Edwin Ruthven Bradley, son of Asa F. Bradley, was the oldest of six boys. He was born in July 1840 at Chicago, Illinois. He died 15 May 1915 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Miami.
This E.R. Bradley is not to be confused with the man, Edward R. Bradley, who operated a gambling casino in Palm Beach on Coconut Row and Main Street.
Asa and his son, Edwin, both have a postal service “first” to their credit. Asa was head clerk of the Railroad Post Office (first to sort mail on the train). In 1865, after service in the Civil War, 1862-1865, Edwin took over his father’s job, which he held for several years. After coming to Florida in the 1 870s, he became the first “B are- foot Mailman” in 1885.
Edwin Ruthven Bradley married an English girl, Lydia Phillips. She was born about 1841 and died in December 1914. She is also buried in Miami. Their five children were: Lewis and Guy, both born in Illinois, and Flora, Rose and Margaret (Maggie) born in Florida.
Edwin and Lydia left Chicago about 1875 for the wilds of Florida, near Orlando. By 1877, the family moved to Lantana, north of Lantana Point on the west side of the lake opposite the north end of Hypoluxo Island. First they lived in the Malden home near the present day Palm Beach Inlet. Because there were no neighbors, they went on south to Hypoluxo Island and occupied the H.D. Pierce home while the Pierces were living in the Orange Grove (Delray Beach) House of Refuge. The only other inhabitants were Mrs. Pierce’s brother, Will Moore, and William Butler.
In 1876, five government Houses of Refuge were built from the Melbourne area to Miami. Edwin became the second keeper of House #4 at Fort Lauderdale from 1883- 1884. It was there that Guy and Flora became very ill. Guy recovered, but Flora died, and was buried on the grounds of the House of Refuge.
In 1885, a rural mail route was established. Until this time, delivery of mail to the southeast coast of Florida had been very unpredictable. It was brought by anyone who might be coming south. The Jupiter Lighthouse had been the end of the line. To go south, the mail carrier had to walk the beach to Miami. At first, the carrier would go by boat to Juno, pick up the mail, and stop at Palm Beach, Figulus and Lantana. With the new route, the carrier crossed over to the beach at the haul-over (site of today’s South Palm Beach Inlet). The carrier traveled a distance of about sixty miles. He spent the first night at the Orange Grove House of Refuge, the second night at the Fort Lauderdale House of Refuge, and reached Miami on the third day. Edwin had the first contract, and he and his son, Lewis, took turns carrying the mail.
E.R. Bradley, as Edwin was popularly known, took an active part in the affairs of the settlement of South Florida. Having previously been a newspaper reporter, he wrote a column called “Lotus Cove” for The Tropical Sun, which was published on Indian River. Under by-lines of Ruthven, or Old Man Bradley. he told about the activities at the south end of the lake and mentioned the TOMS (tomatoes) he raised and sent to market.
Palm Beach County. created in 1909. was part of Dade County in the 1890s. Dade County was bounded by the St. Lucie River on the north, Cape Florida on the south and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. The Everglades on the west was unexplored and unsurveyed. E.R.Bradley served as Superintendent of Schools for Dade County until 1895 when he resigned.
He was assistant superintendent of the Florida Coast Line Canal and Transportation Company which was dredging the East Coast Canal. It reached Miami at the same time the East Coast Railway reached West Palm Beach (1894.) Bradley was an agent for the Florida East Coast Land Company and the Model Land Company.
Edwin moved farther south into what is now Broward County, then to Flamingo, where he served as postmaster. He resided in Miami before moving to Goulds to live with his daughter, Maggie (Mrs. W.R. Burton).
Morris Benson Lyman, who came to Lantana in 1888, is given credit for being the founder of the town, because he started several businesses and sold some land. E.R. Bradley came to Lantana eleven years earlier (1877), and was the first to settle on the west shore of the lake, on the north of Lantana Point (west end of today’s bridge.) In 1877, the only inhabitants at Hypoluxo (the whole area at the south end of Lake Worth as it was called) were the Pierce family of four and two bachelors, Will Moore and William Butler.
Guy M. Bradley, son of pioneer Edwin Ruthven Bradley, was born 26 October 1870 and grew up on the shores of Lake Worth. He, along with other sons of pioneers, thought nothing of killing egrets and selling the feathers, prized for decorating ladies’ hats. Later, he saw the error of his ways and dedicated himself to preventing the killing of birds.
The Bradleys moved to Flamingo at Cape Sable in the late 1890s. There, Guy became a deputy sheriff and conservation officer for the newly- formed National Association of Audubon Society. He confronted some plume hunters, who defied him, and he was shot and killed in his skiff on 8 July 1905. He is considered to be the first park ranger in the Everglades, and he was killed in the line of duty.
Guy M. Bradley’s story is told in a diorama at the visitors’ center at Everglades National Park at Flamingo.