James B. Bradford, of wide repute as a vineyardist and wine manufacturer in Sacramento county, is a California pioneer of the 1850. During the half century and more that has elapsed since then he has had a wide and varied experience in the west, in diffeent lines of endeavor and usefulness to himself and the community. Mr. Bradford is a typical successful pioneer citizen, substantial and well-to-do in material circumstances, public-spirited in citizenship and of forceful and wholesome character.

With nearly eighty well lived years behind him, Mr. Bradford is now numbered among the oldest men in his county. He was born in Daviess county, Indiana, February 10, 1826, being a son of George and Mary F. (Bruce) Bradford, his father a native of Connecticut and his mother of Kentucky. On the paternal side he is of English ancestry, and his mother's people were Scotch.

Reared in his native county and state and receiving his education in the subscription schools which at that time prevailed in that part of Indiana, he spent the first twenty-four years of his life in that state, and then set his course toward the western slope, which was to be the scene of his future and most pretentious efforts. In 1850 he left his native state and came across the plains. During the fifties he saw much experience in gold mining, following this occupation in Eldorado county and in Placer county; in the fall of 1850 went to Oregon and engaged in farming near Salem; returned in 1851 and resumed gold mining in Shasta county; in the fall of 1851 located in Sacramento county; in 1852 went to Diamond Spring in Eldorado county, and there, in partnership with his brother William B. Bradford--and the two brothers were together under the firm name of J. B. and W. B. Bradford until 1869, when the partnership was disssolved--started a general mercantile store, but after a few months moved the business to Yankee Jims in Placer county, where they were located something over two years; was next in Clear Lake valley, this state, and in 1855 returned to Sacramento county, and for a brief period the brothers had a feed store in Sacramento; later had a sotre at Michigan Bluffs, and did mining at Last Chance; and for over three years was in Merchandising at Aurora, Nevada.

In 1865 Mr. Bradford located on the ranch where he still lives. Some years previous thereto he had bought the one hundred and sixty acres from the government, and in 1860 he built a board cabin which still stands there, as a rough relic of the past in Sacramento county. For a number of years Mr. Bradford's principal pursuit was general farming, and he worked into the grape culture and wine-making gradually. He planted the pioneer vineyard of his locality, setting out fifteen acres to vines in 1866. He has kept increasing this acreage until his grape vines now cover one hundred and twenty-five acres of his place, his being one of the largest vineyards belonging to private parties in the county. In 1889 he began the manufacture of wine in a small way, but his plant has been enlarged and improved from time to time until it now has a capacity of three thousand tons of grapes annually, whoseexpressed product is equivalent to four hundred thousand gallons. The wines from this plant are sold mainly at San Francisco and New York city. Since 1897 Mr. Bradford has had his sons as partners in his business, and the firm is known as J. B. Bradford and Sons.

Mr. Bradford was married, September 20, 1871, to Miss Sarah G. Kilbourne. She was born in Venice, Ohio. By their marriage they have two sons, Perley K. and George G., who are their father's partners. Mr. Bradford is will known in local Masonic circles, being affiliated with Elk Grove Lodge No. 173, F. & A. M., and both sons are also members of the lodge, George being master of the lodge. In political matters Mr. Bradford casts his vote independently.

Source: History of the New California - Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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