: This in-process finding aid contains only the correspondence, a portion of the Bradford Collection.
Biographical Information: The Bradford Family of Duxbury lived at 931 Tremont Street in a home now owned by the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society and operated as the Bradford House Museum.
Capt. Gershom Bradford (1774-1844) was born in Duxbury to Col. Gamaliel Bradford and Sarah Alden. In 1801 he married Sarah Bradford Hickling (1772-1861) of Boston, the daughter of merchant William Hickling and Elizabeth Hodson. During their early married life, the Bradfords boarded in Dorchester but in 1808 they built their Federal-style home at 931 Tremont Street, Duxbury, on land that had once been owned by Gershom’s father (his brother, Capt. Gamaliel built across the street and brother Capt. Daniel built behind). Gershom Bradford was a successful master mariner, mostly in the trans-Atlantic merchant trade. He retired from the sea in 1826 and died quite suddenly in 1844. His wife, Sarah, lived for almost 20 more years, dying in 1861.
The Bradfords had four daughters, Maria Weston Bradford (1804-1864), Lucia Alden Bradford (1807-1893), Elizabeth Hickling Bradford (1809-1890) and Charlotte Bradford (1813-1893). Other than Maria, who married Rev. Claudius Bradford, the sisters did not marry. They were all involved in social causes of the day, most notably abolition and temperance. Charlotte was a Civil War nurse and the matron of the United States Sanitary Commission’s Home for Wives & Mothers in Washington, DC. Lucia joined Charlotte in DC for a period of six months during the war. Elizabeth was a keen amateur botanist and artist.
The Bradfords were from a large family that included some of the most notable New Englanders of their time. These family members included Massachusetts Secretary of State, Alden Bradford; Transcendentalists Sarah Alden (Bradford) Ripley and George Partridge Bradford; abolitionists Dr. Gamaliel Bradford and Rev. Claudius Bradford. Their extensive correspondence includes these figures and others.
SERIES I – CORRESPONDENCE
Series I.A – Bradford Family Correspondence (1790-1890)
Scope and Content: Correspondence to and from generations 1 and 2; includes Capt. Gershom Bradford, Sarah B. (Hickling) Bradford, Maria W. Bradford, Lucia A. Bradford, Elizabeth H. Bradford and Charlotte Bradford. Arranged chronologically
Box 1: 1790-1828
Box 2: 1829-1891
Series I.B – Correspondence to the Bradford Family (1795-1893)
Scope and Content: Correspondence to the Bradford Family (generations 1 and 2). Arranged by author and alphabetically. Correspondents include, but are not limited to, Alden Bradford, Claudius Bradford, Capt. Daniel Bradford, Sarah Alden (Bradford) Ripley, George Patridge Bradford, George Wood Brewer, Ezra Weston, and Dr. Gamaliel Bradford. Box 3
Series I.C – Capt. Gamaliel Bradford Correspondence (1796-1820).
Scope and Content: Includes letters to Capt. Gershom Bradford, Sarah B. (Hickling) Bradford as well as letters to his wife, Elizabeth (Hickling) Bradford and his daughter, Sarah A. B. Ripley. Also included are journals addressed to “Marcus.”
Capt. Gamaliel Bradford (1763-1824)) was the son of Col. Gamaliel Bradford and Sarah (Alden) Bradford. He was raised on his father’s 90 acre Duxbury farm. As a young man he fought in the American Revolution. After the war he became a successful sea captain and merchant. In 1792 he married Elizabeth Hickling (sister to Sarah Bradford (Hickling) Bradford). Although they built a house on Tremont Street in Boston, they spent most of their married life in Charlestown, MA. Together they had seven children: Sarah Alden (Bradford) Ripley, George Partridge Bradford, Dr. Gamaliel Bradford, Martha Tilden (Bradford) Bartlett, Margaret Stevenson (Bradford) Ames, George Partridge Bradford, and Hannah Rogers (Bradford) Fiske.
Series I.D – Lane Family Correspondence, 1882-1893)
Scope and Content: Letters to the Bradford sisters from their cousins, Fanny Bradford Lane and WIlliam Bradford Clark. Many are from travels, including Europe and Egypt.
