Friday, March 27, 2015


If you were strolling through the older sections of Chicago's Rosehill Cemetery, you might happen upon this monument:

There is a fireman's hat on the top of the monument, and the following words on the front under a Masonic symbol:

Cyrus P. Bradley
at Concord, N.H.
Nov. 11, 1819
at Chicago, Ill.
Mar. 6, 1865
45 yrs., 3 mos., & 22 days

That's all it says about Cyrus P. Bradley.  What is doesn't say is that Bradley was the first Chief of Police in Chicago, with a long list of accomplishments during his short life.  Let's take a look at the life of Cyrus P. Bradley and see what we can find out about the man about whom it was said "He never forgot a friend - or an enemy."

Cyrus Parker Bradley was born November 11, 1819 in Concord, New Hampshire to Timothy Bradley (1876-1837) and Anna Nancy nee Morrill (1792-1854).  Timothy Bradley was a descendent of another Timothy Bradley who was a Private in the Revolutionary War in Col. Thomas Stickney's regiment commanded by Lt. Col. Gerrish, and raised in the Town of Concord and adjacent towns.  The Company marched July 5, 1777  for he relief of the garrison at Ticonderoga, on the alarm, and marched 70 miles when news was received of the evacuation of the fort.

Cyrus Bradley had seven brothers and sisters:  Asa Foster Bradley (1811-1892), Louisa Bradley (1813-1879), Peter Morrill Bradley (1815-1891), David Morrill Bradley (1817-1857), Seth Eastman Bradley (1822-1903), Electa T. Bradley (1824-1902), and Timothy Matthew Bradley (1826-1890). 

In June of 1837, seventeen year old Cyrus Bradley moved to Chicago with his brother David, and attorney I.L. Milliken.  The Bradley's eldest brother Asa F. Bradley was already living here and was employed as the Chief Surveyor of Cook County.  Cyrus stayed in Chicago over the summer, but in the wintertime continued his education in Michigan City, Indiana.

In 1840, Cyrus P. Bradley joined Horace Norton & Co. in Chicago who were involved in a myriad of businesses:

He remained with the Norton Company for 8 years. In about 1843, Bradley married Miss Martha Ann, nee Hodgson (1822-1898).  Cyrus and Martha Ann were blessed with three daughters and two sons:  Martha Louise Bradley (1844-1908), Anna M. Bradley (1846-????), Emeline Edna Bradley (1852-????), Henry Cyrus Bradley (1848-1909) and Charles Hodgson Bradley (1850-1924).

In 1848 Cyrus Bradley became a candidate for public office for the first time.  He ran for the office of Tax Collector of the City of South Chicago and to his surprise was elected!  In 1852 he was elected Sheriff of Cook County, and about that time was chosen Chief of the Fire Department, of which he had been an active member since 1845.  He contributed largely to the efficiency of the (all volunteer) Fire Department and also became a Trustee of the Fireman's Benevolent Association.    

On May 26, 1855, Cyrus P. Bradley was chosen to be Chicago's first chief of police.  Actively playing a role in capturing criminals, Bradley and the Chicago Police Department were credited with solving every crime reported during its first three months of operation with Bradley as its Chief. 

When "Long John" Wentworth was elected mayor of Chicago in 1860 the office of chief of police was abolished, so Bradley took up the job of Fire Marshall.  In 1861 the new mayor Julian Sidney Rumsey reestablished the office and reappointed Bradley.

Cyrus Bradley was also appointed as a provost marshal of the army following the outbreak of the Civil War.  During his tenure as police chief, Cyrus P. Bradley made a number of improvements to the police force, including increasing the size of the force, dividing the city into distinct precincts and creating the department's first detective division. 

Bradley was especially dedicated to the capture and prosecution of counterfeiters.  In January of 1865 he traveled to Springfield, Illinois where he captured a nest of counterfeiters and $20,000 in bad money.  It was in this service that he ultimately met his end. 

Returning to work after his trip to Springfield, Bradley complained that he had caught a cold and left work early to go home and rest.  The next day, still feeling unwell, he went home in the afternoon and never left his house again.  Cyrus P. Bradley died a little before three in the afternoon on March 6, 1865.

His funeral, held on March 8, 1865 was an event for the entire city.  All police and fire stations were draped with bunting to mourn his passing and even the courts were closed to give the judges and staff a chance to attend the funeral.  The procession from downtown Chicago to Rosehill Cemetery was led off by members of the Dearborn Light Artillery Company, followed by members of the police and fire department all wearing mourning badges, and members of the Masonic fraternity in addition to family and friends of the deceased.

The day after his death, the Chicago Daily Tribune published an article about the life and times of Cyrus P. Bradley.  The article ended with this tribute:

Mr. Bradley was a man of a thousand; shrewd, sagacious, an excellent reader of character, prompt in action, of great moral courage and physical strength, possessed of an indomitable perseverance and tireless energy, unyielding in the discharge of his duty, and careless of applause.  He never forgot a friend nor an enemy, and he had many of both.  The best proof of his ability and worth lies in the fact that the was almost adored by those who worked under him, not one of them expressing any but the highest appreciation of his ability, skill and honesty.  It has been said that "no man is a hero to his valet."  If this be true then C.P. Bradley was something more than human, for those who knew him most intimately respected and admired him the most highly.  Bradley never quailed before a responsibility; if a certain course of action seemed to him necessary he always ordered it, and shouldered the consequences.  Hence his subordinates worked for him fearlessly, carrying out his instructions to the letter; they knew well that their chief would protect them to the last dollar he was possessed of.

No man in Chicago will be more missed than he; all good men will mourn his removal from among us; only thieves and their allies will jubilate over his departure.          

Cyrus P. Bradley

Cyrus P. Bradley - he spent his life trying to make Chicago a better place - may he rest in peace. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your website! Your postings on history are FANTASTIC!