Marker text: HENRY B. BRADFORD 1761-1833 - Early Methodist Protestant minister; educator; and soldier in the Revolution. Founded Bradford's Church on this site circa 1792.
Henry Bradford, prominent Methodist Protestant minister and educator, was born in 1761 to Colonel John Bradford of Halifax County, an influential member of North Carolina’s early Revolutionary leadership.
Young Bradford did not follow in his father’s political footsteps but, instead, sought to serve his fellow citizens through the church. An acquaintance of Bishop Francis Asbury, Bradford followed Asbury’s lead and worked to establish Methodism as the primary religion in his area. Bradford also was a wealthy planter and established churches in the area, donating some of his land near Enfield for Bradford’s Meeting House in 1792. During this early period of church activity, Bradford served as a trustee for Eden Church, and, although not ordained, worked as a lay preacher in many local churches. Asbury visited with Bradford on many occasions and complimented Bradford’s abilities as a minister in his journal.
As a result of his activities on behalf of the Methodist Church, Bradford was ordained a deacon by Asbury at Whitaker’s Chapel near Enfield in 1804. However, by the 1820s, Bradford and others believed changes were needed in the Methodist Church, and he hosted three meetings of a controversial reform group, the Roanoke Union Society, at his church. The resulting changes created the Methodist Protestant Church in North Carolina, an organization that Bradford supported until his death in 1833. Because of his contributions, many church historians credit Bradford, in part, with the perpetuation of Methodism in the state.
Grady Carroll, ed., Francis Asbury in North Carolina (1964)
John Paris, History of the Methodist Protestant Church in North Carolina (1849)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 206—sketch by Jerry L. Cross W.C. Allen, History of Halifax County (1918)