BRADLEY, ALVA (27 Nov. 1814-28 Nov. 1885), was a sailor, ship owner, and shipbuilder, who helped develop Great Lakes shipping. Born in Ellington, Conn., to Leonard and Roxanne Thrall Bradley, he moved to Brownhelm, Ohio in 1823. At 19 Bradley left home to become a sailor on the Great Lakes. After time on numerous ships, Bradley became master of the 15-ton "Olive Branch," running trade from the islands to Lake Erie's southern ports; then the 47-ton schooner "Commodore Lawrence." In 1853, Bradley, in partnership with Ahira Cobb, formed Bradley & Cobb, shipbuilders with yards in Vermilion. In 1859, Bradley moved to Cleveland, moving all his interests, including his shipyards, to Cleveland in 1868. Building at least 1 vessel each year, Bradley built 18 vessels between 1868-82, and had such extensive and efficient business operations that he carried his own insurance. He never wrecked as a sailor and lost only 5 vessels as an owner. Much of his estimated wealth of $10 million was invested in real estate. In 1880, Bradley helped found the Cleveland Vessel Owners Assoc. and became its first president. This group combined with its Buffalo counterpart to form the LAKE CARRIERS ASSN. in 1892. Bradley was an original incorporator of the Case Institute of Technology and a trustee of the EUCLID AVE. CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH. He was also active in temperance. Bradley married Helen M. Burgess of Milan, Ohio, in 1851 and had 4 children: Elizabeth, Eleanor, Minetta, and Morris. Bradley was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.
Finding aid for the Alva Bradley Family Papers, WRHS.