A peak into the Bradley family history and Rockford history

Readers expressed interest in the history of the Bradley family following last week’s story on the Scarecrow Make It and Take It event which continues this weekend, October 6 and 7 and the weekend of October 13 and 14 as part of Rockford’s Harvest Festival events. The following information about her family was provided by organizer Denise Bradley for your enjoyment:

My family has lived in the Rockford/Cedar Springs area for generations.  The immediate family ancestor names are, Bradley, Schoonmaker, Shaw, Round, Spring, and Morgan.  There is an old stained glass window at the Rockford United Methodist Church, that was donated by my third great-grandparents, Jared and Catherine Cronk Spring.

The Rockford Cemetery has many ancestors.  I walked the Cemetery one day and took over 100 pictures of grave markers from direct and indirect family members.  My great grandparents Lafayette and Laney Bradley are in the Cedar Springs Cemetery.  Lafayette was in the Civil War and I have copies of his civil war papers.  I have shared some of my information with the Rockford Area Historical Society and I have also gotten information from them to help with my family tree.

One of the reasons the RAHS is so special to me, and it’s so important to help raise money for the new museum through the Scarecrow Make-N-Take is because of their wonderful genealogy area.  They have about 95 percent of the old Rockford Register newspapers (and the Rockford Squire), in hard copy and on microfiche.  I have gotten so much information from these old newspapers to help with my family tree. They have filing cabinets full of birth, death, marriage and more items in between.

Plus, walking through the museum is like walking through my ancestors lives.  There is an World War II bomber quilt that was made by Rockford residents.  Their names including my grandparents were signed and embroidered on the squares of the quilt.  They made about $242.00 ,from it to help buy bombers for the war. There are old tools that my uncle donated to the museum when my Grandpa Dale Bradley died.  But, not just my family, it’s all of our families, it’s our heritage and we need to preserve it and share it with everyone, especially for our children and their children.  It’s so important they can see where they came from and take pride in their heritage.

Going through the museum is so educational and you learn fun things.  Did you know that before we were Rockford, we were called Lamphamville.  When the railroad came through, the name was too long for the railroad tickets.  The townspeople couldn’t figure out a new name to fit the town.  A Baptist minister was traveling through and said he had just come from a town in Illinois called Rockford.  Because of the rock formations in the town, the name seemed to fit and that’s how Rockford got its name.

There is an old picture of the mill that used to be on the west side of the Rockford dam.  On top of the mill were about three large barrels.  They were the fire sprinklers.  If there was a fire the men on the ground would shoot bullets through the barrels, which in turn would spill water on the building.  I’m not sure how well this worked, or if they ever had to use it, but it is a fun fact about our town.

There is so much more information that can be found at the RAHS and with the new location, the possibilities are endless.  The new musuem will be more accessible and in a great location with more parking spots.  You can see why it’s so important to me and my family to help raise money for the RAHS.  Even though the Rockford Chamber of Commerce has eliminated the first weekend of Harvest Festival, I’m hoping the people will still come to make Scarecrow on Saturday, Sept. 29th from 10 a.m., to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 30th from noon to 4 p.m.  I can guarantee they will have fun with their family and friends and the dollars will help the Rockford Area Historical Society along with North Kent Community Services, another very worthy place that helps the families of our community.  I’m hoping that when the Rockford Chamber of Commerce starts planning next years Harvest Festival, they will reconsider and bring back the three weekends of Harvest Festival, not only to help with the Scarecrow Make-N-Take, but also for the businesses that depend on weekends like Harvest Festival to help bring people to town to help them stay in business and earn extra money for the little things like paying their taxes and bills.


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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.