PRESLEY G. BRADBURY.
Many people who believe that a thorough reform in our governmental and public affairs is necessary agree with Shakespeare, “The first thing we do, let's' kill all the lawyers.” They may not be quite so blood-thirsty as this, but they have an idea that the world might be better off without them. If such people could know the real true lawyers among whom is found Presley G. Bradbury, they might at least censure such opinions, for he believes and impresses all who know him as a lawyer that justice is something more than a name. Mr. Bradbury
shows by his work and deeds that no real lawyer has to descend to the trickery and wiliness that is sometimes associated with the men of his profession, especially if they deal with criminal cases. That a successful practice can be built up by honest means he has proved overwhelmingly, for he is one of the best known lawyers in the state. But he possesses a brilliant mind, the ability to draw deductions and to reason things out logically, the power of presenting a case simply and forcefully, and a personality that dominates any court room. Mr. Bradbury, therefore, is a man who has the high regard of all who have come in contact with him, and in his own county is loved and venerated not only in his public capacity but as a man among men.
Presley G. Bradbury was born in Crawford county, Illinois, on the 6th of October, 1847. He was the son of John S. Bradbury, who was born in North Carolina on the 17th of August, 1822. His parents were farmers and their little place was near Rolla, North Carolina. Here John Bradbury spent the first six years of his life, and then his parents, John and Mary Bradbury, decided to go west. They had a small cart with one horse, and piling this with the pots and pans and feather beds, the family set out, ignorant of what dangers they would encounter on the way, indeed not even knowing their destination, only knowing that somewhere in the great prairie country to the westward they were going to find a place where the land cost nothing and where with industry they could bring up their family of six children. The mother had the seat of honor on the cart but the rest of the family walked. The short fat legs of little John, who was the youngest, found the way a weary one, but the old horse did not travel very rapidly, and occasionally John would have a short ride alongside his mother. The little fellow preferred to trudge along with his hand in his father's, for was he not almost a man. This was in 1828, and they finally came to the end of their journey and found a resting place near West York, in the northwestern part of Crawford county. Here the father spent the rest of his days, following the busy life of a pioneer farmer. He did not live very long after coming to Illinois, however.
John Bradbury followed his father's example and became a farmer. He became a man of great prominence in the community, and at the time of his death was about the oldest resident in the township of Hutsonville. He was affectionately known all over the county as “Uncle” John Bradhury, and to quote another's words, “Of him it can be truly said that never during his long and active life did he cause a widow to mourn or an orphan's tear to fall.” At the time of his death he was worth about $25,000. He died in 1910, on the 1st of April. John Bradbury was twice married, his first wife being Jemima Buckner, who died after seven years of married life, leaving three children: Catherine, who is now the wife of Harper Reynolds; Presley G.; and James L., a merchant at Graysville, Illinois. His second marriage was to Nancy Huckaby, who died in 1906. By this second marriage Mr. and Mrs. Bradbury became the parents of ten children, Andrew; John; George; Aurora; Willis; Albert, who is deceased; Alice; Nannie; and Laura and Milam, both of whom are dead.
The early life of Presley G. Bradbury was spent on the farm near West York where he was born. His introduction to the school room came to him in the school at York, and he completed the course offered in the common schools of his day. He then began teaching, and for seven years followed this profession. We now think of a boy with his education as a mere infant, but he proved perfectly well able to handle his pupils. He was not content with the amount of knowledge he had, and so while he was teaching he attended. several terms at the
state normal schools at Bloomington and Carbondale. In this way he acquired a good education, and was made county superintendent of schools in 1873. Meanwhile, after his day's work in the school room was over, he had been spending the rest of the time poring over law books. He had the great advantage of having as a preceptor Judge Robb, who was considered one of the ablest lawyers in the state. He was admitted to the bar in 1876, and resigned his position as superintendent of schools to take that of state's attorney. He began to practice as a partner of Judge Robb's, and this partnership lasted until the death of Judge Robb in 1890, on the 10th of February. This partnership was of great benefit to Mr. Bradbury, for the older practioner not only had had a wide experience, but he had a splendid character, and had much to do with forming those high ideals for which Mr. Bradbury is well known. Mr. Bradbury held the office of state's attorney for two consecutive terms. After the death of Judge Robb he took F. W. Lewis, who had been a student in his office, into partnership. This association lasted for two years, until Mr. Lewis was elected state's attorney, In the spring of 1893 Mr. Bradbury formed a partnership with Joseph A. MeHatton, and this connection continued until 1908, when it was dissolved by mutual consent. Until 1909 Mr. Bradbury practiced alone, and then he formed a partnership with Duane Gaines that has lasted up to the present time. For four years Mr. Bradbury served as master in chancery under Judge W. C. Jones.
Mr. Bradbury is an enthusiastic politician and a strong supporter of the Democratic party. He has frequently made political speeches, but he does not care for the prizes to be found in the political ring, preferring to do the work and let others have the plums. In his religious affiliations he is a Presbyterian and has been an elder in the church for a number of years. He is an active member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which order he has been a member since 1871, and he is a charter member of the Knights of Pythias in the Robinson lodge.
Mr. Bradbury was married on the 31st of December, 1879, to Jennie Kelly, of Sullivan, Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Bradbury have five children, the eldest of whom, John Landis, is dead. The others are: Frances C., who was married in September, 1910, to A. J. Goff of Robinson, Illinois; Palmer G., who is living at home; William E., who has recently graduated from the high school at Robinson; and James Stanley, as yet in the public school.