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Bradley, Edmond

Age 95

Edmond Bradley lives on county road about three miles north of DeLisle, Miss. and approximately 9 miles above Pass Christian. He is what is locally known as a French "Creole" Catholic mulatto, though the pure white descendants of the French and Spanish, resent the term "Creole" being applied to any of mixed blood. Edmond is tall, well-built, of bright, light brown skin, and even at this advanced age, quite handsome. He was smooth shaven and wore a 'kerchief round his head. He had very pleasing changes of countenance. But he was almost totally deaf and nearly blind, and moreover much more at ease speaking the French patois, than English. For these reasons the interview was a difficult one and would have been impossible had he not been assisted by his youngest son, Albert, 44.

Edmond. I was born at Pass Chreestyan (Christian). I have been here all my life an' God Almighty knows I was born an' bred in dis neighborhood all right. I have never been slave in my life, I was free born. My mother allus tell me I was born 4th day of January, 1832 (but after some calculation he decided it was 1842). Dat was way back when de world was bad. I can tell my age because I was 24 in 1866.

I had a lot of property in de past, but dey rogued me out of it. My grandmother was Celestine Ladnier'. She owned a lot of property along de Beach at Pass Christian, but Lawyer Henderson got hold of it. He was to pay her $10,000 for it, but she never did get but two, t'ree hundred for it. I know one t'ing, my grandmother had a lot of property at de Pass. I don' know how she got it or where de dark blood comes from, but I know dat Celestine Ladnier was de mother of Calvin Bradley, an' dat Calvin Bradley was my daddy.

My daddy Calvin Bradley was a mulatto, an my mother, Josephine Nicot was brown, so some of her chillun was dat color. One of my daughters, Josephine Sweeney, is a midwife. I got two, t'ree daughters with long hair down their backs like white folks. I'm near bout like a white person myself, but I don' try to be white. My mother's father was an Indian, so I am mixed white an' Indian.

Albert Our mother - his wife, was a white woman.

Interviewer. But how could your father marry a white woman? I thought it was against the law.

Albert. It wasn't way back in dem times. People was so mixed up dey jes' married from one race to another. My great grandmother Celestine Ladnier, was a little mixed.

Edmond. I don' know who my grandfather, Calvin Bradley's daddy was, he died before I was born.

Albert. De ole' man's mind comes an' goes. Some days he can remember an' some days he forgets everyt'ing.

Edmond Show dese people de papers, Albert.

Albert brings a sheaf of papers. Among other things, the will of Celestine Ladnier.

Estate of Celeste Ladner. Will dated Oct. 8, 1848.

Abstracted from original papers on file in the office of the Chancery Clerk, Harrison County, Mississippi.

Third, I give and bequeath to my son, Calvin Bradley, the lot with all improvements, next and adjoining (here follows description of said parcel of land). I also bequeath to the said Calvin Bradley, my slave boy Robert, being the son of my slave woman, Matill. etc. ------

(Then there were a number of copies of deeds, showing where Calvin Bradley had sold off his inheritance, piece by piece, for sums varying from $150 to $400.)

Edmond. When I was a chile I lived right t'ere in de Pass, de house is still dere, right at de corner, de Curtis Place. Ole man Curtis bought it from my daddy, but he never did get all de pay for it. I lived in de Big House den with my daddy an mother. When my father died he made a will that we was to have his property, but it all went down a hole. I did get a little of it, but dey took it away from me. From de City Hall to de factory was all my people's.

My mother, Josephine Nicot, was a mulatto, very much like me. I been married jes' one time, I los' my lady though, about 15 year ago. She was de onlies' lady I ever had to 'pend on. We had 13 chillun, three of em died, an' 10 is livin', five sons an' five daughters. I never had any other chillun dat I knows of.

Interviewer. What are the five sons doing, anything worth while?

Albert. Dey are all jes' common laborers. Some farms an' some works in turpentine.

Interviewer. Mr. Lang told me you were in the Union Army.

Edmond. Yes, ma'am, dere's no use for me to try an' hide it, dere's no fraud about dis case, I was wid de Yankees an' I ain' shamed of it 'kase I couldn' help j'inin'. I got tired stayin' around de Pass an' I runned away to New Orleans. De Yankees pick me up dere an' say I have to jine de Army, an' if I don' jine, den dey will conscript me anyways. So I j'ine under Capt. Walker, Company H, 96th Louisiana Colored Regiment. I got to be a non-commissioned officer, I had to see atter de sojers gettin' somet'in to eat. I was at Ship Island awhile an' den I went to Ft. Morgan, AL an' was shot there. (showing the scar in his leg.

Interviewer. In such a case you are entitled to a Federal pension.

Edmond I gets one, he (the government) pays me.

Albert. He gets a pension of $100 a month, him and me together. He gets $72 a month, an' I get $30 a month for takin' care of him. Dey say he is allowed attendant. I had to sign up dat I would stay an' take care of him as long as he lived.

Interviewer. Looking about the tiny, but comfortable house. But whose place is this?

Albert This is my father's house an' farm. Dere is 78 acres here, an' it is to be mine when he dies. It is some of what he inherited, he had already deeded some to his other chillun.

Edmond. Yes I voted in several elections. I allus voted de Republican ticket, an' I ain' ashamed of it. I never did hold no office, I ain' got enough eddication.

Albert He could read before he got too blind to see de letters.

Edmond. But dey did 'point me to go wid de surveyors into de woods an' show 'em de numbers an de corners. I know more 'bout dis lan' dan anyone else in de worl', dats de reason dey 'point me to help. Den de headman at Gulfport 'point me to help collect taxes, but dat is de onlies' office I ever had.

Interviewer. Thank you very much, Uncle, for what you have told me, it is very interesting. I see whatever the reason for your fighting for the Yankees, it is coming in mighty good for you right now. Why, you get a lot more money than I do.

Edmond. Good-bye, Miss, I has enjoyed talkin' to you, I wishes you all kin's of luck.

Source. Edmond Bradley's name and address were given to writer by John H. Lang, of Pass Christian, who described him as an interesting character, but said he thought he had been a free "Creole".

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