A History Of Marion County's

City Of Bradfordsville

City Named For Adam Bradford,

Who Came To The Rolling Fork Area in 1802

Editor's Note: For years Eula Ray Kirkland of Grand Switch, Kentucky, has been gathering information on the city of Bradfordsville, Marion County, Kentucky. She has compiled all these facts and is graciously sharing them with The Explorer and our readers. She has done extensive research at the Marion County Courthouse, the Marion County Library, and has talked to many residents of Bradfordsville.
Marion County was formed from Washington County on January 25, 1834.

Compiled by Eula Ray Kirkland - 2003

The first note of settlement in the Bradsfordsville area was in 1777, one year after the Declaration of Independence was signed. Edward Hammond claimed a tract of land of 400 acres below the joining of the North and South Fork rivers, known as the Rolling Fork River. Legal papers verifying this are on file in the land commis-sioner's office dated November 2, 1779.
The Long Hunters, whose job was seeking out property with valuable timber and suitable places to homestead, found the valley very beautiful. John McMurry came to this area in 1776, to raise corn and clear land. John was one of 13 men, who were from Virginia, known as the Long Hunters. After John proved himself clearing the land and raising corn, he was granted a preemption on 1,000 acres of land in Kentucky on June 23, 1780, on Rolling Fork, known as McMurry Flats. The Felix Gribbins and Fred Marlow farms, as known in 1999, were part of this property. John McMurry's oldest daughter, Margaret (Peggy), who married John Scanland, Sr., on February 26, 1805, in Washington County, Kentucky, was carried on horseback by her mother, when the family moved to Kentucky. John Simpson and James Wilson, who were Long Hunters, also settled in this area.
In 1789 there was an historical committee meeting in Bradfordsville, with the purpose of deciding a place to build a Presbyterian Church in the area. Those serving on this committee were James McBride; Samuel McElroy; James McElroy; John Simpson; Thomas Simpson; John McMurry; James Wilson John McElroy; and Rev. Thomas Cleland, Sr. It was their decision to build the church on Hardin's Creek, now known as Lebanon.



John Henry Bradford, 1851-1909, is buried in the Old Liberty Cemetery. Bradfordsville, Kentucly. He was the grandnephew of Adam Bradford.

A most interesting family, descending from Monarch Brian Baru of Ireland, ended up in this area. One of John Hite's family sailed to Ireland to recruit settlers for the valley of Virginia and fell in love with Brian O'Bannon's lovely, young daughter on the return voyage. The O'Bannon's settled in the Fauquier-Culpeper area, where they prospered mightily. James O'Bannon came to Kentucky down the Cumberland and stopped at Logan's Fort near Stanford. There he met Mary Logan, who he married, and came to this area. They lived somewhere near where the Bradfords later lived and are buried in the O'Bannon Cemetery located behind the Bradford House. They were living where they could see where the North and South Forks met, forming the Rolling Fork River. James drowned in the Rolling Fork on February 11, 1809. The family remained in the area, and later, one married into the Coppage family.
Adam and Peter Bradford, who were brothers, left Snow Hill, Maryland, in 1788 and went to Orange County, Virginia. They separated there. Peter went to Somerset, Pennsylvania, married and purchased 156 acres of land on May 20, 1801. He sold this property on January 30, 1809, and came to Kentucky with his wife, Margaret. In the meantime Adam went to Sequatche Valley in Tennessee, where he married Nancy Cole. Adam and Nancy had four children. Nancy died in 1802. Only one son, William, lived and came with his father to the new frontier of Kentucky, looking for a place to settle.
They came upon a valley that struck them with its tucky, which spot was pointed out as where the North and South Forks join. On September 7, 1825, a petition was filed in Washington County court to establish the town as Centerville. The town was laid out by Dr. Joseph Rose, who came from Pennsylvania in 1824. James Bradford told him they needed a doctor and thought he could do well at Bradford's Mill. Dr. Joseph Rose had been in a glass manufacturing company, which had gone broke. He was in the business with several others, but he was left with the debt. He was able to pay off the debt after he came to Bradford's Mill.


