Bradford High School “Panthers”

Bradford High School
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Photo Taken by Gerry Halpin

History of the Bradford High School “Panthers”

The “Original” Bradford High School
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Bradford is a community of approximately 750 residents located on Illinois Route 40 on the eastern edge of Stark County, approximately 40 miles north of Peoria. The town was founded in the 1850s by a gentleman named Bradford S. Foster, for whom the town is named.

Bradford High School opened in the early 1890s.  The first graduation celebration for Bradford High School took place in 1893. The community was a great supporter of the school system and were avid fans of the Panther sports teams until low enrollment finally took its toll. Bradford High School was deactivated in 2001 with the students given their option of attending nearby Bureau Valley, Henry-Senachwine, or Stark County high schools. In the spring of 2016 the choice of attending Henry-Senachwine was dropped.

The high school building continued to stand proudly for several years, though it was rarely used. In the summer of 2016 it was determined the former Bradford High School building pictured above was no longer of use. The building will be demolished in July/August of 2016. Bradford still supports its own elementary school for grades K-8. The 6-8 grades still compete in sports.

Bradford HS Alumni 2016
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Courtesy Bureau County Republican Newspaper
Bradford High School “Quick Facts”

Year opened:                1893 (first graduating class)

School Closed:              2001

Consolidated to:            School Deactivated, Students have choice of attending

Bureau Valley (Manlius) or Stark County HS (Toulon)

School Building Today:  Vacant

School Gymnasium:      Used for Grade School Home Games

Team Nickname:           “Panthers”

School Colors:               Black and Orange

School Fight Song:        “Let Us Cheer for Bradford High”

So let us cheer for Bradford High School

The very best school in the land.

Cheer for the Panthers, let’s show some spirit,

No matter if they fall or stand.


Cheer for our players, they’ll never fail us,

                                     They’ll fight for all that we hold so dear.

                                     Fight for the black and for the orange,

                                     Let’s go all out for Bradford High.

Donna Lee provided this bit of information regarding the Bradford HS Fight Song:

“This original fight song was written and adapted in 47-48 as the official School Song and served in that capacity until the close of the school. Music was composed by Band Director David Hughes, and the lyrics were written by English teacher, Mary Ida Parr.”


A distinguished alumnus of Bradford High School is Dr. Bernard Cahill.  Dr. Cahill was a nationally known recognized pioneer in the field of sports medicine, who founded the Great Plains Sports Medicine Foundation and Clinic in Peoria.  President Reagan appointed him to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 1982.  Having served as a Marine in Korea, Dr. Cahill returned to Bradford, before enrolling in the University of Illinois.  Dr. Cahill founded the Great Plains Sports Medicine Foundation, the oldest sports medicine foundation in the United States. He was a founding member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Society of Biomechanics, the Cruciate Society, as well as the International Society of the Knee.  Dr. Cahill chaired a Sports Medicine Symposium on Children and Adolescents in Competitive Sports at the White House during the Reagan Administration. Dr. Bernard Cahill, died  at age 79 in Peoria, on Sept. 6, 2008.

Dr. Cahill was raised on a farm north of Bradford.  In an interview with the Peoria Journal Star (December 19, 1999) he had these recollections:

“…we did not have electric lights until 1947, when I graduated from high school. So it was almost like the history of Lincoln, only we didn’t have to do our reading by the fireplace, we had Coleman lanterns that we used…  My brother and I both went to a one-room schoolhouse and had one teacher. As it turns out, I was the smartest kid in my class for eight straight years. It may be because I was the only one in my class…

Dr. Cahill went on to talk about his studies at Bradford High School:

“When I got to high school at Bradford Township High School, there was one teacher I particularly remember. Her name was Miss Sally Van Zan. She had taught my father and my mother in high school, and she taught at Bradford for 50-plus years . . .

“This lady, she would individually interview… the freshmen in high school. She was somewhat dictatorial, and she was a lovely-looking, very handsome woman who always was absolutely meticulously put together every day. She lived by herself all her life. She was from Kentucky. And the grownups just loved her in town . . .She would pound and hammer in a kind, leading way, and shed get the best out of you and would always push you to be better and better and better – and smarter, we called it in those days. About halfway through the freshman year she told me that I’m wasting my life if I don’t go to college. . . .”

Dr. Cahill said of his early days in Sports Medicine:

“…there was a real problem with sports medicine… if you talked about sports medicine, you’d have to spend maybe a half hour explaining to whoever asked you about what sports medicine is. And so in Peoria and nationwide, there was a real problem with high school football, that is, a number of severe knee injuries that these kids were sustaining…”

Dr. Cahill became one of the first team doctors to the U.S. Olympic Ski team.  In those days, he stated, they were the only doctors present, most teams did not have doctors on staff.  So athletes of all kinds of countries would come for help with injuries during competition.  He was present at Lake Placid, New York for the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Dr. Cahill became involved with the Football program at Peoria Richwoods High School and  was instrumental in changing the approach to student athletes.  Prior to his intervention, coaches would often withhold water during late Summer practices, in order to “toughen players up.”  Also, very little conditioning was involved, so when Football  practice started, not long before the season started, players were highly prone to serious injuries.  Prior to his work, terms like “hydration” and “conditioning” as well as the concept of strengthening the knee and the rest of the leg, were virtually unknown. Dr. Cahill was instrumental in proving to the IHSA that Summer conditioning was important, even vital, to prevent injury.  He stated in the Journal Star interview:

“We started a program out of pre-season training, and that was six weeks prior to the date when you could have on pads, and a few more dates prior to when you could be doing hitting contact.  The purpose of it was to strengthen the knee, to increase endurance, to increase agility and overall the health of the knee. Also, it was to pick out those people who had had a previous injury the year before and were never rehabilitated . . .”

