Isham Beasley Bradley
The Life of Isham B. Bradley
Isham Beasley Bradley was born June 26, 1868 in Riddleton, Smith County, Tennessee. He was the son of Leonard Keelon Bradley, Sr. (1830-1899) and Mary “Puss” Beasley (1846-1906). He was married twice; once to Minnie Young Bradley (1874-1924) of Mount Hope, Alabama. His second wife was Clara C. Strickler (1882-1969). They had one daughter, Sudie Lula Bradley Respress (1925-2001). (ref. Ancestry.com)
I. B. Bradley was converted to Christianity under the preaching of J. M. Kidwell in 1887. Soon after he began preaching. His ministry carried him to Franklin County, Alabama in from 1896-1905. From there he moved to Dickson, Tennessee and served the church there for sixteen years. During the years of his ministry he also conducted local ministries in Chattanooga, Memphis, Cookville and Paris, Tennessee. He also preached for several years at the West End church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama as well.
Brother Bradley was an accomplished debater. Several Baptist preachers debated him, like Ben M. Bogard, Missionary Baptist, who debated him at least twice, in 1918 and in 1925. He also debated C. H. Cayce (Primitive Baptist) in 1918; and A. U. Nunnery (Baptist).
Of brother Bradley, Earl Kimbrough, while writing a piece on John H. Dale reveal the following, “ [As an aside, I. B. Bradley is one of several good men who did great pioneering work in Franklin County. He lived in Russellville ten years, 1896-1905, and supported himself as a bookkeeper for Wilson Mercantile Company and as a carpenter. He was one of the most successful evangelists that ever preached in the county. His preaching continued there many years after he moved to Dickson, Tennessee. He started a church three miles southwest of Belgreen in 1896 with 36 persons he baptized there. The church built a meeting house, which they called Bradley’s Chapel in the Bradley’s honor. He held meetings there almost every year for 28 years, at least up to 1924. In 1906, he baptized 28 in a week’s meeting there and in 1907, he baptized 34. Altogether he baptized about 200 people in that back country region. He was also active in the Belgreen church. He held a mission meeting there in 1906 “at his own charges,” and up until 1917 had held 14 meetings there.] (Earl Kimbrough, Art. John H. Dale: A Man Baptized By Barton W. Stone)
One of thing I. B. Bradley was known for was his support of a young girl who grew up in the congregation where he preached in Dickson, Sarah Andrews. Andrews was a young single woman who went to Japan to be a missionary. Of brother Bradley’s role in Ms. Andrews’ life, Slate noted the following, “Bradley (1868-1952) was not a missionary, but the treasurer for Sarah Andrews, at least in 1933. Beginning in 1905 Bradley was for sixteen years the effective preacher for the Dickson, Tennessee church where Sarah Andrews had grown up. Bradley witnessed her spiritual development, baptized her and sought to raise support for her to join J. M. McCaleb in his work in Japan. (I. B. Bradley, “Mission Appeal.” Gospel Advocate. LVII (July 22, 1915): 719.) After Andrews arrived in Japan Bradley sought to inform the readers of the Gospel Advocate about her work that began in 1915. (Bradley, “Sister Andrews at Her Post.” Gospel Advocate. LVIII (Jan. 17, 1916): 87.) He was for several years her “treasurer,” and continued to send support to her as late as 1931, during which year he forwarded to her and Oiki San $84 per month. (Earl West, Search, volume 4, p. 297.) Bradley was one of those thoughtful, steady local-church workers who had a heart for evangelizing. He worked ten years in Alabama and started nine churches during that time. (Most of this information is from J. T. Marlin, “I. B. Bradley,” Gospel Advocate cxiv (Mar. 17, 1952): 196-97. -see full article below.) When he went to Dickson they had forty-two members; when he left sixteen years later they numbered 700. In all, he evangelized in thirty-six States. He returned to Dickson later and spent the last twenty-five years in that city. He participated in forty-eight debates in seventeen States. (He was judged to be a “skilled debater.” Bonds Stocks, “I. B. Bradley,” Gospel Advocate cxiv: 13 (10 (March 6. 1952): 148.) For sixty-seven successive years he read the Bible through at least once. While continuing his local and evangelistic work he wrote and spoke on behalf of the work in Japan. God alone knows how much comfort and consolation he was to Sarah Andrews. (C. Philip Slate, Lest We Forget, p.21)
Below are two very good articles dedicated to I. B. Bradley. They are biographical in nature and were submitted to the pages of the Gospel Advocate upon brother Bradley’s death January 24, 1952.
