Biographical Sketches of the life of MAJOR WARD BRADFORD
(old Pioneer)

As related by the author who is 84 years of age and nearly blind, Containing a graphic description of the manners, life of Early Times, Vivid incidents In Indian Wars, and wilds of the Mountains Life in the Gold Regions of Nevada; Perils by Land and by Sea! Together with reliable statements concerning the Products and Resources of many Lands and many Climes.

A, brief-History of the life of Major Ward Bradford: written from memory- in his 82nd year, assisted by his wife, Martha Bradford, in her 63rd year.


Father was Moses Bradford, born in Maine, Descendent of Governor William Bradford of Mayflower fame. Father died at age of 65 and mother, Anna Ward, at 90.

Parents settled on bank of Cuyahoga River, Portage County, Ohio in 1804. I was born there on April 13, 1809.
First incident remembered was father's enlistment in army during war of 1812. Against mothers wishes. Mother shed tears.

Second Incident - Uncle John wounded a deer and called Ward's dog, Gunner to catch It, Dog and deer jumped into river above falls. Carried over and drowned. Caused me to think hard of Uncle John.

Next recollection when father came home from army sick.

In spring of 1810 father moved to Hocking County, Ohio, and settled in woods on head branch of Big Raccoon. Unbroken forests and thinly settled. Bradford's among first settlers.

Bears, panthers, mountain wolves, wild cats, foxes, coons, opossums, deer, turkeys, pheasants, quail, pigeons and snakes of almost all description. and other animals and birds in abundance.
Father built log cabin and started clearing first acre of land. Hard working man but not much of a hunter, but could kill a deer or turkey when necessary.

Bought two cows and few stock hogs. Continued clearing land and raising crops most needed. When father was absent one day big black bear came in dooryard and picked up hog weighing about 60 pounds, Frightened everyone. Next morning father and neighbor with rifles and dogs followed bear trail and found remains of hog covered up in leaves. Bear escaped. Afterwards had to keep stock in enclosure at night.

At 10 became acquainted with grubbing hoe, axe and corn hoe and helped father. Killed first deer at 12. Became quite a hunter. At 16, a stout and able-bodied boy, and expert with above tools. New field opened. With sickle, scythe, pitchfork and rake joined harvesters. Made full hand.

Method of harvesting - - Formed company of 6 or 8 men. Began on ripest grain first and moved from field to field until done. At sunrise all gathered at place where grain was to be cut, ate little old rye bread and butter and cheese and then marched into field. Header appointed. Started in. Second started after leader had gone about a yard, and so on. Each man cut swath 4 feet wide, laying grain behind him. When across fields hung sickles on shoulders and bounded back across field. At nine o'clock horn blew for breakfast. Most substantial and best prepared meal desired. To field again. Good-natured boy kept old brown jug and bucket of cold water handy. At 12 o'clock had substantial dinner. Rested one hour. At 4 o'clock lunch was brought into field. Seated in shade for half hour. Worked until time to hang up sickles and shock up day's work. One acre per day to the band was called a No.1 day's work. Supper. Most of haying done after grain was cut. Done with scythe rake and pitchfork.

Reader can see chance for education was limited. Had only three month's time each winter to attend school at old log school house from time I was eight till sixteen. At 18 it became my duty to enroll according to military law. Elected first lieutenant. Took pride in this, especially officers drill.

On 20th birthday father called and spoke thus: "My son Ward, upon reflection I have come to this conclusion. We are poor and have a large family, and perhaps will not have anything to give you when you become of age, and as you have been a dutiful and hard-working boy, you may consider yourself free, making your home with us at your convenience." With heavy heart and choked voice I thanked him.

___________________________________________________________ and clearing land by the acre.- In 8 months had $109.00 deposited with mother. Went to Chillicothe land office and bought 80 acres and started work on it. Worked 2 days a week for board at nearest neighbors and other four for myself. Built cabin, cleared and fenced 3 acres and set out orchard.

