Thomas Pringle Bradley, biography c. 1906
[American Lumberman magazine]
  Source: American Lumberman. The Personal History and Public and Business Achievements of One Hundred Eminent Lumbermen of the United States, Third Series. Chicago: American Lumberman, 1906. pp. 133-136. Original courtesy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Texas Transportation Archive
Thomas P. Bradley

In the great northern pine country, as the pioneers of the lumber industry in that section are one by one giving up their control of affairs, the young man is coming to the fore. He is found in the office, in the woods, in the mill, conducting enterprises of great magnitude with, perhaps, more vigor and with fully as much success as his predecessors. Of the younger generation whose success has been marked is Thomas P. Bradley, of Duluth, Minnesota, a stalwart son of a family long identified with the lumber business.

Ability in the lumber business came by heredity to Mr. Bradley, although the school in which he was educated had much to do with the signal success which he has gained. His grandfather, H. M. Bradley, went to Duluth in the early '80's from Bay City, Michigan, where he had been a pioneer lumberman, associated more or less intimately with many of the leading men of the valley. This senior member of the family and all his sons were lumbermen, and it was but natural, therefore, that they should engage in lumbering when they arrived at the head of the Lakes.

Thomas Pringle Bradley is the son of Edward L. Bradley and Lucretia A. (Pringle) Bradley. He is one of four children and the eldest of three sons, having been born May 13, 1881. Though he was born in the Wolverine State, practically his entire life has been spent in Minnesota. Even as a youngster the buzz of the saw in the mills was music to his ears, and he had a smattering knowledge of lumber, gained from the conversation of his father and other relatives, even during his school days. His attention to his studies in the public schools prepared him for entrance into the Duluth high school, which is considered one of the best of its class in the United States and has a high standard of scholarship and mental discipline. He graduated from the high school in 1896, which year marks his connection with the lumber industry. In the ten years that he has been an active worker he has made great strides as a successful business man.

Young Bradley was hardly out of school before he sought a position whereby he could learn the rudiments of the lumber business. He began at the lowest round of the ladder—tallying lumber on the docks for the various commission firms engaged in water shipping. He was eager to learn everything there was to be learned about lumber, and in less than a year he was looked upon as among the most capable inspectors in the employ of these firms. Later on he went upon the docks, shipping for the well-known firm of A.E. Wilson & Co. But he was not satisfied with the commercial education he thus far had secured, and, for the purpose of knowing the manner in which woods work was carried on, he spent one winter scaling in the woods and another year in studying the office system of a big concern. He had the opportunity of doing these things in the mill of his father or his uncles, but he chose to prove his mettle and to accept the hard knocks in the employ of those outside the family circle.

It was in 1901 that Mr. Bradley became identified with the Duluth Log Company, with which concern he has made rapid progress in the business world and where his interests are almost wholly centered. The company was incorporated October 1, 1901, by Mr. Bradley's father, E.L. Bradley. While the concern was established to carry on a general business in forest products, more especially in cedar and spruce, much of its trade during the last five years has been in pulpwood. It was the first pulpwood shipper from Minnesota, and is the largest pulpwood producer in the Northwest. Mr. Bradley first held the position of secretary of the company, having a one-fourth interest in the business. In 1902 he was given additional responsibility, and two years later he became general manager, also. He now owns three-tenths of the entire stock of the corporation.

He has all the best characteristics of the young man of business -- activity, versatility, carefulness of statement, honesty, punctiliousness in carrying out contracts, and, in addition, he is optimistic and progressive. In these days of young men he has demonstrated the success with which they can carry on, unaided by older heads, business of whatever magnitude.

The Duluth Log Company, of whose operations Mr. Bradley has charge, is a manufacturer and wholesaler of logs, lumber, lath, shingles, ties, poles, posts, piling and pulpwood.Each season the company sends into the woods more than three-score contractors to carry on the logging for the company in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, and about 2,000 men are given employment. The concern has two yards at Duluth; a sawmill and yards at Aitkin, Aitkin County, Minnesota, on the Mississippi River; a mill, yards and general store at Hawthorne, Douglas County, Wisconsin, and several more large concentrating yards scattered throughout the Northwest. It enjoys excellent shipping facilities for its immense output.

From the start of his business career Mr. Bradley has had many propositions laid before him for settlement which would have puzzled an older man or one of wider experience. He has adhered closely to the policy adopted at the outset -- not to follow any one branch of the timber business exclusively. It has been the custom of the company to contract for the entire growth on a certain piece of property, taking whatever it might contain in the way of merchantable timber and finding an outlet for the product. In some instances it has been necessary for Mr. Bradley to create channels through which stocks secured in this manner could be moved readily.

The method of contracting for timber in general has added to the intricacy of the business. For instance, in the tie and pulpwood trade buyers are comparatively few and the company goes into the woods with a distinct understanding of what is wanted for the winter and how much will be taken by its customers, most of whom, indeed, have already made contracts for certain specific quantities of material, or for quantities within certain limits. With cedar the case is diflferent. In that line the product, outside of a small proportion of long poles, must be sold in car lots throughout the Northwest, at delivered prices, and the details of freight with the necessary correspondence and the traffic knowledge required for the successful conduct of this branch have been intricate.

The headquarters of the Duluth Log Company are in the Palladio Building, Duluth. Branch offices are located at several other points in Wisconsin and Minnesota, where the company has yards or mills. Each one of these branches is in charge of a competent man, but general supervision of them all is maintained by Mr. Bradley. The volume and character of the business require close application, so that the young secretary and general manager has but little leisure time.

Another interest of Mr. Bradley's is the Duluth Cedar Company, a concern incorporated under the laws of Minnesota to deal in cedar products. E. L. Bradley is president and treasurer of the company; S.C. Brown, vice president, and T.P. Bradley, secretary and general manager. The company has a branch office and yards at Ripple, Itasca County, Minnesota, on the Minnesota & International Railway.

What time Mr. Bradley can spare from his work is spent in hunting and fishing. This is his favorite recreation, although he does not get the opportunity to indulge in this form of sport to the extentjhat he craves. He has a membership in several yacht clubs of the Zenith City, besides in a curling club and other social organizations. He is a member of the Commercial Club, of Duluth. Mr. Bradley has never paid much attention to politics because of the pressure of business affairs. He is a member of the First Methodist Church, of Duluth, and is an enthusiastic Mason, being a prominent and active member of Duluth Commandery, Knights Templar.

Mr. Bradley forsook batchelordom August 10, 1904, when he married Miss Emma Black, a daughter of John T. Black, a prominent citizen of Duluth. The couple moves in the younger set of society in the Zenith City.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.