Stephen Banks Bradley

[James Banks, Thomas]

Born: 28 June 1846 in (Sumter Co?) South Carolina

Married: 5 Mar 1873, Morgan Co, AL to Anna B. Thompson

  • Born 25 Oct 1854 in AL
  • Died 10 Jun 1935

Occupation: On the 1900 census he is a Capitalist. We have him on another census as a real estate dealer. This is also on his death certificate.

Died: 28 Oct 1913 in Hartselle, Morgan Co, AL

Buried: Hartselle City Cemetery, Hartselle, Morgan Co, AL

  • N 34 27.179, W 086 56.178
  • Spot taken 9 July 2009
  • Find-a-Grave: 39429619


  1. John B. Bradley (M, 1891, AL – Adopted…see adoption paperwork in documentation below)
  2. Bessie B. Bradley (F, Adopted…see note below in narrative)
  3. Beulah Maude Bradley (F, Adopted…see note below in narrative)


Stephen is a real enigma. He married Annie in 1873 and they appear on every census together until 1910. He died in 1913. There is no record of any children being born to them. However, we have 4 pieces of evidence that something very odd was going on. First, we have adoption paperwork showing that they adopted a 5-year old boy named John Livingston. John’s mother was Viola. Second, we have an entry in the Morgan County Heritage Book claiming that a woman named Bessie was “born to Stephen Bradley and Viola Livingston.” (Notice Viola has a different last name than Stephen). Then we have John on a couple of census records living with Stephen and Annie. And finally, we have a 1915 affidavit in which Annie swears she adopted three children: John, Bessie, and a girl named Beulah. So the question is this: Who is Viola Livingston, and what was her relationship to Stephen? The information we have, if correct, indicates that Stephen fathered at least John and Bessie. And that Annie adopted these two. Was Viola a mistress? A surrogate? The latter is an interesting option. However, John isn’t adopted until he is 5 years old, and the 1900 census, at which Bessie is 5, she does not appear in the Bradley household. So if she’s a surrogate, why don’t the newborn babies come home to the Bradley family? And if John is the natural father, why is adoption necessary? Surrogacy isn’t a normal thing socially (at least I don’t think it would be in the late 19th century when it would have to occur naturally – but perhaps I need to study up on it). This is a real Gordian Knot. When I get some time I’m going to try and find out as much as I can about Viola. And in case you thought to ask: Annie’s maiden name isn’t Livingston – it’s Thompson. So she and Viola don’t appear to be sisters.

Found this on the Bradley Genealogy Forum:

Miscellaneous Books in the Courthouse, Henderson County Texas
BOOK 2, PAGE 196

Dated 23 Jan 1915

“Annie B. Bradley, a resident of Morgan County, Alabama, widow of Stephen B. Bradley, reported that she had three adopted children:
1) John B. Bradley, of Navarro, Texas
2) Bessie B. Bradley
3) Beulah Maude Bradley
On 29 September, 1914 all were of sound mind and under twenty years, exceping John C. Bradley. The Chancery Court of Morgan County, Alabama removed their disabilities as minors on 23 January 1915.”

1/12/18 EDIT: This only gets more strange. My dad called tonight to tell me he came across an old Keren’s HS yearbook with a page about my grandfather (an alum) serving in WWII. It also listed a Luther Bradley. He was married to Maxine Combs. We thought that was funny, because my mom’s maiden name is Combs. I got on Ancestry and started looking them up. Luther Bradley is George Luther Bradley, Jr., son of George Luther Bradley, Sr., son of WM Bradley. George Sr had a sibling named Beulah M. As I dug I realized, Stephen Banks adopted a girl named Beulah Maude. As I compared sources, she is about the same age as the Beulah Maude in the adoption affidavit. Also – notice on the above affidavit, the record is in the Henderson Co TX record books, but Annie is a Morgan Co AL resident. Here’s my hypothesis: WM Bradley, father of Beulah M, is one of our Bradleys. He and his wife both died (I can’t find them after the 1910 census in which Maude is in the house with them). Maude was still a minor. She was sent from Texas back to Morgan Co to be adopted by Stephen and Annie – family. I can’t prove this, but I’m pretty confident this is right. Here’s the next problem: I can’t find anyone among the James Banks descendants who fits WM Bradley’s details. Hypothesis #2: WM Bradley is a descendant of a James Banks sibling. If this is correct, it’s pretty exciting. If we can trace a sibling of James Banks (and we have strong reason to believe he had siblings), it gives us one more line on the elusive Thomas Bradley. Filling out the James Banks generation gives us a stronger foundation upon which to search for Thomas Bradley.

According to the “United States, Civil War Soldiers Index”, Stephen Banks Bradley was enlisted in the 20 Regiment, South Carolina Infantry as a private.




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