Bradley IL History

A History of Excellence

From its beginning as North Kankakee, later as Bradley, our village has been home to many small businesses, from one-chair barbershops and “mom-and-pop” grocery stores and taverns to three of the world’s largest manufacturers of starch, furniture, appliances, and farm and home implements (Standard Starch Company, David Bradley Manufacturing Company, and Kroehler Manufacturing Company).

Among our first citizens were wealthy entrepreneurs, enterprising businessmen, and working men from all classes of society. The new factories of North Kankakee were built by carpenters, bricklayers, and stonemasons from nearby communities and Chicago. Many remained in the village and took jobs in the factories. Other workers (some were trained craftsmen), many of them immigrants from Germany, Scandinavia, Italy, Poland, Bohemia, and Slovenia, were drawn here by the prospects of factory jobs.

They found their neighbors were descendants of an established French Canadian settlement (Bourbonnais) and Irish, who had come to America as miners and quarry men and remained to build canals and railroads. Also resident in the area was that potpourri of Anglo-Americans, descended from the area’s pioneer settlers. These are the people and the times the Bradley Historical Society is chartered to preserve and memorialize.

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