Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Elizabeth Kell Bradford (ca. 1817-1894)
MSA SC 3520-2269
First Lady of Maryland, 1862-1866

Elizabeth Kell was born in 1820, the youngest daughter of Judge Thomas Kell of Baltimore.  On November 10, 1835 she married Augustus W. Bradford, and the Bradfords set up a home in Baltimore.  Elizabeth bore 12 children, five of whom did not outlive their father.

Augustus Bradford, a member of the Union party, was inaugurated as Governor of Maryland in January 1862.  His administration was dominated by Civil War concerns, and from the beginning he worked to ensure that Maryland supported the federal government.  Elizabeth was known to have been a staunch Unionist as well.  At the Maryland State Fair held in Baltimore in April, 1864, where she presided over the "Baltimore County table," she was presented with a Chinese quilt that several U.S. Army officers had bought for her "as a mark of their respect for her zeal in the Union cause."  It was the soldiers' wish that she preserve the quilt and hand it down to family members in memory of the hard-won victory.1

The Bradfords paid a personal price for their devotion to the Union.  In July of 1864, Confederate raiders burned the Bradford home near Baltimore to the ground along with its furniture and Governor Bradford's library and papers.  The Confederates left a note with the family members present explaining that they were acting in retaliation for the earlier burning of Virginia Governor Letcher's home by Unionists.2  The piano and the ladies' clothes were spared, however.  The men who burned the house were reported to have treated the family members with respect before they set fire to the it, by helping them remove their clothing and piano from the house.3

Notes on sources

Return to Elizabeth Kell Bradford's introductory page

Return to Elizabeth Kell Bradford's biographical profile