The study began in 1968, involving 8 Peoria area high schools.  He stated:

“About July, we would go to schools, and I would personally examine the knees, both knees, of each varsity athlete. In addition to that, we put them on a bicycle to test their endurance. Thirdly, we would get data on any weight-lifting studies that they had done the year before…  As we know now, it was a vast success in decreasing early injuries, decreasing the severity of injuries, if they did occur. By the second year into the second part of the study, the IHSA allowed all of the members of the MidState 9 to participate in this. And then the following year, they opened it statewide, and the following year after that it was nationally adopted . . .”


Bradford High School Gymnasium
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Home of the Panthers


The Panthers enjoyed great success in all sports during their existence. However, as far as the state tournament is concerned the Panther Girls Basketball teams of the 1980’s were the cream of the crop. Below are listed the excellent Panther girls’ teams and their records according to the IHSA web site (

Coach Ellie Hanning built an incredible basketball program in the 1980’s. Her teams won a total of SEVEN Regional ChampionshipsFOUR Sectional Championships, THREE Super-Sectional Championships, and ONE appearance in the IHSA Class 1A State Tournament Finals, falling to eventual State Champion Elgin St. Edward 45-43 in the semi-finals!! 

1979-80  19 – 3   IHSA Class 1A Elite Eight Finalist          Coach Ellie Hanning

                         Regional Champions

                         Sectional Champions

                         Super-Sectional Champions

                         Beat Brimfield 56-49

                         Elite 8 Finalist

                         Lost to Carlinville 46-32

Carlinville finished 4th

1980-81  23 – 3    IHSA Class 1A Sweet Sixteen Finalist  Coach Ellie Hanning

                         Regional Champions

                         Sectional Champions

                         Super-Sectional Finalist

Lost to Bloomington Cent. Cath. 40-37

1981-82  N.R.A.  Regional Champs                                        Coach Ellie Hanning

1983-84  22 – 5   IHSA Class 1A Elite Eight Finalist            Coach Ellie Hanning

                         Regional Champions

                         Sectional Champions

                         Super-Sectional Champions

                         Beat Seneca 68-47

                         Elite 8 Finalist

Lost to Eldorado 73-43

Eldorado Finished 3rd


1984-85  27 – 3   IHSA Class 1A FOURTH Place Finalist!   Coach Ellie Hanning

                         Regional Champions

                         Sectional Champions

                         Super-Sectional Champions

                         Beat Seneca 53-50

                         Elite 8 Finalist

                         Beat Cambridge 38-32

                         Final Four Finalist

Lost to Elgin St. Edward 45-43

Elgin St. Edward won State Championship

Consolation Game Finalist

                         Lost to Cairo 63-52

1985-86  N.R.A.  Regional Champs                              

1989-90  N.R.A.  Regional Champs


You were always in for a great game when you traveled to the Panther gym in Bradford. Boys basketball also enjoyed many great seasons. The best are listed below. Several scores involving Bradford High School were found on a website titled “Illinois Postseason Basketball Scores“. These scores are lised below as well.

1921-22 through 1932-33  Postseason scores, records, and coaches’ names needed.

1933-34                    Galva District Tournament                      Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Kewanee 33-28

Cambridge beat Kewanee for title

1934-35                    Galva District Tournament                      Coach’s name & record needed

     1st Rd Beat Neponset 40-19

2nd Rd lost to Kewanee 35-14

Kewanee beat Alpha in title game

1935-36                    Princeville District Runner-Up              Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Henry 39-21

                                   Semi-final Beat Princeville 25-17

Title game lost to Toulon 24-22

1936-37  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1937-38                    Postseason scores, record                   Coach Frank Wilcox

1938-39                    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach Frank Wilcox

Season record needed

1st Rd lost to Galva 35-27

Galva lost to Kewanee in title game

1939-40  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1940-41  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1941-42  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1942-43                    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Geneseo 34-20

Geneseo lost to Galva in semi-final

Galva lost to Kewanee in title game

1943-44  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1944-45                    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach George Taylor

*3 senior starters and 2 reserves

enlisted in U.S.Navy to serve

in WWII prior to start of season.

Season record needed

1st Rd lost to Galva 32-25

Galva lost to Kewanee in semi-final

Kewanee beat Geneseo in title game

1945-46      6 – 18    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach Edward Wach

1st Rd lost to Wethersfield 43-34

Wehtersfield lost to Kewanee in title game

1946-47    14 – 15    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach Jim Mursener

                                   1st Rd lost to Mineral 40-30

Mineral lost to Galva in semi-final

Galva lost to Kewanee in title game

1947-48                    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Wyoming 54-46

Wyoming lost to Galva in semi-final

Galva lost to Kewanee in title game

1948-49                    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Wethersfield 40-35

                                   Semi-final lost to Kewanee 54-39

Kewanee beat Galva in title game


1949-50       8 – 13  Kewanee Regional Tournament           Coach Rex Sherman

 1st Rd Beat Wyoming 39-35

Semi-final lost to Kewanee 48-39

Kewanee beat Galva in title game


1950-51                    Kewanee District Tournament              Coach Rex Sherman

Season record needed

1st Rd lost to Kewanee 67-37

Kewanee beat Galva in title game

1951-52    12 – 12   Princeville District Tournament             Coach Rex Sherman

1st Rd Beat Dunlap 46-33

                                   Semi-final lost to Mineral 56-40

Mineral lost to Kewanee in title game

1952-53                    Blackhawk Conf. Co-Champs              Coach’s name & record needed

Kewanee Regional Tournament

1st Rd Beat Dunlap 62-43

                                   Semi-final lost to Wyoming 72-69

Wyoming lost to Kewanee in title game

1953-54                    Blackhawk Conf. Champs                     Coach’s name & record needed

                                    Kewanee Regional Tournament

  1st Rd Beat Dunlap 56-36

Semi-final lost to Wyoming 77-72

Wyoming lost title game to Kewanee


1954-55                    Princeville District Tournament             Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Toulon 60-56

Toulon lost to Kewanee in semi-final

Kewanee beat Buda in title game

1955-56                    Kewanee District Tournament              Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Kewanee 64-51

