Leaves From Our Tree:
Documenting the Bradford Families
Part 2: The Parents and Siblings of Rev. Joshua Bradford
In the first paragraph of his article on Rev. Joshua Bradford in History of Gwinnett County, Georgia, Vol. 2, page 422, published by the Gwinnett Historical Society in 1960, second great grandson Gerald Davis (1927-1998) wrote:
“The first member of the Bradford family to come to Gwinnett County was Charles Bradford and his family who migrated to Georgia from Fairfield County, South Carolina, in 1823. Charles Bradford and his wife, Nancy, had thirteen children. Several of their children were married and had families. Charles Bradford, his wife, and younger children settled in the section around New Hope Methodist Church. Joshua Bradford, his second eldest son, and his wife settled in Ben Smith’s District. The land Lottery of 1820 shows that Richard J. Bradford, eldest son of Charles Bradford, drew land in the fifth Land District, Lot No. 244, of Gwinnett County and was living in Wilkes County, Georgia. Richard Bradford and his family came to Gwinnett County about 1850 and settled in Harbin’s District where he was a blacksmith. The Land Lottery of 1827 shows that Joshua Bradford drew land in the Fifth district, Lot 81, of Coweta County and was recorded as living in Robertson’s District of Gwinnett County. Charles Bradford drew land in the First District, Lot No. 47 of Carroll County and in the Twenty-second District, Lot No. 161, of Muscogee County and was living in Whorton’s District of Gwinnett County. The Land Lottery of 1832 shows that the orphans of Charles Bradford drew land. Charles Bradford died about 1829 or 1830. Nancy Bradford, his wife, joined the New Hope Methodist Church in October of 1829, and it is believed that they are buried at the New Hope Church. That is all that is known of their lives….”
Davis, the late first cousin of this writer’s husband, based his statements on research he conducted in the 1950s, without access to the wealth of genealogical data available today. It is therefore no particular surprise that the quoted paragraph contained very few verifiable facts. The two most important points are:
Abstracted below is Fairfield District, South Carolina, Court of Equity, “Bill for Partition” dated June 16th1821, recently obtained from the South Carolina Archives, which proves the names of Charles Bradford, Sr.’s wife and children. [Transcribed verbatim from handwritten originals.]
“To the Honorable the Judges of the Court of Equity of the said State Humbly Sheweth, That your Oratrixes and Orators, Mary Kirkland, Charles Bradford, Mary Yarborough, Abigail Kirkland, Constant Kirkland, Charles Bradford, Junior, Joshua Bradford, and Spence Bradford, of the District of Fairfield, that Francis Kirkland on the [blank] day of [blank] in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety two, departed this life without legally disposing of his real estate and at the time of his death was seized and possessed in fee simple of a tract of land containing one hundred and forty three acres, situate[sic] on the west side of little river in the District aforesaid....
This petition documented the marriage of Charles Bradford, Sr., to Sarah Kirkland [daughter of Francis Kirkland and Mary Kirkland as named in the Will of Francis Kirkland2 dated 12 Oct 1790 and proved in open court 18 Jan 1793 by witness Charles D. Bradford, father of Charles Bradford, Sr.], as well as the names of seven living children. The 1810 Fairfield District census3 showed two additional females born before 1800. Neither female was enumerated with the family on the 1820 census4 , nor were they mentioned as heirs in the 1821 petition, leading one to assume that both died before 1820 or they were not daughters of Charles and Sarah (Kirkland) Bradford. The petition further substantiated that the eldest son was Charles, Jr., and that there definitely was no son named “Richard J.”
Those listed as “orators and oratrixes” had to be of legal age, therefore the petition proved that Charles, Jr., Joshua and Spencer Bradford were all over age 21, while the remaining Bradford children were considered minors. At the February 1822 Term of the Equity Court William Bradford and Abigail Bradford, “…minors above the age of fourteen years…” filed a guardianship petition asking that their father, Charles Bradford, Sr., “…be appointed their Guardian, who is willing to…take charge of the said Estate…” to which they were entitled as beneficiaries of the June 16, 1821 Bill for Partition “…in right of their deceased mother…”.5 Therefore, both William and Abigail were between the ages of 14 and 20 when they filed their guardianship petition.
