Thursday, March 09, 2017

Captain Alva Bradley

Alva Bradley was born in Connecticut in 1814, and moved with his family to Brownhelm Township, Lorain County, Ohio in 1823. At age 19, he began working on ships of the Great Lakes, and by 1839 he was in command of the schooner Commodore Lawrence

The famous inventor Thomas Alva Edison received his middle name in honor of Captain Bradley, as his parents Samuel and Nancy Edison were close friends. 

 In 1841 Captain Bradley, along with Ahira Cobb, built the ship the South America. He began building more ships, and by 1852 he gave up sailing in order to devote himself solely to constructing ships. The Bradley fleet of ships became the largest on the Great Lakes. W. Scott Robison wrote in his book History of the City of Cleveland, that Captain Bradley “owed his success entirely to his own efforts, to his Yankee grit and shrewd business sense.” Eventually Captain Bradley became a millionaire through his success as one of the Great Lakes’ best known ship owners. 

Alva Bradley married Helen Burgess, of Milan, in 1851. They had three daughters and one son. A grandson, also named Alva Bradley, was president of the group that owned the Cleveland Indians from 1927 until 1946.The younger Alva Bradley was successful in real estate, and served on the board of several businesses. 

Captain Alva Bradley and his family used to visit Lakeside during the summer months. After his death in 1885, his wife had the Bradley Temple built in Lakeside as a memorial to her husband, with the stipulation that it was to be used solely for children’s programs and Sunday School sessions.

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