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Ruth Bullus Bradford (born July 5, 1841), a daughter of Arthur Bullus and Elizabeth Wickes Bradford, accompanied her father to China after Abraham Lincoln appointed him United States consul to Amoy in 1861.

Some Family Background
Ruth Bradford's father, Arthur Bullus Bradford (March 28, 1810 - January 18, 1899, was a seventh generation descendent of that William Bradford who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. A.B. Bradford became one of the most active abolitionists in Western Pennsylvania.

Bradford, a Princeton Seminary graduate, moved to Darlington Township in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, in 1838. In 1836 he had married Elizabeth Wickes of Philadelphia; and before their move to Darlington, the two older children, Oliver and Elizabeth, were probably born. The other six were born at Buttonwood , the new Bradford home in Darlington Township.

In 1839 Bradford became pastor of Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church in Darlington, a position which he held for sixteen years. He made the antislavery issue a part of either his sermon or his prayer every Sunday. An old church member, when questioned about Bradford's preaching, stated that his subject was more often political than doctrinal.

Bradford lectured on the antislavery issue in practically every village across western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio as well as going as far afield as Boston, New York, and Iowa to speak on behalf of the enslaved.

In addition to speaking on this subject, he wrote for the Beaver, Pennsylvania, Argus ; Garrison's Liberator ; and various Pittsburgh newspapers.

Buttonwood , the family home (now designated an historic landmark of Beaver County) is on Bradford Road off Route 551 between Darlington and Enon Valley, Pennsylvania. It was built in 1840 using bricks made from clay found on the property. This clay was ground by a blind mare that walked around at the end of a beam, turning a cylinder to crush it. Then the bricks were formed and fired on the farm. The timber for the house was brought by horse from New Brighton, Pennsylvania, symbolically significant because the residents of Buttonwood and the Quakers of New Brighton were to become closely allied in the business of hiding and transporting fugitive slaves.

So Buttonwood became a station on the underground railroad, forming a link in the route north to Canada from New Brighton and Beaver Falls to Enon Valley and thence west through Salem, Ohio.

The frequently needed clothing to disguise runaways was made by Bradford's wife and daughters, including Ruth. They often used their own dresses to make these costumes. At one time such a very tall fugitive arrived that the women of the household stayed up all night sewing cloth together from two or three of their own dresses to make one for him. They also fabricated a big sunbonnet to hide his face. The worst problem was shoes. His feet were so big that the Bradfords could not find any to fit him, so in the end they made the dress long enough to hide his feet.

Until they could be transported further, slaves were at times hidden in a coal mine on the hill. My father, Charles Walker Townsend II, saw this mine when he was a boy. In later years the mine caved in, obliterating the site.

In 1850 when the Fugitive Slave Law provided a severe monetary penalty for assisting slaves to escape, Bradford, to protect his family, temporarily transferred the Buttonwood title to a friend.

The Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society gave Bradford a sword cane to defend himself if the need should arise; but although neighbors threatened to tar and feather him, no one ever harmed him physically; and he had no cause to use the cane, which remained at the house for many years after his death.

At one time he did take up a gun. Word was brought to him that a mob was going to attack a Copperhead (pro-slavery) neighbor. Bradford grabbed this gun from the wall, rode to the neighbor's place, and stood off the mob even though the people he defended were as staunchly for slavery as he was against it. When he got back home, someone looked more closely at the gun. Mud wasps had built nests in it, and there was no way it could have been fired.

In 1847, because they would not continue in a church whose General Assembly upheld slavery, Bradford and a number of other ministers formed the Free Presbyterian Church. Bradford became pastor of the Free Presbyterian Church, in which he served until he was appointed United States consul to Amoy, China.
Ruth Bullus Bradford, born in 1841, grew up in the midst of an abolitionist and underground railroad hotbed and must through the years have been affected by the issue and the excitement.

To China
Arthur Bullus Bradford, his daughter Ruth, and his son Oliver Bloomfield Bradford (December 15, 1837-1905) sailed to China. After his father's return to the United States, Oliver continued in consular service in China for about twenty years.

