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FredQuest Genealogy

John Bradfield

John Bradfield
Belmont County Ohio Centennial

John Bradfield was, for a long period, a resident of Barnesville, Ohio, and was ever in the foreground of its business life.  In the matter of public improvements, he probably left a greater impress upon the city than any other person who has ever made it his home.

The birth of John Bradfield occurred in Yorkshire, England, in 1813, and in 1827 he accompanied his parents, John and Isabella Bradfield, to the United States.  The little family remained for a short time in Baltimore, Maryland, but it was the father's intention to engage in farming, and with this object in view a suitable location was found in Belmont County, Ohio, within four mines of the growing town of Barnesville.  Although he was ambitious to learn, he enjoyed few early advantages.  His superior mental acquirements, so noticeable in after years, were gained through much reading and association with the world.  Until 1838, he remained on the farm and then first engaged in the buying and shipping of tobacco.  His initial ventures proved profitable, and with continued success he remained in the business for three succeeding years.  Then, with his ambition stimulated by enlarged opportunities, he conceived and carried out the idea of buying out the large firm of James Barnes & Sons, general merchants, and thus entered upon a business career in Barnesville, which resulted in the legitimate accumulation of a large fortune.  From time to time his sons were admitted to partnership, and the business was still further expanded, until the name of Bradfield became one of the leading ones in the tobacco trade throughout the State, and far beyond.  After an honorable business career of more than 50 years, Mr. Bradfield retired from active labors in 1889, resigning his large interests to his capable sons, who have followed his business methods, as they have been the fortunate inheritors of much of his sagacity.

John Bradfield, during his busiest years, however, was constantly keeping in mind the development of Barnesville, and, as he was gifted with that foresight which enabled him to comprehend its needs fully, devoted himself, with his wealth and influence, in a public-spirited manner, to meet them.  The First National Bank will long be a monument to his public interest and business enterprise.  From the time of its organization, in 1864, until 1875, he was its president, and retired then on account of the pressure of other enterprises.  This bank, in connection with the mercantile firm of which he was the head, built one of the finest business blocks to be found in any city of equal size in the State, and this will stand as another monument to his public spirit.  Both gas and electric lighting received his attention, and with his influential backing became accomplished facts in Barnesville, contributing to its general prosperity.  For many years he was the president of the gas company, retaining that office until his decease, at which time the company was under contract to furnish electric light for the city.

Mr. Bradfield was a man of business and not a politician, declining the flattering offers made to him, although few men were better equipped to hold positions of public responsibility.  Mr. Bradfield lived an active life that brought him prominence, but it was in the line of business.  He was ever a generous contributor to the various educational and charitable enterprises of Barnesville, and so employed his wealth then his name is recalled by his fellow citizens with feelings of deepest esteem and veneration.

In 1843, Mr. Bradfield was united in marriage with Eliza Anna Shannon, who was a daughter of Thomas Shannon, and a niece of ex-Governor Shannon.  To this union were born nine children, six of whom are prominent in the highest social circles of this city; Thomas and John W. Bradfield, widely-known merchants; G.E. Bradfield, cashier of the First National Bank; Charles Bradfield, a bookkeeper in in the same institution; Mrs. Otho P. Norris, wife of the cashier of the People's National Bank; and Mrs. A. Rogers, wife of a prominent lumber dealer.  All of these are most highly respected residents of Barnesville.  The mother of this family passed away in 1889.

Although so much of this time was necessarily devoted to his great business, Mr. Bradfield never forgot the needs of the Presbyterian Church, of which both he and wife were devoted members.  From its first beginnings, he was one of its supporters and was always ready with time, influence and means, to promote its good work.  In the death of Mr Bradfield, on October 10, 1893, the city of Barnesville parted with one of its most substantial, useful and prominent citizens.

Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio
and Representative Citizens
Honorable A.T. McKelvey, 1903
(Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago IL, 1903)iv