|J. Herman Hardebeck
Kankakee businessman and real estate agent who in the spring of
1891 organized a land syndicate called the North Kankakee Improvement
Association. By May, Hardebeck had an option on more than a thousand
acres of land. A full page advertisement in the August 27, 1891,
issue of the Kankakee Gazette announced The North
Kankakee Boom. a population of 4,000 was guaranteed by July
1, 1892400 dwelling houses wanted at once.
Although North Kankakee had been planned as a subdivision of Kankakee,
and Hardebeck had offered to donate two lots, one on the east
side and one on the west side, for police and fire stations, its
citizens voted to incorporate as an independent municipality in
The economy of North Kankakee was nearly wiped-out by a severe
depression in 1893. Hardebeck rallied his forces and persuaded
a farm implement company, the David Bradley Manufacturing Company,
to move its factory in 1895 from Chicago to the failed Demme &
Dierkes factory buildings in North Kankakee. Shortly afterward
North Kankakees name was changed to Bradley City
and then shortened to Bradley in 1896.
its beginning as North Kankakee, later as Bradley, our village has been
home to many small businesses, from one-chair barbershops and "mom-and-pop"
grocery stores and taverns to three of the world's largest manufacturers
of starch, furniture, appliances and farm and home implements (Standard
Starch Company, David Bradley Manufacturing Company and Kroehler Manufacturing
Among our first citizens were wealthy entrepreneurs,
enterprising businessmen, and working men from all classes of society.
The new factories of North Kankakee were built by carpenters, bricklayers
and stonemasons from nearby communities and Chicago. Many remained in
the village and took jobs in the factories. Other workers (some were
trained craftsmen), many of them immigrants from Germany, Scandinavia,
Italy, Poland, Bohemia and Slovenia, were drawn here by the prospects
of factory jobs. They found their neighbors were descendants of an established
French Canadian settlement (Bourbonnais); Irish, who had come to America
as miners and quarry men and remained to build canals and railroads.
There also was resident that potpourri of Anglo-Americans, descended
from the area's pioneer settlers. These are the people and the times
the Bradley Historical Society is chartered to preserve and memorialize.
Bradley Historical Society Board
The Bradley Historical Society was organized in the fall
of 2002 by Village Board members Bob Redmond and Bob Martin at
the request of Bradley Mayor Jerry L. Balthazor. Seen here, left
to right, are the Bradley Historical Society Board members: Ryland
Gagnon, Bob Redmond, Bob Martin, Vice President Gail Schultz,
President Bob Simpson, Secretary Marcia Stang, Nelda Ravens and
Treasurer Don LeBran. Not shown are Board members Steve Coy and
Vic Johnson, Society historian. The Society meets on the first
Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m., in the Bradley Village Hall.
Bob Simpson and Float
This float constructed by Bradley Historical Society members
illustrated the Bradley Christmas Parade theme, Christmas
Past & Present. The past was depicted as a scene from
the 1890s David Bradley factory and the present by a worker using
a computer. The float won first prize in the Not-For-Profit entry
One of the Societys activities was this quilting demonstration
and quilt display at the Bourbonnais Township Park Districts
Perry Farm in September 2003.
Police History Display
Bradley Deputy Police Chief Steve Coy assembled a history
of the Bradley Police Force for display at the Perry Farm.
to Village of Bradley