History of Bradford, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896

BRADFORD. - On the eastern border of Steuben county, lying north of Campbell, south of Wayne, and east of Bath and Urbana, is a district known as Bradford, having an area of 14,500 acres of land. This town was created as a separate division of the county on the 20th of April, 1836, and was formed from the old town of Jersey, now known as Orange in Schuyler county. The surface is a hilly upland, broken by the valley of Mud Creek. Mud Lake is a small though pretty little body of water situated in Schuyler county, near the Steuben line, and it was on the outlet of this lake that Philip Bartles and John Harvey made a settlement in 1793, and two years later, at the suggestion of Charles Williamson, built both saw and grist mills. These industries had much to do with the development of the region. During the early period of the history of the region the outlet was a navigable stream, and in 1798 Mr. Bartles rafted one hundred thousand feet of lumber to Baltimore. Benjamin Patterson and one Brocher were noted hunters in this locality and supplied many of the settlements with both bear and deer meat. They were said to have killed during a single season as many as two hundred deer and a dozen bears.

Among the other pioneers and early settlers in this then wild and uninviting region were John Hemiup, Samuel S. Camp, Abram Rosenberg, Capt. John N. Hight, Henry Switzer, John Schrinner, Thomas Rolls, Michael Schott, Daniel Bartholmew, Henry Axtelle, Ezekiel Sackett, George Schnell, Stephen Edwards and a Mr. Smith, the christian name of the latter having been forgotten. These pioneers were chiefly lumbermen, though their ultimate purpose was the development of the land for farming purposes. Several of them built mills and became proprietors. Nearly all were from the lumber regions of Pennsylvania and came to the new region hoping to better their condition. They were chiefly Germans by birth or extraction, and were, withal, a hardy, persevering and industrious class of men and women. The descendants of many of them still live in the county, but the pioneers are all gone.

Another element of the early settlers were New Englanders, while still others were from New Jersey. Lacy Hurd, John Moore and Jesse Munson were Vermont Yankees; Capt. John Phelps came from Connecticut; James Longwell was from New Jersey, though an Irishman by birth. Still other settlers were John Zimmerman, David Woodward, Caleb Wolcott, John Inscho, Abel Eveland, Elias Thomas, James D. Morris, Rumsey Miller, David Dennis, Evan F. Thomas, John Kishpaugh, Charles and Benjamin Whithead, Daniel Taylor, John Stilts, Caleb Roch, Philip Morse, and others perhaps equally worthy of mention but whose names are lost with the lapse of years.

The land being at length cleared of its valuable timber growth, good farms were developed, and this part of the old town of Jersey became an agricultural region, and while it produces well in return to the proper efforts of the husbandman, it has never been noted for superior excellence in this respect. However, the farmers are generally prosperous and many fine farms are found in the town.

During the early history of the town, and while its lands formed a part of the older town of Jersey, the inhabitants felt the serious effects of the so called anti rent war. In the Bath convention Jersey was represented by her strongest men, a portion of whom lived in the district afterward forming Bradford. They were Abraham M. Lybolt, Gilbert Reed, Caleb Wolcott, Peter Houck and Henry Switzer.

Six years after this event, or in 1836, the town was set off and made a separate division of Steuben county, and was named in allusion to and in honor of General Robert Bradford. A portion of its territory was annexed to Orange, April 17, 1854. The first town meeting was held at the dwelling of John Zimmerman on the fourth Tuesday in May, 1836, at which time these officers were chosen: Supervisor, S. Snell; town clerk, Charles McFane; collector, Thomas Rowles; justices, James Wolverton and James Bradley.

The supervisors of Bradford, from the time of its organization to the present, have been as follows: S. Snell, 1836-37; William H. Seybolt, 1838-39; J. C. Cameron, 1840; Joseph S. Fenton, 1841; James Barkley, 1842-43, and 1849; Hosea Longwell, 1844; William Bovier, 1845-46, and 1848; John Phelps, 1847; Charles Hubban, 1850; William Phelps, 1851-52; John D. Seybolt, 1853-54, and 186o-61; John F. Havens, 1855-56; Lewis Bennett, 1857, '67, and '71; Jesse Munson, 1858-59, and 1863-66; Edgar Munson, 1862; B. B. Switser, 1868; Frank Aulls, 1869-70; Theron Cole, 1872; Alonzo Eveland, 1873-74, and 1881-86; J. M. Gilmore, 1875-76; Isaac Esterbrook, 1877; Ephraim Bennett, 1878-80; Frank Aulls, 1887; Philip Yawger, 1888 and 1891; Frank Hedges, 1889-90; S. A. Zimmerman, 1892-95.

The officers of the town for the year 1895 are S. A. Zimmerman, supervisor; David Whitehead, Albert W. Dodge, W. C. Stetler and L. E. Bartholmew, justices; John C. Switzer, Arthur Gilmore and John O. Dennis, assessors.

Bradford is one of the few towns of Steuben county in which there has been a noticeable decline in population, indicating clearly that the agriculturists of the region have suffered in common with those of the whole country. When first set off from Jersey in 1836 the inhabitants numbered about 1,50o, and increased to 1,885 in 186o. From that time until the present there has been a general decline in population, hence in productiveness and value of property, and the population of the town in 1890 was only 765; a less number than any town in the county, save Hartsville. Notwithstanding all this, Bradford possesses natural resources equal to many other outlying towns, and her people are energetic, thrifty and persevering. The institutions of the town are as firmly rooted and as substantial as in other similar districts. During the period of its history there have been built up two small villages, Bradford, in the northeast part of the town, and South Bradford in the southeast, both of which are elsewhere mentioned in this volume.

The early settlers were fully mindful of the educational and spiritual welfare of their families, and made generous provision for schools and the support of the public worship. A flourishing school was maintained as early as 1814, and after the separation of the town from Jersey the new territory was arranged in convenient districts and schools provided for in each. From this beginning has grown the present system of the town, more complete in arrangement than ever before, yet possibly not as strong in point of number of pupils attending school. There are now five districts having school houses, and during the last current year six teachers were employed. Of public moneys the town received $720.70, and raised by local tax $1006.90.

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