On Dec, 15, 1831, married Margaret Martin (?) moved home and continued work. ______________________ ________with father-in-law sold out and moved to Noble County, Indiana, settling in Hawpatch bought 120 acres on Elkhart River, joining town plot of Ligonier, which had just been laid out by Isuele Caven. Purchased lot and built on it. First house built in this now thriving city. Bridge 128 feet to be built across river there. Lowest bidder. Expert with broadaxe and did own hewing and framing.

After done, notified commissioners. Examined work and found it satisfactory. They paid me $500.00 as agreed and made me present of $20.00 besides, for prompt performance of contract.

In fall of 1837 sold out with intention of going to Iowa. Before going there went back to Ohio on horseback, bade father and mother, brothers and sisters and old friends farewell. Returned home. Left Ligonier last of November with three yoke cattle and prairie schooner. Very cold. Ground rough and frozen. Team became footsore. Arrived at South Bend and stopped over one day and had oxen shod. Very cold traveling over plains of Illinois. Crossed Mississippi River on ice at Burlington, settled in Henry County, Iowa within five miles of Mount Pleasant.

Dispute arose relative to line run between Territory of Iowa and State of Missouri. Results: order given to run another line. Beginning at original stake on Missouri River, line ran east, striking Mississippi River 9 miles south of former line. This strip of country, much desired, settled on very rapidly. Iowa and Missouri both claimed authority over it. When Henry County sheriff went on disputed strip to collect taxes and perform other officiaI duties, he was arrested by Missouri sheriff and placed in prison, but by giving sufficient bond, was released. Watched opportunity and in turn arrested Missouri sheriff In like manner, brought him to Henry County and treated him in same way. Brought on border warfare.
Gov. Lucas issued proclamation that all able-bodied males between ages of 18 and 45 should enroll for military duty and that territory be laid off in company districts. I soon received commission as Captain of Baltimore Company and soon had lively time, A Delegation of our representatives met like delegation from Paloyra, Missouri, and agreed to cease hostilities until Congress should meet and settle matter. Wasn't done for three years. In meantime kept well drilled and I received commission as major from Gov. Chambers, our second governor. General training held at Mount Pleasant. Disputed strip ceded to Iowa and called Butternut war. Came by name thus: Missorians dug up butternut roots to color homemade jeans and then began to come over to Iowa for more roots. Iowa objected because they wanted their own roots. Hence name of Butternut Root War.

While in Henry County I frequently visited Nauvoo to gather information concerning my military practice, as they were best drilled in military tactics, Nauvoo Legions would camp on Illinois plains and drill a week at one time in regular army drill. Became well acquainted with Gen. Jo Smith, Hiram Smith and many other leading men of Nauvoo.

In 1844 sold out and moved to Van Buren County where I bought 480 acres of land, partly timber and partly prairie. Located on well traveled road leading from Nauvoo to Council Bluffs, In fall of 1845 began building hotel. In March 1846 first pioneer company of Mormons, headed by Scott arrived at my place and wished to camp in timber, That night about 6 inches of snow fall and couldn't proceed so asked to lie over for few days. Weather kept cold and wet. Their camp increased in numbers for 12 days, until there were three hundred wagons and 1600 persons in camp. Created lively market. On 8th day of stay Brigham Young and wife drove up, overloaded, so I traded him a wagon for hardware, cutlery and things I needed for new hotel. On 10th day of stay Brigham Young visited me and walked through house. Saw that largest room not occupied, he asked if I was fond of music and dancing. I told him I was, He sent to camp and about 40 of his dancers, and a band of music came to house. All enjoyed evening and party closed by a dance, participated in by Brigham Young and wife and myself and wife. On 12th day caravan passed on way to far west. From this time on my house known for many miles east and west as Mormon Hotel. Was well acquainted with the 12 apostles and many of elders and other leading men. Always treated me with greatest kindness and respect and frequently called on me during spring and summer.

