John S and wife Mary (Bolles) Bradbury

Guilford Men to be Honored in California

A few years ago as I was on Ancestry.com I noticed a researcher that was related to a Guilford man by the name of John S. Bradbury. She did not have his date of death listed. As our historical society had just finished transcribing all the stones of Guilford's 22 cemeteries, I proceeded to write a comment on her Ancestry page telling her that John Bradbury is buried in Guilford's Sunset Hill Cemetery and he has an unusual stone and an unusual story related to his death. John had left Guilford with a friend Caleb Winsor to head west to California. Also with them was another Guilford man Benjamin Twitchell. In route John and Caleb were killed in an explosion of a steam barge the "Jenny Lind" in Alviriso near San Francisco. They were both interred in a cemetery where others that met the same fate were buried. A few years later Sophia Twitchell's husband Ben, who had survived the explosion, was killed in a gun fight in a land dispute. Local newspapers covered some of this information which I discovered when doing genealogy research on Guilford families. (My husband is the Guilford Town Historian and I sometimes act as his assistant.) The piece that put me onto a bigger story was an item telling that Sophia Twitchell had paid for the return of the bodies John Bradbury, Caleb Winsor and her husband Ben to Guilford. Another item told of the two men being killed in the Jenny Lind explosion. Once the bodies were returned the Winsor and Bradbury families and Sophia prepared to bury thei loved ones. John's family owned the Guilford Iron Works at the time and Andrew Bradbury had a cast iron monument made to mark John's grave.
This story was all told to Claire Britton-Warren to owner of the Ancestry family tree. Since then Claire has done extensive research and has contacted many individuals to aide her to place a monument at the edge of the bay near where the explosion took place. The monument will list those that died that fateful day in April of 1853 to be placed on the anniversary of the explosion April 13, 2013. The bay area television station picked up on her efforts and aired the following this week:
http://www.nbcbayarea.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Amateur-Historian-Uncovers-Facts-Behind-Tragedy-On-The-Bay/188960861

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Guilford Descendant says ... on Friday, Feb 1 at 8:18 PM

It is great to see the story of these early Guilford residents being told!

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