Gulfport Pioneer James W. Bradley’s son Dies by Drowning in Service on U. S. S. Ranger in 1921

Posted on Updated on

Daily Herald – Gulfport, MS-Date approx. Aug. 1921

JAMES BRADLEY, POPULAR GULFPORT YOUTH DROWNS

The many friends of Mrs. James Bradley will regret to learn that she has received a telegram from the department in Washington stating that her son, James has been drowned in Porto Rico. James was one of Gulfport’s well known boys and went away on the Ranger, a government survey boat only a few weeks ago. Mrs. Bradley has the sympathy of the entire community in her bereavement. James was the only child. The telegram received reads as follows:

Washington, D. C. August 30, 1921.

Mrs. James Bradley, Gulfport, Miss.

Regret exceedingly to state that word has been received that your son James was drowned in Porto Rico. No details received. Request you to inform me if you desire to have body shipped there or buried in Porto Rico.

                                                      Signed. WILLIAM BOWIE, Acting Director Coast Survey.


 

Daily Herald – Gulfport, MS-Date approx. Sept. 1921

TO BURY BRADLEY THIS AFTERNOON

Body Brought Back to Gulfport Wrapped in Beautiful Folds of His Country’s Flag.

Five weeks ago the community was shocked and grieved when Mrs. J.W. Bradley received notice that her son, James had been accidentally drowned at Porto Rico. Yesterday the remains reached Gulfport on the 1 p.m. train from New Orleans, and another of the town’s own boys had come home, for his final rest, his casket wrapped in the beautiful folds of his country’s flag, in whose service he had died.

James Bradley came to Gulfport at the age of one year with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James W. Bradley. He received the greater part of his education in the city schools, but graduated from the county high school at Perkinston with the class of 1918. Young Bradley joined the navy and saw over a year’s service in the Pacific fleet aboard the battleship Texas. At the time of his death he was in service on the U. S. survey boat Ranger, his last visit home was in May when he had a short furlough.

James Bradley was a bright ambitious boy, generous and kindly of disposition, and was popular with young and old alike. His father, the late James W. Bradley was one of the beloved pioneers of Gulfport and at his death three years ago, was serving a second term as city commissioner. His mother is beloved by the whole community whom she serves so efficiently as librarian at the Carnegie Library.

The funeral services will be conducted by the pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rev. Mr. Linfield, of whose church the young man was a member, assisted by Drs. Grace and Mahoney of the Baptist Church. The funeral will be held from the residence of Mrs. J.W. Rankin a sister of Mrs. Bradley whose house was almost a second home to James, as these devoted sisters have lived side by side for many years. The pallbearers are Messrs. B. Havard, John Morris, Roger Williams, Vassar Anderson, J.L. Heiss, Drs. A.F. Carraway and Dr. OC. Harper and Dr, Arvah Hopkins.Interment will be made in Evergreen Cemetary, where some 13 years ago the first grave to be opened in this beautiful cemetery received the body of a younger brother of the deceased.

Among the many letters of sympathy which have reached Mrs. Bradley none have been a greater solace to her than the following sent her by the crew of the Ranger.

S. S. Ranger, San Juan, P. R., Sept. 22, 1921

My dear Mrs. Bradley:

It is indeed hard for us to express our sympathy in your bereavement. We only know your son as a comrade and can only miss his alert, generous and his good qualities and infectious good nature. To a mother, he must ever seem as a boy and his good qualities which gained him popularity among his fellow men are ever subordinate to mother love.

The circumstances surrounding the drowning only serve to make us feel how close we all are to the dividing line. The ship was at anchor in the harbor, a short distance off shore. James and another man were engaged in running a launch between the landing and the ship. On the midnight trip, the launch remained at the landing for a few minutes; James in company with another went up the street a short distance to a restaurant. They failed to return in time before the launch returned to the ship, but nothing was thought of the matter as there were a couple of small boats at the landing used by sailors returning to their ships. In about three quarters of an hour after the launch left James and his companion returned to the landing, but the boats which were present before were gone. The two men separated to look for boats at other landings. When James’ companion returned to the original landing, James was not there. However as a shower of rain had just passed it was assumed that he had been able to find a boat and returned to the ship.

When it was found that James was not aboard a search in town was made. About ten o’clock in the morning that body was observed by some boys in swimming. As he was wearing only his underclothing when recovered, his only other garment having been a pair of trousers, it is believed he endeavored to swim to the ship.

The entire crew unite in expressing their sympathy. Many of them have been his boyhood friends and all of us have been attracted by his personality while he was among us. As it is impossible to acknowledge our feelings in person we hope that this letter may convey in some measure our sincerest sympathy.

Signed by:

Executive Officer, Chief Engineer, Boatswain, Carpenter, Assistant Engineer, Fireman, Seaman, Seaman.


 

I found these news articles while researching my great grandfather’s life in print. My great grandfather, David Edmund “D.E.” Morris, was in service on the U. S. S. Ranger as the Chief Engineer when this tragic accident occurred. His son, my grandfather John Harkness Morris is listed as a pallbearer in the news article. I knew a small amount about this story as told by my grandmother, John Morris’ wife, Rosie, when I was just a child. She would tell me the tale as we visited the graves in our family plot in Evergreen Cemetery. We walked over to James Bradley’s grave a time or two and she described the drowning and how the men had recovered the body of James. She was close to my great grandfather, D.E. So, now upon reading this article, I assume she was told the story by him. She was always sad when she spoke of the story. I wondered if she was friends with Mrs. Bradley. I knew when I found this article exactly who James Bradley was in relation to my family. The Bradley boys’ graves are not far from my family’s plot at Evergreen cemetery where my grandmother, grandfather and great grandfather, D.E. Morris are buried. Below is a photo of D.E. Morris in Puerto Rico – he’s the one in the middle.

8be55808-306e-4b4b-87a9-296db8eea68a
cir 1920 – David Edmund Morris, Chief Engineer, USS Ranger. David Edmund Morris is the officer in the middle of the photo.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s