History of Bradford Township, Il.
From: Encyclopedia of Illinois
and the History of Lee County
Edited by: Mr. A. C. Bardwell.
Munsell Publishing Company
Chicago 1904.


The present town of Ashton originally belonged to Bradford, and was set off as Ogle by resolution of the Board of Supervisors in February, 1861. Bradford acquired its name from the circumstance that many of the organizers were from Bradford County, Penn.

The first town meeting was held at the house of Ralph B. Evitts, when the following officers were elected: Charles Starks, Supervisor; Ira Brewer, Town Clerk; E. W. Starks, Assessor; Samuel S. Starks, Collector; Ralph B. Evitts, Overseer of the Poor; Sherman Shaw, Stephen Clink and George Yale, Highway Commissioners; Samuel S. Starks and Daniel Barber, Constables; Elisha Pratt and LaFayette Yale, Justices of the Peace. Town meetings were held at private houses until 1856, when a meeting was held at the school house at Ogle Station (now Ashton.)

Many of the early land owners of the town first settled at Lee Center and, as their lands became subdued and they grew able to build, moved onto then The first to erect homes within the bounds of the township were Sherman Shaw and Mr. Whitemore, the house of the latter having been built prior to 1839. Shaw's was built in 1840 on the northeast corner of Section 31. Owen Hillison soon followed in the erection of a home, having prior to this lived in a sod house, and having made his way on foot from New York to Chicago and thence to Bradford. In 1838 Charles Starks located at Inlet, and the next year filed a claim on the east half of the northwest quarter and west half of the northeast quarter of Section 32, and built and moved onto it in 1842. About this time the Whipples located their claim a little north of this. In 1842 N. C. Yale moved onto Section 1. Prior to this Jesse Woodruff settled on Section 32 and R. B. Evitts on Section 29. About this time Stephen Clink built a stone dwelling on Section 33. In 1842 Elms Hulbert moved onto the south half of the southeast quarter of Section 19, and in 1845 John Hotzel, a bachelor, lived in a sod shanty on the east half of the southwest quarter of Section 31. He is said to have been the first German settler in the township. Mr. Bender came in 1845. Ira Brewer reached Lee Center in June, 1843, and the same year bought of O. W. Wright a claim to the west half of the northwest quarter of Section 32 for $40 in trade, and of a Mr. Sturdevant a claim to the east half of the northeast quarter of Section 31, with a ten-acre timber lot added, for $100. in 1849 he built a dwelling on the latter tract. In 1845 E. W. Pomeroy joined the settlement and soon became the owner of the west half of the northwest quarter of seetion 31. He and J. H: Gardner are credited with bringing the first reaper into the community.

In 1859 an Evangelical Church was built on Section 17 at a cost of $1,300. In 1874 an addition was made and a steeple erected, at a further cost of $2,700. The society was first organized at the house of John Hotzel.

Egbert Shaw is said to have been the first white child born within the township.

The Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company, of Bradford, is one of the important Institutions of the county. It was incorporated by special act of the Legislature, March 30, 1869, Ira Brewer, R. B. Evitts, Thomas S. Hulbert, Charles D. Hart, Valentine Hicks, C. F. Starks and George Hulbert being the incorporators. Ira Brewer was the first President and continued to hold the office for twenty-five years until advancing age forced him to retire. Thomas Hulbert was the first Secretary, serving one year, C. D. Hart followed for a like term. Samuel Dysart, the present Secretary, has served continuously since 1871. The present officers are: B. F. Lane, President; Samuel Dysart, Secretary; H. W. Hillison, Treasurer; Christian Gross, William V. Jones, Geo. Shafer and Wm. S. Frost, Board of Managers. It has paid over $60,000 in losses. The average annual outlay for salaries, clerk hire and all other expenses, has been less than $400. The Company has 750 members holding 860 policies, representing a total insurance of $1,586,155.54. The amount insured is increasing at the rate of about $50,000 yearly.

The population of Bradford, as shown by the Government census, was 720 in 1890 and 677 in 1900.

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