In fall of 1847 I sold out and moved to Alexandria on bank of Mississippi River in Clark County, Missouri where I built hotel and went into business. On May 1st, 1848 cholera broke out and several deaths occurred. On May 10th my wife fell victim to dreaded disease, in 37th year of her life. Now left with family of 8 children, youngest of whom soon followed its mother. My business was stopped and I found it very hard and lonesome to take care of such a large family. I concluded to seek another companion, and on June 30, 1849 I married Maverna Wood and resumed my business. Finding that old customers had left me, owing to my misfortune and the fact of a new landlady, I became very much discouraged. About this time a strange gentleman by name of Jones called on me, direct from California and showed me several specimens of gold. He gave brief history and description of California and Isthmus of Darien, stating that he believed hotel keeping on Isthmus would be grand speculation. He therefore rented hotel at that place and offered me $1,000.00 per month if I would go with wife and two daughters and take charge of it for him. Mr. Jones would accompany us and remain with us. I accepted and hired my sister to take care of five remaining children. I settled up business and rented hotel on Oct. 16, 1849. With Mr. Jones and wife we boarded steamer "Silas Wright" for New Orleans. Here landed on 23rd of month at 4 pm.. I started up town to find rooms. As I passed up wharf in front of many steamers I noticed one backing out into river. Suddenly most terrible explosion I ever heard took place. I was enshrouded in total darkness and almost instantly there followed a crash of falling timber and debris around me. In few seconds gentle breeze drove back smoke and cinders and opened to my view a most horrible sight, which left an impression on my mind that will never be effaced. To my right hand, within six feet of me, lay a mangled mass of flesh which uttered two or three words and was then silent. On my left was a similar mass, from which issued a few faint shrieks. By the voice I knew it was a female. In front, wharf was strewn with masses of flesh and blood, indescribable arms, legs, hands, intestines and every other conceivable matter, nude and black.Hull of steamer slowly backed out about her length and sank. Bells began ringing up and down whole length of wharf. City responded in like manner. Rumbling sound in moment. In short time thousands of people had gathered. Some frantic with grief, crying at top of voice "Where is my father," "Where is my mother," or brother or sister or friend. Many rushed thru crowd, halting over masses of flesh to identify them if possible. Just before sun went down several drays came and gathered up remains of dead. Multitude began to disperse. Next morning newspapers reported that boiler of "Louisiana" had exploded with 300 passengers on board and all lost but 3. Considered greatest explosion on Mississippi River up to that time.

On Nov. 2nd(1847) we embarked on schooner "Americus" with about 70 passengers on board. On second day out cholera broke out and during voyage seven were buried at sea. Landed at Chargres on 14th of month. I had most lonesome experience as I stood on lone bank of river and viewed surroundings. Along banks was row of bamboo huts with round opening for door. People were small, dwarfish, black or mulatto-colored race, half-clad, some with high cheek bones and black straight hair, like Indians, others had thick lips, flat nose and curly hair like the negro. Mixed race and ignorant class of beings. On third day after we arrived we started up river in a "bunga" rowed by 5 natives whom I had employed. Three or four bows were bent over the center of "bunga" like the bows on a wagon. These covered with raw-hide the boat loaded with our freight. It began to rain and rained hard for three or four hours. The river began to rise rapidly and by dark had overflowed banks so we could not land. Tied headline to limb of tree out over water. Went on next morning and with hard labor reached first point of dry land on river. Found small bamboo house and three Americans and two natives with "bunga" who had landed the night before. Laid over another night. Noisiest and most hideous night I ever experienced. Lowlands overflowed and whole creation driven to this spot of dry land. Grating of alligators, bellowing of baboons, screeching of apes, chattering of monkeys, and sounds of various other animals unknown to me, filled night with their chorus. River had fallen a number of feet by morning and had no further trouble till we landed at Cruces. We remained over night and sent freight by pack train. Hired three ponies for wife and daughter and I walked. I paid $16.00 each for ponies. Arrived at Panama at 9.00 p.m. and all were nearly exhausted.

