The soil of Southern Illinois has perhaps produced a greater number of wealthy and influential citizens than any other section of similar area and advantages. Randolph county is particularly rich in men of that status, and prominent among them all is William E. Braden, successful farmer, stock-breeder and lumber dealer of Sparta. He was born near Rosborough, Illinois, November 10, 1846, and is the son of Moses Braden, who established the Braden family in Randolph county in the early forties, and where it has been prominent and influential over since.

The name Braden is Teutonic, and was brought to England by Teutons, Angles and Saxons. The first mention of Braden in English history is in Green's History of the English People in the twelfth century. A forest in England was known as the Braden wood. Nothing of note is further known than that Bradens were British subjects until the seventeenth century, when Cromwell put down a rebellion in Ireland. One of the vanquished rebel chiefs, “McGuire,” Petty King of county Fermanagh and county Tyrone, was stripped of most of his domain, and it was given to Cromwell's brother officers in the English army, among whom were Captain Herbert Braden and Captain George Braden. Herbert Braden died a bachelor, and the estate became the property of Captain George Braden. One of the holders of the estate, supposedly Captain George Braden, was created a Baronet, with the title “Sir.”

The name Braden has been spelled a number of ways—Braden, Braiden, Brading, Breeden, Breden, and even Brayden and Broeding, but all these names of Irish ancestry or birth are descendants of, Captain George Braden, of county Tyrone, Ireland. Between 1840 and 1850 Sir James Braden, of county Tyrone, lreland, was a member of Parliament. A Braden, an Irishman, was a great Congregational minister in London, for some years rivaling Doctor Spurgeon, in his day, and quite a number of Bradens have become ministers in this country, seven having sprung from one family in Pennsylvania, all preaching in 1863, one being president of Vanderbilt University in 1878, but among all of the Braden ministers none were more prominent or did a greater work than Rev. Clark Braden, now near eighty-one years of age, hale and hearty, of Carbon, California, who founded and held the presidency for some years of Southern Illinois College at Carbondale, which later became the Southern Illinois Normal.

Moses Braden was born in county Donegal, Ireland, in 1818, and when nearing his majority, he, having kissed the Blarney Stone, accompanied by a cousin, John Braden, left Ireland and came to America. They located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they found work at their trade as weavers. Later they came to Chicago and still later to St. Louis, engaging in manual labor of any sort when work at their trade might not be found. They finally drifted into Perry county, Illinois, where they became attracted by the splendid opportunities offered an ambitious man in a farming way, and they settled down to farm life in that district.

The father of Moses Braden, William, and family—a son and three daughters—followed some years later to America and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One daughter was married to James Russel, of Philadelphia, and the other two to Samuel and John Rogers, both of Brooklyn, New York; they all raised families. The son, who was also William, died a bachelor about 1871 or 1872. The family to which the cousin, John Braden, belonged also came to Philadelphia; one brother,


Oliver, made two trips to Illinois in the '60s to visit him. Descendants of both families drifted westward from Pennsylvania to Ohio, and farther north, south and west.

In 1844 Moses Braden married Mary Stewart, late from county Antrim, Ireland, and he and his wife were the parents of William E., Elizabeth, who died before mature years; John T., who was married in 1884 to Maggie J. Telford, who bore two children, Ethel M. and Clinton S., and died in 1889, near Sparta; and Sarah J., who became Mrs. J. B. Pier, and was the mother of two children, W. R. and C. S., and now resides in Sparta, Illinois. Moses Braden passed away near Rosborough; November 9; 1853, and his widow followed him July 19, 1871.

William E. Braden received his principal education in the public schools, with two terms in the Sparta High School. He followed the occupation of his father, in which he grew up by his own energy and diligence, and has always maintained an active and profitable interest in that pursuit. Later in his agricultural career he became an enthusist on the subject of thoroughbred horses and cattle, and in more recent years he has devoted his time and attention to those interests. He is widely known throughout Southern Illinois as a grain and stock farmer, and he is now serving his third term as director in the State Farmers Institute from the twenty-fifth congressional district. In addition to grain and stock farming he has attained a considerable reputation among stock breeders. The breeds he is most interested in are the registered Hamiltonian and Percheron horses and Shorthorn cattle. While not an importer of registered males, he has bred up a fine strain of horses of the bloods mentioned, and his modest herd of Shorthorns show pedigrees of Scotch tops from the well known breeders Wilhelm of Ohio, and the Harned stock farm of Missouri. Mr. Braden and his sons estate comprises a goodly tract of land near the scenes of his childhood, and his place is one of the finest in the state. Mr. Braden and sons are also the owners of between two and three thousand acres of land in other states, namely, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Colorado and North Dakota.

In 1895 Mr. Braden invested largely in the lumber business in Sparta in the interests of his sons, thus establishing them firmly in a splendid business. The Schulenberger and Beckler yard in Sparta thus came into the possession of the Braden family, and the senior Braden is almost as deeply interested in the manipulation of that business as are his sons. Mr. Braden is and has been president of the Cutler Creamery and Cheese Company since its organization in 1889, which is about the only one of the various plants of that character organized during the so-called “creamery age” that is still being operated by the men who promoted it, and with E. C. Gemmill as secretary and manager, now a heavy stockholder, holding his position since the plant opened for business, they have done a most successful business since they started. Mr. Braden 's life record is purely that of a business man. He has not permitted politics or its demands to interfere with the operation of his business, being interested in the fortunes of the Republican party in a merely casual manner.

On March 23, 1876, Mr. Braden married Jane Smiley, the daughter of James Smiley, who was an early settler of Marissa, Illihois, originally from Ireland. Mrs. Braden was born in Randolph county. Mr. and Mrs. Braden are the parebts of Smiley M., of Sparta, interested in business with his father, who married Miss Estella Richie, and they have a son, Stanley R., born February 23, 1911; Clarence A., a lawyer of East St. Louis, married Miss Paula Dimer, of Champaign, Illinois, January 17, 1906; Anna Mary married Ed. H. Smith, March 22, 1910, and resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has a daughter, Jane B., born


May 6, 1911. The Braden family are affiliated with the Covenanter church, of which Reverend W. J. Smiley, a brother-in-law, is pastor. The lineal descendants of Captain George Braden, of county Tyrone, Ireland, are now scattered over several states—New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, some in the southern states, and in Ontario, Canada.

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