The Genealogy Series: Murder in a small town, and the man who cracked the case.

Margaret “Maggie” Sullivan, was born in 1890, in Moorestown, NJ (Formally Chester Township, NJ) to Irish Immigrant parents Patrick F. Sullivan and Ellen L.  Larkin.  (She is the sister of William Sullivan who is my husband’s grandfather, and daughter’s Great-Grandfather.)  On November 26th 1912, Margaret married John H. Bradshaw  in Moorestown, NJ.   They began raising a family and had two children.

In 1917, John Bradshaw Sr. registered for the World War I draft.  He worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a Railroad Policeman.  Draft registration cards are a great resource for family researchers as they offer a treasure trove of information, such as birthdate, full name, marital status and much more. It also offers a physical description of the individual.  John is described as “tall, and stout with grey eyes and brown hair.”

Draft Card

Sometime after 1917,  John Bradshaw became a Moorestown Police Officer, and later would become chief of police of the town.  Moorestown, NJ is a quiet New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia. The town was founded in 1686 when John Rodman bought a few hundred acres of land.  The town having originally been named “Village of Rodmantown.” and for many years after that was known as Chester Township.  The town consisted of mostly farm land, and later many residents found  work on the railroad that cut-through the town.

I never expected when researching the Bradshaw Family, that I would come across such very high-profile murder cases John Bradshaw was involved in solving.  I discovered articles posted online in the archives of the NY Tribune, and Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, mentioning the details of these cases.  Genealogy has opened my eyes to the facts.  Many horrible acts we think occur more now, happened back then as well, and with more frequency than even I previously realized.  All you have to do is look at any of these old newspaper articles and the stories within the pages. These horrors occurred everywhere and in every time. No town in America was safe from crime as it remains today, and Moorestown was no exception.  It became apparent after reading the details of these two high-profile cases Chief Bradshaw was involved in.   These cases were the Matilda Russo Murder,  and The Quigley Murder He also worked along side the famous detective Ellis Parker.

In 1921, Matilda Russo was the seven year-old daughter of town Tailor Frank Russo.  Matilda went missing one day.  Her body was discovered in the basement of a neighbor’s house, and the accused murderer was on the run with a huge manhunt ensuing.   A terrible child murder, the horrible details of which were outlined in the newspapers.  Turns out, John Bradshaw helped break the case and discovered the body of this little girl.  Because his name was mentioned in the above articles, I was able to discover these stories via search engines.  One of the best and probably most under used resources in genealogy are search engines and the best part is they are free!  I was able to discover more about John Bradshaw then I had ever expected this way, including online images of some of the actual newspaper articles.  According to the 1930 Federal Census, John remained chief of police into the 30′s and remained in Moorestown on Second Street with his wife Maggie and their two adult sons John (Pipefitter)  and Edward (mechanic).

John Bradshaw passed away in 1953, and Margaret Bradshaw passed away 12- years later, in 1963.  They are buried in Mt. Carmel Cemetary in Moorestown, NJ.

Bradsaw

No let up in hunt for child’s slayer                                                                                                     Evening Public Ledger June 14th 1921

Matilda Russo News Article Have you discovered any surprises using search engines?  Do you Google your ancestor’s names and info regularly?

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