1864: Stephen Nelson Bradford to Calvin Sterling Gay

Stephen Nelson Bradford

This letter was written by Major Stephen Nelson Bradford (1823-1898). A biographical sketch for Stephen appears in Find-A-Grave:

At 14, Stephen was apprenticed to a printer in Belvedere, New Jersey. Not liking this occupation, he moved to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania, where he ran boats on the Delaware & Hudson Canal. In August 1838, he signed onto a whaling ship leaving Sag Harbor, Long Island. Sailed to the Far East & Hawaii, stayed in Honolulu for some time before returning to farming in the Wyoming Valley. His father, Samuel Bradford, died in June 1842, buried at Calvary Community Cemetery, Harmony, Warren County, NJ.  In 1849, Stephen travelled to New Bedford, and signed onto the whaler “Huntress.”
His mother, Fidelia Wedeman Bradford, died in August 1857.

At the start of the Mexican War, Stephen travelled to Baltimore & enlisted with the U.S. Volunteers as a private. During the American Civil War, having attained the rank of Major, he commanded the 77th PA Vols, Fifth Brigade, Second Division, Army of the Ohio. He was cited for distinguished service at the Battle of Shiloh in April of that year. In October 1862, he was taken prisoner by confederate soldiers at Lawrenceville, KY while guarding a military wagon train. When later paroled to Camp Chase, OH, he resigned & was honorably discharged due to health (chronic rheumatism in both thighs) in 1863.

After leaving the armed service, he was appointed Provost-Marshall, Twelfth Congressional District, Scranton Pennsylvania. Subsequently, he moved between Missouri and Michigan, where at various times he farmed, engaged in real estate and loans, and ran a hotel. In the 1880’s, he vacated to Arkansas City, Willow Springs, then Oklahoma territory to stake a land claim; and by 1890 he was living in Lawrie, Logan County. He died there on November 29, 1898.

Bradford wrote the letter to Calvin Sterling Gay (1839-1916) of South Auburn, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania. The letter pertained to the bounty due Calvin’s brother, Tredway K. Gay (1840-1864) who served in the U. S. Signal Corps and died in a Knoxville hospital on 16 September 1864. Tredway had been in the service since 1 December 1863.

[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Michael Passero and is published by express consent.]

Addressed to Mr. Calvin S. Gay, South Auburn, Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania
Postmarked Scranton, Pennsylvania

Headquarters Provost Marshal
Twelfth District, Penna.
September 30th 1864

Mr. Calvin S. Gay
Dear Sir,

I just received a letter from my son, George W. Bradford ¹ who informed me that T. K. Gay is dead and buried and that if I succeed in getting the bounty—which in my opinion he is entitled to draw—I am to send it to you. Perhaps you had better call on me in a week or two and I will tell you more about it.

I am, sir, your obedient servant, — S. N. Bradford

¹ George Washington Bradford (1848-1929)



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