The Bradford Republican 75th Anniversary Issue

August, 1964

Containing The History of Bradford, Its People and Surrounding Area
This online transcription by Nancy J. Piper with permission from the Bradford Republican

Page 2


Jim Dandy Horse Collar Factory "Collars" The Nation's Business

The Jim Dandy Collar Factory, one of Bradford's leading industries during the 1920's and 1930's, was started in 1915. The original home of the collar factory was the Phenix building on the sorner of Main and South Peoria Streets. The orginal owners were William Costello, Hugh Mallett, Geo. Klubertanze, D. J. Phenix.

Mr. Costello, of Ottawa, came to Bradford and interested Hugh Malett in the business of manufacturing horse collars. Costello had formerly been employed by a similar company in St. Paul, Minnesota, which had been quite successful.  Ray Boyd, of Bradford, who at this time was employed at the Phenix Banking Company, worked as part-time bookkeeper for the collar factory.  In the beginning of the organization, there were about 10 employees. In 1916 the tile building, which is back of the late Oral perkins residence, was built and the factory was moved there.

Late in 1915, O. C. Boyd and Ray Boyd bought out Klubertanze's interest in the company.  When Ray Boyd returned from the war he was employed full time at the collar factory.  Shortly afterwards Costello sold his interest in the company to Harmon and Ray Boyd. Some harness parts and halters and bridles were also manufactured by the Jim Dandy Collar Factory.  Hugh Mallett was the "harness man" and he designed several show halters.  

In 1918, the owners found their business booming and were forced to expand to the old mill building on the corner of Phenix and Douglas Avenues, where the cutting and sewing on the horse collars was done. Harlan Fields, who now resides in Forth Worth, Texas, was an employee of the collar factory, for many years.  The Fields were forced to leave this climate due to Mrs. Fields' health.  Shortly after the late Mr. Mallett retired and he and Mrs. Mallett moved to Brownsville, Texas.  Mr. Mallett sold his interest in the company to the Boyds.

This small factory of Bradford covered a vast territory which included the Middle West from the Rockies to the Alleghenies.  Eight or ten salesmen were employed in various territories to sell the products manufactured here.  

Later on in the history of the factory the Boyds and Mr. Mallett designed a horse collar of their own, when they sewed the sweat pads to make the face of the collar, which was an improvement over the old one.  In their two biggest seasons of history, they manufactured and sold 100,000 collars in each year.  It took about 250 dozen collars to fill a freight car.

In later years, most all of the horse collars were shipped to the South as the horse was rapidly being replaced by machinery in the North.  In 1955, the Boyds sold their business and most of the machinery to a company in Mississippi, which is still manufacturing this product.

When Ray Boyd was vacationing in Florida, in 1963, he saw a horse cllar which was originally the collar manufactured in Bradford.  There were about twenty mules on a tobacco plantation and he recognized the collar as being similar to the one which the factory in Bradford had once manufactured.

The Jim Dandy Collar Factory in Bradford, which does not exist anymore, was, at one time one of the biggest of its kind in the United States.  Again, Bradford, should salute a small factory, which did a tremendous business in the forty years of its existance.


Amaquonsippi Trail Asset to Community

Boy Scout Troop 78 and their leaders, Robert Lee and Don Dennison, have hiked many different trails in many different states.  With this hiking experience, the idea was born to start a trail in Bradford.  With this area so rich in Indian history, that theme was decided upon for the trail.  After much thought and research and talks with the varioius land owners, the trail was organized and named Amaquonsippi, which in the Algonquin tongue means "Spoon River".

The trail was officially opened on Friday evening, June 3, 1961, with 213 hikers taking the trail on Saturday and 18 on Sunday.  The opening was marked with an impressive campfire program in the William Tumbleson timber, west of Bradford.  Three Indians in the persons of John Whitney, of Galva, Mike Barnes and Bruce Bennison ignited the fire from torches.

Ray Nissen, scoutmaster of Troop 146, West Jersey, was the master of ceremonies for the evening.  Bob Lee, Bradford scoutmaster, gave the welcome address.  Guest speaker for the occassion was Kenny Davidson, state representative, of Kewanee.  Stated Davidson, "The Amanquonsippi Trail is something for the community and Bradford should well be proud."