Kewanee beat Toulon in title game

1956-57                    Kewanee District Tournament              Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Kewanee 85-43

Kewanee lost to Princeville in semi-final

Princeville lost to Wyoming in title game

1957-58   4 – 19        Princeville Regional Tournament        Coach Bob Foutes

1st Rd lost to Kewanee 84-40

Kewanee beat Wethersfield in title game

Team members included:  Efnor, Browning, Bowyer,

                                      DeWeerth, Piper, Dison,

                                      Bucher, Mowbray, Velde,

                                      P. Gingerich, Code

1958-59  11 – 13       Kewanee Regional Tournament         Coach Bob Foutes

1st Rd Beat Toulon 59-54

                                     Semi-final lost to Kewanee 74-46

Kewanee beat Dunlap in title game

The basketball team of 1958-59 finished with a record of 11-13 overall, and a 9-9 record in the Blackhawk Conference, putting them in 6th place in the conference standings.  Bill Johnston received Special Mention consideration in the all conference balloting.  Brandon Piper was on the Honorable Mention list.  Bill Johnston finished in 5th place on the conference scoring leaders list with an average of 18.5 points per game.

1959-60   14 – 12      Kewanee Regional Runner-Up           Coach Larry Odum    

                                     1st Rd Beat Toulon 74-61

                                     Semi-final Beat Princeville 71-70

                                     Title Game lost to Kewanee 62-51

Larry Odum was the new basketball coach.   He was a graduate of Southeast Missouri State.  The Panthers finished the season with a 14-12 record and a fourth place finish in the Blackhawk Conference race.  Brandon Piper was a first team All Conference selection.  Leading scorers for the Panthers were Brandon Piper (20.2 ppg), David Bucher (15.4 ppg), John Gingerich (12.9 ppg), and Pete Gingerich(10.3ppg).

The Panthers reached the Regional Championship in 1959-60, losing to Kewanee 62-51 in the championship game.  During the season the Panthers split games with Galva.  Galva won the first game, 69-64.  The Panthers came back in the second game, winning 83-81.  David Bucher scored 35 points and Brandon Piper, 19 points to lead the Panthers.  Galva had a unanimous All Conference player in Rich Falk.  Falk went on to star at Northwestern University and later with the Boston Celtics of the NBA.

1960-61   19 – 8        Bradford Regional Runner-Up            Coach Larry Odum

                                     1st Rd Beat Dunlap 64-55

                                     Semi-final Beat Annawan 61-51

                                     Title Game lost to Princeville 39-38

Basketball finished an outstanding season with a record of 19-8.  Brandon Piper was the leading scorer (20.4 ppg).  The Panthers advanced to the Regional Final for the second year in a row, losing to Princeville by one point.  Members of the team included John Gingerich, Harvey Scott, Joe Mowbray, Pete Gingerich, Dennis Derick, David Bucher, Jim Laurenti and Brandon Piper.

*From Leo Driscoll, Class of 1964:

“The Regional Championship game in 1961 was played in Bradford’s newly opened Gym. The Bradford boys were upset by Princeville High.  Princeville was led by Wylie Parker.  A son of a Baptist Minister who had almost come to Bradford to preach but went to Princeville.  The loss was devastating because this group of players had been groomed since grade school to finally win a Regional basketball championship.  After the all, the junior class had lost to Kewanee the year before and everyone was certain that Bradford would finally win it s first regional championship this year.”

1961-62                    Princeville District Tournament             Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Dunlap 60-59

                                   Semi-final lost to Princeville 59-54

Princeville beat Annawan in title game

1962-63                    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach Bob Foutes

1st Rd Beat Wethersfield 45-37

                                   Semi-final lost to Princeville 51-43

Princeville beat Annawan in title game

1963-64                    Kewanee Regional Tournament          Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd lost to Princeville 44-37

Princeville lost to Wethersfield in semi-final

Wethersfield lost to Kewanee in title game

1964-65                    Bradford hosted Regional Tourney      Coach’s name & record needed

Bradford score(s) needed

Kewanee beat Annawan in title game

1965-66  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1966-67                     Postseason scores, record needed.  Coach Jim Hoover

1967-68                     Bradford District Tournament               Coach Jim Hoover

Season record needed

1st Rd lost to Wyanet 62-61

Wyanet lost to Buda Western in semi-final

Western beat Neponset in title game

1968-69                   Kewanee District Tournament               Coach Jim Hoover

                                   Season record needed

1st Rd lost to Atkinson

Atkinson lost to Neponset in semi-final

Neponset lost to Toulon in title game

1969-70   22 – 5      Blackhawk Conf. Co-Champs              Coach Jim Hoover

                                   Toulon District Champs

  1st Rd Beat LaFayette 80-55

                                   Semi-final Beat Buda Western 69-66

                                   Title Game Beat Toulon 73-63

                                   Kewanee Regional Tournament

                                   1st Rd Beat Dunlap 67-52

                                   Semi-final lost to Kewanee 91-68

Kewanee beat Henry in title game

1970-71                    Neponset District Tournament             Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Sparland 80-60

                                   Semi-final lost to Annawan 72-60

Annawan beat Buda Western in title game

1971-72                    Galva Class 1A Regional Tourney       Coach’s name & record needed

1st Rd Beat Wyoming 80-72

Semi-final lost to Toulon 68-53

Toulon lost to Princeville in title game

1972-73   26 – 2       IHSA Regional Champs                         Coach Jim Hoover

                                    Blackhawk Conf. Champs

                                    Regional scores needed

Wenona Sectional Tournament

Semi-final lost to St. Bede 74-58

St. Bede lost to Toluca in title game

1973-74  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1974-75  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.