Betty Purdy Hotel located in Bradfordsville, Marion County, Kentucky, durin the late 1800s. Standing, l-r: Verda burke, Watt Thornton, Lyda Wright, Edna Thornton, Lyda Wright, Edna thornton Drye, Fleece Hocker, and Ethel McBride. Seated, center, Warren Breeding and Etta Purdy Arvitt. Seated, front, Jim Kirkland and Myrtle Crews Gartin.

(Photo courtesy of Eula R. Kirkland.)


Following is the petition that was submitted to the Washington County Court:
To the worshipful, the county court of Washington County, your petitioners would pray and solicit this worshipful court to establish a town upon Dabney Tucker's Plantation on the Rolling Fork in Washington County. They would represent to this honorable court that there are few more eligible situations for a town than this. They would represent that this site is a considerable distance from any other town in the county, which reason, with the many others, prove the necessity of its establishment. They hope for the indulgence of the law in this special case and in duty bound September 7, 1825. The board consisted of James H. Tucker; Robert Wright; Moses Burnett; William B. Shreve; Green Gay; Booker Wilkinson; Charles Dyer; James McMurry; Matthew Tucker; Richard Chandler; Stephen Gartin; James L. Tucker; John Tucker; Samuel Kennett; James Bradford; John Pope; Squire Bates; John Wayman, Sr.; Basil Speaks; James V. Mahan; Levi Fairs; Hudson Watkins; Ignatius Abell; John Isaac; John Bradford; Dabney Tucker; George Roberts; Robert Burnett; William ?; Garrett VanDyke; Joseph Rose; John Reed; and John Scanland, Sr.
The town continued to be called Bradford's Mill. The Act of 1835-36 of the General Assembly, Commonwealth of Kentucky, Chapter 75, was the Act to establish the town of Bradfordsville and appoint trustees. It follows:
Section 1: Be it enacted by the general assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky that the town formerly laid off in Marion County by Joseph Rose, shall be, and the same is hereby established, upon the plan as laid down by the plat of said town, and the said town shall be known and called by the name of Bradfordsville.
Section 2: Be it further enacted, that Micajah Malone, William M. Chelf, William F. Scanland, James Bradford, and Joseph Rose, are hereby constituted trustees for said town, who shall continue in office for one year, from and after the first day of May next, until their successors are duly elected and qualified.
Section 3: Be it further enacted that the free white male inhabitants of said town, over the age of 21 years, shall meet annually and elect their trustees in such manner as they think proper.
Section 4: That the trustees of said town shall have power to appoint town officers and establish all by-laws, which they may deem necessary for the government of said town provide the said by-laws be not inconsistent with the constitution or laws of this Commonwealth.
Section 5: Be it further enacted that the said trustees shall, by a unanimous voice, add such found to the said town, as they may think proper.
This Act was approved on January 29, 1836.
The state later developed the act of incorporation and on February 27, 1860, the town became incorporated. By this time Bradfordsville had a post office. The first rural post office in Kentucky started in 1834. William Henry "Uncle Free" Austin was the first rural carrier in Bradfordsville and second in Kentucky. Once his wife, Clemmie Morrison Austin, had to take tea kettles of boiling water to thaw Uncle Free's boots loose from his saddle.
There were three churches: Bradsfordville Christian Church, Bradfordsville Methodist Church, and Liberty Meeting House (Presbyterian Church) located at Old Liberty Cemetery, which was organized in 1813. There were two hotels: the Yowell Hotel and Livery Stable and Purdy Hotel. There was a tan yard, a saw mill, a hat factory (the first factory in Marion County), a broom factory, a wool or carding business, and a grist mill.
In 1866 Henry White Bradford rebuilt the Bradford House, which stands in 2003 in very poor condition. This was the first house in the area to have running water. It was a gravity system with a windmill and tank on a hill forcing water down to the house.


Home College was an independent and fully accredited college. It was built of brick from the kiln in Bradfordsville, Marion County, Kentucky. The college was in operation from 1866 to about 1901.

(Photo courtesy of Eula R. Kirkland.)


