Howard S. (Dad) Bradley
The new Bradley acquisition had never been settled and farmed for good reason. It consisted of a swamp that had oak covered sand dunes running crossways Southeast to Northwest. No farmer had ever been able to make a living on that particular piece of land because there has never been a market for cattail reeds, snapping turtles, mud hens and squirrels. There were tiger mosquitoes with half inch long hypodermic needle snouts capable of draining one dry guarding that property as well.
But that low-land was fertile. The prairie grass was so high it hid a man on a tractor and the swamp was capable of swallowing both. The sod was too thick to plow with an ordinary plow -- Dad bought a special "brush plow" that turned a furrow eighteen inches wide and more than a foot thick. Trees the size of my wrist would disappear under the furrow when that plow passed their way.
Acres of Fertile Ground
Pioneers we were. We made a clearing on one of the oak covered sand dunes and built a house. We chopped down and burned quaking aspens and willows and dug ditches and little lakes to make fields out of swamp and planted corn around stumps that were too big to easily remove. One big boulder had to be blown to bits with dynamite. Today the new Bradley Homestead is a paradise of shaded lawns, fishing lakes and fertile cropland.
Building in the woods was an
adventure as well. The Kankakee River Valley is referred to
as "Tornado Alley" for good reason. The killer tornado of
1968, that murdered many people as it roared Northeast
across Illinois and Indiana, first touched the earth less
than 1/2 mile North of the new Bradley Homestead.
Jerry Spaulding and I cowered in
the basement of his house
The 'Tornado-Proof' House
We still don't know if the Bradley
Homestead house is tornado
Pioneers are so far in the past we
know very few of their names
Civilization to the Left,
Virgin land to the Right
Few who follow me will know what
its like to move to