1975-76   20 – 6       IHSA Regional Champs                         Coach Jim Hoover

                                    Regional scores needed

Wenona Sectional Tournament

Semi-final lost to Roanoke-Benson 67-65

Roanoke-Benson lost to Buda Western in title game

1976-77  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1977-78  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1978-79  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1979-80  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1980-81  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1981-82  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1982-83  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1983-84  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1984-85  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1985-86                    IHSA Regional Champs                         Coach’s name & record needed

Regional scores needed

Princeton Sectional Tournament

1st Rd lost to Newark 69-47

Newark lost to Ohio in title game

Ohio finished 2nd in State Tourney

1986-87  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1987-88  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1988-89  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1989-90  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1990-91  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1991-92  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s name needed.

1992-93                    IHSA Regional Champs                         Coach’s name & record needed

Regional scores needed

IHSA Sectional Tourney

Sectional scores needed

1993-94  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1994-95  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1995-96  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1996-97  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1997-98  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1998-99  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

1999-00  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

2000-01  Postseason scores, record, and coach’s names needed.

*Jim Hoover would go on to coach at Dakota and accumulate 300+ wins in his career.


Bradford Football Crow’s Nest
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Backside of School

Panther Football

Dating back to the 1910’s, the Panthers enjoyed great success on the gridiron. The earliest game of note occured in 1915 when Bradford took a hard loss to Kewanee by the score of 47-0. However, great games have happened since. One great coach in Bradford football history was Rick Odgers. Coach Odgers spent a portion of his career in Bradford as well as two other schools in Illinois. During his tenure, Coach Odgers accumulated 115 wins, good for number 172 all-time in IHSA history!

This football “war story” (and a great one at that!) was shared with us by a former Panther player:

“I will never forget our first trip ever to the IHSA (football) playoffs. We had just won our last regular season game in 1981 and someone needed to beat Buda Western for us to get in. We were waiting in the lockerroom to hear how the game turned out when we could hear the thunder of the crowd in the school hallway above running to the lockerroom to give us the good news!

Like many schools, Bradford HS was a wonderful place to go to school. It gave otherwise average (athletes) the opportunity in sports that larger schools may have kept us from (participating in). The high school was the focal point of the community, there was an excitement in the air when teams were doing well.  Though we were the smallest school in the Elite 8 in girls’ basketball, we had one of the largest crowds at Assembly Hall! People would park their cars in the endzone early on Friday nights to ensure a prime location for (that night’s football) game. It was just definitely a better time and place.”

Larry H.  submitted February 03, 2005

One game not to forget in Bradford occured against Manlius in 1994. In that game, Bradford QB Mike Shipley attempted 54 passes, with 13 successful connections to WR Ryan Morris.

Below are listed some of the more successful football teams in Bradford history:

1925-26   11 – 0      Coach S.J. Fleming

Bradford HS Football Team of the Fall of 1925
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Undefeated and Unscored Upon – Photo Submitted by John Terwilliger

The Bradford Panther grid iron boys of the fall of 1925 had an incredible season. The boys were undefeated and unscored upon through 7 games. Victories included wins over Kewanee Wethersfield, Streator, and Chilllicothe to name a few. Below is an article provided to us by John Terwilliger regarding the team’s highly publicized battle with undefeated county rival Toulon on November 11, 1925 as reprinted from the Bradford Newspaper. The team finished the season 9 – 0, below are the scores of the games played in 1925.

Beat Elmwood 7 – 0, beat Manlius 39 – 0, beat Wethersfield 50 – 0, Streator 51 – 0, beat Chillicothe 13 – 0, beat Toulon 20 – 0 (see article below), beat Wyoming 47 – 0, beat Buda 19 – 0, beat Neponset 31 – 0


New Stark County Champions Spill Dope and Nab Bacon

Bradford, Ill., Nov 11, 1925 (Special) –

Bradford resembled a college town here tonight when its 915 inhabitants turned out to welcome home Coach S. J. Fleming’s High school football team, winners over Toulon at the Stark county seat today in a grid encounter supplementary to American Legion Armistice day festivities.

The local preps were on the short end of 3-1 odds before the game started, but Fleming’s Orange and Black forces refused to be beaten and hung up a 20-0 win to the utter dismay of Coach Askew’s men.

Runs 97 Yards to Score

Bradford scored in the opening quarter when Fogelsong, hefty Toulon fullback, fumbled on Bradford’s 3-yard line. Petty, right end, caught up the loose oval and scampered 97 yards down the field for a touchdown. Bradford’;s other markers cameas the result of straight football.

Neither team had been beaten previous to today’s bout and the Bradford team had not yet been scored upon. Bradford owns scalps of Manilius, Streator, Kewanee, Walnut, Elmwood, Sheffield and Chillicothe. Three games remain to be played with WyomingBuda and Neponset.

Many local fans were among the 2,000 or more who attended the American Legion program a Toulon. Huge bonfires lit the sky here tonight in celebration of the victory and the athletes were lionized by the appreciative fans and admirers.


Toulon              Pos              Bradford

Turnbull . . . . . .L.E. . . . . . . .Blake

Heaton . . . . . . . L.T. . . . . . . Mallett

Williams . . . . . .L.G. . . . . . . Winters

Goves . . . . . . . . C. . . . . . . ..Harley

Garry . . . . . . . . .R.G. . . . . .  Ash

Ogle (capt.). . . . R.T. . . . . . . Gold

Cole . . . . . . . . . R.E. . . . . . .Petty

Whittacker . . . . .Q.B. . . . . . Terwilliger

Stover . . . . . . . . .L.H. . . . . .Cahill

Tell . . . . . . . . . . .R.H. . . . . .Tumbelson

Fogelsong . . . . . .F.B. . . . . . Shaw (capt.)

Substitutions – Bevier for Blake; Bair for Gold.

Score by quarters:

Bradford……………7 7 6 0 – 20

Toulon………………0 0 0 0 – 0

Scoring – Touchdowns, Petty, Shaw, Mallett: goals after touchdowns, Mallett, 2.

