Charles Bradbury’s house on Maine Street Kennebunkport

Charles Bradbury, author of The History of Kennebunkport from its First Discovery by Bartholomew Gosnold, May 14, 1602 to A. D. 1837, was born in Arundel, on October 7, 1799, in the Smith Bradbury House (C-5 in Strolling Through the Port). Charles’ father, Smith Bradbury, was a Sea Captain and a merchant in Kennebunkport, who came from Newburyport around 1790. His mother was Mary Hovey, granddaughter of Reverend John Hovey, minister in Arundel from 1741 to 1768. The Reverend had kept daily journals of births, marriages and other affairs of the town. Charles Bradbury used what was left of John Hovey’s copious notes when he wrote The History of Kennebunkport in 1837.

As a young man, Charles followed in his father’s footsteps and became a sea captain but life at sea was not for him. Another local diarist, Andrew Walker described Bradbury as a tall, handsome, highly intelligent man with a distaste for manual labor. Walker quotes Charles as often saying, “All men are naturally lazy”

Charles married Juliet Walker in 1828. She was the daughter of Captain Daniel Walker of The Cup and Saucer house further down Maine Street (C-16 in Strolling through the Port). The couple had two daughters and a son.

Bradbury’s civic service, to the Town of Kennebunkport was not confined to his study of our history. He taught school and served on the local school board. He was a State Legislator and he served on the Board of York County Commissioners, being appointed Chairman in 1831. He also recorded York County Deeds and the 1830 Kennebunkport Census in beautiful handwriting.

Charles Bradbury seemed to be a man invested in his hometown with his heart and soul. The death of three-year-old Charles Bradbury, Jr., on August 2, 1844, may have been a turning point for the family. The child was buried at The Bass Cove Cemetery, with his grandparents Smith and Mary Bradbury.

Charles transferred his share of the family home, near the Customs House, to his siblings and moved his family to Albion, Michigan where he worked for the railroad until his death in 1864.

This photograph from the Kennebunkport Historical Society Collection was taken on July 10, 1888, for Charles’ widow Juliet when she returned to Kennebunkport for a visit. The house at the far right is where Charles Bradbury and his children were born. It still stands with renovations and additions. The brick Customs House, now the Library is sandwiched between the Bradbury House and the Methodist Church which has since been torn down.

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