The History of Bradford, Tennessee

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One of the earliest pioneers of Gibson County Tennessee was a tanner by the name of James M. Baker, born in Halifax County, Virginia in 1796 and his wife, Harriett Gillespie Baker.  Mr. Baker came to Tennessee in 1838 and settled in Gibson County near Bradford in the Fourteenth Civil District.

Most of the land around Bradford was covered with dense forests and had to be cleared to even build a dwelling.  The Baker's carved their home out of this wilderness.  They raised twelve children.

Robert D. Bradford, born July 23, 1833 in Bedford County, TN came to Gibson County with his parents as a small child.  Mr. Bradford married Mary Baker in 1853.  They raised eleven children.  In 1855 they carved their home out of the forest on 80 eighty acres where the present site of Bradford is.  The house Mr. Bradford built and raised his family was only torn down a few years back.  It was located on Main Street.

Bradford was originally called "Kimball". The name was later changed to Bradford in honor of Robert D. Bradford.

*The following came from the Milan Exchange  August 6, 1874

FROM KIMBALL:  As you requested, I will give you a few items about Kimball, which is a thriving and prosperous station on the Mississippi Central Railroad,  12 miles north of Milan,  surrounded by a good country and good farmers, clever and respectable people. 

  Kimball is, as you know, only a few months old and today she has several families, eight to twelve good dwellings, two large mills, a large planing machine, seven business houses and a splendid depot house.

  Mess. Philps, White & Co. are erecting a large hotel of forty rooms.  It will be open by the lst of September.

  Mr. Landrum is rapidly completing his extensive manufacturing mill.

  Mr. Alexander is doing a rattling dry-goods, grocery and furniture business.

  Mess. Little & Swindle are improving their house and intend soon to add largely to their stock.

With the coming of the railroad a post office was established on Main Street.  J.N. Alexander was the first postmaster.

A.J. Little built a saloon and grocery store in 1873.   Some of the  first merchants of Bradford were J.G. Phipps, J.E. White , J. N. Alexander, and Mercer Boone.  John Cain built the first saw mill.  J.H. Hedgecock was an early blacksmith and wagon maker.  J.W. Johns established the first undertaker business and the first cotton gin was run by J.N. Alexander.

James Baker donated the land for a cemetery in 1886.  It was called Baker Cemetery until the 1940's.

Phipps and White built a hotel in 1874 and Stephen A. Smith ran it.   It was a large two story structure located near the train depot.

Early physicians in Bradford were A.J. Baker, J.D. McKenzie and James A. McKenzie. Later a Dr. Jeter owned the first x-ray   machine which was operated by a gasoline motor.

Rolla Lodge No. 465, A.F. & A. M., was built in 1874.  The building was used for the lodge, church, school and city hall.

For several years Bradford was a center for fruit and vegetables shipping by railroad. 

Governor Ben W. Hooper approved the bill to incorporate Bradford on April 2, 1913. 

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Sources:  Gibson County Past and Present by Frederick M. Culp and Mrs. Robert E. Ross

                 Families and History of Gibson county, TN to 1989 by Lee-Davis U.D.C. Historical Society
          *Gibson County, Tennessee Newspaper Extracts Vol. 2 by Emily B. Walker taken from the Milan  Exchange August 6, 1874.

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1998-99-00 Vicki W. Shaffer