Officials – Referee, Albro, Knox; umpire, RogersKnox; head linesman, Olson

Bradford HS Football Team of the Fall of 1926
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Undefeated – Submittted by John Terwilliger

1926-27     9 – 0                                                           Coach S.J. Flemming

The grid iron warriors of 1926 (pictured above) were also said to be undefeated with superstar athlete Shaw Terwilliger leading the way.  We do know that the boys began the season with the following victories:

Beat Kewanee Visitation 7 – 0, beat Kewanee Lightweghts 20 – 0, beat Elmwood 28 – 0, beat Wyoming 7 – 0, beat Galva 14 – 7.

The boys played Toulon for the Stark County Championship on Friday, November 19, 1926 in a game that began at 2:30p.m. (There were no night games in those days.)  Bradford would win that game and be crowned the champions of Stark County!

Bradford HS Football Team 1931 – Stark Co. Champs!
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Submitted by John Terwilliger

1931-32                  Stark County Champions              Coach S.J. Flemming

In regard to the County Championship game against Toulon, John Terwilliger sent us this information about team captain Bob Blaisdell:

The Bob Blaisdell who was mentioned as team Captain, is an uncle of mine.  He is 98 years old, a widower, and lives alone in his own home in Tulsa, OK.   In late September, 2011, I spoke on the phone with him and asked him about this game.  He told me he remembered it and that one of his most vivid memories was that “Toulon had a really big fullback and seemed to run almost every play directly at me.”   He also told me that there was a school dance after the game but he was so pooped and banged up that he sat out the whole dance.”


1933-34     9 – 0                                                           Coach Edgar Morrison

1934-35     7 – 0 – 1  Blackhawk Conf. Co-Champs       Coach Edgar Morrison

1939-40                  Blackhawk Conf. Champions

1941-42                  Blackhawk Conf. Co-Champs  

1954-55     6 – 1       Blackhawk Conf. Co-Champs

1957-58     5 – 3       3rd Place in Blackhawk Conf.          Coach Bob Foutes

                                                                                   Asst. Roy Modlinger 


Bradford 32                Tampico 6

Bradford 45                Elmwood 0

Bradford 0                  Toulon 6

Bradford 14                Wyoming 0

Bradford 0                  Princeville 7

Bradford 6                  Galva 12

Bradford 19                Wethersfield 7

Bradford 19                Walnut 7

Members of the Blackhawk Conference were:  Toulon, Princeville, Bradford, Walnut, Galva, Wyoming, Wethersfield, and Elmwood. 


Varsity Cheerleaders:  Judy Code, Marilyn Mowbray, Mary Taylor, Jeanette Hanchett

Homecoming King/Queen:  Bill Johnston and Judy Eble


1958-59     8 – 0 – 1  Blackhawk Conf. Champions        Coach Bob Foutes

                                                                                   Asst. Roy Modlinger

A total of 38 players reported for practice in 1958, with 10 key members of the 1957 team returning.


Blackhawk Conference:  Walnut, Wyoming, Bradford, Princeville, Galva, Elmwood, Toulon, Manlius, Dunlap, and Wethersfield.  Manlius and Dunlap are new members this year.

Results                                                         Final Blackhawk Conference Standings

Bradford  30                Wethersfield 12                           W L T     TP       OP

Bradford  6                  Manlius 6                 Bradford    8–0–1    288      50

Bradford 12                 Princeville 6             Walnut         8–1–0    197       66

Bradford 46                 Dunlap 7                  Princeville    6–3–0    177       58

Bradford 12                 Walnut 0                  Wyoming     6–3–0    212       147

Bradford 47                 Elmwood 6               Galva           5–4–0    198      172

Bradford 48                 Toulon 7                   Manlius        3–5–1    113      131

Bradford 47                 Galva 0                    Elmwood      2–6–1      94      197

Bradford 40                 Wyoming 6              Wethersfield  2–7–0      85      230

Dunlap          1–6–2      71      254

Toulon          1–7–1      48      178

The 1958 Bradford Panthers football team won their first Blackhawk Conference Championship since 1938! 

All Blackhawk Conference Players were: Dan Puffer (unanimous selection), Frank Waldinger (1st team), Dick Stone (1st team), Dick Hanchett (1st team), Bill Johnston (2nd team), Don Dison (Honorable Mention), Don Dietz (Honorable Mention).  

Dan Puffer led the conference in scoring with 19 touchdowns and 11 points after touchdown.

Homecoming Queen / King: Ms. Mary Ann Colgan and Frank Waldinger

Queen attendants were Mary Ellen Johnston, Sandra Miller and Sandra Shaner.

1959-60     7 – 1 – 0  Blackhawk Conference Runner-up     Coach Tom Biddle

                                                                                    Asst. Larry Odum       

A new football coach was hired.  Tom Biddle, a graduate of Illinois College.  His assistant coach was Mr. Larry Odum, also new to Bradford High School in 1959.  The football team finished the season with a final record of 7-1-0, good for second place in the Blackhawk Conference behind Walnut.  Senior Don Dison and Sophomore Gary Foley were named to the 2nd Team All Conference.  Dave Walker received Honorable Mention honors.


1959 Blackhawk Conference Standings          1959 Blackhawk Conference Results

W-L-T   Pts. For   Pts. Against      Bradford  31  Wethersfield 13

Walnut            8-0-0     246             97               Bradford  33   Manlius         0

Bradford        7-1-0     143             65                Bradford  20  Princeville      6

Galva              6-2-0     197           100                Bradford 14   Dunlap           7

Wyoming        5-2-1     213            108               Bradford   7   Walnut         20

Dunlap            5-2-1    166              41                Bradford 12   Elmwood        7

Princeville       4-5-0     133            125                Bradford 19   Toulon           6

Elmwood        2-6-0     122            167                Bradford   7   Galva             6

Toulon            2-6-0      93             180

Wethersfield   1-7-0       84            244

Manlius          0-8-0       33            303


Homecoming King/Queen:    David Walker and Eloyce Anderson

Varsity Cheerleaders:  Sandra Foutch, Kay Driscoll, Sharon Reed, and Sandy Shaner

Frosh/Soph Cheerleaders: Sandra Wood, Janie Puffer, Nancy Scott and Sharon Pettit

1960-61     5 – 3 – 1                                                            Coach Tom Biddle

                                                                                        Asst. Larry Odum

Football finished the season with a 5-3-1 record, good for 3rd place in the Blackhawk Conference.

