Did you ever drive by a beautiful house and wonder who lived there? Were you curious about what they did? Did they have a family, how did they spent their leisure time? Most people are curious about others, especially the movers and shakers in the world – look at the popularity of People magazine! While history teaches us about the big events, it’s the men and women who forge history that make it come to life and make it relevant to people through the ages.
Take David Bradford, for example. A successful lawyer, businessman, and Deputy Attorney General of Washington County, his house at 175 South Main Street is a testimony to his accomplishments. Completed in 1788, his home reflected his social standing, with a magnificent mahogany staircase and interior wood finishes of remarkable craftsmanship. The exterior stone was quarried near Washington, but the interior decorations, which came from the east, had to be transported across the mountains at great expense.
Through this blog, we hope to be able to make Mr. Bradford and all the other people who lived in this magnificent stone house come alive!
David Bradford had important family connections – one of his sisters, Agnes, married John McDowell, a prominent local attorney, and his sister, Jane, married Col. James Allison, a lawyer who settled in the Chartiers Valley. David Bradford and his brothers-in-law were trustees of Washington College (now Washington & Jefferson College) and David was appointed a member of the building committee. He was instrumental in building McMillan Hall at Washington College, one of the oldest surviving educational buildings in the nation.
With such connections, many of us would expect that David Bradford would live out his days in his beautiful home. But Bradford was active in political affairs, legally defending the farmers that lived in this area. He became involved in the escalating protest over the first excise tax on whiskey which had been levied by the federal government in 1791.
When federal tax collectors appeared in the area to collect these taxes, local mobs drove them off and worse – tarred and feathered several of them! In November of 1794, President George Washington decided that the new federal government could not tolerate such lawlessness and ordered 13,000 troops to the Washington area. Upon learning that he was on the list to be arrested, David Bradford fled south to Spanish West Florida (present-day Louisiana). He took up a new life there and moved his family to a new home in St. Francisville in 1797.
But the house stood strong through all the years. Follow this blog to gain insights into the quiet, yet steady families and events, all sheltered under the house’s roof, that shaped not only the town of Washington, but the newly formed Federal Government of the United States of America.
Written by Terry Kish
*Photos by Jakob Locante