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Bradley, Maggie, Allen County, Indiana

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Margaret Eva ("Maggie") Bradley was born in Wayne County, Ohio, on 29 November 1842, the daughter of John and Mary Ann (Swisher) Bradley.1 Her father was born in York County, Pennsylvania, on 10 July 1806, and her mother in Bade, Germany, in July 1805. They married in York County on 3 December 1826 and later moved to Wayne County, Ohio. In 1850, John Bradley was enumerated on the federal census as a farmer in Union Township, Adams County, Indiana, aged 44, together with Mary A., 45, and the following children: Mary, 20; Harriet, 18; Louisa, 16; John, 13; Joseph, 11; Margaret, 8; and Rebecca M., 6.2 Of these children, Mary, Harriet and Louisa were born in Pennsylvania, while the remaining children were born in Ohio.

By 1860, the Bradleys had moved north to Madison Township, Allen County, Indiana, where they were again enumerated on the federal census.3 John Bradley was 54 and born in Pennsylvania. His wife Mary was 55 and now listed her birthplace also as Pennsylvania. The household contained the following children: Mary, 29; John, 23; Joseph, 21; Margaret, 16; and Rebecca, 14. Living next door was the family of John M. Smith, aged 53, whose family included his wife Catharine and the following children: David, 16; Mary, 15; Hiram, 13; Syndrella, 10; Rosanna, 8; James, 7; and Catherine, 5.4

The outbreak of the Civil War led Maggie's brother, Joseph Bradley, and neighbor, David W. Smith, to enlist as Privates in Company H of the 89th Indiana Infantry.5 Both were part of its original muster on 28 August 1862 and both gave their place of residence as Decatur. The 89th marched into Kentucky and participated in the Siege of Munfordsville. The regiment was captured in September 1862, and later paroled. In 1863, it spent most of its time in Tennessee, attached to the District of Memphis, then later in Mississippi, where it participated in the Battle of Pleasant Hill. It was later at Vicksburg and Nashville, and participated in the assault and capture of Fort Blakely in 1865. Joseph Bradley was mustered out on 12 May 1865, and David Smith followed on 18 May.

The letter of Maggie Bradley to David Smith, her neighbor, was written from East Liberty in Allen County on 8 May 1865, just after the end of the war. It is significant in that it offers a view of the home front in the vicinity of Madison and Monroe townships. She mentions attending church at East Liberty, which likely was the Bethlehem Church of the United Brethren.

On 30 June 1868, Maggie married John Van Buskirk in Allen County.6 They moved to York Township, Noble County, Indiana, where in 1870, they were enumerated as John Vanbuskirk, 25, born in Pennsylvania; Margaret, 27, also born in Pennsylvania, and Franklin, aged eight months.7 She died a short time later on 10 July 1873, apparently in Noble County. Her husband married second Margaret Guthrie in Noble County in 1874 and was enumerated there in 1880.

The letter descended through the family of Maggie's brother, Joseph Bradley, who married Elizabeth Permelia Bankerd at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 13 February 1866, and later moved to Salem, Missouri, where he died on 20 April 1879. The letter was then passed down to his son Franklin Bradley (1877-1939), and then to Frank's daughter, Donna Bradley Ammel. It was given to the Allen County Public Library in December 2008 by Ethel Caroline (Van Buskirk) Elliott, granddaughter of Maggie Bradley.

1 Ancestry World Tree.

2 John Bradley household, 1850 U.S. Census, population schedule, Adams County, Indiana, Union Township, page 55, Dwelling and Household 700; National Archives micropublication M432, roll 123.

3 John Bradley household, 1860 U.S. Census, population schedule, Allen County, Indiana, Madison Township, page 591, Dwelling 1078, Household 1079; National Archives micropublication M653, roll 243.

4 John M. Smith household, ibid., page 591, Dwelling 1077, Household 1078.

5 Adjutant General of the State of Indiana, Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana. (Indianapolis: Samuel M. Douglass, Ste Printer, 1866), 6: 449-450.

6 Allen County, Indiana Marriage Book 7: 271.

7 John Vanbuskirk household, 1870 U.S. Census, population schedule, Noble County, Indiana, York Township, page 345, Dwelling 155, Household 158; National Archives micropublication M593, roll 347.

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