Varsity cheerleaders were: Sandra Shaner, Kay Driscoll, Sharon Reed, and Reva Ellis.

Football Captains were:      David Bucher and Pat Johnston

Homecoming King/Queen:  Henry Waldinger  / Sharon Reed

Prom King/Queen:             Harvey Scott / Kay Browning

1964-65     9 – 0       Blackhawk Conf. Champions       Coach James Hayes

For more information on the Blackhawk Conference check out John Ballentine’s article on the GREAT CONFERENCES page of this site.

Blackhawk Conference Champs – BHS Panthers 1964
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Courtesy of Harla Tumbleson

The following Panther football teams reached the IHSA 1A playoffs: 

1981-82     6 – 3   IHSA Class 1A Sweet 16 Finalist       Coach Rick Odgers

                          Lost to Gridley  20-7

Indian Valley West Conf. Champs

1983-84     7 – 4   IHSA Class 1A Elite 8 Finalist            Coach Rick Odgers

                          Beat Minonk-Dana-Rutland 23-14

                          Lost to Maroa-Forsyth 27-0

Maroa-Forsyth Finished 2nd

Indian Valley West Conf. Champs

1984-85     8 – 2   IHSA Class 1A Sweet 16 Finalist       Coach Rick Odgers

Lost to Walnut 21-0

Indian Valley West Conf. Champs

1985-86     8 – 3   IHSA Class 1A Sweet 16 Finalist       Coach Rick Odgers

                          Beat Elmwood 28-6

                          Lost to Atkinson 28-21

1987-88     9 – 2   IHSA Class 1A Sweet 16 Finalist       Coach John McKenzie

                          Beat Marseilles 22-19

                          Lost to Bloomington Cent. Cath. 35-0

BCC Won State Championship

1989-90     8 – 3   IHSA Class 1A Playoff Qualifier        Coach John McKenzie

Lost to Alexis 28-0

Bradford Athletic Letter – 1966
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Submitted by Harla Tumbleson

Football Memories:

From Harla Tumbleson (Class of 1966):

“As a 10-year old, I attended all of the Panther football games during their 1958 Blackhawk Championship season. That team was led by half-back Danny Puffer who often ran so hard he would knock himself and the tacklers out. I distinctively remember him being held up unconscious by other players in the locker room picture of the championship celebration. That team experienced a 6-6 tie with Manlius, a first year conference member from the Little 8, in a game that saw the Red Devils break Panther all-conference fullback, Darryl ‘Mutt’ Efner’s leg. The legend has it that as he was carried off the field, Efner told the team, ‘Well boys, there goes your conference title.’ Coach Bob Foutes moved left tackle Don ‘the Diesel’ Dietz to fullback, and he and Puffer lead the Panthers to seven consecutive victories and the title. Walnut was the defending champ and a Blackhawk force in those days, and the Panthers 12-6 home victory over the Blue Raiders, was at the time considered by many to be one of the best high school games in many years. Puffer earned a scholarship to Western Illinois in Macomb, but never made it there, falling from the roof of a garage he was shingling and shattering his knee cap that summer. Coach Foutes moved on after that season, returning to his native Missouri, where he became a school administrator. Don ”the Diesel’ Dietz liked fast cars and died in the sixties in a collision with a concrete bridge on old Illinois 88 (now 40) a couple miles north of Bradford. It was one of the few things in his short life that he didn’t run over.

Bradford was one of the few grade schools in that part of the state that actually had a football program. The Wildcats wore old gold and blue, and we actually wore leather helmets when I played  from 1958-1962. They were not the kind you folded and put into your pocket, but some of the original padded suspension helmets that were made from hardened strips of leather sewed on top of each other. What I would give to have held on to one of those! The Wildcat teams had a tough go of it, because they had to compete with much larger schools. I don’t remember what the conference was called, but members included Kewanee (which had three teams), Geneseo, Galva, Wethersfield and Kewanee Visitation, a small catholic school. The big game typically was against Visitation, a school of comparable size, because that was really the only chance we had for a victory. Bradford had a catholic grade school, but we didn’t merge for football until high school, which meant that we had to wait a bit for pay back on Galva and Wethersfield, who were in the Blackhawk with us.

The 1964 Panther team is considered by many of the old timers to be the best ever, going undefeated and amassing an average of over 350 yards rushing per game behind a punishing wishbone-style attack. Fullback Harla Tumbleson became the first Panther on record rush for over 1,000 yards in the 9-game season; half-backs Ed Foutch and Rob Dunlap went for over 700; and Quarterback Jerry Fuertges over 500. Fuertges went down during game 6 with a knee injury and missed the rest of the season. Dunlap moved under center and Pat Murphy to half-back, and the the Panters marched on. Probably the most remakable aspect of this Panther team was its defense. Led by linebacker Joe Colgan, the ’64 Panthers shut out 8 of 9 opponents and yielded but 6 points the entire season, while putting up 269 of their own. This team started to jell late in the 1963 season, outscoring their final 3 opponents by 117-0, and by the time their 13 game winning streak ended in 1965 had 12 shutouts and outscored opponents 405-6. Middle linebacker Colgan was the captain and stalwart of the defense and offensive line (left tackle) and was a unanimous Little All-State selection by the various print media outlets. Five Panthers were first team All-Blackhawk: Colgan, Tumbleson, Foutch, guard Ron Schaad, and end Jim HickeyDunlap and Fuertges were on second team and honorable mention respectively. Colgan was one tough hombre, and went to Southern Illinois U on scholarship. He is now a succesful farmer outside of Bradford. Tumbleson played another year for the Panthers, making first team all-Blackhawk and several Little All-State teams, and went on to become team captain and an all-conference Division III player at Luther College in Iowa. Jim Hayes, coached the Panthers for one more year, finishing his four-year tenure at Bradford with a 25-10-1 record, and moved on to coach at Macomb High School. He later moved back to his hometown of Harrisburg, IL where he became a successful businessman. Assistant Coach Ken Hartrich, whom Hayes identified as a key element of the Panther’s success, left after the ’64 season to become the head coach at Oakwood High School in Fithian, IL. This was well before play-offs, but Larry Wilcoxen, who officiated several state title games, says that this Panther group compared very favorably with small school state championship teams he has seen.

