Richard Bradford-from Wilkes County to Gwinnett County, Georgia:

Leaves From Our Tree:







Documenting the Bradford Families of Gwinnett County, Georgia
Part 1:  Richard J. Bradford—from Wilkes County to Gwinnett County:
Genealogy or Mythology?

This writer recently embarked on an in-depth review of the Bradford families of Gwinnett County, Georgia. Long a believer in the adage that "genealogy without documentation is mythology," this writer revisited some of the standard historical data about Gwinnett County's first families. Her findings led her to revise that adage to read, "genealogy without verified documentation is mythology." Here's a case in point....

In the first paragraph of his article on Rev. Joshua Bradford on page 422 in History of Gwinnett County, Georgia, Vol. 2, published by the Gwinnett Historical Society in 1960, second great grandson Gerald Davis (1927-1998) wrote in part:

"…The land lottery of 1820 shows that Richard J. Bradford, eldest son of Charles Bradford, drew land in the Fifth Land District, Lot No. 244, of Gwinnett County and was living in Wilkes County, Georgia. Richard Bradford and his family came to Gwinnett County about 1850 and settled in Harbin's District where he was a blacksmith…."

The only problem with those two sentences is that close scrutiny of extant documentation proved them to be incorrect—pure mythology! . Here's why.

  • Charles Bradford, Sr., was born in South Carolina and first appeared on a census report in 1810 in Fairfield District, South Carolina. That census report, plus the 1820 report, clearly documented that Charles and Sarah (Kirkland) Bradford's oldest child was born about 1793 in Fairfield County, South Carolina where their residence at that time. Later census reports confirmed that their first child was a son, and that son was Charles, Jr., who moved his own young family to Gwinnett County, Georgia in 1823 along with several other family members. A Fairfield District Court of Equity petition file dated June 16th1821, named Charles, Sr.’s, deceased wife and seven living children—six sons and one daughter—and  no son was named Richard. [South Carolina Dept. of Archives & History, Fairfield County, South Carolina, Equity Bills, 1822 #13, Frames 141-152.  Transcribed verbatim from original images.]

  • Richard Bradford of Wilkes County was born in 1790, and he stated on the 1850, 1860 and 1870 Wilkes County census reports that he was born in North Carolina! Richard Bradford of Wilkes County most likely was born in Halifax or Edgecombe County, North Carolina. While not yet documented, Richard's father probably was Nathaniel Bradford, born 1750 in North Carolina, died 1810 in Oglethorpe or Wilkes County, Georgia, and believed to have had six sons—Samuel, Andrew, Archibald, David, Richard and Nathaniel. The elder Nathaniel sold his land in Edgecombe and Halifax Counties, North Carolina in 1789 and apparently moved to the part of Wilkes County, Georgia that became Oglethorpe County in December 1793. Nathaniel appeared on various records in the Oglethorpe/Wilkes area until his death about 1810, probably in Oglethorpe County where the "Index to Probate Files 1790s-1960s" [Online on the Oglethorpe County, GA GenWeb site] contained the following listing:
Surname Given
of File
Film #
BRADFORD Nathaniel 1805-1810 1893076 306/114



Richard Bradford first appeared in the Wilkes County records in 1826 when he married Barsheba [sic] Baird on 15 Dec 1826 with Sylvanus Gibson, V.D.M., officiating. [Wilkes County Georgia First Marriage Book-1806-1834, p 367.]

Richard was listed as head of household on the Wilkes County census reports for 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860 and 1870, and he was the only Richard Bradford ever listed in Wilkes County. Both Richard and Bathsheba were missing from the 1880 census report. Therefore, one might assume that both died between 1870 and 1880, burial site unknown. Bathsheba Baird was born in Georgia in 1795, according to the census reports. They had three children: William P., born 1830;. Ann R., born 28 Feb 1833 - died 15 Jan 1916; and Hannah Tabitha, born 12 Oct 1835 - died 4 May 1900. Ann and Hannah were buried in Resthaven Cemetery, Wilkes County, Georgia. [Wilkes County, Georgia - Resthaven Cemetery, transcription by Larry R. Butler and Janice B. Turner. Online on the Wilkes County, GA Genealogy Web site created by Keith Giddeon, URL:].

Hannah never married, but Ann married William A. Quinn (c 1835-bef 1880) in Wilkes County on 1 Jul 1860, and they had six children. William was buried with Ann at Resthaven, as was Lucy, one of their daughters who never married. [Georgia, Wilkes County, Marriages, Bride Index A - B, Submitted to the archives Wilkes County GA; transcribed by Larry R. Butler and Janice B. Turner.]

William P. Bradford married Sarah A. Smith (who was 20 years his junior) in Wilkes County on 28 Jan 1869. William was a school teacher in Wilkes County for over 40 years. William and Sarah had seven children listed with them on the 1880 Wilkes County census. Their burial site is unknown at this time. [Georgia, Wilkes County, Marriages, Groom Index A - B, Submitted to the archives Wilkes County GA; transcribed by Larry R. Butler and Janice B. Turner.]

