EARLY DAYS: Sam and Violet Bradley at home on their property near Bell.
EARLY DAYS: Sam and Violet Bradley at home on their property near Bell. Contributed by Ray Humphrys

Bell pioneer stayed close to home

SAM Bradley never travelled far in his long life.

This congenial pioneer who spoke with a clear, deep voice was born only a couple kilometres from the farm where he spent most of his life.

His grandfather Angus McPhee had come from Jondaryan in the very early days and in 1871, settled on land beside Koondai-i Creek. In 1887 Sam was born on this property which is only a few kilometres east of the present town of Bell.

Angus McPhee never lived to see the arrival of the railway and the development of the town as he passed away in 1902. At his request he was buried behind his home under a Karrajong tree. Sam Bradley lived through those times and worked on the building of the railway line. With his horse and dray he carted soil and gravel to build up approaches to the bridges and even the mound of soil which became the Bell Railway Station.

He had gone to school at Maida Hill which was a fair ride from his home and only had one teacher throughout his attendance there. At that time he remembered a tribe of Aborigines camped on Cattle Creek not far away.

Maida Hill consisted of a school, a hall and race track. Races were held every New Year's Day with a dance that night in the hall. One of the notable visitors to the races was the Hon J T (Joey) Bell of Jimbour who arrived in a buggy pulled by four horses flanked by Aboriginal riders to open gates on the way.

The 1902 drought was etched in Sam's memory as the worse one he had experienced. They had to boil prickly pear and fell trees, especially bottle trees, just to keep the cattle alive. He selected a block of land in 1910 which he lived on for the rest of his life. Dances were held around the district in the little schools and Sam attended many of these as a young man. He married and raised a family but after some years his wife died.

Sam Bradley saw the Bell district develop from wild bush country to a vibrant farming community. He knew most of the pioneers of the area. He also remembered the Aborigines camped at Wamga Crossing. One of them was Jim Crow and his wife Bella Bosco. Sam remembered Bella only had one arm. As a young woman, when she was working on Cumkillenbar Station, a Chinese shepherd fired a gun that blew her arm off.

Sam's sister Kate had married Eric, a member of the Davis Family. Later Sam met Violet Davis and later married her. She was a daughter of Arthur Hoey Davis better know as Steel Rudd the author of the Selection books which were very popular in the early days. One of Violet's souvenirs was the pen he used to write his stories with.

Sam and Violet Bradley lived out their twilight years on their farm near Bell.

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