The team the ’64 Panthers were then compared with and argued over was the 1932 Panther team, which also went undefeated and outscored opponents 313-13. Another connection with this team was the fact that it had two fathers of ’64 Panther players on the club. John Hickey, father of all-conference end Jim Hickey, and Lee ‘Belzy’ Barnes, father of right tackle Michael Barnes, a 1965 all-conference selection. Rob Dunlap’s father, Bob, played against the those Panthers as a Toulon Trojan‘Belzy’ Barnes was a force in those days, coming by his nickname for his bull-like power in carrying the football. He earned a scholarship to Western Illinois, and later became a successful Bradford businessman. His son Michael is currently a judge on the State Appeals Court in Indianapolis, IN.

Based upon your research on the 1933 and 1934 Panthers, it looks like Coach Morrison had three consecutive undefeated seasons.

We’re planning a ’64 Panther ’45th’ reunion, the first, in the Fall of 2009. Let me know if you’d like to drop in.”


Bradford Cinder Track
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The Home Stretch (Grade School in Background)

The following Panther thinclads placed at the IHSA state track meet:

1923-24    Blake                  High Jump          3rd Place

1935-36    Hopkins              Javelin                4th Place

1982-83    Janis Rees         800 Meter Run     7th Place

1983-84    Janis Rees         800 Meter Run     2nd Place

1990-91    Troy Waldinger  High Jump          5th Place

In addition to individual accomplishments, the Bradford High School boys won a few Stark County High School Track Meets over the years.  The following information regarding this meet was provided to us by John Ballentine:

“The Stark County track/field and declamatory meet was a major event for decades.  It was fiercely fought in order to win that particular year and claim county bragging rights.  Businesses and schools, even the grade schools, were closed early in order to attend the afternoon meet.  Main streets resembled ghost towns because a majority of the county’s population was at the contest.

Records were kept and trophies, plaques, ribbons, etc. were awarded.  Yet, in 1990 the county meet could no longer be held.  Castleton High no longer existed, Toulon and LaFayette Highs were consolidated, and Bradford began co-opting with Tiskilwa to form a track team.  Since Tiskilwa was not part of Stark County, this eliminated Bradford’s participation leaving only Toulon-LaFayette and Wyoming as the competitors from the original 5 schools.  Therefore, the meet was permanently discontinued after 1989.”

Bradford High School boys reigned as champions of this once annual event during the following spring seasons:

1909, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1924, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1985, 1988

For those of you who are counting, that is 29 Stark County Track Meet Championships won by the Bradford High School boys track program!!

Shaw Terwilliger is Star – 1927 Meet

Though the boys of the spring of 1927 did not win the overall title, one individual athlete was said to have one of the greatest performances of the day. In an article dated May 18, 1927 Shaw Terwilliger was said to be the “Star of the Meet”. The article states that Shaw won a total of 7 individual events, took 2nd in one event, and was a member of the 2nd place relay team!! Below is copied from the article submitted by Shaw’s son, John Terwilliger:

“Shaw Terwilliger, easily the outstanding star of the meet, won practically alone all the points for Bradford, taking 35 of the 47 points annexed. Had he any assistance from his local team mates, at all, Bradford would have easily won the pennant, and marched home with the cup in their possession.

Terwilliger took first in the 50, 100 and 220 yard dashes, the running broad jump, the high jump, the pole vault, and the discus, and second in the shot put. Had it not been that he was entirely all in, Shaw was entered in the relay, and probably would have won that, as Bradford lead until the final heat, when Heaton, of Toulon, passed Petty of Bradford.”


Contributed by Tom Maupin, Class of 1962.

“In 1961, the Boys Track team wom the Blackhawk Conference Track title by defeating Walnut 44 to 40.  While this Panther track team lacked some depth, the participants dominated their particular events.

In the conference meet, held at Galva HS, Jim Laurenti won the 100 and 220 yard dash; Dave Bucher, who did not like the 440 yard dash, but “did it for the team” at the request of Coach Tom Biddle, won this event;  Dave also won the high jump and broadjump.  Brandon Piper won the pole vault, Tom Maupin won the 180 low hurdles and Donnie Ferris won the 880 yard dash and one mile event. Jack Plotner contributed in the shot put and discus and Dave Grieve competed in the high hurdles.  Our 440 and 880 yard relay teams placed first with Bucher starting the event followed by Maupin, Johnny Gingerich and anchored by Jim Laurenti.

There are stronger individual track performances from our alumni but I doubt there were many teams that were as talented as the 1960 Stark County and Blackhawk Champions.  This team also participated in the Delevan Relays and competed agains powerhouses like Springfield Fitchens, Decatur Central and somePeoria schools.  As I recall, Jim Laurenti and Dave Bucher placed high enough in their events to score points for Bradford.  Donnie Ferris and Brandon Piper may also have scored points for the Panthers.”

Stark County Track Meet Ribbons – From Harla Tumbleson, Class of 1966:

“I thought you might be interested in these award ribbons from the early-mid 60s. At this point it was pretty much down to Bradford, Wyoming and Toulon. The elementary meet was more crowded as you had places like Elmira, Duncan, Valley, Castleton, LaFayette, West Jersey, Laura, etc.”