At the same February 1822 Term, Charles Bradford, Sr., filed a guardianship petition asking to be appointed guardian of “…Francis Bradford a child of your petitioner a minor under the age of fourteen years….” who was also a beneficiary of the 1821 Bill for Partition.6
Also in the Bill for Partition file was a “Summary of Distributions” dated April 1823, which documented the deaths of two of the children—“Robert Bradford died Feb. or March 1823; and Wm. Bradford died March 1823.” 7 On the January 1820 census report, Sarah (Kirkland) Bradford and the seven children named in the Bill for Partition were alive. Just 18 months later in the 16 June 1821 petition, Sarah was noted as “the late wife of Charles Bradford,” and minor sons, Robert and William, succumbed before the land sale proceeds were distributed in 1823.
The 1823 distribution record was also the last known legal document in South Carolina or Georgia that specifically identified Charles Bradford, Sr., who apparently died between 1823 and 1830. He was not found on any 1830 census in the USA. He may or may not have moved to Georgia in 1823 with his sons, but the few extant documents in Gwinnett County could refer to either Charles, Sr., or Charles, Jr. Since no such distinction was made in any of the records, this writer believes that only Charles, Jr., moved to Georgia. Also, nothing more was found regarding daughter Abigail Bradford after the 1823 distribution record.
Spencer Bradford, his wife and ten children were on the 1830 and 1840 census reports8 9 in Fairfield District, South Carolina, where Spencer apparently died before 1851. The 1851"Will of Constance Kirkland," named as an heir “Elizar Bradford, daughter of Spencer Bradford dec’d.” 10
Charles, Jr., married Sarah “Sary” Kirkland [daughter of Ambrose Kirkland and Charlotte Camp]11 12 and was listed on the 1820 Fairfield District census as a head of household (26-45) with a wife (26-45), two daughters (0-10) and a male (18-26) who was his minor sibling Francis Bradford.13 Charles, Jr., and family, along with brother Joshua and family, youngest brother, Francis Bradford, and Ambrose Kirkland and family moved to Gwinnett County in 1823.14
Charles Jr., was listed on the 1830 Gwinnett census as head of household (30-40), with wife (30-40), 2 daughters (0-5), 2 daughters (5-10) and 1 daughter (10-15).15 He was deceased by 1832 because his orphans (i.e., his youngest two daughters or possibly three youngest) living in Bridge’s District of Gwinnett, drew Lot 16, Sixteenth District, First Section [Union County], in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery.16 The way Davis stated this point in his 1960 article implied that the orphan children of Charles, Sr., drew the land. However, the lottery rules defined a family of orphans as qualified if they were “under 18 and lived in Georgia since birth;” which automatically eliminated any of Charles, Sr.’s, children.
Also documenting that these “orphans” were daughters of Charles, Jr., were the Letters of Guardianship issued in May 1837 to Joshua Bradford and Ambrose Kirkland for Mary, Elizabeth, Abigail C. and Cynthia Bradford;17 and the legal notice dated 10 Nov 1837 placed in the Milledgeville, Georgia, Federal Union, by Joshua Bradford and Ambrose Kirkland, guardians, which stated “…in Union County…lot of land number sixteen, in the sixteenth district, first Section—sold for the benefit of the orphans of Charles Bradford, deceased….” 18
Joshua married Mary F. Kirkland [also a daughter of Ambrose] in Fairfield District, South Carolina in 182019 and was listed as head of a household of two persons on the 1820 Fairfield District census report.20
Youngest child Francis Bradford was enumerated on the 1840 Gwinnett census as head of household (20-30) wife (20-30), 2 sons (0-5), 1 daughter (0-5) and 2 daughters (5-10).21 No further records yet found.
Joshua and his brother, Charles, Jr. (or possibly Charles, Sr.) did register in Gwinnett County for the 1827 Land Lottery and drew the land lots as listed in Davis’ 1960 article. However, also in Gwinnett County was the Robert and Margaret (Hawthorne) Bradford family, originally from Chester District, South Carolina, who moved to Fairfield District by 1800 and on to Gwinnett County about the same time as Joshua, Charles, Jr., and families. Robert also won land in the 1827 Land Lottery while living in Robertson’s District of Gwinnett County.22
Robert and family were on the 1830 Gwinnett County census,23 but moved on to Troup County, Georgia by 1840, where he left a will dated 29 Dec 1855 that named his wife and children, including a spinster daughter, Nancy Bradford, born 1808.24 This Nancy Bradford was the only one found in Gwinnett County before 1840, so she was the Nancy Bradford who joined the New Hope Methodist Church in October 1829.
As for Davis’ statement that “Charles Bradford and his wife, Nancy, had thirteen children,” the 1821 Equity Court petition clearly proved that Charles Bradford, Sr., was married to Sarah Kirkland and had seven living children with her, possibly eight in all if one carefully reviewed the 1810 and 1820 census data. Davis, seemingly not realizing that there were two Bradford men, Charles senior and junior, apparently added together all the children listed on census records for both men, which would equal “thirteen.”
