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Nathan Ball Bradley (1831-1906)
Political Biography.

1900 biography. (Added Nov., 2008)

Livingstone's History of the Republican Party, Vol. II, 1900


Nathan Ball Bradley, of Bay City, was one of the pioneers in what was for a long time the greatest lumber manufacturing district in the world. He was the son of William and Lucy Bradley, and was born in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, May 28, 1831. The Bradleys in this country go back in their ancestry to Plymouth Rock, and one branch of the family has resided in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, more than a century and a half. One of those in direct line of descent, William Bradley, helped organize the first Protestant Episcopal Church in Berkshire County, at Lanesborough, in 1767.

In 1835 the parents of N. B. Bradley removed to New Connecticut, as the Western Reserve, in Northern Ohio, was then called, and settled in the town of Wellington. Here the son live until he was sixteen years old, working on the farm and attending the district school when he could be spared from farm work. At the age of sixteen he apprenticed himself to a trade, serving his time thereat. He then foresaw that greater opportunities offered in other branches of industry, and decided to make a trip to the Western country. He located at Oashkosh, Wis., which place was then in its infancy. Saw milling and lumbering had just begun to develop in this young town of the West, and here Mr. Bradley acquired his first experience in sawing pine lumber, which proved to be his principal business in after life. He afterwards returned to Ohio where, in connection with a brother, he built a saw mill for the manufacture of hardwood lumber; this, however, he found to be slow work in comparison with sawing pine, and in 1852 he made his first venture in Michigan, locating near Lexington on Lake Huron's shore. Here he became a part owner in and manager of a saw-mill having a daily capacity of 16,000 to 18,000 feet, a fair size mill for that time, but small as compared with mills of later years. Having exhausted the stock of timber available for this mill, which was limited, he removed to the Saginaw Valley, the center of lumbering operations in Michigan. He took charge of a saw-mill and lumbering operations of Frost & Bradley at St. Charles, the Bradley mentioned being a brother. He afterwards became owner in this mill, associated with him Mr. Lewis Penoyer, under the name of L. Penoyer & Co. In 1858 he removed to Bay City, taking charge of the mill afterwards known as the N. B. Bradley & Sons mill, which he subsequently enlarged and gave it a capacity of 20,000,000 feet per season. This mill he operated for thirty-two years under the firm names of N. B. Bradley & Co., N. B. Bradley, Trustee, and N. B. Bradley & Sons. It went out of commission in 1891, after cutting the supply of time which had been provide for it. In addition to the Bay City operation, Mr. Bradley was interested in other lumbering plants, one at Deer Park, Mich., and one at Lake Charles, La. At the latter the yellow pine of the South is being handled, and recently he has, in connection with his sons, invested in a lumbering plant in East Tennessee.

Saginaw Valley reached its greatest output of lumber about the year 1882, when it exceeded one thousand millions, nearly all of which was shipped by water as raw material to the yards at various lake ports, where it was manipulated and resold to the consumer. Mr. Bradley was among the earliest ones to perceive the possibility of handling lumber in the Saginaw Valley and shipping it by cars direct to retailers through the country, dressing and finishing it ready for the builders to use. In furtherance of this purpose he called to his assistance Mr. D. A. Ross, of Detroit, an experience man in the car load trade, and the corporation of Ross, Bradley & Co. was formed. Later the name was changed to Bradley, Miller & Co., which company is still carrying on the yard and planing mill business. Since the organization of this company over four hundred million feet of lumber has been purchased, manipulated, sold and shipped by it. Mr. Bradley was among the first to build and operate a steam salt block in connection with the saw mill in the Valley, burning up the mill refuse, and using the exhaust stead to evaporate the brine. His steam block was patterned afte for years by other mill men.

He was an active member of the Bay County Salt Company, afterwards the Saginaw Bay Salt Co., a company organized for the purpose of taking the salt from the manufacturer and marketing it and dividing he proceeds pro rata among the manufacturers. He was a Director, a member of its Executive Committee, and Treasure of the company for several years. He was the active man in the organization of the Bay City Street Railway Co., one of its managers, a Director and Secretary of the company. He also took an active part in the promotion and organization of the first beet sugar factory company, that of the Michigan Sugar Co., organized January, 1898, being a Director, member of its Executive Committee and Vice-President of the company.

In politics Mr. Bradley has been a Republican ever since the part was organized, casting his first Presidential vote for Fremont in 1856. He was the first Mayor of Bay City after its incorporation as a City in 1865; was elected, in 1866, a member of the State Senate, declining a renomination two years later. He represented the Eighth Congressional District of Michigan in Congress from 1873 to 1877, his increasing business requiring him to withdraw from politics.

In church connection Mr. Bradley is a Presbyterian, has been for more than thirty years an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Bay City. He was a charter member of Bay City Lodge and of Joppa Lodge of F. A. & M., and for several years presiding officer of the former. He was charter member of Blanchard Chapter of R. A. M., and presiding officer thereof, and a member of Bay City Commandery No. 26, Knights Templar.