Next day we were greatly disappointed. Learned that Mr. Jones had not returned in time specified in lease and house had been rented for much higher price. Discouraged Mr. and Mrs. Jones especially Mrs. Jones, very much. Decided to return to New Orleans. This almost paralyzed us for now what should we do. In Panama about 1500 persons bound for California. We made up our minds to stay with Californians. Rented small house outside wall of city at $10.00 per month and began housekeeping. Gave wife and girls employment enough to support themselves and pay rent. In the meantime steamer on Chagres parted cable in night in high water, drifted out of channel and lodged against large tree on bank. Owner of steamer came to Panama to hire help to launch Capt. Rollins of St. Louis. An old steamboat captain agreed to help him. Hired thirty men at $3.00 per day, myself and steward among number. When we reached place found that river had fallen 16 feet and bow extended out of water about one-third of length. I began hewing timbers and men placed them in proper position in ground and in eight days steamer was afloat. When we returned to Panama one of our friends taken sick with Panama fever. Was John Chick, with whom I was acquainted before leaving States. He died at my house and after much difficulty I had him decently buried,

For some time now I was idle. Then Capt. Caleb, Captain of fine ship "Edward Everett" hired me to sail with him to Tobaga Island, nine miles from Panama, to water and ventilate his ship. On her second trip to San Francisco I took charge of four sailors and discharged duty satisfactorily to the captain. When work was finished we sailed back to Panama and found that the steamer had touched and taken away about 1200 passengers at $300.00 each. All right with me as I could not pay that price. Capt. Caleb hired me to solicit passengers for his ship, saying he would sail as soon as he had 200 at $200.00 each. I began on Thursday morning and found there were two other ships waiting for same purpose, and also that there were four hundred passengers, all of whom said they would go on first ship that sailed but would promise me nothing definite. I advised captain to let me take his boat and two sailors and visit the other two ships that I might talk intelligently of their capacities. I boarded "Charleston" and introduced myself to the captain who showed me through the ship, which was old, a slow sailor and poorly furnished as a passenger vessel. I then boarded "Brustus" which was a new ship, a good sailer, and well provided for as a passenger ship. Captain's lady on board, and everything in good order. I returned to "Edward Everett" and resumed my position explaining my visit, which description had a good affect on hearers. On Saturday morning I remarked to Capt. Caleb if he would promise to sail on Monday, I was sure I could accomplish his desire. I also told him I had not enough money to pay the $1,00.00 for my family. He said we would sail. In the afternoon I made arrangements with about thirty men to meet me at this place and walk with me down to the captain's office. They agreed, and we proceeded to the office. I asked captain if he intended to sail on Monday. He said he did. I told him I wanted first five tickets. Tickets made out and I handed him $700.00 which he acknowledged. He owed me $300.00 at this time for three days soliciting at $100.00 per day. Applied on price of tickets $1000.00. Others asked for tickets and as soon as received them rushed out for friends. Did sail on Monday evening, Jan. 2, 1850 with 214 passengers. I was assigned to best rooms and we fared first class during voyage which was pleasant. Landed in San Francisco on Feb 7th. Trip third fastest ever made with sailing vessel up to that time.

When it became known there was a man and wife and two daughters on board, several gentlemen called on me wishing to rent their hotels. I went with them to examine their hotels and found them fair, considering manners of country. They used many flattering words and prophesied fortune for me in the near future. I asked lowest price. Answers were from $2,000.00 to $3,000.00 per month. Completely knocked prop from under me. Returned to ship again. Boarded schooner "Iowa" for Sacramento. Met same fate. Here met two old friends from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, who advised me to go to Marysville with them. Had come down river in small boat to purchase goods to replenish store. Went with them. Furnished us tent for a few days. Here I ran skiff for short time across Feather River between Marysville and Yuba City. Made $20.00 per day. W.M. Rose offered to rent me cloth tent at crossing of Yuba River, four miles above Marysville at $200.00 per month, assuring me that if I could not pay him at end of month he would not think any less of me. He would furnish flour, meat and other things for table. We accepted and moved. Tent in dusty condition. Table in center of tent and consisted of posts driven in grounds pieces across top of posts, and three boards on them lengthwise. One seat on each side made by placing board on posts. In corner of tent was stove and few tin cans and tin plates. All of outfit. Girls dusted walls and swept off table. I wet down earthen floor and Mr. Rose furnished few yards of domestic for tablecloth and better outfit for table. Second day we rang Spanish gong for breakfast. Boarders increased gradually and month soon passed. I went to Mr. Rose to settle. He asked me if I was able to do so. I asked for amount of bill. Consulted books and answered $700.00. I drew from pocket purse of gold dust and weighed out $900.00. I returned home and made inventory of all on hand. Found we had $I600.00. Continued second month with about same result. Then moved to Colonel Brohy's ranch two miles up river and ran ranch two months at $300.00 per month rent. Here realized about $3,000.00 per month