The Wilkes County marriage records, census reports and cemetery records cited above documented the fact that Richard Bradford and his family lived and died in Wilkes County and never moved to Gwinnett County. In fact, several years ago, the couple who now own Richard Bradford's land in Wilkes County, sent me an e-mail telling me that they had found the marked graves of Richard and Barsheba Bradford in a now densely wooded and overgrown area of the farm. They even attached a photo of the tombstones. I have searched everything I have, but I cannot now find either the e-mail message or the photo. It most probably was lost when my computer crashed two years ago. Perhaps that couple will see this article again and will be kind enough to e-mail me again and resend the photo also. I'll keep my fingers crossed just in case!

  • Richard Bradford did register as a resident of Wilkes County for the 1819(1820) Land Lottery and did draw Land Lot #244 in the 5th district, Gwinnett County. Also, while no surviving muster rolls contained his name, Richard Bradford apparently served in the War of 1812 or the Wilkes County Militia since he registered for the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery as a soldier with at least three months of service as documented by the following Wilkes County records:


    …Bradford, Richard 1 [draw]


    List of persons entitled to a draw for service. All served three months, all had one draw.
    (p 348)
    Bradford, Richard 1 [draw] [last name on list]

    Extracted from The Early Records of Georgia, Volume I, "Wilkes County," abstracted and compiled by Grace Gillam Davidson. Macon, GA: 1933.

    The 1827 lottery files in the Georgia State Archives included the following entry:

    LOT NO
    Bradford, Reece Wilkes County Wottens Muscogee County

This might or might not be the same man, but only one Bradford registered to draw and only one Bradford won a lot. [Reprint of Official Register of Land Lottery of Georgia 1827, compiled and published by Miss Martha Lou Houston, Columbus, Georgia, printed by Walton-Forbes Company, Columbus, Georgia 1928.] There were no records to indicate whether Richard took title to these lots, sold them to others, or if they reverted to the state..

  • At the same time, Joshua Bradford was one of four Bradford lottery winners from Gwinnett County:

    LOT NO
    Bradford, Gwinnett County Whortons Muscogee County
    Bradford, Charles winnett County Whartons Carroll County
    Bradford, Joshua Gwinnett County Robertsons Coweta County
    Bradford, Robert Gwinnett County Robertsons Coweta County

Joshua married Mary F. Kirkland in Fairfield County, South Carolina in 1820 ["Obituary of Mrs. Mary Bradford." Lawrenceville, GA: Gwinnett Herald, Wednesday, 7 Oct 1874, p 2. col. 4] and was listed as head of a household of two persons on the 1820 Fairfield County census report. He moved with his family to Gwinnett County, Georgia in 1823. Joshua and his brother, Charles. Jr., and/or possibly his father, Charles, Sr., registered in Gwinnett County for the 1827 Land Lottery as shown in the above paragraph, and Joshua was listed as head of household on the 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860 and 1870 Gwinnett County census reports.

The primary piece of data that confused Gerald Davis and other researchers, which led to the erroneous assumption that Richard Bradford had moved to Gwinnett County, was the fact that Joshua Bradford was incorrectly listed [by the census taker] on the 1850 Gwinnett County census report as "Richard J. Bradford, farmer and blacksmith." However, one had only to look at the names of the other members of his household—wife Mary, sons Jefferson, David and Ambrose, daughters Lucy and Sarah—to realize that this was actually Rev. Joshua Bradford.

On no other record was the given name "Richard" ever associated with Joshua Bradford. Court records listed him as "Joshua Bradford;" all other census records said "Joshua Bradford;" Methodist church records listed him as "Rev. Joshua Bradford;" his obituary and his tombstone read "Joshua Bradford."

Likewise, Richard Bradford was never listed in any record with a middle initial or middle name. So to call him "Richard J. Bradford" would be just as incorrect as assuming that Joshua Bradford's full name was "Richard Joshua Bradford" based solely on his erroneous listing on the 1850 census report.

In summary, Richard Bradford of Wilkes County and Joshua Bradford of Gwinnett County were two distinct and unrelated men. Joshua Bradford was definitely the second son of Charles and Sarah (Kirkland) Bradford. However, Richard Bradford of Wilkes County was descended from a totally different Bradford family line. Richard Bradford never lived anywhere in Georgia except Wilkes County. Joshua Bradford never lived in Wilkes County in 1820 as some researchers stated. In fact, this writer found NO Bradfords listed as heads of household on the 1820 Wilkes County, Georgia, census report.

Hopefully this research verification report will put to rest the "Myth of Richard J. Bradford."

Written by
Diane Carrington Bradford
(Mrs. W. H. Bradford)
[W. H. Bradford (1929-SL) and Gerald Davis (1927-1998) were first cousins.]

Webmaster of Leaves From Our Tree and married for 49 years to a direct descendant of Rev. Joshua Bradford, a Gwinnett County “First Family” pioneer settler, Diane Carrington Bradford is a 4th great granddaughter of Major General Allen Daniel, the namesake of Gwinnett County’s historic Fort Daniel, built in the Hog Mountain area in 1813 and now an historic archaeological site owned today by Gwinnett County and leased to the Ft. Daniel Foundation to be operated as an educational park and museum.”

This article was researched and documented in accordance
with the elements of the "Genealogical Proof Standard" [GPS]
developed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

Article revised based on new data 9 Sep 2009.

This article was also published in the quarterly journal of the Gwinnett Historical Society, The Heritage, Winter 2009, Vol. 38, No. 4, page 77. (

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