Biography - Harry T. Bridges

HARRY THOMPSON BRIDGES. Something over five years ago, when he took charge of the Vienna Times, Harry Thompson Bridges decided that the great country lying in the southern counties of Illinois was entitled to and would support a live, clean, up-to-date metropolitan newspaper of its own, which should give all the news, all the time, and give it correctly and promptly, and under his administration it has taken front rank among the leading sheets of this section. Dedicating the influence of the paper to the business interests of his adopted city and to its development in every way, he has established the publication on thoroughly metropolitan lines and the city of Vienna has reason for congratulation that the Times is in such safe, sagacious and thoroughly clean hands. Harry Thompson Bridges was born January 6, 1872, in Johnson county, Illinois, and is a son of Henry T. and Mary E. (Carter) Bridges.

Henry T. Bridges was born February 25, 1831, in Marshall county, Tennessee, near the village of Lewisburgh. His father was James D. Bridges, a native of North Carolina and a son of Francis Bridges, also a native of the Tar Heel State, the latter being a son of William Bridges, an Englishman by birth who came to this country during Colonial days and settled in North Carolina, where he died. Francis Bridges married Sarah Cadle, a daughter of Jesse Cadle, of North Carolina. In 1815 he migrated to Maury (now Marshall) county, Tennessee, two years later moving to Carroll county, where he died after attaining a ripe old age. His son, James D. Bridges, was seven years old when the family moved to the wilds of Tennessee, and there he married Elizabeth Thompson, a daughter of Benjamin and Sarah (Schefner) Thompson. In 1833 James D. Bridges went to Mississippi and purchased a farm seven miles east of Holly Springs, and for the next six years was engaged in farming, following the mercantile business and trading with the Chickasaw Indian tribe. In 1839 Mr. Bridges returned to Tennessee and for two years carried on agricultural operations near Dyersburgh, and in 1841 removed to Ballard county, Kentucky, where he purchased a farm and also conducted a smithy. Accompanied by his wife and eight children, in 1844 he set forth for Illinois with a team and wagon and eventually arrived at Vienna, near which village he located on a good tract of Government land, and until 1852 was engaged in conducting a smithy and manufacturing wagons. He again disposed of his property in the last year mentioned and went to Laclede county, Missouri, where he carried oh farming and stock raising until his death, in February, 1863, his widow surviving until 1882. They reared a family of six children, namely: Jesse C., Henry T., Sarah, Charlotte, William and Benjamin.

Henry T. Bridges was thirteen years of age when the family arrived in Illinois. When he was twelve years old he had started to learn the trade of blacksmith with his father, and when he was only twenty opened a shop of his own in Vienna, which he disposed of in 1880 to engage in the grocery business, to which he gave his attention for many years. His death occurred in 1902. Mr. Bridges served as police magistrate of Vienna for six years and as justice of the peace for a quarter of a century, and was a man widely known in fraternal circles, belonging to Vienna Lodge, No. 150, A. F. & A. M., Vienna Chapter, No. 57 R. A. M., Council No. 67, R. & S. M., and was a charter member of Vesta Lodge No. 340, I. O. O. F., and Vienna Encampment, No. 53. On December 31, 1852, he was married to Miss Mary E. Carter, a native of Giles county, Tennessee, and a daughter of Vincent and Elizabeth (Rose) Carter. They reared five children: Amanda Bell Cowsert, James H., Vesta Hogg, Harry Thompson and William Francis. James H. Bridges is now located near Milburn, Oklahoma, and is engaged in farming and school teaching. Willie Bridges was born in 1876, and as a young man removed to Oklahoma, where he was engaged in the mercantile business and farming. He was there married to Juanita Burris, a wealthy daughter of the Chickasaw Indian Nation, who bore him two children: Marion Francis and Zelma. Mr. Bridges died in Emet, Oklahoma, May 15, 1903.

Harry Thompson Bridges worked on the home farm and attended public school until he was fourteen years of age, when he came to Vienna and became a clerk in his father's store, in which capacity he continued for two years. At the age of sixteen years he entered the office of the Vienna Times, as " devil, '' and advanced to foreman of the printing office, and then to the management of the paper. In 1902 he went to Oklahoma, where he became editor and manager of the Tishomingo News, but in 1906 returned to Vienna and assumed management of the Times. Fraternally Mr. Bridges is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen and the Modern Brotherhood of America, of which last-named lodge he is the popular secretary. He is a stalwart Republican, and in September, 1911, was elected city alderman. His religious connection is with the Christian church.

On July 25, 1896, Mr. Bridges was married to Sena Brooks, of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, daughter of Albert and Elizabeth (Farrell) Brooks, and four children have been born to this union: Mabel, Harry Thompson, Jr., Royce Lee and William Francis. Mrs. Bridges' father was born August 10, 1840, and died May 9, 1894, while her mother, born December 16, 1837, passed away January 26, 1892. They had seven children, as follows: John W., who lives at Cape Girardeau, Missouri; Alvin P., of Amarillo, Texas; Albert A., residing at Collins, Montana; Mrs. Emma L. Gates, of Enid, Oklahoma; Mrs. Lela Hertel, of Anna, Illinois; and Mrs. Bridges.

Mr. Bridges, in addition to his ability as an editor, possesses the executive skill requisite to the safe conducting of a first-class paper, and with such men at the helm of the ship of journalism we cannot fail to find that there is yet something in store for our country and the world even better than aught they have seen, and that there is a bright future before us that will as far surpass the present as the present itself rises above the meanest and most distant past.

Extracted 14 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1912 A History of Southern Illinois, volume 2, pages 678-680.

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