Wife taken sick. Prepared to go to Marysville for doctor. Before ready, men with drove of cattle called at well for drink of water. I asked if there was a doctor in company. They answered "Yes". I asked doctor to see my wife who was sick. Surprised to see them shake hands. Old friends in Missouri before we were married. His name Condit, and he had been her favorite physician. Wife had congestive chills. He remained with us two days but on July 23, 1860 wife died. Buried in Marysville cemetary. Not policy for me to remain and carry on business with my two daughters and reflecting on my five children at home, we resolved to return. I paid $75.00 for scythe and swath and hired man at $16.00 per day to mow prairie grass. Also hired team to draw and stack grass. About five tons which cost me $300.00. I sold some for $1200.00. Bought one pumpkin at $5.00 and made it into 25 pies. Sold readily at $1.00 each. Eggs at $1.00 each. Price for board $1.50 per meal. Boarders slept under oak trees. Cigars 25 cents each and drinks 25cents. These were prices in California at that time.

Business settled up. Bade Stewart farewell as he wished to remain. We had about $800.00 on hand. Took steamer at Marysville for San Francisco, where we remained for few days and then took English ship "Carbia" for Panama. Had hard trip. Captain very tyrannical, insulting John Bull. Lay in calm 18 days with extremely hot weather. One bottle water per day was our allowance. Gentle breeze sprang up and we resumed journey anchoring in mouth of Spencer River. Expected to take Nicaragua route and were two days preparing for journey. Then sixty persons returned from that route and said we could not pass that way. Boarded bark "Catherine" and after tedious journey of seventy days from San Francisco we reached Panama, crossing isthmus to Cruces, as before with two horses and I on foot. About thirty in our company. I appointed Captain, to make arrangements for descending river. Accomplished in one day and night. Arrived at Chagres again. Remained five days and boarded schooner "Indian Queen" for New Orleans. Pleasant voyage until heavy weather in Gulf of Mexico. Right dark and storm severe. Driven in mud near mouth of Mississippi River. Lay helpless for three days with flag at half mast. Steamer came within two miles or us, cast anchor. We were transferred in our small boats and taken to New Orleans. Remained two or three days. Boarded another steamer for St. Louis. Took revenue cutter for Alexandria. Ran twenty miles up river. Met heavy floating ice and were driven back to city. Hired conveyance by land to our home in Alexandria. Children well. Friends glad to see us after sixteen months absence. During sixteen months traveling twelve months and traveling expenses were $3,000.00. By being in business four months our profit was $8,000.00. By this almost miraculous journey were $5,000.00 ahead.

I bought some land and built a house. On April 21, 1851 married third wife, Emily Butcher. Thought I would never return to California, but circumstances changed, my mind. In spring ice broke up. Flood came. Valley overflowed from bluffs of Illinois to sand ridges of Missouri, nine miles remained under water for six weeks. Following winter very cold. Sold out and bought three wagons, six yoke oxen, six cows, a horse, saddle and bridle and started for West accompanied by three young men who volunteered to go with me to drive and take care of stock for board. Started April 15, 1852. Family consisted of myself, wife and seven children and men. We numbered twelve. Weather windy and stormy and traveling slow. At Missouri River had to stop a week for chance to ferry over. Bank lined up for great distance with teams and wagons waiting. Where Omaha now stands, then not a house. Road lined with wagons and stock so we slowly moved on long journey. When we reached the Big Platte, cholera broke out. Widespread alarm. As soon as a death took place, hurried burial followed and trains moved on again. Finally reached Salt Lake camped one week visiting old Mormon friends. At Humboldt River about 30 wagons of us took Northern on Oregon route by way of Goose Lake. Land good and we judged would soon be settled. Proved to be so.