During the fire on February 8, 1865, the Yowell Hotel and Livery Stable were destroyed, along with the tavern connected to the hotel. Curb stones still remain along the street in front of where the hotel was located.
Dr. Joseph Rose's home, located across from Rose Cemetery, was a brick home and burned on February 8, 1865.
The sawmill, on the river side of the street, was burned and helped fuel the fire that destroyed the town. Many other buildings and homes were destroyed, and there were several injured and killed as a result of defending their homes.
Mr. Jim Cager Yates, the Burke brothers, and Walter W. Crews helped to rebuild and establish the town.
In 1866 Home College was built on land owned in 2003 by James Robert and Patsy Hardesty Kirkland. The location is above the sewage plant on the point of the hill in front of their home. The college was independent and was fully accredited by the state. It was built of brick from the kiln in Bradfordsville. This brick was used later to build Rolling Fork Bank. Home College was incorporated on January 28, 1866. The first board of trustees were: James Yowell; John Arvitt, Sr.; Dr. James H. Tucker, Jr.; Moses M. Beard; Travis Thornton; and John Arvitt, Sr.
Teachers known to have taught at Home College were: Governor Augustus O. Stanley, who taught Greek and Latin; Dr. J. C. Fales, who married first, the daughter of Thomas Cleland, married second, Amanda Helm, daughter of Joseph Helm of Danville, Kentucky; Amanda Weatherford Yowell; Dr. Clem Hill; and Jasper Snodgrass. Students known to have attended the Home College are: Ethel Gay Tatum Rawlings, Millard Thornton, Fannie Helm, Sallie Helm, Hattie Crews Newcomb, Edna Thornton Drye, Verna Glasscock Willis (sister of Raymond Glasscock), Sallie Spalding Overstreet, and Dr. James C. Rawlings.
In November 1897 Tom Douglas rented the Joseph and Isabelle Surber Home and opened a new hotel. This was a log building that Junior Sherrill tore down, and he built a new home and was living there in 1999. After the Surber Hotel closed, Mrs. Florence Mullins ran a boardinghouse for several years. She had two daughters, one was named Sarah Longmire.
Behind the Lewis and Drye Department Store was the Shugars and Dinwiddie Drug Store. This store was sold to D. O. Burke.
Augustus Ryder, born in 1810, was a merchant from Germany. He lived in Bradfordsville with John and Sally Coppage Yowell. Augustus worked in Lewis Crittenden Rawling's store in Bradfordsville. He never married and left the land for Ryder Cemetery in Lebanon.
John N. Scanland built a large home in 1780 next to where the Christian Church is today. Hiram and Althalinde W. Poole bought the property and sold it to Lewis Crittenden and Susan Crawford Riley Rawlings on November 4, 1883. Hiram Poole was an engraver for tombstones, and many in the Old Liberty Cemetery bare his name.
The Bradfordsville Overall Manufacturing Company made Elk Brand overalls where the telephone office was on Middle Street, located behind the Baptist church. They sold $5,000 worth of stock at $50 per share: J. C. Yates, 20; J. O. Beard, ten; W. F. Purdy, 12; A. D. Purdy, 14; Lewis and Drye, ten; J. R. Breeding, six; H. H. Reynierson, four; Will McBride, four; W. A, Thornton, two; 18 shares to be taken. (Business commenced March 18, 1907.) Directors were J. C. Yates, E. C. Lewis, A. D. Purdy, J. C. Beard, W. F. Purdy, and H. H. Reynierson. Miss Effie Dohoney was reportedly the first lady foreman in Kentucky.
In the Rice Bradford home there was a private school taught by Annie Newcomb. This was a log home located at the corner of present River Drive and Third Street. Annie Newcomb was a sister of Gilbert Newcomb's father. Rice Bradford married first, Anne Raber; married second, Janie Wright of Bradfordsville.
Dr. John J. Fleece and James Hall started the Masons at Bradfordsville in 1844. The Lodge number is 136. In 1877 the Masonic Lodge was on the second floor of the Union Chapel where the present day Bradfordsville Baptist Church is located.
The Union Chapel was used by the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist denominations. Some of the pastors were Rev. J. W. Campbell in 1903, Rev. Mahoney in 1905, and Rev. T. M. Wood. Harvey B. Dean gave $500 to the chapel, so the Presbyterian preachers would continue to be paid. The preacher was only paid a dollar or two per week.
