by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian, Montana Historical Society Research Center
|James H. Bradley, 1st Lt. 7th U.S. Infantry [no date]|
MHS Photo Archives # 941-317
The developing Montana Territory and its major players consumed much of Bradley’s spare time. He studied historical resources, such as volumes of the 1872 “History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke." Bradley sought out and recorded stories told to him by early Montana history makers including Alexander Culbertson, one of the founding fathers of Fort Benton. He created historical sketches of Crow, Gros Ventre, Blackfoot and Sioux .
Bradley himself died on August 9, 1877, during the Battle of the Big Hole. Bradley’s passion for Montana history did not die with him, though. Upon the news of his death, Mrs. Bradley sold several of her husband’s books to trader J.H. McKnight. She then packed the bulk of Lt. Bradley’s writings and took them with her as she arranged passage back to Atlanta, Georgia aboard the steamboat Benton. Just two years later, in 1878, she sold the collection to the Montana Historical Society. 
A few books from his personal library are housed in the MHS library's collection, including both volumes of "History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke," which Bradley signed and dated after picking them up in Fort Benton Feb. 21, 1874. The volumes, small enough to fit in an inside pocket or saddle bag, still evoke the smell of camp fires.
|Bradley's signature in his personal copy of "History of the Expedition|
under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke"
 James H. Bradley Papers, 1872-1877, MC 49, Box 2, Folder 10.
 Lt. James H. Bradley, The March of the Montana Column, A Prelude to the Custer Disaster, ed. Edgar I. Stewart (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961), 153-162.
 "Mrs. Bradley,” The Benton Record, August 17, 1877, p. 3.
 Jon G. James, 56.
 Meriwether Lewis, History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clarke : to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains, and down the River Columbia to the Pacific ocean: performed during the years 1804, 1805, 1806, by order of the government of the United States, ed. Archibald M’Vickar, (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1872). MHS Library Locker 917.8 L58HM 1871, Vol. 1 & 2.