Judge Robert Luther Bradley was born in Pickens County, Alabama, October 8, 1853. His parents died when he was quite young, leaving him dependent upon his own exertions. He began his career as a farm hand in the employment of Henry Vail, a prosperous farmer of Pickens County, at six dollars per month, and worked for him seven years consecutively, during which time his wages were increased from six to twenty dollars per month. In the interim of labor in the field he acquired a limited education and in the year 1870 began to teach in the public schools in Pickens County at a salary of thirty dollars per month. Desiring a more lucrative profession, he entered upon the study of dentistry, and upon completion of his course in 1875, he stood at the head of his class.
In March, 1880, he located at Vernon, the county seat of Lamar County, Alabama, where for eighteen years he followed his chosen profession with marked success, though engaged in political life and holding important offices.
In 1886, at the urgent demand of his friends, he entered the race for representative to the general assembly, and though his competitors in this race were men of influence and ability he was elected by a fair majority. In this session of the legislature he was placed on the finance and other important committees. His modest disposition, together with his force of moral character and fidelity to duty, won for him the respect and good will of the officers and members of both houses.
In 1888 he was again elected representative after a heated and vigorous canvass with strong and able opponents in the field. His career in this session of the legislature was marked with tact and ability. He was again placed on the finance and other important committees, where he proved himself equal to all emergencies. He was a close friend to Governor Seay, and in the session of 1888 offered the resolution fixing the schedule of bills upon their passage, which became the rule of the house, and is still the rule of the passage of bills.
In 1890 he was nominated as senator for the twelfth senatorial district, composed of the counties of Fayette, Franklin, Lamar and Marion, and was elected by an overwhelming majority over the Republican candidate, Dr. J. M. Files. In the ensuing session he was placed on the finance and other important committees, and in this session he made a record of which he, his friends and his constituency are justly proud.
In 1892 he returned to the senate, and was placed on the finance and other committees, and was also made chairman of the committee on local legislation. His record in this branch of the general assembly was marked by the same ability that distinguished him in the house, which was well attested by the encomiums of the leading newspapers of the State. At the close of his term in the senate he retired from political life, but two years later was chosen by the Democrats as chairman of the executeve committee of Lamar County, and was also made a member of the campaign committee. This was during that memorable struggle when the success of the third party had demoralized the organized Democracy, and a dangerous fusion of the Populists and Republicans threatened its apparent success. In this campaign Judge Bradley's energy, tact, influence and efficiency made him an important factor, which campaign resulted in a Democratic victory.
In 1893 he was nominated by the Democratic party for the office of probate judge of Lamar County, and was elected over his predecessor by a good majority. April 11, 1904, he was again nominated for probate judge without opposition. During his administration as probate judge and as judge of the county court, but one appeal from his decisions has been taken to the supreme court; and in this appeal he was sustained by said court.
In addition to his political and professional life, Judge Bradley has been a prominent figure in military affairs. He entered the State troops as a private and was soon made lieutenant, and afterwards captain of Company M, Second Regiment, Alabama State Troops, where he won distinction as a military officer.
He is a member of the Indepedent Order of Odd Fellows, and also of the Masonic fraternity; and is at this time presiding officer of both lodges in Vernon, his home town. He is a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and a liberal supporter of all Christian and moral institutions.
October 16, 1884, he was married to Amanda Lee Wimberly, daughter of the late Rev. L. M. Wimberly, a prominent minister of the Primitive Baptist Church.
Judge Bradley in an eventful public career of twenty years has never met with defeat. His open-handed liberality, charity and unbounded hospitality, together with native good sense, strong executive ability and firmness of purpose, have given him a popularity with his countrymen which but few men enjoy. He is now in the prime of manhood, and his life, both private and public, has been crowned with success.
Robert Luther Bradley was born October 8, 1853, at Palmetto, Pickens County; son of John and Barbara (Vail) Bradley, the former a native of Virginia; grandson of Hobbs Bradley of Virginia, and of Jeremiah and Mary Vail, natives of South Carolina, who later located at Palmetto.
Judge Bradley was educated at the Center Hill Academy, Palmetto, where he was taught by A. M. Nuckels, Montgomery Bell, and Miss Julia Propst. Later he attended the Vernon Institute. He entered upon the practice of dentistry in 1874 at Vernon, Lamar County, and practiced that profession for twenty years. In 1886 he was elected to the Alabama Legislature from Lamar County, and again elected two years later. In 1890 he was elected to membership in the State Senate. He served Lamar County as probate judge for eighteen consecutive years; Captain "Thomas G. Jones Riflemen," State Troops, for eight years; elected State Treasurer Nov., 1918.
He was a Democrat; chairman of the Lamar County Democratic Executive Committee, of which he was a member for 22 years; steward in the Methodist Church at Vernon for 30 years. He was a Mason and Odd Fellow. Married in 1883, at Vernon, Amanda Lee, daughter of Louis Monroe and Dorcas (Reynolds) Wimberly, of that place. Although Judge and Mrs. Bradley had no children of their own, they raised six orphan children.
Judge Bradley died on October 6, 1922. He and his wife, Amanda, are buried in Vernon Cemetery, Lamar County, Alabama.