David Bradley was born in Groton , New York on November 8, 1811. After working with his brother, C. C. Bradley, for several years he relocated to Chicago in 1835. Initially he was in the employ of Jones, King & Co. and helped to build the first foundry in Chicago, known as the “Chicago Furnace”. From the late 1830s until the 1850s David Bradley farmed in Lake County , Illnois, made bricks, and later farm machinery in Racine Wisconsin, and was a lumberman in Michigan . In 1854, he returned to Chicago.
In 1884, he purchased a plow company from his brother in law, and soon partnered with Conrad Furst to creat Furst and Bradley. Furst and Bradley eventually grew to occupy an entire city block at Fulton and Desplaines Streets in Chicago. In 1884 David Bradley and his sons purchased Furst’s share of the business, and the company was renamed the “David Bradley Manufacturing Company”.
In 1895 the company was relocated to North Kankakee (about 50 miles south of Chicago), which was later renamed “Bradley , Illinois” in honor of the man and the company.
In 1910, the Bradley family sold the factory to Sears Roebuck & Co ., at which time it was renamed the “David Bradley Manufacturing Works”. The name was subsequently changed to David Bradley Manufacturing Company and in 1958 the company introduced the Garden Riding Tractor and David Bradley became the largest manufacturer of garden riding tractors in the world. Sears also sold gasoline engines manufactured by Briggs and Stratton under David Bradley, replacing the previously used Economy name. In 1962 David Bradley Manufacturing Company and the Newark Ohio Company were merged into a single unit under the name Newark Ohio Company. The new company manufactured power lawn mowers, among other products. In 1964 another merger took place and the Newark Ohio Company was merged into the Geo. D. Roper Corporation with the plant in Newark, Ohio continuing to manufacture outdoor power equipment including riding and single power lawn mowers