-Scott Harp, 10.29.2023
I. B. Bradley
Often a man's own words give a deeper insight into his character than anything that another can write about him.
During the last seven months of his life on this earth, which came to a peaceful end on January 24, I had the privilege of being very closely associated with I. B. Bradley. At eighty-three, his mental alertness was remarkable. Here are three quotations, reproduced as accurately as possible from recent conversations, which reveal a great deal about the man who is mourned by thousands throughout the brotherhood.
Concerning his faith, he said: "Early in life I came into contact with two great and good men who did more to mold and fix my faith than any others-the lamented and beloved David Lipscomb and James A. Harding. Their profound reverence for and unwavering faith in the word of God made a deep and lasting impression on my mind and shaped my faith and practice in religion so that the tide of innovations that swept so many young men from their moorings, and disrupted so many churches, could not move me from my anchorage. God's word and that alone has guided me in all my religious activities both in public and private life."
With respect to his physical inability to be as active as he once was in the preaching of the gospel he said: "It is the greatest cross that I have ever had to bear."
Concerning the approaching end of his life here, he said with great ardor: "I realize that my life on this earth is nearly over, but won't it be wonderful when I walk the streets of that heavenly city?"
Men are great and good only if they incorporate into their beings the virtues that graced the character of the man of Galilee. By this standard, I. B. Bradley was a great and good man. It is not suggested that he achieved perfection in character. That is an attainment that only our Lord can rightfully claim. But he was a humble servant of the lowly Nazarene.
Brother Bradley loved the Bible. Prayer and the reading of God's word with his family was one of the highlights of every day's activity in his home. His library was filled with good books. He loved his books and used them. He understood the true nature of the work of a faithful preacher, and for that reason was diligent in study.
Brother Bradley was widely known as a skilled debater, Most of his active service was during a period in which thoughtful people recognized the value of honorable religious controversy. In this field he attained great success, earning not only the gratitude of his brethren, but the respect and confidence of those whose views he opposed. He was justly proud of the fact that he never stooped to personal abuse in these controversies. When some of his opponents "wallowed in the mud," he steadfastly refused to descend to the level of degradation which they chose. He felt that mudslinging was incompatible with the sublime cause he espoused. His faith in the power of God's word was such that he was convinced that the propagation and defense of the truth had no need for such crude tactics.
Brother Bradley was a source of great inspiration and encouragement to younger preachers. His long life was enriched by a large variety of experiences. His memory, even in the sunset of life, was remarkably clear. It was a real inspiration to hear him recount his experiences.
As we worship in our comfortable buildings and enjoy the fruits of the progress of New Testament Christianity during the past few decades, let us not fail to remember with gratitude that many of the good things we now have are the harvest of the labor, the devotion, the loyalty, and the "blood, sweat and tears" of the gallant men who, one by one, are "going down the valley."
In the passing of I. B. Bradley, a noble and valiant soldier of the cross has laid down his armor, not in defeat, but, we confidently believe, in glorious victory-he has laid down his armor that the Captain of his salvation may place upon his spiritual brow the crown of life that will fit him to walk gracefully "down the streets of that heavenly city"!
-Bonds Stocks, Gospel Advocate, March 6, 1952, page 148.
Gospel Advocate Obituary
Late in the evening, January 24, 1952, the sad news went out, "I. B. Bradley has just passed into yonder world." We thought how truly it might be said of him that, "There is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel." He was born June 26, 1868, in Smith County, Tenn. His parents, L. K. and Mary Bradley, lived on a small farm. His mother became a Christian when I. B. was five years of age, but his father was an agnostic until he reached his sixty-fourth year. T. B. Larimore came into the community and preached twelve sermons on Heb. 11:6 and baptized him into Christ. Long before his death, which came six years later, he was taking a leading part in the little church in his community.
Brother Bradley attended the public school in Smith County; also Dixon Springs Academy two years; and completed a course in Jennings Business School in Nashville, Tenn. Then he enrolled for two years' work in the Nashville Bible School, 1893 and 1894. Upon hearing J. M. Kidwell preach four sermons, he became a Christian on April 27, 1887.