When the trail was organized it was thought that perhaps 500 hikers a year might make the trail.  Soon more and more requests for information were received and more and more reservations came in.  The trail committee soon found it necessary to purchase camping area.  What little profit realized from the hikers was in turn used to purchase more medals and patches.

The trail committee had their eyes on a piece of timber land, which they felt, when cleared would be an ideal spot.  Then the idea was hit upon to not only make this a Scout camp, but a public picnic area and rest park as well.  Certificates were sold for $25.00 each and the "shareholders", so to speak, were generous citizens of the communtiy.  Soon enough money was obtained to purchase the land, thru the generosity of these public minded citizens.  Immediately the land was started to be cleared and through the thoughtfulness of several men donating bull dozing equipment, the clearing was considerably speeded up.

The first improvement built was the latrine.  The scoutmaster, also being a carpenter, donated his labor for that and the next improvement, the adarondac cabins.  Several boys of the troop and Assistant Scoutmaster Dennison aided in many ways.  The next improvement was the addition of the well.  Water was finally obtained at a depth of 110 feet.  Jerry Wakefield, of Kewanee, sunk the well. Last summer, the picnic shelter was erected.  Art Brazee contracted the work.  Building this shelter was quite a feat for the heavy beams were very hard to manage and the aid of heavy machinery had to be solicited.  Several picnic tables have been built which added to the convenience.  All improvements have been paid for from the trail fund, and all proceeds go back into the fund to be used for the improvements and upkeep of the trail.  

Soon the Amaquonsippi Trail found themselves ranking 10th in the nation, according to number of hikers, and last year, moved from 10th to 7th.  There have been hikers from Pennsylvania, California, Missouri, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska, as well as the thousands from Illinois.  There is no camping fee for the campers and no trail fee.  If the hiker desires the medal and patch, they may be purchased for $3.00.  Neckerchiefs, slides and jacket patches may also be purchased.  A camp batch is given free to each hiker who purchases the medal and patch who follows the camping rules of the camp.

Each unit arriving is met by the Scoutmaster or assistant.  This entails nearly every weekend. Units begin arriving on Friday evening as early as seven o'clock and others get there about 12:30 a.m.  Each unit is given an orieantation before beginning the trail.  Since most of the units leave at or beofre 6 o'clock, this means getting up on Saturday mornings before that time to get to the trail camp.  Then if hikers arrive Saturday evening to hike Sunday, the whole procedure is gone through again.

There have been as many as five hundred hikers in a weekend and sometimes a bit of a problem arises as to where to put everyone.  Several of the businessmen have stated that the trail has increased their business and the Scouts and their leaders are happy to have accomodations so close to camp.  Nearly everyone hiking enjoys the trail tremendously and plans to return in the future.

When it was first said that perhaps 500 hikers a year would hike the trail, little did anyone realize that 500 hikers would visit in one weekend, but then "Big oaks from little acorns grow."  The success of the trail however can be credited to many people.  First of all, the landowners whose private property the trail goes, secondly, to all those who helped in any way, monetary or labor, thirdly to the boys who work untiringly at maintaining the trail and lastly to all the citizens of the Bradford area who offer a hand of friendship to all visiting hikers.


Motion Pictures Big Hit Here

As early as 1908, movies were shown in Bradford by Otis Swearingen in a building that stood where the Standard Oil Station now is located.  At least two or three movies were shown a week.  Mr. Swearingen also had an open air theator or "Nickelodian" as it was called in those days.  It was located in back of the building where he showed his moving pictures down near the present Ray Boyd home.  Several residents in Bradford remember attending the "Nickelodian".

Miss Clare Code, of Bradford, operated the Lyric Theater, which was up over the Code, Nevitt and Meston Hardware, which is now the International Implement Store.  She opened her theater in 1910.  Her father, J. P. Code, furnished all the equipment for her.  She was assisted in the early part of her career as theater manager by P. R. Cadell, who was no stranger to the movie business.  Two shows were given every Monday through Saturday, and often of Saturdays and holidays, matinees were shown.  The first operator of her machine had to be imported, but later John Wolcott and Charles Gerard became Miss Code's operators.  Other assistants were P. J. Donovan, John McKibbon, and Carl Deisher.  Miss Mildred Burkey furnished piano music for several years.

For safety reasons, it became necessary for Miss Code to move her theater to former Plummer Drug Store building which is now the Taylor Recreation Center. Due to the small sixe of this building, three shows were shown nightly. During the summer months she operated an Air Dome on a vacant lot where the Standard Oil Station now stands.  Large crowds attended the shows every evening.

