Bookmark and Share

History & Social Geography


Glimpse into a Coal River family, mid-20th Century
as told by Charles Bradford
The Bradfords came into the Dry Creek area of Raleigh County, W.Va., when it was still a part of Virginia—maybe the late 1860s or early 1870s.  My grandpa Robert Parker Bradford was born there on May 1, 1882.  He married Martha Dora Jarrell, who was born Sep. 14, 1878.  They had eight children: Posey, Casper, Donald, Thomas, Charles, Ora, Victoria and Evelyn.  My dad was Charles.  My Grandma had been married to a man named Owen Lucas before my Granddad Bradford, and she had a son by that marriage—Lewis.  Though he was a Lucas, Lewis was raised in the Bradford family and was known as Lewis Bradford.
 
The Bob Bradford family lived in the cabin pictured here.  Though you can’t see the creek, it lies just beyond the weeds shown in the foreground.  The Bradford family crossed the creek by means of a small, wooden bridge which sat a few yards to our left, looking at the photo. 
Bob and Dora Bradford's cabin.
Bob and Dora Bradford's cabin. Photo courtesy of Charles Bradford.
The pictured cabin seems to consist of two cabins, which have been combined into one.
 
I remember sitting with Grandpa Bob Bradford on a little porch on the front of his cabin. Grandpa Bradford had gone blind from cataracts. I remember his touching my face and remarking to my dad and me that I was a good-looking kid… Grandpa was a gentle person, and I enjoyed being in his company.
 
Grandma Dora Bradford was nice too, but a little reserved with me because I really didn’t get to spend much time with her. So I must have seemed like “company” instead of like “family.”
 
The inside of the cabin had the living room at the far right of the cabin, facing the creek. To the left were bedrooms. In one of them sat an old foot-pumped organ. According to several of the Bradford clan, that organ had a ghost that lived in it and was said to come out and torment family members on occasion. Just behind the living room, facing the hillside were the kitchen and dining area, with the table in it. I remember eating there once. I had green beans, potatos with gravy, cornbread, and a thigh of the whole chicken that Grandma Bradford fixed. The food was delicious and well-prepared.
 
My Bradford grandparents died in the 1960’s, Grandpa in June 19 of 1964 and Grandma in November 19, of 1965, I believe. I went to both of their visitations, which were very well-attended. I was extremely proud of my Dad, who stood up pretty sternly both times, though I know his heart was breaking with anguish.
 
As I said earlier, I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know the Bradford side of my family very well. To me, they seemed to be decent, God-fearing, hard-working folks who knew a lot of the survival skills needed in times when money and other resources were tight. 
 
These days, the cabin looks quaint, something left over from an earlier era. It isn’t used as a habitation now, but as a tool shed and as storage for gasoline lawn mowers.
 
The last time I was with Grandma and Grandpa Bradford may have been about 1954, when I was twelve years old. Consequently, the information here may not be totally accurate after being in storage for fifty-six years!