Henry M. Bradley
Vigorous and determined were the men who entered the great white pine North as pioneers more than a half century ago and there began the work of the development of the forests the first work of magnitude undertaken in that section of the country. These pioneers were, of necessity, men of action who unflinchingly met difficulties as they arose, and to whom the full benefit of their efforts did not come until they had reached mature years, and who modestly accept the honors given them. Henry Martin Bradley, of Duluth, Minnesota, was a pioneer and the organizations which he built up and which bear his name today are among the most extensive in the region in which he is prominent.
Mr. Bradley's ancestry is of the noble colonial stock, his forefathers being among the early settlers of New England. He is of the sixth generation from William Bradley, who, with his brother Stephen, reached New Haven, Connecticut, from England, July 16, 1637. The two brothers were the founders of the New Haven branch of the Bradley family, various members of which have distinguished themselves in the service of their country.
Henry Martin Bradley is the son of William Bradley and Lucy (Ball) Bradley and was born at Lee, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, May 7, 1834. What schooling he obtained was acquired during his boyhood in the Old Bay State, because in later years it was necessary for him to help support the family.
When Henry had reached the age of eleven years his father left New England and journeyed westward into the sparsely settled State of Ohio. The head of the family was anxious to make a new home for himself and gain some of the rewards held out to the pioneer. He chose a place at Wellington, in the wilderness of Lorain County. Selecting a wooded section, the senior Bradley set about to clear the land for farming purposes. Henry, though but a youngster, aided in this work and so gained his first impression of lumbering. He remained on the farm, with no opportunity of adding to his education, except that which his mother and father personally gave him, until 1841. In October of that year he took advantage of an opening to learn the woolen manufacturing business, entering the employ of Ulijah C. Benton, who was engaged in wool carding and cloth dressing, as an apprentice.
For nine years he followed this business, graduating from an apprentice into a skillful workman, becoming a partner and later the proprietor of the business. He managed to accumulate a small amount of capital and, as he was not thoroughly satisfied with the business he was in, he sought to engage in some other line. This sought-for opportunity he finally found in Morrow County, Ohio, where he started, in 1850, to manufacture lumber. The mill which he secured was equipped with one upright mulay saw and, of necessity, the output of the mill was limited. Several tracts of hardwood timber were bought and a ready market even in that early day was found for the lumber. It was a profitable venture and the young man continued successfully to manufacture lumber for five years, during that time gaining a valuable experience.
By 1855 the timber available for the Morrow County mill operated by Mr. Bradley was practically cut out, and the young mill owner was forced to seek another field for his capital and energy. At this period Michigan appeared to be the most promising location for a lumberman, large quantities of white pine being cut by the few mills then in existence. In this new country, where the opportunities appeared so great, Mr. Bradley determined to seek a new home after closing up his original operations. Going to Bay City he learned that the great demand for white pine exceeded the capacity of the mills then running, and, after a thorough canvass of the situation, he determined to buy a mill. The equipment of this mill was two large circular saws, the usual type of mill of that day.
Mr. Bradley continued his operations as an individual until 1865, when he founded the firm of H.M. Bradley & Co., his associate being N.B. Bradley, and later F.E. Bradley was given an interest in the firm. His first investment in timber land was made in 1863, prior to this time the logs for the mill being bought from various concerns. Purchases of white pine tracts in the lower peninsula of Michigan were made by Mr. Bradley and by H. M. Bradley & Co. from 1863 to 1872, and at one time the firm was known as among the largest holders of timber in Michigan. The concern was one of the most active and one of the largest in Bay City, until its dissolution in 1878. Mr. Bradley was one of the leading citizens of Bay City before he took up his residence in Duluth, and in the thirty-five years he was there he witnessed the lumber business of the white pine North grow into an industry and reach the height of its development.
By reason of his activity, his coolness and his command of men, Mr. Bradley was chosen chief engineer of the Bay City fire department in 1862 and continued in that capacity until 1867. In those five years the sawmills and yards of the thriving city were attacked many times by fierce fires, and during one of these conflagrations a large portion of the town was burned. Mr. Bradley also served the city in other ways, having been an alderman for four years, a member of the board of education and of the board in charge of the water works.
Another concern with which Mr. Bradley was identified was Bradley, Hanford & Co., which was organized in December, 1881. Associated with him in this enterprise were H.H. Hanford, A.W. Bradley and E.L. Bradley. This firm engaged in the manufacture of lumber and went out of existence when the supply of white pine timber became scarce.
In July, 1890, Mr. Bradley moved to Duluth, Minnesota, with his family and has made that city his permanent home. Though practically out of active lumber manufacturing operations, Mr. Bradley has bought within the last decade thousands of acres of timber lands on the Pacific Coast; having holdings of sugar pine and white pine in California and of fir in Oregon. He owns considerable timber in Minnesota also. He is now largely interested in iron and mining enterprises. One of these is the famous Ely mine, from which 600,000 tons of ore is shipped annually. He is the owner of fourteen forties of undeveloped iron lands also.
Mr. Bradley married Miss Mary A. Cook, of Guilford, Medina County, Ohio, January 1, 1846. He is the father of five children: Alice A., now the wife of Gurdaus D. Edwards, Alva W., Charles H., Edward L. and Addie May, now the wife of Carl Norpell, of Newark, Ohio.
Mr. Bradley is a supporter of the Methodist Episcopal Church, often acting in its counsels, and is a member of several temperance organizations. He is a Mason and an Odd Fellow, though he has no membership in purely social clubs. All his life he has found recreation in hunting and fishing, and he is a lover of nature. Though a man well advanced in years he has lost none of the enthusiasm of the hunter, and in the fall of 1905 he joined in a moose hunt and was successful in killing one of these kings of the forest.