November 12, 1853, Mr. Bradley was married at Sparta, Morrow County, Ohio, to Miss Huldah L. Chase, by whom he had two sons, Elemer E. and Fred W. His wife died in March, 1881. He was again married in 1882 to Mrs. Emeline E. Gaylord, widow of the late Hon. A. S. Gaylord, of Saginaw.

1924 Michigan biography.

Michigan Biographies
Michigan Historical Commission - 1924 (Page 102)


Senator from the Twenty-seventh District, 1867-8;
member of Congress, 1873-5 and 1875-7.
Was born in Lee, Mass., May 28, 1831.
He moved with his father's family to Ohio in 1835.
He received a common school education and came to Michigan in 1852.
He settled at Bay City in 1858.
He served in the village and city Council and was elected Mayor in 1865.
He was elected State Senator and served in the session of 1867.
In 1872 and 1874 he was elected to Congress and served in the 43d and 44th sessions. In that position he made a good record.
He engaged in the manufacture of lumber and salt

Library of Congress biography.

LIbrary of Congress Biography

BRADLEY, Nathan Ball, a Representative from Michigan;
born in Lee, Berkshire County, Mass., May 28, 1831;
moved with his parents to Lorain County, Ohio, in 1835; attended the common schools;
moved to Wisconsin in 1849; employed in a sawmill in the pine region;
returned to Ohio in 1850 and built and operated a sawmill until 1852,
when he moved to Lexington, Mich., and engaged in the manufacture of lumber;
moved to St. Charles, in the Saginaw Valley, in 1855 and engaged in the lumber industry; purchased a mill in Bay City, Mich., which he operated from 1858 to 1864;
engaged in the salt industry in Bay City;
justice of the peace three terms,
a supervisor one term,
an alderman three terms,
and the first mayor of Bay City after it obtained its charter in 1865;
member of the State senate 1866-1868;
engaged in banking in 1867; vice president of the First National Bank of Bay City;
elected as a Republican to the Forty-third and Forty-fourth Congresses (March 4, 1873-March 3, 1877); was not a candidate for renomination in 1876 to the Forty-fifth Congress;
again engaged in the lumber business in Bay City and also was instrumental in establishing the first beet-sugar factory in the State;

died in Bay City, Bay County, Mich., November 8, 1906;
interment in Elm Lawn Cemetery.

Additional Notes.

    Bradley Family Genealogy:

  • William, father - born Feb. 25, 1796, Lee, Mass.
  • Lucy (Ball), mother - born abt. 1796
  • Emily, daughter - b. Dec. 23, 1816, Lee, Mass.
  • William, jr., son - b. Dec. 28, 1818, Lee, Mass.
  • Charles, son - b. Jun. 23, 1822, Lee, Mass.
  • Henry, son - b. May 17, 1824, Lee, Mass.
  • Nancy, daughter - b. Dec. 9, 1825, Lee, Mass.
  • Nathan B., son - b. May 28, 1831, Lee, Mass.

Viewers Comments/Contributions:

April, 2012: Stuart V. Bradley, Jr. has contributed extensive family genealogy and history of the Bradley family, which are in pdf format:

Related Note & Pages

Nathan B. Bradley Birney
Nathan B. Bradley
First Mayor of Bay City

Home: 15th & Howard

Burial: Elm Lawn Cemetery

Related Pages:
{Bio.: Nathan Bradley}
Bradley, Charles H. Nephew
Bradley, Henry M. Bro
Warren, Byron E.
Woolson, John O.
People Referenced
Bradley, Charles (bro)
Bradley, Elmer E. (son)
Bradley, Emily (sis)
Bradley, Fred W. (son)
Bradley, Henry (bro)
Bradley, Nancy (sis)
Bradley, Nathan B.(subject)
Bradley, William (father)
Bradley, William Jr. (bro)
Chase, Huldah L. (1-wife)
Gaylord, A. S. Hon.
Gaylord, Mrs. Emeline (2-wife)
Penoyer, Lewis
Ross, D. A.
Subjects Referenced
27th District
43rd Congress
44th Congress
Bay City, MI
Bay City Street Rwy. Co.
Bay Co. Salt Co.
Berkshire County, MA
Bradley, Miller & Co.
Elm Lawn Cemetery
First National Bank
First Presbyterian Ch.
Frost & Bradley Co.
Justice of the Peace
Lanesborough, MA
Lee, MA
Lexington, MI
Loraine County, OH
L. Penoyer & Co.
Lumber manufacturing
Mayor, Bay City
Michigan Sugar Co.
Morrow Co., OH
N.B. Bradley Co.
N.B. Bradley & Sons Co.
N.B. Bradley, Trustee Co.
oashkosh, WI
Ross, Bradley & Co.
Saginaw, MI
Saginaw Bay Salt co.
Saginaw Valley
Salt manufacturing
Sparta, OH
State Senator
St. Charles, MI
Sugar factory
Wellington, OH
Internet References
None at this time.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.