Fanny Bradford Clark Lane (1829-1898) was the second daughter of Dr. Gamaliel Bradford and Sophia Rice, making her the grand-niece of Capt. Gershom Bradford and the first cousin once removed to the Bradford sisters. She married Dr. Eliphalet Mackenzie Clark in 1853 and moved to Detroit, Michigan where Clark became a merchant and industrialist. The couple had three children, William B. Clark (1857-1898), Dr. Franklin H. Clark (1862-1916), and Rebecca H. Clark (1863-1875). After her husband’s death in 1871, Fanny returned to Boston and married the widower George Martin Lane in 1878. Lane was a professor at Harvard College and had three children of his own, Gardiner M., Louisa, and Katherine W. The correspondence in this sub-series contains letters written by Fanny Lane to the Bradford sisters from her trips overseas. Also in this series are numerous letters written by William B. Clark to his great-aunts, Elizabeth and Lucia Bradford.
Folder 1 William B. Clark Correspondence (1882-1883)
Folder 2 William B. Clark Correspondence (1885-1886)
Folder 3 William B. Clark Correspondence (1887)
Folder 4 William B. Clark Correspondence (1888-1890)
Folder 5, William B. Clark Correspondence, n.d.
Folder 6 Fanny B. Lane Correspondence (1888-1891)
Folder 7 Fanny B. Lane Correspondence (1891-1892) – trip to Egypt and Europe
- Fanny B. Lane (Cairo, Egypt) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Nov. 22, 1891
- Fanny B. Lane (Egypt) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Dec. 16, 1891
- Fanny B. Lane (Egypt) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Jan. 3, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Egypt) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Jan. 18, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Egypt) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Feb. 12, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Egypt) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Feb. 25, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Egypt) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Mar. 12, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Cairo, Egypt) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Mar. 24,1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Venice, Italy) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Apr. 10, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Paris, France) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Apr. 26, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Paris, France) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), May 22, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (France) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), June 12, 
- Fanny B. Lane (France) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), June 22, 
- Fanny B. Lane (France) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), July 1, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Rouen, France) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), July 29, 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (The Hague, Netherlands) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Aug. 11, c. 1892
- Fanny B. Lane (Amsterdam) to Lucia A. Bradford (Duxbury, MA), Aug. 20, c. 1892
Folder 8 Fanny B. Lane Correspondence (1893)
Series I.E – Kent Family Correspondence
Scope and Content: Letters to and from the family of Rev. Benjamin Kent and his wife, Eleanor (Bradford) Kent. Included are letters from their daughters, Eloise, Isabel, Josie and Laura. Also, letters from Eleanor’s sister, Louisa Esther (Bradford) Thomas.
Rev. Benjamin Kent (1794-1859) and his wife, Eleanor Bradford (1802-1885), were related to the Bradford Family through the marriage of Capt. Gershom Bradford’s daughter, Maria Bradford, to Rev. Claudius Bradford.
Rev. Benjamin Kent graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was invited to Duxbury to become the co-minister with the Rev. John Allyn of the First Parish Church. Shortly thereafter, in 1827, he married Eleanor Bradford. The couple moved into a house built for them by the First Parish congregation at 992 Tremont Street. Kent had a tumultuous tenure as the minister in Duxbury while the town was divided over the cost of maintaining two ministers. He began to suffer from debilitating headaches and was eventually taken to the insane asylum. He retired from the ministry and moved with his family to Roxbury where he and his wife operated a private girls’ boarding school. The Kents had four daughters (nieces of Claudius and Maria Bradford): Eloise Kent (1828-1912), Isabel Kent (1831-1912), Josephine Gannett (Kent) Copeland (1833-1907) and Laura Ann (Kent) Hooper (1836-1902).
Series I.F – Caroline W. Hunt Bradford Correspondence
Scope and Content: Letters found in a desk in the Bradford House museum belonging to Caroline (Wadsworth) Hunt Bradford. There are a total of ten letters in the series. Six are from her friends, Eliza and Francis Bacon. These letters were written when Caroline was still married to her first husband, Allen Melville Hunt. Two of the letters were written by Clara and William Parker (1851), shortly after Caroline’s second marriage. The Parkers were acquaintances of Capt. Daniel Bradford. The first of the Parker’s letters
Caroline (Wadsworth) Hunt Bradford (1812-1904) was born in Duxbury, the daughter of Wait Wadsworth, Jr. and Priscilla Stetson. Her first husband, Allen Melville Hunt, died in 1843. She married her second husband, Capt. Daniel Bradford, Jr. (1811-1882) in 1846. Daniel was a master mariner, primarily in the China trade. The couple lived on St. George Street in Duxbury. Caroline had one son by Hunt, Clarence (1843-1854), who died at age 10.