Stark County Track Meet Ribbons – 1965 and 1966

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Submitted by Harla Tumbleson


Along with a great athletics tradition at Bradford High School, it was also a great place to learn about the art of music and they were very successful in having one of the finest music programs in the area. In 1977 and 1978, Bradford won the Class D State Championship at the IHSA Music Sweepstakes. Pep bands and such of this caliber made a Bradford home game a very exciting one.

Memories of these championships are provided here by former music director Gary Black:

“In 1977 and 1978 we won Class D State Championship for the IHSA Music Sweepstakes,and came up 2nd. in 1979. ( a long story there). Jim Blucker and Gary Black (who is writing this note) were the directors, Jim with band and me with vocal music. In order to do that, we had many kids in the program. Students were required to participate in solo and ensemble contest, and then organizational contest with band, men’s and women’s choirs as well as concert choir.

We lost by 15 points for the 1979 contest and received 2nd place.  We also recorded a record in 1978 and sold them through the music boosters club who was very active.  They also bought a new Sohmer piano for the choir which is still being used for the Junior High program now.

Sports seems to be the thing that people remember the most, but fine arts surely has a place in the life of a school too. I recently (2 years ago) retired from Bradford. When we closed the high school in 2001 because of low enrollments (63 the last year) as you know, a part of Bradford sort of died with that. I taught here for 30 years and most of it was wonderful. The music boosters even hired Stan Kenton to give an evening performance. In the contract it stated that he had to have a grand piano to play on so we carted mine from home and brought it to school.  He was in failing heatlh then and as I believe, and died 6 months later.

I have many fond memories of my career at BHS; a privilege to work with all of the students in our community.”

Bradford FFA Trip To Peoria – 1946
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Courtesy of John Terwilliger


Dances, FFA, FHA, clubs, class and student government elections, and we are sure that many other activities, helped to keep the Bradford HS kids busy. As the photo to the right shows, the school was very active with a lot of kids participating in these activities.


**Donna Dally Lee (Class of 1949) added this information about the Bradford music program:

“I was fortunate enough to be a four-year member of Bradford High School Girl’s Ensemble who sang at many school functions, as well as meetings and special programs held throughout the community. In 1948, with our band and chorus instructor David Hughes, we, as well as the Girl’s Chorus, competed in the IHSA State Music Contest, held at Eastern Illinois University, in Charleston, Illinois, and were both awarded a First Place medal. The following year, with our instructor Burton Bates, the Girls’ Ensemble returned to State Contest and again received a First Place award.

Some of my fondest memories occurred while I was a student at BHS and I surely hated to see it close its doors.”

**Former Bradford School principal Michael Stagliano started his educational career at Bradford High School as well.

**From David Bucher (Class of 1961) – David Bucher also assisted with write-ups in the football and basketball sections for the 1957-61 seasons:

**From John Terwilliger (Class of 1949):

“I graduated from Bradford Twp High School in 1949, went on to college, served in the Army, married another BHS graduate, and back to college again. My parents moved from Bradford while I was in the service, so I really never “went back home to Bradford”. Both my parents had graduated from BHS, my Dad in 1927 and my Mom in 1929. I was aware that my Dad had been an outstanding high school athlete and that Bradford had outstanding football teams during his years – 1924 to 1927. I can’t verify this but have been told the BHS football team was undefeated during those four years. I can verify they were “un-scored on” in 1925 and “undefeated” in 1926.

All this stuff came from scrap books kept by Mary Lillian (Blaisdell) Terwilliger — at 1928 BHS graduate.  She married my Dad, Shaw Terwilliger, a 1927 BHS graduate.  While my Dad was high school Vo-Ag teacher and we lived in several different Illinois towns, I also graduated from BHS in 1949, so I do have a long family history with BHS on both my Mom and Dad’s side of the family.”




High school enrollment was 167 students–Freshman 49, Sophomores 47, Juniors 39, Seniors 32

Voters passed a  bond issue for an addition to the high school by a vote of 489 for, 416 against and 23 ballots spoiled.  The new addition would provide for: agriculture lab, agriculture class room and farm shop, band and music department, band storage, boys’ and girls’ showers, lockers and dressing rooms, standard sized gym which will meet state requirements for physical education, kitchen and cafeteria, additional toilet facilities, and a first aid room.  Total cost would be $349,000.00.

At the Athletic Banquet in 1958 famous track star Jesse Owens spoke to over 300 people.

Valedictorian:  Don Browning    Salutatorian:  Philip Hickey


Enrollment for the school year is a record, with 191 registered students.  Freshmen 55, Sophomores, 51, Juniors, 37 and Seniors, 48.

The student council was made up of Tom Thompson, , Eldon DeWeerth, Mary Lee Hahn, Stanley Horack and Danny Fuertges.

Class officers:  Mary Lee Hahn, President;  Shirley Behrends, Vice President; Mary Dewey, Secretary; Norma Rummell, Treasurer


Valedictorian:  Janice Hall

Salutatorian:    Don Smith


Principal                Mr. J. A. Jones


Judy Bandy             Girls Physical Education

Tom Biddle             Social Studies and Physical Education

Dave Clark              Mathematics and Physics

Lydia Dietrich          Home Economics

Lester Gill                Music

Larry Odum             English and Social Studies

Robert Thomas        English

Sallie Vanzant         Math and Latin

Linda Webster         Commercial Subjects

Ray Wilson              Music

Eldon Witt                Vocational Agriculture

William Wittmeyer   Industrial Arts and Driver Education

Valedictorian: Sandra Shaner

Salutatorian:   Madeleine Johnston

Senior Class Officers:  Cheryl Hall, Beverly Dunn, Sandra Shaner, and Dale Rachel

Bradford High School Enrollment (Grades 9 – 12)

1954-55    169

1955-56    173

1956-57    164

1957-58    167

1958-59    191


Regarding Bradford High School please forward it to us viua e-mail at:

“The Brandonian” – 1946
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Bradford HS Graduation Program 1927
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Bradford HS Graduation Program 1927

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Bradford HS Graduation Program Inside – 1899
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Bradford HS Graduation Program 1899

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Bradford HS Diploma – 1899
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