Webmaster of Leaves From Our Tree and married for 39 years to a direct descendant of Rev. Joshua Bradford, a Gwinnett County “First Family” pioneer settler, Diane Carrington Bradford is a 4th great granddaughter of Major General Allen Daniel, the namesake of Gwinnett County’s historic Fort Daniel, built in the Hog Mountain area in 1813 and now an historic archaeological site listed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of “2009 Places in Peril.”
This article was researched and documented in accordance
This article was also published in the quarterly journal of the Gwinnett Historical Society, The Heritage, Spring 2010, Vol. 39, No. 1. page 16. (www.gwinnetths.org)
1 South Carolina Dept. of Archives & History, Fairfield County, South Carolina, Equity Bills, 1822 #13, Frames 141-152.
2 “Will of Francis Kirkland,” dated 12 Oct 1790, Fairfield County, South Carolina: Will Book 2, p 17-18.
3 1810 Fairfield District, South Carolina Census, Fairfield District, SC: 1810. [Ancestry.com electronic database: images of original documents], Roll: M252_62; Image: 0202; Line: 7; Page: 610.
4 1820 Fairfield District, South Carolina Census, Fairfield District, SC: 1820. [Ancestry.com electronic database: images of original documents], Roll M33_118; Image: 0215; Line: 15; Page: 51.
5 Fairfield County, South Carolina, Equity Court Records, Winnsboro, South Carolina, 1822, #2, filed 23 Feb 1822.
7 Fairfield County, South Carolina, Equity Court Records, Winnsboro, South Carolina, Equity Bills, 1822, #13, Frames 149-150.
8 1830 Fairfield District, South Carolina Census, Winnsboro, SC: 1830. [Ancestry.com electronic database: images of original documents], Roll: M19_169; Image:0795-96; Line: 2; Page: 402.
9 1840 Fairfield District, South Carolina Census, Winnsboro, SC: 1840. [Ancestry.com electronic database: images of original documents], Roll: M704_511; Image: 0306-07; Line: 5; Page: 150.
10 “Will of Constance Kirkland,” dated 27 Apr 1851, recorded 13 Mar 1852, Fairfield District, South Carolina, Will Book 19, p 332.
11 “Letters of Guardianship,” Gwinnett County, GA, Minute Book A (1819-1861), May Term 1837, p 70-71.
12 1840 Gwinnett County, Georgia Census Report, Roll: M704_42, Image: 0204; Line 17, Page 102.
13 1820 Fairfield District, South Carolina Census, Image 216, Line 23, Page 52.
14 “Death of Rev. J. Bradford,” Weekly Gwinnett Herald, Lawrenceville, GA: May 16, 1877, p 3, col 2.
15 1830 Gwinnett County, Georgia Census, Lawrenceville, Georgia: 1830 [Ancestry.com electronic database: images of original documents], Roll: M19_17; Image: 665; Line 8, Page 329.
16 Georgia Cherokee Land Lottery, 1832 [Online], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000. [Original data: Smith, James F. The Cherokee Land Lottery, Containing a Numerical List of the Names of the Fortunate Drawers in Said Lottery, New York, USA: 1838.
17 “Letters of Guardianship,” Gwinnett County, Georgia Minute Book A (1819-1861), p 70-71.
18 “Georgia Historic Newspapers,” Digital Library of Georgia [Online], Athens, GA: The Digital Library of Georgia™ , University of Georgia Libraries, 2009. Milledgeville, Georgia, Federal Union, p 3, col 7.
19 “Obituary of Mrs. Mary Bradford,” Lawrenceville, GA: Gwinnett Herald, Wednesday, 7 Oct 1874, p 2. col. 4.
20 1820 Fairfield District, South Carolina Census, Image 0230, Line 7, Page 29.
21 1840 Gwinnett County, Georgia Census, Image:0144-45; Line: 3; Page: 72.
22 Georgia Land Lottery, 1827 [Online], Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1997. [Original data: State of Georgia. Recorder Office. Official Register of the Land Lottery of 1827. Milledgeville, GA, USA: Grantland & Orme, 1827.] URL: (http://www.ancestry.com), pp. 79, 95.
23 1830 Gwinnett County, Georgia Census, Image 663, Line 1, Page 328.
24 “Will of Robert Bradford.” Troup County, GA, Will Book B, p 146.
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Last updated July 19, 2011 5:46 PM