On his twenty-fifth birthday he preached his first sermon for his home congregation at Riddleton, Tenn. The same year he conducted his first gospel meeting for his home congregation baptizing thirty-nine. In 1895, he entered his first local work at Russellville, Ala., where he remained for ten years. During these years he established nine congregations in the county and did extensive evangelistic work. December 1, 1897, he was united in marriage with Miss Minnie Young, of Mount Hope, Ala. She was a faithful and devoted companion until her death in 1924, sharing with him both the hardships and joys of a gospel preacher.
In 1905, Brother Bradley moved to Dickson, Tenn., and began with a congregation of forty-two members. At the close of fifteen years' labor, he left the congregation with a membership of above seven hundred. During his ministry a fine meetinghouse was constructed, in which he took the leading part. His father before him being a carpenter, he, too, was one of the finest carpenters and cabinetmakers to be found anywhere.
Upon leaving Dickson, Tenn., he spent three years in local work in Birmingham, Ala., one year each in Cookeville and Paris, Tenn., and about eight months in Cincinnati, Ohio.
On February 17, 1927, Brother Bradley was married to Miss Clara C. Strickler, the secretary to F. L. Rowe, of the Rowe Publishing Co., Cincinnati, Ohio. Her greatest concern was keeping the home and encouraging him in the Lord's work. She was a real inspiration to him to the end.
As a debater, he was one of the best. His logic was clear, "he was capable of the very nicest discriminations; and he had the faculty of pointing out fallacy with marvelous clearness, and of turning an objection to his position to an argument in its favor." He engaged in forty-eight discussions in seventeen states, meeting some of the greatest denominational debaters of his generation. His evangelistic efforts carried him into thirty-six states. During his ministry more than thirty-five hundred were baptized. He was called upon to conduct more than fifteen hundred funerals. He was a Bible lover and a thorough student of it.
For sixty-seven consecutive years he read the old Book through at least once each year. For many years it has been a custom to read the Bible following the breakfast meal. Sister Bradley and Sudie, the daughter (Mrs. Bill Respess), joined with him while they read three chapters each weekday morning and five on Sunday morning. This plan carried them through the Bible year by year.
He was Associate Editor of the Christian Leader for about one quarter of a century. Only eternity can reveal the good that was accomplished through the life of this gospel preacher. The last twenty-five years of his life were spent in Dickson, Tenn., where he was perhaps the best known man in Dickson County.
I. B. Bradley was loved best where he lived and labored in and out for more than forty years. This great man of God was active almost to the close of such an eventful career. His mind was as keen at eighty-three as ever before. Any preacher who ever worked at Dickson, Tenn., found him a real inspiration and source of encouragement. He was always true to his convictions and there was no honorable thing he would not do for truth's sake. He believed in the gospel as the power unto salvation; and made no compromises with doctrines in conflict with his convictions.
Hundreds of mourners assembled in the church building in Dickson January 26 to pay their last respects to this faithful soldier of the cross. His funeral was conducted by Bonds Stocks and the writer. May the Lord bless his devoted companion and loving daughter.
-J. T. Marlin, Gospel Advocate, March 27, 1952, pps.196-197.
Franklin County Times, Russellville, Alabama
Thursday, June 9, 1904, p. 5
Nashville Banner, Nashville, Tennessee
Saturday, March 27, 1915, p.14
Note: T. B. Thompson preached mostly in Texas
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee
Saturday, November 9, 1918, p.7
Directions To Grave
I. B. Bradley and family are buried in the Dickson Union Cemetery, Dickson, Tennessee. It is located at 200 E. Ray St. in Dickson. The grave is located in the older part of the cemetery near the N. Charlotte Street's first entrance on the Henslee Drive end. Enter on Ray St. and bear left. Go to second set of steps to the left and enter go to end of sidewalk. The Bradley plot is next to the sidewalk. See GPS below for exact location.
or D.d. 36°04'57.4"N 87°23'02.2"W
Isham B. Bradley
June 26, 1868
January 24, 1952
Photos Taken February 14, 2023
Webpage Produced October 30, 2023
Courtesy Of Scott Harp