Bradfordsville Roller Mills was located where the last house on the right on Highway 49 North is located, before you come to bridge. The flour brands were Lafayette and Alpine Snow. The mill was owned by Baker Terhune and sons. This mill was later known as Terhune and Lapsley. Dewitt Taylor was shot by his step-father, Lucian C. Owsley, at the Terhune and Lapsley Mill. The Owsleys lived across the road where James Robert Kirkland presently lives. It is said that blood stains were visible on the floor for a long time. Roy Bateman placed a candle where it caught shucks on fire and the mill burned. Jimmie Yowell was so excited he put his britches on backwards, and Mr. Sam May, who lived across the road, brought a lantern so they could see to put out the fire. Mr. Lewis VanDyke rode a horse across the river to the fire.
The bridge across Rolling Fork River was started in 1904, and in 1905 the people still couldn't cross and were anxious for the completion. The bridge across South Fork was completed in 1911.
Burke's Carpenter Shop was where Sam's Used Car Lot is presently located. The shop was run by Calimese Burke. He died in the building, and the building was thought to be haunted afterward.
The Lexington Theological Seminary verified that in December 1840, a Rev. L. Merritt reported he had baptized, for the congregation of Bradfordsville Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and had been working with them the last seven years. In 1920 they verified the church had 200 members. It is still uncertain when the church started, but it goes back to at least 1833. This was Dr. Joseph Rose's land, where the first church was built. Rose was very religious and when he died 1849, he probably gave the land for the church. In September 1896 the new Christian Church building, built by D. C., Matt, and Will Burke, was dedicated by Ira M. Boswell. Two of the pastors were Joe Montgomery and a Brother Wyatt.
The Powell Building, owned by Don V. Drye, was at the corner across from the Christian church where Bird's Place is presently located. The Bradfordsville Post Office was on the first floor. Mr. J. R. Breeding was postmaster. The second floor was used for apartments, and the top floor was used as community theatre. Ms. Lucille VanDyke remembers being in a production there. Fire destroyed the building on February 2, 1929. Carl Overstreet and Gilbert Newcomb were able to get the mail out of the post office. The fire was started by someone putting ashes down the elevator shaft. The apartments were occupied by Cassie Bright and Mr. and Mrs. Joe Cabell. The telephone exchange was also in this building. Rakes Motor Company and a blacksmith shop were located in the rear.
Alford Graves Crews, born April 3, 1875, and died February 2, 1942, is buried in the Old Liberty Cemetery. He married Fannie Followell. Alford and Fannie were parents of Essie Crews Morgeson. Alford was a native of Illinois. He owned the building that burned on February 2, 1929. His home was also in the building.
The original Fred Milburn building, which later was known as the R. M. (Dick) Chelf building, was destroyed by fire on February 2, 1929. The building also housed Wallace Raney's barber shop and a poolroom.
Bradfordsville City School was built by Walter Crews around the turn of the century. This was a subscription school run by the city. It was a grade and high school which still stands. Some of the students were: Frances Thornton Tucker, Everett Tucker, Hazel Woodrum Lis, Gilbert Newcomb, and Linnie Swiggett Raney. Burt Hogan found a book where Linnie made the highest grades in the school.
Some of the teachers at Bradfordsville City School were: Nell Fallis; Janette McDonald, who was L. C. Richardson's aunt; Mr. Fales; Gene Bohanon; Hubert Keltner; Mrs. Sam Tharp; Beulah Bradford Pipes; Carlos Burkhead; Professor Lucy, who had been a college professor; and Gilbert England, who married Betsy Dahoney. Their son Kenneth played basketball for the University of Kentucky, then went to war. They had another son, Harold.
Retherford (Red) Yowell owned a building in back of Lewis and Drye's store warehouse. Lewis and Drye opened the store in 1905, on the corner where Bird's Place is now. They started a department store in a frame building across the street known as the Poole and Avritt building. In 1910 they moved the frame building back and used it for undertaking and a supply department. This was when they built the new brick department store that was opened in 1911. This became the biggest retail and wholesale business in central Kentucky. "From the cradle to the grave" became a popular term to describe the large variety of services they offered. The basement housed Kuloff, which was an ice cream parlor and place of entertainment for the community.
