Bradford, the third largest town in the county, is situated in the northeastern part of the county, the original
plat being in sections 23 and 26, Osceola Township. It was surveyed on April 27, 1854, by Sylvester F. Ottman,
then county surveyor, for Bradford S. Foster and derived its name from the Christian name of the proprietor. In
making the survey, Mr. Ottoman located Main Street on the section line. North of this is one tier of lots. The
next street south is Arbor and South Street forms the southern boundary of the original town. Between Main and
Arbor (at first called Bowery) streets was left a "market square," and north of Main Street was a public
square, intersected by a short street called Park. This square was vacated by a vote of the citizens at an election
held on September 22, 1869. The north and south streets in the original plat were Peoria, Park and Elm, and the
total number of lots was thirty seven. Since then Foster's and Phenix's first and second additions have extended
the limits of the town toward the south and west, and Drawyer's, Pilgrim's, Real's and some minor additions have
extended the limits northward and eastward into sections 24 and 25 until the corporation includes about one square
In the fall of 1869, when it became certain that the Dixon, Peoria & Hannibal (now the Chicago, Burlington
& Quincy) Railroad was to be built through Bradford, the town experienced its first boom. A number of energetic,
progressive men bought lots and established homes and business houses. The town was incorporated on August 13,
1869, and M. S. Curtiss was elected the first president of the board of trustees. At the general election held
on November 4, 1873, the question of incorporating under the general laws of the state was carried by a substantial
majority and the present form of municipal government was shortly afterward inaugurated. Joshua Prouty was elected
the first president of the board under the new charter. In 1915 the village government was composed of Albert Deyo,
president; George A. Marsh, clerk; R. W. Sharp, Walter Scholes, W. S. Ribley, R. C. Hay, O. C. Boyd and R. D. Lackman,
A postoffice was established at Bradford soon after the town was surveyed, but the name of the first postmaster
could not be learned by the writer. Some idea of the growth of the town and the development of its business interests
may be gained from the knowledge that in 1915 the postoffice had risen to a third class office, with annual receipts
of about four thousand dollars, employing two people and being the source of five rural routes that distribute
mail daily over a large territory. T. J. Mowbray was then postmaster.
On September 7, 1896, "in compliance with a vote of the legal voters at a special election," the board
of trustees passed an ordinance to issue five bonds of $1,000 each, the first due in five years and the last in
nine, with interest at 6 per cent per annum, for the purpose of installing a system of waterworks for the village.
A deep well was sunk, a puruphouse erected, a large tank mounted upon a tall tower and a reserve tank constructed,
mains laid upon the principal streets, and in the summer of 1897 the water was turned on.
The fire department was organized under the provisions of an ordinance passed on April 4, 1904. The force consists
of twenty five men (volunteers) and the equipment of hosecarts, the pressure from the waterworks being sufficient
to furnish enough water to extinguish any fire that is likely to occur. The members of the department meet at regular
intervals for drill and instruction.
Bradford has two banks, a weekly newspaper, churches of several faiths, a fine public school building, in which
eight teachers are employed, well kept streets, good sidewalks, several well stocked stores, two large grain elevators,
a number of handsome residences, and the visitor to the town is impressed by the air of prosperity and commercial
activity. In 1910 the population of Bradford was 770.