At the beginning of the voyage, Ruth was 20 years old, Oliver 24, and the father 51. Ruth was the only young woman on the ship and the center of much attention from the bachelors aboard.

Their ship, the Julia G. Tyler , left New York Harbor between September 8 and 10, 1861, and arrived in China on April 17, 1862, after a voyage of seven months and two weeks.

The Julia G. Tyler was a full-rigged ship of 857 tons. She had been built in Charles City, Virginia, in 1855. She was made of oak and iron with copper fastenings, had a draft of 18 feet and 2 decks. She was first registered in 1855 in Baltimore as a ship of the James Corner and Sons Line, for whom she sailed as a packet between Baltimore and Liverpool. She was first registered in New York on March 12, 1858, at that time captained by a Mr. Lowry with the managing owners being J.C. Jewett & Co. In her Journal Ruth refers to the owners as being Jewett & Crockett.

References to the September, 1861, sailing of the Julia G. Tyler from New York harbor appear in the records for that port, volume XLVII of the "Shipping and Commercial List, Vessels Up for Foreign Parts" as follows:
In Vol. XLVII # 71, Sept. 4, 1861
(Destination) Hong Kong. Ship Julia G. Tyler, Cooper, 12 ER, 5th Sept., J.C. Jewett & Co.
And again on September 7, 1861, in Vol. XLVII # 72:
Hong Kong, Ship Julia G. Tyler, Cooper, 12 ER, J.C. Jewett & Co.
As the ship is not mentioned in the next "Shipping and Commercial List," dated September 11, 1861, it had sailed after September 7 and before September 11.

China and After
Arthur Bradford and Ruth were in China from April 18, 1862, to December 3 of the same year, about eight months. As a result of his ill health and homesickness, he then, accompanied again by Ruth, left China, arriving back in the United States on April 24, 1863.

While the journey to China had required 224 days, the voyage home was made in only 141. They did not suffer so many dead calms and storms coming back.
Apparently on the return voyage, Ruth met Ira F. Crowell, first mate on the ship. She married him, though probably a little later. He became a sea captain, and she frequently accompanied him on his voyages, being known to the crew as the Fifth Mate. At one time Ruth and Ira lived on a "ranch" in northern California, possibly in 1876. After this project, however, failed, they probably returned to shipboard life for a time.

Captain Crowell died of cholera, and Ruth returned to Buttonwood in Darlington Township, where she, Isabella, also a widow, and Joe (Josephine) lived for some time.

Ruth died around March, 1928, in her bunk bed upstairs at Buttonwood , so I never met her; but I did see Isabella (Mrs. Hardy). She was a very old woman by then, wearing a cap and sitting in a chair on the porch.

Charles Walker Townsend II, spent summer vacations at Buttonwood when he was a boy, and he always remembered with delight the sea yarns that Mrs. Crowell (Ruth) had told him. One tale concerned the ship's goat. The crew was very fond of the animal, which looked like no other goat ever beheld on land or sea, for the motion of the ship had worn off all of its hair on both sides. During that long voyage, the ship was frequently becalmed; and the sailors, to while away the tedious days, painted a full-rigged ship on one side of the goat where the hair had worn away and an American flag on the other. They were very proud of their handiwork. When not long afterwards on the coast of China they sighted a Chinese goat feeding near the shore, they put their pet into a boat and rowed it over, intending to treat it to a good fresh bite of grass and a visit with one of its kind. But no sooner had they put their goat ashore than the Chinese goat reared up its head, sighted the brilliant ship and flag on the foreign visitor, gave a snort of terror, and fell over dead of shock. Ruth also told of a tropical people they had found who, as she put it, wore nothing but "a bow amidships."
My father said Ruth was very careful with water, never wasting a drop. She could not forget the lack of water during times she had been becalmed.

For the reader's convenience in identifying people and terms relating to sailing ships, a glossary has been included at the end of this book.

One other note: In her journal, when Ruth refers to Yankees, she means New Englanders.