One rainy night while encamped on southwest side of Lake, Indians stole several head of stock, Early in morning we pursued and overtook portion of them in afternoon. As soon as Indians discovered us they shot several cattle and scattered in all directions. We returned to camp with all stock we were able to trail, losing one yoke of oxen. I left one wagon and we moved on to Tule River. Here again headed off by Indians, but we struck camp, stood guard overnight and early in morning prepared to fight to finish. Soon saw dust rising about mile ahead and coming rapidly. If recruit for enemy our case lost; if friends, victory ours. No tongue could describe horror of my mind while new arrival approached. Indians began to scatter. Capt. Ben Wright and thirty men came towards camp and took in situation at once. Fired upon Indians, killing several, captured three, two squaws and one buck. We were again at liberty. Grazing good so we remained another day. Toward sundown buck was taken out of camp, shot and scalped. Bloody scalp brought back into camp. I thought this uncalled for. This being dangerous point, Capt. Wright sent from Yreka to relieve suffering immigration. Road clear so we journeyed on in safety. Reached Jacksonville on Sept. 17. Small mining camp. Built large house for myself and engaged to build for others for $700.00. Three boys still with me. Work soon accomplished. Then engaged in other work.

About Sept. 20, sixteen inches snow fell. Feared stock would perish. Man by name of Poole took cattle to Bear River bottom in heavy timber, came out all right. Three small provision stores. All goods used packed on animals from Portland, Oregon three hundred miles over bad road. Soon as snow fell, pack train could not travel, merchants put high tariff on goods. Salt; butter, sugar and tobacco $5.00 per lb. Flour, potatoes $1.00 lb. and other things in proportion. Soon ate up our $700.00. As soon as snow went off we went to work again. Decided that this country would not hold me longer than spring. In fall several men returned. Gave flattering account of coast. Believe man of my energy could cross mountains with wagons. Decided to try it. Several men volunteered to help me. Man with sixteen pack animals to accompany us. About March 20 loaded up and set out. First sixty miles down Applegate River and up Illinois River to junction of trail up mountains. Made without much trouble and struck camp for a time. With rifle I followed trail few miles to prospect route. Impossible for wagons to go farther. I returned to camp and reported result of investigations. Cast gloom over camp. In morning unloaded wagons, turned them bottom up, and put under them such things as we could do without. Packed freight on pack train, reserving gentlest animals for those not able to walk. Resumed journey. With difficulty reached summit and found snow six inches deep. Camped all night in pine grove. Made large log fire. Rained part of night. Had rough time. Spitting snow in morning. Situation unpleasant. As soon as light on our way down grade. Reached Smith River at 12 o'clock. River nearly bank-full here. Unpacked and turned stock loose. Grazing good. Saw first redwood timber. Some of these giants of forest measured forty feet in circumference. Large quantity of flood wood. Began building raft. Cut drift logs in 12 ft. lengths... Rolled them to bank of river. Plenty of pack ropes so built raft of these thus: Rope wrapped around each end of a log and logs rolled into water. Ropes crossed at each end and another log rolled in. In this way until raft 20 ft. long. Other dry logs split into slabs and placed on raft crosswise under logs. River one hundred yards wide. Current smooth and moderate. Remained in camp over night. In morning put part of freight on raft. Poled over river by seven men and unloaded. Had drifted down some in crossing so had to cordelle up to strike place where raft was built. Three men returned with raft. Balance of freight and family put on board and landed safely. Raft returned second time. Stock driven into river and forced to swim over. Those who remained boarded raft, crossed and unwound ropes. Let noble raft go down river one log at a time. Packed up again and reached coast in evening.

To the remainder of Ward Bradford's journal.

Deb Murray