Bradshaw -- York County
Many moons have passed since the Redman pitched his tepee where Bradshaw now stands. However, it was less than ten years after prairie schooners began making their way across the area in 1870, until a town was platted by the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in 1879. During that time a post office was established at "Aikin Mills" in 1870. Moved in 1873, it became "Plainfield." The name became "Lenox" in 1879, only to be renamed "Bradshaw" for Mary Bradshaw Richards, wife of the owned the land on July 8, 1880.
W.D. Post, depot agent and telegraph operator, was also the postmaster, the druggist, managed the general store, the elevator, and was the livestock dealer. Shortly thereafter, O.A. Richards began buying grain, Linsley opened a blacksmith shop, and Lacount & Knapp had a hardware store. O.A. Stubbs opened a second general store in 1881, and a flood of businesses entered upon the scene.
In the decade that followed the establishment of the town, the population grew to 434, with the prospect of continued good-times. On June 3, 1890, this peaceful little town watched helplessly as black clouds appeared in the west. Converging on the edge of town, two weather-fronts became a "twister," undoing in a few moments what had taken people ten years to build. The heavy rain and darkness made it impossible to realize the extent of the damage until the following morning. The situation was most pitiful, as residents searched for friends and family buried beneath the rubble. Not a single structure escaped damage. Many people were injured and 12 died as a result of the storm.
It was a great credit to the citizens who, in the face of the disaster, rebuilt their homes and businesses. By 1902 the "Bradshaw Republican," with John Dey editor, listed 25 businesses and one doctor, Frank G. Snyder.
Bradshaw's population has held steady over the years, with a present listing of 360 residents. At one time Bradshaw was the second largest shipping point on the line for cattle and hogs marketed in Chicago, with up to 40 carloads a day at its peak. Large quantities of grain were also shipped, with great amounts of coal and lumber received.
Bradshaw was home to three churches. Methodists met in a sod house on Lincoln Creek in 1871, served by the circuit rider, Rev. Babcock. The church rebuilt after the tornado and is still active. A Christian Church, first meeting in the Plainfield schoolhouse in 1879, built in 1885. They rebuilt after the tornado and continued until 1930 when the congregation was disbanded and the building sold. A Congregational church was built in 1880, destroyed in the tornado, and was not rebuild.
The first public school in the western half of York County was in a dugout on Lincoln Creek in 1872. Classes were later moved to an old store just north of town. In 1881 a schoolhouse was built in Bradshaw. Several additions had been made before the 1890 storm blew it all away. Through donations from the cyclone fund and the York County Board, it was rebuilt. The first 10th grade graduates were in 1898, with 12-year graduates in 1920. A new three-story brick building was completed in 1922 with additions in 1968. Current enrollment is 145-150.
The fire department, organized in 1908, progressed from a bucket brigade and hose carts, to its first pumper truck in 1947. A second pumper was purchased in 1974, with a pickup complete with tank and pump also used as first responder unit for medical emergencies. The department has gone from the old fire bell to a siren, fire-phones, and now individual pagers connected to the York County fire system.
Bradshaw had many lodges: Ancient Order of United Workmen, Modern Woodmen of America, IOOF, and Masons. The most popular fraternal order was the Royal Highlanders, which numbered over 100.
Bradshaw had a newspaper, the "Bradsaw Monitor," from 1884 until the editor, L.D. Beltzer, died in 1943. A poem published by a reader best sums up our feelings for our town.
You can boast about your county seats,
And laugh and have your fun,
And say our little village,
Is "slightly on the bum."
But if the city suits you better,
That's where you ought to be.
The little town of Bradshaw,
Is good enough for me.
By Alvin L. Gordan, Box 177, Bradshaw, NE 68319
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL: Bradshaw, 1902, Rev. M.A. Wimberley; Bradshaw 1880-1980 , Bradshaw Centennial Committee; and Greater York Area Centennial ,York Area Centennial Committee.