By Clint Parker
The mountains of Western North Carolina are full of family histories by many different surnames among which are Baird, Reynolds, Weaver, Patton, Merrimon and Woodfin. These are some of the better-known names today as towns, places and roads bear their names, keeping them fresh in our minds.
Other, lesser-known surnames don’t get as much press and one of those lesser knowns is the Bradburns. While there are a number of Bradburns from the area who could be mentioned here, today we will only concentrate on David Franklin Bradburn.
David was born on February 3, 1838, in Buncombe County (what is now Madison County as it did not come into existence until 1851 and was formed from parts of Buncombe and Yancey). His father, Joseph Henry, was born in Burke County in 1807 and his mother, Evie Jane Hughey was born in 1813 in Buncombe County.
David was one of six children born to Joseph and Evie. David’s siblings included Harriett born about 1836, Thomas born about 1837, Andrew Bluford born 1843, William J. born about 1845 and James Ephraim born about 1850.
It is known that David Franklin enlisted in the Confederate Army at the start of the Civil War, but it was not a given that he would have, as many men from Madison County rode off and joined the Union. In fact, when David Franklin was captured in a battle at Cumberland Gap, Kentucky around October of 1864 he was given a choice to board a train headed for a Yankee prisoner of war camp in Michigan or join the Union army, he chose to join the Union.
He was discharged from Company C Second Regiment of the North Carolina Mounted Infantry of the US Army in August of 1865 at Knoxville, Tennessee. He would later receive an Army pension of $25 per month, which was a sizable sum back in those days.
David came back to Madison County after the war and picked up the pieces of his life. In February of 1866, he married Nancy Anna Green of Greenville, SC at the home of her brother, Rueben P. Green somewhere in Buncombe County.
There were 11 children from the marriage. Starting with the firstborn and going to the last there was William Bartlett Bradburn (1867), Joseph Henry Bradburn, II (1869), Anargin Florinda “Argie” Bradburn (1870), James Bluford Bradburn (1872), Evie Jane Bradburn (1874), Charlie C. Bradburn (1876), John Stokley Bradburn (1878), Major Jackson Bradburn (1883), Perry Franklin Bradburn (1886), Adelaide Bradburn (1889) and Ida Roxanna Bradburn (1891).
According to David’s daughter, Adelaide, her daddy bought a farm in the Trail Branch section of the mountains near the Buncombe and Madison County line where her two older brothers were born. After five or six years he sold that, and they moved to a 365-acre tract of land four miles from Marshall in the Little Pine section of Madison then known as Redbud Branch near where Dry Pond Cemetery is located today.
Adelaide goes on to speak of her mother developing what was called “Milkleg” or “Childbed Fever” after the birth of her 11th child. She would be a semi-living invalid for the next 13 years until her death in 1904. She was buried near the top of the hill in Dry Pond Cemetery with her father-in-law Joseph Henry and many other members of the Bradburn family.
David Franklin Bradburn would then move to Greeneville, Tennessee, where he bought a farm named in his will as “One Poor Farm.” There is a road named just that near Bradburn Hill United Methodist Church. According to family oral history, David’s daughter Anargin wanted to teach Sunday School for the children of the community, so David donated the land and wood to start the church.
David married one last time in his 80s to a woman named Florence Banks. No children came from the union. He died in January 1927 in Greene County, Tennessee, at the age of 88, and was buried in Bradburn Hill UMC’s cemetery.
Editor’s note: The author of this article is the great, great-grandson of a Bradburn of Madison County.