The late George Euard built the recent Browning Ford Garage in Bradford and offered Miss Code the street level floor for her theater, as he was using only the basement as a garage.  Miss Code continued her business there unitl 1915, when she sold out to Mrs. Anna Stock, of Lacon.  She continued in the same location for some time and then moved across the street to the building which was at one time the Modern Hotel.  She changed the name from the Lyric to the Star Theater.

Lloyd Winslow of Bradford, operated the theater for a short time in 1917 or 1918.  Alfred Kopp and Tom Fox operated the Star Theater in Bradford during the early twenties.  It is believed that Mr. Fox later purchased Mr. Kopp's interest in the business.  The price of admission was raised from 10 and 15 cents to 15 and 25 cents during these years.  The former Miss Marcella Code, who is now Mrs. George Slutz, of Wyoming state, played the piano for several years when silent movies were shown.

Mashall Curtiss Jr. purchased the theater sometime during the middle twenties.  William Dorgan purchased the theater which was still the Star Theater from Marshall Curtiss and showed the first talking picture in Bradford in 1928.  Robert "Buck" Wolfe was working for Dorgan at this time and built the machine that showed Bradford's first "talkie".

A Mr. Boyden, who was a member of the Boyden family living in Sheffield at the present time, owned the theater following Mr. Dorgan.  The late Henry Fuertges purchased the theater building in the early 1930s.  Movies were not as popular at this time as they once were, even though at this time it was a little early for television.  Dances were held in the building and it was also used as a roller skating rink for a time.

Mr. Fuertges remodeled the building, put in new seats, and opened for business again as a theater on April 16, 1938.  Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Gerard and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Winters operated the theater for Mr. Fuertges until "Bummy" returned from the service and took over as manager. Mr. and Mrs. John Maupin also worked at the theaterfor a number of years during this time.  After the Feurtges' remodeled and re-opened, the name of the theater was changed from the Empire to the Brad Theater.

As the years went by television was becoming a more prominent entertainment of the time, and the small town theater was becoming a thing of the past.  Mr. Fuertges sold the theater to Henry Johnson of Woodstock, Illinois, in April 1946.  In 1952 Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Lee worked for Mr. Rud Lorenz, of Kewanee, who was manager for Mr. Johnson.  Johnson operated the theater until 1955, when it was closed due to lack of business.

There are some negotiations at the present time concerning the re-opening of the theater in Bradford.  Since the television fad has worn off to some extent, several small town theaters have been re-opening.  This would be a good thing especially for the young people in the community as there are new forms of recreation and entertainment for the young people in town.


Early School Life

By "Aunt Jane" Peterson

In the old park, where the Village Hall is located were two buildings, on the west - a one story once known as the Primary room. It was a large one with a platform to the south with a teacher's deck and chair. One of the early teachers was Miss Sarah Little.  She would often sit in the back of the room, call on the pupils to read from the platform, read and speak distinctly so every word would be heard. There was a small cabinet on the east side of the wall where various exhibits of nature were kept.  We loved to watch the butterflies, fly out of their cacoons around the room.  We didn't have playground equipment.  We played "Farmer In The Dell"; "Drop the Handkerchief" and had "Spelling B's".  

A double row of maple trees grew between this building and the two story one now used as the "Bradford Republican" office.  On the first floor, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades were taught. Two well remembered teachers were Miss Searl and Miss Ella Turney.  The first High School Commencement was held in Deyo Hall, now Bradford Implement store on the south side of street.  Bessie and Jessie Jones and Chan Marvin were the first graduates.

Time marches on as the enrollment increased, and after the usual struggle and turmoil it was voted to erect the building now the "Dunlap Funeral Home".  The Grade School had their first "Play Ground Equipment".  A piano was earned for the first six grades by giving a play and a "Market Day".  

At one time the High school held classes in vacant rooms, in down town stores. Again crowded conditions required a large building.  A new High school was erected then later the present "Community Grade School" on Silver St.  A day spent in this building is filled with pleasure and pride.

To visit the class rooms well equipped, go with the boys and girls to the music room, observe them in the gym, dine with them in the Cafeteria, watch them run, walk, and skip is a day well spent.  Congratulations to our principal Mr. Russell Huey and a fine group of teachers.

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