The Bradley House | Alachua County, FL | c. 1905
Mack and Cornelia raised a large family in this modest home in rural North Florida. Their parents had been brought as slaves from the Carolinas before the Civil War and they were the first generation in their respective families who were born free. These two would marry in the early 1890s as many changes were about to hit their quiet railroad town.
Devastating freezes would practically cripple the citrus economy in the area and the entire industry moved south, taking jobs, agriculture, and the railroad with it. But as the wealthier farmers relocated, some stayed behind to continue to grow their roots in the community they had helped to build. The value of land decreased and made land ownership more feasible for the less affluent farmers in the area.
Mack and Cornelia would buy this piece of property in 1896 and a larger tract which expanded their land in 1899. Their family was growing too and by the 1900 Census, they had 3 children. In such a small space, I can’t imagine how difficult it must’ve been to get by but their numbered continued to grow. Cornelia, who was born in this same town, would pass away here in 1929 and Mack would continue to live here until he passed in 1952.
Interestingly, this property has been in the same family since the first record of it being sold to them in 1896. According to the property appraiser, the building is listed as of ‘No Value’ but I am sure most of you here would agree with me that this isn’t true. For decades, this home sheltered a family, gave them a space to rest after a hard day’s work, a place to eat, a space to make memories, to celebrate, to mourn, and everything else in between. Its value may no longer lie in its ability to provide shelter but in its ability to remind us of a time long ago.