(excerpts from original article 1943)
Pittsfield MA, May 15 1943. Clayton Sharp Bradley, 50 is almost totally blind but he carries on the historic 102 acre Bradley farm at Lanesboro and is to double his cultivated area this year in a patriotic effort toward increased crop production. He personally attends to the 25 head of stock and milks 16 cows twice daily. With no dog to aid him he rounds up the critters in the pasture and each knows her stanchion. Up-to-date progressive Mr Bradley has motorized his farm machinery which is operated by Russell B. Shaw who lives with him. He is the grandson of the late Lillie May Waite who was housekeeper for the bachelor farmer for 17 years.
“I am anxious to do my full war duty in the war effort,” said Mr Bradley ” and I am glad to be of some little service to the town, county, state and nation. This is a time when we should work early and late. I expect to have 15 acres of corn, potatoes and garden produce and to harvest 90 tons of hay. If I could get help we could do more.
Pluck, determination, indomitable courage, the spirit of “never surrender” were reflected in Mr Bradley’s patriotic words as he faced the giant maple studded lawn toward St Luke’s Episcopal church built of native stone with a Gothic belfry that is a gem of architecture. An ancestor of Mr. Bradley whose pre-reveloutionary ancestors sympathized with the Tories, gave the land for this church which was organized in 1767.
Clayton S. Bradley is the sixth generation from father to son to own and operate the old Bradley farm. The large, yellow painted square roomed house of wood construction breathes an atmosphere of romance and legend unqualified elsewhere in Western Massachusetts. From its stone and brick oven still extant. $15,000 (in gold) was stolen from Gen. John Burgoyne’s officers , who were in command of a detachment of hessians. Boston bound , after the surrender at Saratoga , October 13 1777, corks popped out and there was conviviality among Burgoyne’s officers the night they bivouacked on the farm of old William Bradley.
While the officers slept after they had partaken long and generously of old Bradley’s hospitality the gold which earmarked “pay for the Hessians” the British mercenary troups, disappeared form the oven where it had been placed for safe keeping. This robbery is one of the great unsolved mysteries of Berkshire county. There is strong suspicion from circumstantial evidence that William Bradley could have identified the culprit. It is a matter of record in the registry of deeds at Adams that within a few years he bought several farms for his sons. While the Bradley toll was rich as it is today, Clayton doubts if it produced sufficient dividends alone to warrant such investments.
Clayton Bradley’s grandmother, Mrs Clarissa Miller Bradley , who died March 28 1908 at he age of 91, told the exciting story of the robbery as it was handed down in the family : “The iron box containing the British gold was placed in the oven for the night at he suggestion of the Tory himself. The officers discovered the theft after a late breakfast and following a long unsuccessful search they went on to Boston empty without it. William Bradley was awake while the guards slept.”
Carleton Albertus Bradley now deceased father of the present owner of the Bradley farm told this correspondent 35 years ago after the death of his mother: “It is a fact that my great grandfather sprang suddenly into wealth not long after Burgoyne’s soldiers left. He bought a 200 acre farm for his son Uri. He purchased 80 acres on the other side of the road; he added to the home place; he build t a house for a rectory, and gave it to St. Luke’s. It was no disgrace for William Bradley to take the loot. It would have been confiscated by the patriots had they known about it.”
Still Seeking the “Pot of Gold”
Rev. Mr. Palmer now 88 an authority on Lanesboro and its accurate, conservative historian has written the following in regard to the great unsolved mystery of the Bradley robber of 166 years ago:
“The authenticated facts are that British prisoners taken in at Saratoga were divided into three sections which moved in parallel lines to boston, one passing through Lanesboro and one through Pittsfield. Burgoyne himself did not go through Lanesboro. It is stated that a number of the officers of the English prisoners were lodged in the William Bradley house during the night they passes through Lanesboro and that they were robbed during the night. Apparently some forcible remarks were made in the morning which could be fairly called imprecations or curses.
“The robbery was always imputed to the Bradleys who appear to have soon been in more prosperous circumstances. I think that considering the fact that Burgoyne’s troops habitually had foraged among the farmers and were making the trip from Canada through the valley of the Hudson for the express purpose of devastating the country and letting loose the Indians, probably few farmers would have had any scruples about retaliating.
“The Bradley’s were supposed to have buried the money and it may be of interest to know that my children in digging on land which a that time belonged to the Bradley’s found a coin dated 1729 with George II plainly stamped upon it.”
Clayton Sharp Bradley never has lost hope that sometime, even in his twilight, he will find the “pot of gold” on old Bradley farm.