In 1930s Bradfordsville acquired the waterworks from Don V. Drye.
Dr. George Graham Thornton graduated from the University of Louisville in 1886. He practiced in Gravel Switch. He owned the first car in Marion County. He bought it from Sears. He closed his office in the Masonic building in 1935, making home visits by horseback.
In 1954 the Marion County School Board closed the high school, causing much opposition. There was a one year strike with many of the students attending Hustonville High School. The parents furnished a bus to transport the pupils. There were many meetings and trips to Frankfort opposing the closing, but they lost the fight.
The grade school remained until 1984, when it was also discontinued.
The Rolling Fork Bank was started September 2, 1901. The cashier was Roy C. Smith; and directors were: J. H. Glasscock, T. C. Purdy, W. W. Crews, W. J. Shreve, Manuel Evans, H, H. Reyneirson, R. H. Yowell, J. C. Yates, and J. C. Beard.
The Owen Harmon Grocery Store was where Superior Grocery is today, and it burned. Burt Hogan and James Mullins rebuilt the store. After several years James Mullins purchased the store and sold it to Billy Higdon. Eugene Young ran the store for Billy Higdon, then Wayne Hancock bought it. Doug Ray owns the store today.
Newbolt School was on the Everett Tucker property. This was a subscription school and later renamed Cabin Branch School.
Earl Hancock ran a grocery store. It burned and a new store, with apartments, was rebuilt. It is now an all apartment building owned by Johnnie Wiser.
In February 1903 H. H. Reynierson sold one-half interest in his store to Edgar C. Lewis.
Henry Veatch lived about where Bradfordsville Garage is now. He was a barber and his shop was between where the Masonic building and Oatley Burke's store were located.
H. C. Walker had a grist mill and store located where Sam's Supersave is presently located. His daughter was Bess Walker Breeding. They had a son Bob. The Walkers lived where Dorothy Evans Chelf now lives.
On the back street Aunt Jane Hocker lived in a log home. Charlie Cochran was living there when the home burned. This was the old city hall and it was a tavern at one time.
Gilbert Newcomb and Leonard Lane built and ran a plumbing supply store. It was converted into a home and David Edelen now lives there.
Mrs. Nannie Burke ran Burke's Drygoods and made hats upstairs. Mollie Avritt worked there. The store was later ran by Oatley Burke, then Horace Gribbins, then it was the T. T. Hogan Store. Now Sam Wright has a restaurant and a laundrymat. This is the oldest business house left in Bradfords-ville.
The Turner Rakes family died in a fire on February 28, 1937. Six children were killed that day, and Turner lived until April 2, 1937. The fire was at the gap near the Taylor County line.
U. A. Stuart, a Confederate soldier, was from Bradfordsville and lived in the Jones Fork area.
Mr. Jesse Abell had the first automobile wreck in Marion County.
There was a harness racing track located on Liberty Meetinghouse Road on the Grundy farm, presently owned by Bernard Luckett. The area had several forts for protection from the Indians as this was their "happy hunting" grounds. They especially liked to stay close to the river. The Kennett Fort was located above Bradfordsville on the present Steve Whitehouse farm. The fort was supplied by a large spring, which is still supplying water today. There was another fort up the North Rolling Fork River known as Swan-Isaac Dever Fort. It was located on the Jimmy Glasscock farm. Also on the Kedron-Buffalo Road was a fort known as Rawlings Taylor Fort. This is located on the farm known as Rawlings farm owned by Richard and Eula Ray Kirkland. Up the North Rolling Fork River about another mile was the Gray Fort. It is just over the Boyle County line as you go up the river.
The Indians also had forts in the area. There was one located earlier just one field away from where the Gray Fort was located on the Hogan farm owned by Richard and Eula Ray Kirkland.
On the Henley Taylor farm the researchers from the University of Kentucky found evidence that there was an Indian fort on the Henley Taylor farm on the hill above the Kedron Bridge. This property is also owned by Richard and Eula Ray Kirkland.


Eula Ray Kirkland, 7245 HWY 337, Gravel Switch, KY 40328, shares this article with our readers.


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