See the photo of A Knight family reunion in 1875, possibly in Middletown or New Haven CT.
Until he was 17 years old he lived on his father's farm in Grafton VT where he was born. Apparently, his youth was spent in an abundance of home grown food and religion. His mother's letters show that there was always plenty to eat and his father was the pastor at the Congregational Church of Grafton VT from 1828-1859.
At the age of 17, in 1854, James Henry went to Charleston SC under the employ of his brother-in-law, William G. Bancroft, proprietor of one of the largest dry-goods houses in the South. He came down with yellow fever, but recovered, and returned, at age 20, in 1857, to New England where he entered the Williston Seminary at Easthampton MA, to prepare for Yale.
He entered Yale in Sept. 1859 in the class of 1863 as a candidate for the Bachelor of Divinity degree. While at Yale, he and three other students formed a quartet that became Yale's first "Glee Club", since known as the "Whiffenpoofs".
While in his Sophomore year, war had begun and he "drilled about the college grounds with the boys". He was invited to serve as Chaplain for the 12th Connecticut Volunteers by Captain Dick, and a week later, on February 12, 1861, after buying a uniform, becoming ordained (in a ceremony conducted by his own father), and settling his affairs, he reported for duty.
Apparently, he never received a degree from Yale, because of the interruption by the Civil War, however his class held reunions for many years, and he wrote extensively for the yearbook of his class' 40th reunion in 1903. His name does not appear among Yale graduates in the General Catalog of Yale University 1701- 1924. This catalog shows that the first Bachelor of Divinity degree was not issued until 1867. In his own words, as he wrote in his 40th reunion yearbook: "...I was...one of the three 'Church Committee' of my Class, who would be Deacons in the Senior year [emphasis added]; Secretary of the Glee Club of 1863; rooming in Athenaeum and South College.". Apparently, these would have been, were it not for thr Civil War. Under a commission from Governor Buckingham, he and his unit sailed from New York for Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico. He saw "skirmishes and battles", at New Orleans, Camp Parapet, Tibideaux, and twice participated in the taking of Brashear City. He was furloughed for 30 days in CT, then returned to Fort Monroe, Washington DC, Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Fisher's Hill, and Cedar Creek. He was mustered out in Dec., 1864. He once lost his prayer book in an "up-country" Louisiana church, which was returned to him 39 years later in Washington DC. After the war, he was Chaplain of the James A. Garfield Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), from its inception and for 31 years thereafter, and in 1904 became the Chaplain-in-Chief of the entire G.A.R. It is for this service that he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
James Henry married Ellen Jane Knight* (1839-1899) in August, 1865. She was known familiarly as "Nellie". Although Nellie was born in Ypsilanti MI, she had been educated at the Williston Seminary in Easthampton MA, where her uncle was a Trustee. James Henry met her during his preparatory education at the Williston Seminary (probably in 1859), where she was a few years younger but possibly in the same class. Ellen Jane was the daughter of Sylvester Knight, Jr. (1803-1876) and Joan Sophia Bonnell (1807-1860), however after her mother died in 1860 she was raised by her uncle, Horatio Gates Knight (1819-1895), just as he was embarking upon his political life.
Shortly after his marriage, James Henry and his new bride went west to Hudson WI, where he served as Pastor of the First Congregational Church until March, 1867. Their first child, Sophia Bradford, was born there, but was born premature (and died, or was stillborn) as the result of a an accident involving a broken carriage and a runaway horse.
In the following Sept., 1867, they returned East where he became Asst. Superintendent and Chaplain for the State Reform School at Westboro MA. This is where their daughter, Mary Knight Bradford, was born in 1868. After two years they moved to Middletown CT where he was Superintendent of the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls during 1869-1873. This is where Harry Bonnell Bradford (1870-1952) and Ruth Bradford (1871-1873) were born. Ruth died, in her second year, of pneumonia. Then he taught for a year at Russell's Military School at New Haven, and next founded the "Bradford's Student Home" in Middletown CT, where he spent a year or two. Their son, Horatio Knight Bradford (1876-1914), was born there. For the next three years he taught at the Palmer State Primary School at Palmer MA, where he cared for nearly 700 boys and girls, during 1876-1879. Then he went to New York City for 6 months to work with the Howard Mission, an organization that functioned as an advisory group and later as an orphanage for African-American and Indian children, founded by Gen. Oliver Howard, best known for his role in the founding of Howard University in Washington DC. During that time his family moved to Rochester NY where Faith Bradford was born in 1880.
Finally, in 1881, James Henry, and his family, went to Washington DC, where he went to work, first as an accountant, and later as an auditor for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Dept. of Interior. He worked there until retirement 28 years later, in 1909. He and his family had no less than 10 different addresses in Washington DC until he finally settled at Chevy Chase MD with his unmarried daughter, Faith Bradford in 1909. James Henry spent most of his free time, many days of uncompensated work time, and substantial amounts of his own money supporting numerous charities for the poor and unfortunate, including people who suffered from diseases, racial discrimination, criminal pasts, wounds as veterans of the Civil War, or mental illness. He served frequently as a lay minister at the First Congregational Church in Washington DC.
He survived a mild stroke in 1873 while at Middletown, which may have slowed down his mental processes. He died at Chevy Chase MD of Bright's Disease and is buried (under a common headstone with his son, Horatio Knight Bradford, a veteran of the Spanish American War in the Philippines) in the Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, who died in 1899, is buried in Middletown CT, with her daughter Ruth.
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Note: Ancestors of Phillips Verner Bradford are denoted in the text lists with an asterisk (*) following the names.