Charles H. Bradley
A forceful character and unwavering integrity is a combination of powerful attributes that has brought honor and a fair store of this world's goods to the man who has been so fortunately equipped. When his purpose has been thwarted for the moment by some great obstacle, or when some calamity has wrecked his plans, it is then that the grit and resourcefulness of the man assert themselves. Unless he can accept momentary defeat and take renewed encouragement from his store of mental and moral energy, he is doomed to fall back into the rank and file and to lead no more. Charles Henry Bradley, of Duluth, Minnesota, has shown the qualities of determination and integrity under all circumstances, and has accomplished much in his particular line.
He began life as a tally boy on the docks of Bay City, Michigan, with no other backing or assistance than his own forceful characteristics. Within five years from the time he started to work he was engaged in business for himself on a scale that gave him rank with men who had been in business many years; and before he left Bay City he had become the largest individual shipper of white pine to the East. Today, while still engaged in the shipping business, he is considered a reliable timber expert, and is extensively engaged in the sale of timber lands. His long residence and experience in Bay City and his knowledge of the timber lands of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota have particularly fitted him for the handling of large propositions such as he has been identified with in recent years.
Charles H. Bradley is the second son of Henry M. Bradley and Mary E. (Cook) Bradley, and was born November 4, 1853, at Sparta, Morrow County, Ohio, where his father was engaged in the woolen manufacturing business. He was an infant in arms when the family moved to Bay City, Michigan, in June, 1855. It was in this thriving lumbering town that Charles was brought up and that he gleaned his first knowledge of the lumber industry and became imbued with the idea of making it the means of his livelihood. He attended the public schools of Bay City and completed a course in the high school, but many of his play hours were put in about the sawmill of H.M. Bradley & Co., which business his father founded.
Young Bradley was seventeen years old when he finished his schooling and started to work. Instead of entering the sawmill of his father, as might have been expected, he secured a job as tally boy for G.K. Jackson, a prominent shipper of that period. He tallied for this employer during the years 1870 and 1871 and put in the following year with another shipper. He was an observant lad and quick to learn, and in the three years he thus spent he became qualified to act as an inspector, having acquired unusual expertness in the grading of lumber.
He had nursed an ambition to engage in business for himself from the first day he went on the docks for G.K. Jackson. This ambition was realized in 1873 when he began business under his own name as an inspector and shipper of lumber at Bay City. The term "shipper" is still applied to those engaged on the Lakes who buy and inspect lumber for shipment to parties in the East. The year he started in business he was offered what appeared to be an attractive salary to enter the employ of another concern. But he declined the offer in the belief that he could make more money as a shipper himself, and this belief was justified when, at the close of the year, he found that his business had returned him twice the amount of money he would have earned at the salary offered him.
Each passing year saw an increase in the volume of business done by Mr. Bradley, coincident with the growing demand for lumber and the decline of Bay City as a point of production. Mr. Bradley, in 1882, started a branch of his business at Oscoda and Au Sable, Michigan, which was placed in charge of W. A. Rose. The latter was admitted as a partner, the firm being known as C.H. Bradley & Co. The trend of the shipping business of the firm necessitated the opening of still another branch, at Menominee, Michigan, in 1885. This office was put in charge of John S. Coman, who also was given an interest in the firm of C.H. Bradley & Co. Mr. Bradley was the first to go into the Green Bay district for the shipment of lumber to the East.
At that time the timber lands of the northern and western sections of Wisconsin were being developed, while the Lake Huron shore of Michigan was being rapidly cut out. Therefore, the Au Sable business was closed in 1891, and Mr. Rose went to Ashland, Wisconsin, and P.M. Shaw, Junior, who had later become associated with Mr. Bradley, was transferred to Duluth. The Menominee branch of the business ended in 1889. The partnership existing between Mr. Bradley and Mr. Coman was dissolved January 1, 1890, and since 1893, when the partnership with Mr. Rose and Mr. Shaw was terminated, Mr. Bradley has continued the business of C.H. Bradley & Co. alone.
During the period from 1886 to 1889, inclusive, the firm averaged more than 125,000,000 feet of lumber a year in shipments, this being the largest business done by any one shipper of that period. The greatest volume of shipments made by C.H. Bradley & Co. in any one year was in 1889, when they aggregated 160,000,000 feet.
The large business done by Mr. Bradley led to his becoming interested in lumber vessels or tonnage, and he became a part owner in several vessels. One of these tonnage interests is in the steamer "C.H. Bradley" named after the shipper, which vessel has a carrying capacity of 900,000 feet. He never became financially interested in sawmills, although he has carried on many heavy transactions in timber, logs and lumber.
In 1894 Mr. Bradley shifted the scene of his active operations and his residence from Bay City to Duluth. Of recent years he has devoted himself somewhat to the buying and selling of timber lands, and is now giving his entire attention to timber investments.
During the financial panic of 1893 M^- Bradley had a bitter experience. Like many other men of extended business interests, he was unable to meet his obligations promptly, but suffice it to say that the good faith and grit and determination of the man were proved when he paid every one of his creditors in full.
Mr. Bradley married Miss Maggie G. Ten Eyck, a member of the old and prominent Ten Eyck family, of Albany, New York, December 1, 1875. Five children have been born to them—one daughter and four sons. The daughter, Mary Ten Eyck, is now the wife of Frank R. Leslie, manager of the Zenith Paper Company, of Duluth. Leonard G. Bradley, the eldest son, is a graduate of Lafayette College, of Easton, Pennsylvania, and is engaged in developing mining interests for the United States Steel Corporation. Wilson, another son, is taking a course of civil engineering at Princeton University. The third son, Charles H. Bradley, Junior, is preparing to enter college. The fourth son, Harry G., died September 4, 1892, at about two and a half years of age.
Mr. Bradley never took an active interest in politics, though he was urged during his long residence in Bay City to become a candidate for public office. He is a member of several fraternal organizations, and of the Commercial Club, of Duluth. He numbers among his business associates and friends some of the largest white pine handlers of the East, with many of whom he has carried on for many years transactions involving immense sums of money. His later operations in timber lands in many instances have been with these former associates, and several large deals have been satisfactorily consummated.