Pueblo County, Colorado
Mark Gay BRADFORD
Contributed by Karen Mitchell
Pueblo Chieftain - February 23, 2010
Author: Mary Jean Porter
Feb. 23--Pueblo owes much to the Bradford brothers.
Allen Alexander and Mark Gay Bradford were local pioneers, but not of the buckskin variety. Their style was more uptown and it's likely that they often dressed in suits. Allen was a lawyer, the first district judge appointed for this area and a territorial delegate to Congress who was known for his "encyclopedic" mind. Mark was town clerk, postmaster, school board member and probate judge.
Descendants of William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony in 17-century Massachusetts, the local Bradfords were born in Friendship, Maine -- Allen in 1815, Mark in 1825. They arrived here in the early 1860s, Allen taking a more circuitous route: Succumbing to the siren song of California gold, he headed west in 1850 but soon returned to Missouri and then settled in Iowa. He came west again in 1860 and set up a private law practice in Central City, then moved to Pueblo in 1862. He and his wife Emmeline Cowles had one son, Thomas, and they lived on East Second Street.
Mark and his wife Harriet Morse settled here in 1861 on the west side of Fountain Creek, but later moved out of the floodplain, up to Tenderfoot Hill or Goat Hill as it's now known. They had four children, though one died at age 5, and lived in an adobe house at 321 Bradford St. when the area was largely open countryside. Within a couple of decades, large houses stood on Bradford and nearby Albany (then Summit) and Chester avenues, but by then Mark had been widowed and had moved to North Greenwood Street.
The Bradford name probably is best known for its association with the street, with the elementary school on Pueblo's lower East Side and with the Pueblo County Courthouse, where a life-size portrait of Allen hangs outside the commissioners' chambers. The school is thought to have been named for Mark because he helped organize Pueblo's School District 1 and was elected school board president in 1870. Built in 1892 at what is now First and LaCrosse, the school originally was named Capitol School because LaCrosse was called Capitol at the time. George Roe was architect for the brick school, which was erected at a cost of $16,500. The school building was razed in 1947 -- it had cracked badly because the foundation had been laid in shale. Children went to other schools for a year and barracks for temporary classrooms were brought in from Pueblo Army Air Base in fall 1948. A new Bradford School was built, and opened in 1954.
Allen Bradford was elected as a territorial delegate to the 39th Congress in 1864 and, when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, he was among the dignitaries appointed to accompany the president's remains back to Illinois. He was elected to a second term in Congress in 1868.
Allen returned to Pueblo in 1871 and resumed his law practice. He was instrumental in getting a U.S. land office for Pueblo, which opened in 1871, and his brother Mark was appointed receiver for the office.
Allen was credited with a new county courthouse being built in 1872 without the county incurring debt. It was the second courthouse and was located where the current (third) Pueblo County Courthouse stands today. (The first was built of logs, with a dirt roof, in 1862 near Third Street and Santa Fe Avenue at a cost of $300.)
Allen's service in Congress had familiarized him with a Congressional act that authorized the setting aside of a quarter-section of government land at the county seat for county purposes. In this tract of land, which became known as the County Addition, one block was set aside for the courthouse and the rest was divided up into lots and sold; proceeds from the sale of the lots paid for the new brick courthouse.
Allen also was appointed county attorney in 1872 and held that position for many years.
Upon his death on March 13, 1888, The Pueblo Chieftain opined, "We have rarely ever noted the career of a man so peculiarly his own, not only in originality of mind and general characteristics, but in point of historical knowledge and varied experience, as Judge Bradford."
Allen Bradford was buried at North Side (now Pueblo Pioneer) Cemetery. His wife and son both died in 1915. Emmeline Bradford also was buried at the North Side Cemetery.
Mark Bradford was an original trustee when the town of Pueblo was incorporated in 1870; there were 666 people living here at the time. He also was town clerk for just one month in 1871. He and his wife were charter members of First Baptist Church in 1872 and Mark served as the church clerk and as a trustee from 1872 until 1891, the year of his death.
"No man in the city of Pueblo enjoyed the entire confidence and respect of his fellow men more than did Mark G. Bradford," stated his obituary in the Aug. 17, 1891, Pueblo Chieftain. "He was a consistent member of the Baptist church and his life was one without blemish or stain of any kind. After a life of quiet and unobtrusive usefulness he has passed to the other shore, regretted and beloved by a large circle of friends and acquaintances."
As probate judge, he issued the deeds for most of the city lots in the original survey of Pueblo, according to the Chieftain.
Mark Bradford's death and that of George M. Chilcott earlier that year further decreased the rapidly thinning ranks of the "hardy pioneers who made the first settlement on the banks of the Arkansas . . . The exposure, trials and privations of frontier life do not appear to be conducive to longevity," the Chieftain concluded.
Mark died at the home of his son, Ambrose, in the Dundee area on the North Side.
Sources: The Pueblo Chieftain; "The Bradford Brothers," by Arla Aschermann, June 1991 Pueblo Lore; "History of the Arkansas Valley, Colorado, 1881"; "How It Grew: A History of the Pueblo Public Schools" by James H. Risley; "A Place Set Apart: A History of the East Side Neighborhood" by Adam Thomas and Jeffrey DeHerrera
to the Pueblo County Index Page.
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