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William C. Bradbury Papers

Identifier: COU:225

Scope and Contents

The William Bradbury Small Manuscript collection is divided into two parts. T, the first part consists of a small file of memorabilia and approximately 160 photographic portraits of family and friends, most of which are unidentified. The second part contains 20 pocket diaries (1884-1923) which record his lumber business, hunting and fishing trips and family events.


  • 1890 - 1923

Biographical Note

William C. Bradbury (1849-1925) contributed to the development of Colorado in the late 1800s and early 1900s through his work on Colorado railroads and canals. Mr. Bradbury was born on February 1, 1849 to Rebecca and Cotton C. Bradbury in Taunton, Massachusetts. He spent his youth in and around the city of Boston, and at the age of 14, spent two weeks as a drummer boy during the Civil War, until his father found him and brought him home again.

William Bradbury later spent the years between 1868 – 1871 working at miscellaneous jobs in Boston. Then in 1871 Mr. Bradbury visited Evans Colorado on business for his father, and decided to stay. He began working on a cattle ranch, and soon met and married Hattie A. Howe, also a Boston native, in the spring of 1872. The two had seven children together: Buckley C., Miriam, William C. Jr., Harriet (Bradbury) Locke, Isabelle B. (Bradbury) Gelder, Luther F, and George Edward Bradbury.

William Bradbury moved to Colorado Springs after his marriage where he created a prosperous mercantile business. Then, due to poor health, he sold the business in order to pursue a career in which he could work outdoors. He started a mule freighting business between Colorado Springs and Leadville, which was successful until it could no longer compete with the expanding railroads. At this point Mr. Bradbury moved his mule team to New Mexico where he started operating two saw mills and tie camps for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroads, and then later expanded these businesses to various parts of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

William C. Bradbury worked successfully on the railroads, and also on various irrigation systems and reservoirs throughout the West until 1909, including projects in Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho and Wyoming. At this point he also operated 16 different large farms, raising and selling sheep and other livestock.

Mr. Bradbury was an avid sportsman and spent much of his leisure time hunting and fishing. He was also interested in zoology, and donated a large bird egg collection, which consisted of over 4500 eggs and nests, to the Colorado Museum of Natural History.


3 linear feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



William C. Bradbury (1849-1925) came to Colorado in 1871. From the 1880s until 1910 he was engaged in the construction of railroads and irrigation works. An active outdoorsman, he donated a large collection of birds' nests and eggs to the Colorado Museum of Natural History. The collection contains diaries consisting mainly of personal memoranda on business affairs, but also includes accounts of hunting trips and family matters. There are about 160 photographs of family and friends from the late 1890s and early 1900s.


This collection is arranged into the following series: I. Memorabilia and Photographs II. Pocket Journals III. Oversize

Anna C. Peterson, September 29, 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States