Stephen N. Bradford, proprietor and owner of the Bradford Hotel in Stewartsville, is a native of Jersey Shore, Lycoming, Co., Penn., born in April 1823. His father, Samuel Bradford, was a native of New Hampshire, and a brother to Gov. Bradford. At the age of fourteen, Stephen N. was sent to Belvedere, Warren Co., N. J., to learn the printer's trade, but the confinement of the office being distasteful to him he was permitted to leave his trade. Taking his little bundle of clothes and a few days' rations, he started from his New Jersey home to the Wyoming Valley. He labored there in different capacities for about a year, then left for Sag Harbor, N. Y., for a whaling voyage. He left on the “Manhattan” in August 1838, for the Cape of Good Hope. After seven years on the ocean, he returned to the Wyoming Valley, Penn., where he remained until the call was made for troops to go in the Mexican army. He was the first to enlist in Maj. Bowman's company of volunteers, but was taken sick, and could not muster in. As soon as health permitted, he went to Baltimore, and enlisted in the Valtiguers as a private, but returned a lieutenant, having been promoted for meritorious conduct. Thus in eleven years he had sailed around the world, being wrecked three times, and once cast away on an unknown island in the Pacific Ocean for seven months. Here he built a ship out of fragments of the wreck, and assisted in taking thousands of barrels of oil, but lost nearly all by shipwrecks. He had also taken an active part in the wars of his country, which was honorably acknowledged by the Government, and returned to his native State at the age of twenty-four years. Remaining at home a short time, the cry of gold in California soon aroused the bold adventurer, and the year 1849 found him on board the whaler “Huntress” as ship-carpenter. The ship was wrecked on the coast of Kamschatka. He shipped again on a sperm whaler from Honolulu, and landed on the island Juan Fernandez. At the first opportunity he took a ship for San Francisco, Cal., where he arrived in January, without either hat or coat, and only $3.50 in his pocket. He went to Sacramento City, where he was employed as house carpenter at $7 per day. He soon formed a partnership, and made a large sum of money, with which he and his partner purchased a drove of cattle and more than doubled their money, but after purchasing the second and much larger drove, a stampede caused the loss of nearly all, leaving them their saddle horses and $30 apiece. He then spent eight months in the mountains, during which time he enlisted in a company fighting the Indians. Returning to Sacramento, he and his old partner went to “Yankee Jim's Dry Diggings” where they purchased property, upon which they built a hotel and sold it. Again returning to Sacramento City, they took 150 acres of land, and started a stock market, which was sold in a short time for $30,000. Mr. Bradford left for home with $15,000. Upon reaching home he bought a farm and hotel, which he sold in two years, and returned to California, but remained a short time when he again returned home. When President Lincoln called for troops he opened a recruiting office in Scranton, Penn., and soon raised a company of men, with himself as captain, but upon the organization of the regiment (Fifteenth Pennsylvania Infantry) he was elected major. At the expiration of three months' service he raised another company, which was assigned to the Seventy-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteers, of which he afterward became major. He did gallant service at the battle of Shiloh, and many others, and at the head of his regiment received the surrender of Col. Battle, of the Twentieth Tennessee. The day after the battle of Perryville, Ky., he was captured, and after being kept prisoner about four months, was exchanged, but rheumatism prevented him from returning to the war. He was appointed provost-marshal of the Twelfth Congressional District of Pennsylvania, which office he filled in a satisfactory manner. In 1841 he was united in marriage with Miss Adelia Wedeman. Three sons and one daughter are the survivors of this union. His wife died in Waymart, Penn., in 1854. On June 20, 1865, he chose for his second wife Miss Sarah Fisher. She died on May 12, 1874, leaving him two sons. On April 12, 1879, he was united in marriage with Miss Jane S. Berry. In 1865 he engaged in the livery business in Scranton, Penn., where he remained about two years. He then bought the National Hotel at Great Bend, Penn., for $25,000, and after running it two years sold it for $30,000. In 1869 he came to De Kalb County, Mo., and bought 240 acres of land, upon which he build an elegant residence, but at the expiration of two years he rented his farm, and went to Grand Rapids, Mich. After spending eight years in the real estate business, he returned to De Kalb County, and built another nice residence, but in two years purchased his present hotel. He has given four of his children good farms. In the last ten years he has traveled considerably in the West. Politically he is a Republican.
Source: History of Andrew and DeKalb Counties, Missouri (Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1888), pp. 549-550.